By Marigold K.
Welcome to Sonic Fridays! This series, in honor of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary this year, is basically just going to be me taking every excuse I can to talk about Sonic the Hedgehog, the character, the franchise, and the franchise's characters, on a biweekly basis with the regularly scheduled articles on Tuesdays every week before or after and so on, because I have a lot to talk about with regards to this franchise (having spent a great chunk of my childhood fixated on it).
To start things off right, I've decided to focus this first article on a very unique character in the Sonic franchise - Cream the Rabbit. Why? Because she is a wonderful character that doesn't get her due very often, and I also wanted to mention her in my previous article about the Sonic franchise as a whole but didn't get to because I didn't want the article to drag and figured she was so awesome she deserved her own article anyway. So here we are! Who is Cream the Rabbit? Where did she come from? Why is she so awesome? Let's find out!
Cream the Rabbit is a very unique character, both in Sonic games and in video games in-general, I believe. She's six years-old, is pacifistic (though, to a pragmatic extent - she'll do what she has to in order to save her friends and family), very innocent and very polite. Pure and untainted by efforts to chase after industry trends with a brooding character of mysterious origins.
One might be forgiven for presuming--based purely on glancing at her on the surface--that she's simply the 'female equivalent' to Sonic's best pal Tails, especially since that was, in fact, the creators' intent when she was first conceptualized! Yes, in Sonic Heroes (the game that, need I remind you all, dubbed Eggman to be a 'feminist'), they needed one more flying character for Team Rose - and thus, Cream the Rabbit was figuratively born.
So that's all, right? This character is merely a tired retread of the "Ms. Male Character" trope just like how Amy Rose was of the "Smurfette Principle" back before they introduced other female characters to the Sonic universe? No. In fact, Cream the Rabbit--in her debut--had perhaps one of the best characterizations featured in any game of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise!
Now, her debut happened before Sonic Heroes, ironically enough. Sonic Team (in conjunction with the video game development studio Dimps) was developing the sequel to its hit debut on the Game Boy Advance system Sonic Advance in parallel with Sonic Heroes, which gave them the opportunity to introduce her in advance (pun intended).
I won't pretend to know just what goes on in the offices of Sonic Team, how decisions get made there, why everything happened the way it did, and so on. I can, however, say what did end up happening, and why it was a modern miracle for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and the video games industry.
Cheese, her bow tie-wearing Chao companion, is also very cool, which always needs to be said. Forever.
When we're first introduced to Cream, she's kidnapped by Dr. Eggman. However, one saving grace to this is that--as soon as she is rescued and has finished thanking Sonic profusely for rescuing her--she's ready to save her mom, who was also kidnapped by Eggman.
She's unlocked as a playable character after this, and holds her own very, very, very well in the game! She can fly with her ears, use Cheese as a makeshift projectile, and generally does a great job at holding her own as well as the rest of the playable characters in this stellar & worthy continuation of the already-spectacular Sonic Advance.
Aside from being a wonderful character in her own right, let's look at her in the broader context of... well, popular culture. She's a little girl rabbit that is pacifistic, innocent, polite, and does not let go of any traditionally-feminine traits in order to find the courage to be more proactive and brave. She just finds it - just the way she is.
In most other games or even just popular pieces of fictional stories, if there is a daughter/young female character, they're more likely to be used as a means to further another--more often than not, male--character's development, and aren't often proactive or have any agency. Cream broke that mold back in 2002 in her first appearance, and she would've continued to, had Sega not caved to a large portion of Sonic fans' demands and diminished her role in later Sonic titles, which I think was a big mistake.
In an industry saturated by pre-dominantly male protagonists, it's a terrible shame that such a unique character in this climate has been fading into obscurity. In this information age that has expanded the modern world's horizons exponentially, it's impossible not to see the glaring lack of diversity in gender (and in race, sexuality, etc.) in video games and in media today (though other forms of media other than video games have done better at this, by virtue of being around longer), and we can't afford to let go of new and refreshing characters like Cream the Rabbit. We can't let the games industry drown in the monotony of telling the same old stories from the same old perspectives when it could be so much more!
I, for one, want to do my part and bring attention to a character that demonstrates how we could do better, with this article. Cream is a wonderful character, who, perhaps in some parallel universe, got to have her own game with Cheese & Chocola that had a Chao Garden or something cool like that. I grew up seeing her in Sonic Heroes and in the anime Sonic X, she's very near and dear to my heart and I hope--at least after this article--I'm not alone in wanting to see her more often.
And gosh - isn't she the cutest thing?
Okay, that's the first edition of Sonic Fridays! I hope you all liked it, I hope you'll join us again in two weeks for the next edition of Sonic Fridays, and I hope it made you appreciate Cream the Rabbit at least a little more. If it did, feel free to let us know in the comments! If it didn't, go ahead and let us know why not. Above all, please try to remain civil down there, which I say because I've been a Sonic fan for years and I know how heated things can get, but this is Game-Positive so let's try and keep it respectful and polite. Like Cream the Rabbit!