The following contains spoilers for Sonic Frontiers, out now from Sega Games.
Sonic Frontiers’ primary antagonist Sage has been set apart from the traditional Sonic the Hedgehog video game villains through a combination of design choices, origin, and personality. She may be on her way to becoming a truly iconic member of the Sonic franchise. The A.I. character’s relationship with both Sonic the Hedgehog and Doctor Eggman was incredibly unique in comparison to the usual antagonistic villain pawn or one-note dynamics given to most of the new Sonic the Hedgehog villains to come of other recent video games.
However, parts of her origin within the video game a strikingly familiar to another technological villain hailing from the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series known as A.D.A.M., a character that Ian Flynn (the story writer for Sonic Frontiers) previously worked on during his time as an Archie Comics writer. Both were artificial intelligence constructs created by Doctor Eggman that seemingly developed their own personalities beyond Eggman’s programming. But whereas Sage became a sympathetic and endearing character within Sonic Frontiers, A.D.A.M. became a truly malignant foe that nearly broke Sonic the Hedgehog’s trademark optimism.
Who Was Sonic’s A.D.A.M.?
The Autonomous Digital Assault Microbe –or A.D.A.M. for short– first appeared in Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog #130 (by Karl Bollers, Jeff Axer, Steven Butler, Michael Higgens, Jim Amash, and Jason Jenson) as a central computer system that could control Doctor Eggman’s badnik robot army, sporting a design similar to that of a generic medical monitor screen. While at first A.D.A.M. appeared to be just a generic talking computer, the A.I. developed a peculiar trait to refer to its creator as its ‘father’. Most other Doctor Eggman creations would traditionally refer to their creator as ‘Doctor’ or ‘Lord’ Eggman. A.D.A.M. would even refer to Eggman’s other creations –such as the android Mecha– as his siblings, displaying a sense of fondness for his comrades.
While not as advanced as Sage, A.D.A.M. shared both her function as the A.I. in control of Eggman’s creations, as well as having developed a personal belief that Doctor Eggman is more akin to their father. However, Ian Flynn would take the two characters in radically different directions, as while Sage would grow to love Eggman as a father, A.D.A.M. would increasingly grow to loath his father. In Sonic the Hedgehog #168 (by Ian Flynn, Tracy Yardley, Gary Bedell, Jim Amash, Rich Koslowski, Josh Ray, Jason Jensen, Aimee Ray, and John Workman) it was revealed that A.D.A.M. had been conspiring against his so-called father, using a collection of nanomachines to infect Sonic the Hedgehog’s close friend Tommy Turtle. This turns him into a sentient body for the A.I. to take over the Eggman Empire.
Kidnapping both Tails the Fox and Shadow the Hedgehog, A.D.A.M. planned to use their connection to the legendary Chaos Emeralds to summon hundreds of Chaos Emeralds from across the universe. After a lengthy battle with Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic the Hedgehog #169 (by Ian Flynn, Tracey Yadley, Steven Butler, Ken Penders, John Workman, Jason Jensen, and Aimee Ray), A.D.A.M. was weakened enough so that Tommy could regain control of his body. However, before Sonic could save his friend, Doctor Eggman used his Egg Fleet to destroy both his son A.D.A.M. and Tommy Turtle.
Why Sage Is A Better Sonic Antagonist
Despite acting as a great threat to Sonic the Hedgehog, A. D.A.M didn’t work as well as a character like Sage. Instead of becoming a robot-gone-rogue tycoon, Sage’s growth as an A.I. who would gain sentience came about because of her loyalty to her father. She wanted to ensure Doctor Eggman’s safety within Sonic Frontiers’ Starfall Islands. Through her interactions with Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends, Sage learned more about what it meant to be alive and have friendships, changing her viewpoints on her own demeanor. As a result, she began acting outside her own programming to ensure that the people she cares about do not fall into harm.
This created a much more well-rounded character that complemented the narrative of the Sonic Frontiers video game exceptionally well while also showing the development of Ian Flynn as a writer. While A.D.A.M. was by no means a poor antagonist, Sage elevated the characteristics of A.D.A.M. tenfold. With Sage’s fate left ambiguous at the end of Sonic Frontiers, it would be great if her character made a return, either within a new Sonic the Hedgehog video game, or IDW Publishing’s comic book run. The cast of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise can never have too many characters.