Rival bosses are recurring boss battles throughout the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. They are different from traditional boss battles in the sense that they usually differ drastically from traditional boss encounters, or are outright stated as something different from the normal boss battle. Rival battles first appeared in Sonic & Knuckles. They have changed substantially within each installment, but are almost always easy to spot when compared to their counterparts, traditional boss battles.
Sonic & Knuckles
The first game to feature a Rival boss is Sonic & Knuckles. In the game, Sonic the Hedgehog (or Miles "Tails" Prower in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles) fights Knuckles the Echidna as the boss of Hidden Palace Zone.
In Sonic Adventure (and by extension its remake Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut), the rival bosses are called "Character Conflicts". Rival encounters are short, three hit boss encounters between certain characters in specific situations, during the story mode. These events are unique in that they do not appear in boss mode, and change depending on which character's story the player is going through at that time, meaning each view point of the encounter is viewed throughout the story mode. The boss encounters are as follows:
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Fights Knuckles, Gamma)
- Knuckles the Echidna (Fights Sonic)
- E-102 Gamma (Fights Sonic)
- Miles "Tails" Prower (Fights Knuckles, Gamma)
Sonic Adventure 2
In Sonic Adventure 2, the rival boss encounters were given an overall makeover to be comparable to traditional boss battles. Due to the change in gameplay focus, relying on three different styles split among the cast members instead of Adventure's unique style per character; each character has a specific rival based on gameplay style (e.g., Sonic fights Shadow, Tails fights Dr. Eggman, etc.). Each rival is fought twice during the stories of the game, with the exception of Knuckles and Rouge, who only fight once in their respective stories.
- Sonic the Hedgehog and Shadow the Hedgehog (Fought after (In order): Metal Harbor, Final Rush. (Sonic) White Jungle, Final Chase (Shadow)
- Miles "Tails" Prower and Doctor Eggman (Fought after (in order) Nothing, (First mission/boss) Crazy Gadget, (Tails) Weapons Bed, Cosmic Wall (Eggman)
- Knuckles the Echidna and Rouge the Bat (Fought after (In order): Meteor Herd (Knuckles) Mad Space (Rouge)
Unlike in Sonic Adventure, the boss encounters use a more traditional health bar system for their battles. Also notable, is that each boss uses their signature moves from the multi-player battle mode in their second encounter.
In Sonic Heroes, the battles (now called "Team Battles") are changed yet again to favor a change in mechanics. In this game, the character stories are changed to feature three members per story; a speed, a power, and a flight type. Each member is active throughout the entirety of gameplay, which allows you to switch characters at will, (as opposed to one character being used per level with a different gameplay style, as per the previous installments). Because of this, the team battles are focused on a three-on-three ring-out style of battle.
- Team Sonic Vs. Team Rose (Power Plant area)
- Team Dark Vs. Team Chaotix (Power Plant area)
- Team Sonic Vs. Team Dark (Lost Jungle area)
- Team Rose Vs. Team Chaotix (Lost Jungle area)
These team battles employ a Rock-paper-scissors paradigm in which each team formation is effective agaisnt one whilst being weak to another, the pattern goes as follows:
- Speed > Fly
- Fly > Power
- Power > Speed
The goal is to knock out each member of the opposing team until none remain. Knocking one member out of the ring disables the opponent from switching into that character, effectively disabling that type for the rest of that battle until they use their Team Blast which revives any unusable characters. Power-ups can be found around the arena, allowing you to increase your character's abilities. However, opponents can obtain these as well, so keep an eye on your surroundings. They have no real style of battle (besides the abilities granted by their current formation), so just keep attacking until they are all knocked out.
In Sonic Rush, Blaze the Cat appears as the boss for Dead Line in Sonic's story and vice versa, in Sonic's story, Blaze can cause flames to erupt from the ground to damage Sonic whilst in Blaze's story, Sonic can create tornados that pull Blaze in, causing damage if pulled into the center. At the end of the battle, the two characters use the full force of their powers in an attempt to knock the other off the end of the platform.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Sonic Rivals series
The first game in the Sonic Rivals series is unlike previous games in which you fight the rival boss as its own stage, the player must compete with the rival against the zone boss, with a "first-to-win" battle style. The player must land six hits to the boss' weak spot before your opponent does in order to beat the boss.
Sonic Rivals 2
Due to the nature of Sonic Rivals 2, Rival bosses occur halfway through every level in the game. Each character battles the rival they encountered during the level, these battles range from a simple, three point knock-out to collecting the most rings, and even participating in a game of "Capture the Chao".
Unlike previous games, where the rival bosses contain some cohesive theme, they share barely any similarities in their appearance in Sonic Generations, aside from the fact that they all require you to run throughout the entire battle. This is unlike normal battles in which, there is usually some point where your momentum is stopped (whether it's for a moment, or throughout most of the battle). Each rival rests in the White Space world map and await a challenge from the player. It is mandatory to confront the rivals in order to obtain the Chaos Emeralds, along with each normal boss.
- Metal Sonic (Located in Chemical Plant area)
- Shadow the Hedgehog (Located in City Escape area)
- Silver the Hedgehog (Located in Crisis City area)
In the 3DS version, each rival boss is presented as a race through a previously cleared level. Also, due to the appearance of Special Stages, they no longer present you with Chaos Emeralds upon defeat. However, defeating them is mandatory in order to progress throughout the game.
Metal Sonic- Casino Night
Shadow the Hedgehog- Radical Highway
Silver the Hedgehog- Tropical Resort
- Interestingly, Gamma does have to build up speed to turn into his wheel mode in gameplay. However in the battle against him, he can turn it on automatically.
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