The female breasts as a secondary sexual characteristic are a collection of tissues present on all mammals of the primate order and are composed mainly of fat, mammary glands and milk ducts. Their functional purpose is the production and secretion of nutritious and antibody rich milk to the young who would otherwise be incapable of finding and digesting solid foods. Human females are unique in having fully developed breasts throughout their fertile life, unlike other primates where breasts only fully develop during pregnancy. This feature is thought to have developed throughout humanity’s evolutionary history in parallel with the breast as an erogenous zone, frontal copulation, and the establishment of emotional ties between those engaged in sexual intercourse.
This being said, why did Sega decide to stick a pair of jumbo wibbly-wobblies on a non-human character in their most well-known and successful game series, especially one targeted at younger audiences? That’s right, Sega-Addicts proudly presents, as part of the Dreamcast Month, two-thousand words on Rouge the Bat’s big ol’ boobies.
Sonic Adventure 2 (SA2), originally released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, was the second Sonic title to feature the new character designs introduced in the original Sonic Adventure which attempted to add maturity and modernisation to the characters and the franchise to coincide with its entry into the world of 3D as well as into the new millennium. Keeping in line with what many now consider to be a tradition ultimately detrimental to the series, Sonic Team introduced several new playable characters into SA2 to act as ‘dark’ counterparts to Sonic, Tails, Knuckles; these being Shadow the Hedgehog, a playable Dr. Eggman and the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Thief” Rouge the Bat.
As an antagonist Rouge the Bat aids Dr. Eggman in securing the chaos emeralds he seeks in return for a device that will allow her to track the whereabouts of the Master Emerald with the intention of stealing it for herself. In her eyes, the pursuit of rare and valuable gems takes priority over all other causes and her ambitions are not swayed by any potential dangers or the opinions of others. Although this giant anthropomorphic bat is later revealed to be a government agent, her character traits remain the same for the most part, with the completion of her mission objectives being paramount.
Character profile aside, Rouge the Bat garnered no particular attention by players who were far more concerned with doing snow-board backflips, breeding Chaos, avoiding glitches and playing as Sonic’s controversial rival, Shadow the Hedgehog. However, Rouge the Bat as a character was a far more unique and significant addition to the Sonic gang as many might think. Not only is Rouge an anthropomorphic bat, she is distinctly more human looking than she is animal. Fully clothed and sporting what can only be described as a voluptuous body form, to cover up Rouge’s massive head is to basically strip her of what makes her anything but human.
Now, I realise that Rouge the Bat has wings as well as a tail, but as far as this writer is concerned those appendages are part of the costume. I say ‘costume’ because no real woman would wear clothing and make up like Rouge’s under normal circumstances, in fact it looks like the kind of thing one would see a young girl wearing on a cold Halloween night amongst the streets of a British university town, stumbling and screaming down the road, vomiting on her knee high boots, unaware of the pneumonia she’s contracted. The tight-fitting, heart-shaped breastplate alone might as well be a busty bullseye honing in on her gravity defying fun-bags, and the whole outfit gives off an air of promiscuity.
The eye shadow Rouge wears is particularly noteworthy as its striking shade of blue matches her eyes only, and not the rest of her outfit. While this writer may not be the most well travelled, it is difficult to recall the last time a woman was seen wearing such a shade of blue whom didn’t make an earning in strip clubs and red light districts. She hardly has an innocent look about her to compensate for her less than sensible choice in clothing and make-up. In every piece of official artwork available, Rouge is sticking out her chest, bending herself backwards to thrust out her buttocks, stroking part of her body, usually her boots, or any combination of these things. At a glance, Rouge the Bat is the ‘person’nification of promiscuity.
Bats of course do not have have breasts, instead having a series of smaller lactating teats which vary in number and position throughout the Chiroptera taxonomic order, which includes an astounding 20% of all classified mammalian species. This order is also home to the only documented species-wide occurrence of paternal lactation, the rare Dayak fruit bat (Dyacopterus spadiceus). That’s right, baby Dayak fruit bats look to the plump teats of their daddies for their tasty, nutritious milk. Needless to say, bats themselves are not creatures generally associated with good looks and sex appeal.
It can be argued that Rouge’s over sexualisation is only apparent when taken out of the context of the game, but unfortunately some her in-game representation is also cause for concern. One thing that immediately comes to mind are the ‘jiggle-physics’ that act upon Rouge’s boobs during gameplay, where jumping, stopping abruptly, or even simply running causes her ripened bat udders to flail about wildly. Even if players were miraculously able to keep the camera behind Rouge at all times, Sonic Team’s reward for completing a level is an unavoidable victory pose involving even more rotary boob action. These aspects of the game are clearly there by design, so what possible reasons must Sega have had for introducing Rouge the Bat and designing her appearance and character in such a way?
One may argue that Sonic Team’s aim was to increase the diversity of their character roster, after all Rouge is the first and only full grown ‘woman’ in a series dominated by male characters. In most cases, the goal of introducing a new character representing a previously unseen demographic within the game is to entice customers of said demographic to buy into a series they may otherwise not have identified themselves with. The individual responsible for Rouge’s introduction to SA2 however, would be hard pressed to find a female gamer that even agrees with Rouge’s existence, let alone one that fully identifies with her.
Perhaps Sonic Team felt they were doing feminist gamers a favour by characterising Rouge with the ‘powerful woman’ archetype, having her steal because she simply wants to and because she has the skills to do so; an independent woman in complete control of her life, which she lives as she desires. Her sexuality is also something she is seemingly in control of and is indifferent about, although this is devalued later on in the game when she is suggested to have a romantic connection with Knuckles.
The original Sonic Adventure took place in what can be assumed to be a ‘real world’ setting mostly populated by human beings, however there was never any explanation as to why clearly unrealistic characters appeared in it and no real link between the world of Sonic and that of the humans. The world as depicted in SA2 took the idea further, unmistakably setting the game on planet Earth. With this being said, it may be possible that Sonic Team’s original intention was to use Rouge as a mediary between the world of man, represented by the world government and the military organisation ‘Guardian Units of Nations’ (G.U.N.), and the world of Sonic. As an anthropomorphic bat she fits in with the many Sonic characters, but being a full grown and experienced woman, her role as a secret agent for G.U.N. is plausible. In being able to communicate with both parties she brings them closer together, adding coherence to the game’s setting on Earth and the events that occur throughout the course of the game’s storyline.
It would be relieving if the above suggestions as explanations to Rouge’s creation were true, but in reality the reasons were probably far less ambitious or noble. Sex sells and has been used to do so since at least the latter half of the 19th century, with this concept being a likely driving force behind Rouge’s conception. SA2 was released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the original Sonic the Hedgehog and as such the little boys and girls that spent their youth playing the original would be in their adolescent years when buying SA2. With all those raging hormones to factor in, Sonic Team snuck a big titted, sexy bat lady into what was seemingly a children’s game to tip the scales in their favour and to plague to wet dreams of the buyers throughout the turbulent pubic years.
Regardless of Sonic Team’s reason for planting chubby fat-sacs onto a Sonic character, Sega and their fans have both had to live with the consequences. Many Sonic fans target Rouge the Bat and her peculiar proportions as the subject of ridicule when discussing the Sonic series and understandably so; just like a fart at the dinner table Rouge must be laughed at by fans to relieve the embarrassment that her existence brings about. Such embarrassment does not stem so much from the blush-worthy bat-flappies but more so due to gamer’s argument for games as a legitimate art form being devalued by something as simple as giant boobies. It’s difficult for a 15 year old to explain to his parents how gaming is the future and why his new Dreamcast is worth devoting hours to when there’s a set of massive jubbly-wubblies coming out of the telly and slapping them in the faces.
This is not to say that there are no true Rouge the Bat fans, as there most certainly are, however the way that some of these fans express their appreciation of Rouge is somewhat questionable. Anyone daring enough to search the internet for Rouge fan artwork will eventually find extremely sexualised and pornographic imagery which in some cases crosses the boundary into the perverse. While the sexual preferences of any individual are their own to enjoy, so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others, one can’t help but wonder if the appearance of Rouge the Bat in SA2 acted as a trigger for such behaviour or perhaps even went as far as to permanently warp the adolescent minds of those whom played it.
The ultimate problem with Rouge is that she simply did not add to the SA2 experience and has not enriched the Sonic series with her subsequent appearances. The series has had a small, but nonetheless present dose of pink girlyness in Amy Rose to attract female gamers and is a who could be considered a far more engaging and interesting character. Rouge on the other hand filled a gap left by the need of a ‘dark’ form of Knuckles as well as the lack of an adult female character, a gap that Sonic Team filled with breast. This blunder has been somewhat rectified with Blaze the Cat, a good example of an older female character that is designed in such a way so as to highlight her femininity without tempting teenage boys the crack out the Kleenex.
Rouge the Bat’s presence in Sonic games has lessened since her appearance seven years ago, but as with the mentally challenged Big the Cat, Sega seem to hold some value in the character and simply refuse to let her fade away. While this writer thinks that the fellows at Sega desperately need to trim down Sonic’s supporting cast members if the ever increasing possibility of Sonic’s second golden age is to become a reality, no one will be particularly surprised if this isn’t the last we see of Rouge the Bat’s boobies.