New Content Approaching: E-102 Gamma

New Content Approaching: E-102 Gamma

I’ve been replaying Sonic Adventure lately. As the game’s been fresh in my mind, I took the opportunity to discuss Big the Cat, a personal favorite of mine. Given my unconditional love for the admittedly clunky Dreamcast title, I wanted to follow that piece up by discoursing another significant figure within its world, E-102 Gamma.

E-102 Gamma’s profile on Sonic Channel (Image: SEGA)
E-102 Gamma’s profile on Sonic Channel (Image: SEGA)

As we addressed last time, 1998’s Sonic Adventure was a flagship title for SEGA’s Dreamcast, breathing new life into their mascot and reaffirming his place at the top of SEGA’s hierarchy. Sonic’s inaugural 3D platformer redefined his brand, pioneering many new concepts.

And one of Sonic Team’s bold ideas generated a sleek new protagonist unlike anything seen in Sonic’s prior adventures.

E-102 Gamma’s History

E-102 Gamma’s the second formal member of the E-100 genealogy. While the design template for the E-100 series was a unique creation for Adventure, it most closely channels the Eggrobo Badniks from Sonic 3 & Knuckles; the connection between them can be visibly discerned in Gamma’s concept art. Notably, Gamma’s model was also used as a placeholder for his younger siblings – E-103 Delta, E-104 Epsilon, and E-105 Zeta – in developmental footage of Adventure.

The battle-adept bot was the first android to attain a playable position in the mainline games, aptly procuring his own shooting-oriented gameplay. Zebei commented on the unimposing difficulty E-102’s crusade offered, though he appreciated how it provided a different spin in regards to the series’ obligatory timer, as Gamma’s counted down; if it reached zero, Gamma’s out one life. Shooting enemies, especially simultaneously, restored precious seconds to the clock, encouraging players to lock on to multiple targets at once.

Our first look at E-102 Gamma. Much like his fellow newbie Big, the gunman was affixing diversity to Sonic’s roster. He even had an exclusive jumping sound! (Image: SEGA)
Our first look at E-102 Gamma. Much like his fellow newbie Big, the gunman was affixing diversity to Sonic’s roster. He even had an exclusive jumping sound! (Image: SEGA)

E-102’s activation occurred at Dr. Eggman’s Mystic Ruins base, his first sight being the mastermind behind his existence. Gamma, victorious in a fight against his older brother and alleged superior E-101 Beta, earns the privilege to serve onboard the Egg Carrier, although an envious Beta secures permission to come along. After Gamma’s successful acquisition of Froggy put him in his boss’s favor over his younger brethren, he erroneously walked into a certain room. Therein, Gamma discovered Beta’s discarded limbs littering the ground, as his nigh unrecognizable brother underwent a horrific transformation.

Dr. Eggman may’ve constructed Gamma, but Amy and her Flicky companion were the catalyst in unlocking his veiled nature. Gamma was fixated on the cyan bird accompanying Amy and her resolve to help it. Seeing the feathered creature triggered the conscious of bird dormant within Gamma, causing it to begin overriding his programming. Gamma allowed them to escape, though he still deferred to his master when ordered to attack Sonic. Amy interrupted their altercation, signifying to Gamma that he should freely follow his own path.

Gamma took his newfound friend’s advice to heart, manually rewriting his programing as he abandoned the Egg Carrier. Our metallic lead proceeded to write his own mission, one in which he would liberate the renounced E-100 series – his friends – from their prisons. As he neared the end of his journey, Gamma counted the remaining units on his hit list, the first being Beta. However, two animals were still lodged away, not one, spurring the renegade robot to thoughtfully assess his hand…

Gamma’s last line of dialog was naming his two final targets, himself and Beta. Adding to the mood were the ambient noises of the sea and Gamma’s scarcely audible electronic humming. (Image: SEGA)
Gamma’s last line of dialog was naming his two final targets, himself and Beta. Adding to the mood were the ambient noises of the sea and Gamma’s scarcely audible electronic humming. (Image: SEGA)

E-101mkII interrupted his younger brother’s mulling, incurring their rematch aboard the once airborne fortress; the vessel they were built to serve would in turn serve as their final battleground and mutual resting place. Although Gamma technically defeated his more advanced peer once more, Beta used the last of his strength to strike Gamma at point-blank range, mortally wounding him. Gamma, limping as he met the Flicky who had been encased in Beta’s body, manually self destructed, with an image of the three-member Flicky flock being his last vision before his death.

Given Sonic Adventure’s profound success, its iconography bled over into other mediums. E-102 Gamma was an infrequent participant in the Archie continuity, eventually passing on the torch – and a fragment of his data – to his descendant, E-123 Omega. Likewise, Gamma reprised his role in the Sonic X anime. While details concerning his journey were altered, he ultimately shared the same fate as his mainline counterpart. Amy, however, was present for her friend’s demise in this realm. Adventure’s influence could also be felt in the Dreamcast spin-off Sonic Shuffle. Thanks to the power of dreams (not to mention asset reuse), Gamma managed to appear as an unlockable character for use in Shuffle’s multiplayer mode.

Speaking of Sonic Adventure’s influence, it also affected 2003’s Sonic Battle partially through Eggman’s latest assassin, Chaos Gamma. Sonic and Tails politely greet him (notwithstanding they did not part ways amicably with Gamma in Adventure, they merely humored Amy’s request to stop fighting him), though they quickly learn this Gamma harbors a very different – and far more violent – disposition despite his familiar veneer. Rouge later expositions how Chaos Gamma, who’s fortunately less adept at his job than his namesake was at his, was built from salvaged E-100 scraps. Also of pertinence were Eggman’s mass-produced Guard Robos, which were grayscale replicas of Chaos Gamma.

Chaos Gamma from Sonic Battle
At least Chaos Gamma’s self-destruct was a useful tool on my Emerl. (Image: SEGA)

Gamma’s legacy can be perceived in other ways. Sonic Adventure 2 featured a new Badnik called E-1000. Regardless of their physical resemblance to E-102, Eggman neglected to augment his E-1000 units with a comparable arsenal, nor the capacity for independent thought. Moreover, E-102’s playstyle persisted through Tails and, in a historic playable role, Dr. Eggman. The next core title, Sonic Heroes, introduced the aforementioned Omega, the final robot in the E-100 lineage. In a cute memorial to his predecessors, Omega laments his presumed inability to beat Gamma and Beta upon receiving an E Rank.

E-123 Omega remains a recurring character in the franchise, filling in a niche his forebear birthed. Furthermore, similar story beats that characterized Gamma’s arc can be seen in subsequent titles. E-102 Gamma may have only been a prominent player in a single game (and its numerous re-releases), but his remnants transcend Sonic’s experimental 3D days.

So, what’re my thoughts on Gamma?

Truthfully, if I were asked to point to the pinnacle of storytelling in the video game industry, I would not point to Sonic the Hedgehog. That said, Gamma’s solemn life seemed to resonate with people, myself included. Our friend zoniken professed his love for Gamma’s campaign, especially its emotional ending. Likewise, one of my friends appreciates the memorability of when Eggman callously disowned Gamma’s siblings.

E-102 Gamma was hardwired to be an obedient cog in Eggman’s operations, yet he managed to question his purpose and nurture a sense of free will. What existential crisis provoked Gamma’s HAL 9000-esque internal conflict, his assessment of who he is and what he should value and act upon? Well, seeing displays of his master’s cruelty and his friend’s compassion certainly helped. The pink Flicky encased within E-102 must also be credited for his fratricidal voyage of emancipation.

E-102 Gamma and a Flicky in Sonic Adventure
Sonic Adventure underlined the animals mechanically and narratively. The latter’s depicted here, when Gamma’s battery flared up as he was approached by a nostalgic Flicky. (Image: SEGA)

Gamma’s campaign novelly elaborated upon a facet of the Sonic franchise that dates back to its inaugural game: the little animals who power the Badniks. It’s no secret that Takashi Iizuka’s vision for Sonic Adventure began as “an RPG-style Sonic game” with an emphasis on storytelling. This allocated a greater focus on the unlucky critters Eggman ritualistically abducts, exploring the psychological impact these imprisoned beings could have over the mechs encasing them. Moreover, given how the Flicky species is the most emblematic of the miniature animals, it’s a nice touch it was selected for this plotline.

I’m sure we can all agree Sonic Adventure’s presentation and voice acting doesn’t hold up to modern standards… or even 1998’s standards, honestly. Yet even within that subterranean bar, I feel the late Steve Broadie’s performance as E-102 is one of the stronger performances in the game. Gamma maintained a deep, monotone – if stereotypical – robotic voice, portraying Gamma’s minimalistic dialog with a levelheaded demeanor while occasionally accentuating it with inklings of emotion. (We can gloss over his 4Kids voice actor, right?)

Nevertheless, one of the biggest strengths awarded to Gamma’s story is the simple fact that it concluded. Series stalwarts like Dr. Robotnik or Amy are irreplaceable to the franchise, so they’ll always remain a part of it. Recurring characters, from Rouge to the Chaotix to Big, may skip a game or two, but they aren’t intricately tied down by a resolved story arc. And even characters who have had closure could still inelegantly be thrust back into rotation, as Sonic Team has demonstrated copious times.

Shadow the Hedgehog
Sonic Team’s track record for how well they handle post-resurrected characters is certainly up for debate. Perhaps that’s a topic for another time. (Image: SEGA)

Gamma’s tale, however, remains complete and whole. He was a harmless bonus character in Shuffle, and Sonic Adventure 2 tastefully paid tribute to Gamma, it didn’t lean on him. Sonic Battle isn’t a beacon of stellar writing and Chaos Gamma wasn’t much more than fanservice, but at least they honored the original Gamma’s saga by not undoing it.

Nonetheless, Sonic Adventure’s lore regarding the lost Echidna tribe and Chaos could just as easily have been explored without Gamma’s involvement. Amy and Eggman were the only major characters he had any meaningful interactions with, yet they merely influenced Gamma’s worldview, not vice versa. But this is a moot point because E-102 Gamma was in Sonic Adventure, and that game and the series it hails from are richer for it.

And, thankfully, I presume it’s unlikely SEGA will ever decide to properly revive Gamma. Given how he has an active successor in Omega, Gamma should remain free to rest in peace undisturbed.

Congratulations, E-102! Mission complete!

Flickies in Sonic Adventure
His co-stars may be unaware of his noble sacrifice, but we’ll always remember E-102 Gamma. (Image: SEGA)

You may recall last time I mentioned I was working on two pieces. Well, one of those was postponed for a bit because another character took priority on my to-do list.

Who’s next, then? Well, considering how minor of a character he is to his home series, I had a hard time deciding how to hint at the greenhorn’s identity. Instead, I’ll give you the anniversary of his debut: November 10.

Diddy Kong Racing!
Shame how few people in Diddy Kong’s extended social circle had their careers take off…
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Cart Boy

I want to be the very best. Like no one ever was.

Mains: Mario (64); Mario and Dr. Mario (Melee); Wolf and Toon Link (Brawl); Mario, Dr. Mario, and Rosalina (3DS/Wii U)
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2 comments

  1. Sorry to be late! Been busy for a while…

    As I commented back on Metal Sonic’s article, I really love every robots Eggman creates. From common Badniks like Motobugs (or Jimmy) to boss types like Mecha Sonic, they’re unique designs and abilities is something that I really admired about, just like how I liked every Robot Masters from the Mega Man series. Among imagination, I’ve always dreamed of what if one Badnik suddenly turned good and joined Sonic’s team. And Gamma was my answer to that question…well, he wasn’t fully Sonic’s team since he was just a rebellion gone free will. But even then, Gamma’s appearance is what gave me full attention upon.

    As I commented back on Big’s article, I really loved his storyline. A robot who’ve witnessed his creator’s cruelty towards his brotherly comrades, and how his objectives changed by an innocent captive with a harmless bird…although his storyline had no connection with the major plot of the mysterious Chaos, it was very unique of how the story become so emotional that they never had in the previous Sonic titles. His ending scene really struct me with tears, realizing how emotional not just only to his story, but his theme song is. Unlike other characters, Gamma is the only character who has a theme song without a lyric, and the music does express how his motives changes rather than being a mindless tool. Another thing about Gamma is that his original bird form even returned in the Last Story, replacing Amy’s bird friend, as it seem he still have a memory that he’s still involved with the main story, helping everybody gather the Chaos Emerald in the end. That bird was Gamma’s last role, and I’m glad he’d accomplished his final mission.

    I was also surprised to see the enemy Badnik that looked like Gamma in Sonic Adventure 2. I thought it was him when I first saw it, but realized it didn’t even look like one. But even more, I was also surprised another Gamma-like robot, which is Omega, appeared as a new character in Sonic Heroes, but this time truly on the regular cast of good guys. Omega was the replacement of Gamma, who represents Eggman’s Badnik became good. And even Omega do prefer to overcome his predecessors, it’s still glad he mentioned Gamma’s name as reference.

    Although I was surprised to see Gamma return as a secret character in Sonic Shuffle, which I admittedly agree did not win against Mario Party series, I really don’t know if his inclusion was even that important. Even his victory quote being “Frog Captured Complete” didn’t even sound right, even the frog wasn’t even around. Although I wasn’t disappointed, it felt awkward instead. I was also surprised to see Gamma return once a gain in Sonic Battle, but realized it wasn’t the same Gamma, but something similar to Metal Sonic who seeks power to become the strongest. Although Cream took Amy’s place to help change Gamma, he became a training robot instead…which also felt more awkward than disappointed. But this was before Sonic Heroes was out, and I do think they didn’t want to bring Omega in Sonic Battle to avoid spoilers. But even if any of these weren’t the same Gamma, it’s good to see him again in the games.

    Archie Gamma was quite different as the comic version were meant to be original. Without having that infamous emotional cutscene, they’ve decided to cut the whole part of Gamma VS Beta-MKII, which did look disappointing instead. But more than that, I was excited to see Gamma VS Omega, the dream battle of the hero-sided Eggman bots. How it ended was really unexpected, for Gamma becoming a virus to grant Omega emotions…didn’t see that coming. But I guess that implant made Archie Omega become more weird entirely. Not just being a demolition maniac, but loving Blaze for her fire abilities, and even Cream for being too cute…AWKWARD. But even then, it’s good to see how Gamma ended in a different way, rather than being forgotten for no reasons. But also don’t forget about Isaac, the golden robot that looked like Gamma…which I found his appearance was too meaningless.

    Sonic X version of Sonic Adventure wasn’t really that impressive, but I still liked Omega’s story. Unlike the original game version, this time, Amy witnesses her robotic friend’s end, and it really made me cry too. The anime staff really did a good job on making Gamma’s story a lot more emotional, thus how Amy beat the crap out of Zero wasn’t impressive as being too simple.

    Getting back to Sonic Adventure, his shooting mechanic didn’t really disappoint me. Locking on to many targets (even Chao too!!) and destroying everything for higher combos and scores, was really stress relieving. I don’t understand why people dislike such mechanic, which nothing really bothered me when I was playing as Gamma. It’s also good to see the mechanic returned to Sonic Adventure 2 as being Tails and (first time being playable) Eggman’s mechanics, while Sonic Shuffle was too meaningless to have one.

    Although we may never see Gamma again, his name isn’t something I would ever forget about. Beside, “Gamma” has become my favorite word since then, and I think it helps me remember about the robot I really liked. Plus, Omega has become Gamma’s greatest successor, and I do think Gamma would not be forgotten as long Omega’s in the action. Thank you for bringing my memorable robot to this article! And also thank you for bringing my name in this topic as reference!

    Next time on New Content Approaching…so it’s somebody from Diddy Kong’s Racing. Is it Banjo? Or Conker? Or somebody that has only appeared once but later fell into oblivion? Either way, I really don’t know much about Rare characters, but definitely looking forward for it!

    1. Hey, friend!

      Yeah, Eggman’s robots are consistently great. They all offer unique designs, helping give each Zone and/or game their own flair. Gamma’s definitely a special Badnik, given his story. It may be encumbered with the roughness that plagues Sonic Adventure, but it’s still probably my favorite story told within the franchise. His bittersweet ending was genuine and earned.

      I was chatting with one of my friends after he read this piece, and he also appreciates E-102 Gamma’s theme. It is very befitting of him, given its somber overtones and lack of lyrics. Moreover, I always found it interesting that his theme lacks a proper name like the other protagonists’ (“It Doesn’t Matter,” “My Sweet Passion,” etc.); instead, Gamma’s theme is simply called “Theme of ‘E-102γ.’”

      I actually began writing a paragraph about the Flickies, concerning their reunion at the end of Amy’s story and the return of Gamma’s Flicky during the last story, but I decided against it. I felt it would deemphasize the finality of Gamma’s death. Regardless, I agree, it was nice to see the pink Flicky return for the finale. Mission complete, indeed!

      When I first saw E-123 Omega in Sonic Heroes, I was critical of him for basically the same reason I dislike Chaos Gamma – he felt like cheap fanservice, but I warmed up to Omega in recent years. He’s certainly his own character, aesthetic links to the E-100 series aside. Honestly, his namedropping of Gamma and Beta was one of my favorite things in Heroes.

      Speaking of Isaac, I never really got the point of him. I know they didn’t kill Gamma off yet by that point, so why not use the real thing instead of a golden recolor? Regardless, I do appreciate that Gamma’s death in the Archie continuity still served the greater good, helping reform Omega. Likewise, Gamma’s friend getting to see his sacrifice in Sonic X was a nice detail. (Speaking of Amy, I’ll let you know she may also be a character on my to-do list.)

      I personally liked Gamma’s mechanics in Adventure, and I, like Zebei, thought his inversion of the timer was a nifty tweak. I didn’t enjoy Tails and Eggman as much in the sequel, but having the latter inherit Gamma’s gameplay made sense. I wouldn’t mind seeing another crack at this style someday. …So long as it stars someone other than Gamma, of course.

      We all know Metal Sonic’s my favorite character in the Sonic franchise. I’ve never really thought too hard about who’d be second, but Gamma’s a strong contender for the spot. He had an incredibly memorable story, and I’m glad Sonic Team and SEGA haven’t tried to retcon it or revive him. And you’re welcome for me covering E-102 here, and you’re welcome for the namedrop! And thanks for sharing your experiences.

      Yeah, we’re heading back to Timber’s Island next time. As for who it is… well, let’s just say there’s a reason I put the “green” in “greenhorn” in italics. Diddy Kong Racing actually initially launched on the 10th of November, but I should be ready to race on the 14th, its European anniversary. All I need is a little crunch time!

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