This divine protector of the Chun-nan people was tainted by Dark Gaia's influence and went berserk, leaving its usually quiet existence in the depths of the Gaia Temple.
— Description, Sonic Unleashed
The Dark Gaia Phoenix (聖獣ダークガイアフェニックス Seijū Dāku Gaia Fenikkusu?, lit. "Divine Beast Dark Gaia Phoenix") is a member of Dark Gaia's Minions, the first nighttime boss and the second boss to be fought in Sonic Unleashed (third if counting the Egg Cauldron from the 360/PS3 versions). Originally a benevolent phoenix, this magnificent creature became corrupted by Dark Gaia's energies and went on a rampage until Sonic the Werehog and Chip managed to restore him to his former self. He is the guardian of the Gaia Temple in Chun-nan and is fought after completing Dragon Road Night Act III: Path to Darkness on the Wii/PS2 version and Dragon Road Night Act 1 on the 360/PS3 version.
The Dark Gaia Phoenix stands out as a very large creature, about ten to twelve meters tall. While he mostly resembles a phoenix, he also possesses some peacock-like traits such as a long, slender neck and long eye-spotted feathers as its tail feathers and on his abdomen and head. In his natural form, he has a beautiful multi-colored glowing plumage, complete with a golden torso, neck and tail, violet wings with a golden edge and a green and red head with violet eyes.
After being corrupted by Dark Gaia's energy, the Dark Gaia Phoenix's entire body becomes dark purple and he is constantly surrounded in flames.
Unlike majority of Dark Gaia's Minions, the Dark Gaia Phoenix is not originally a fragment of the creature's essence, but an independent creature of his own. Originally, the Dark Gaia Phoenix was a regular phoenix who resided in Chun-nan and had served as the protector of Chun-nan's people and guardian of the local Temple of Gaia for an unpresented amount of time. It spends most of its time living quietly at the temple, but reveals itself once a year at the Meat Bun Festival. According to Zonshen, he has been taking care of the phoenix.
At the beginning of Sonic Unleashed however, due to the actions of Dr. Eggman, the Chaos Emeralds were left drained of their power in his attempt to awaken Dark Gaia. This disturbance in the emeralds' power caused the Phoenix to go berserk, and it was soon after tainted by Dark Gaia's energy that had spread across the globe, thus it mutated into the Dark Gaia Phoenix and went on a total rampage.
At the time Sonic the Werehog and Chip arrived at Chun-nan's Temple of Gaia to search for Zonshen, the Dark Gaia Phoenix had apparently assaulted its old friend. As soon as Sonic and Chip came to Zonshen's aid however, the Dark Gaia Phoneix attacked them. Despite its continuing persistence, Sonic managed to defeat the great beast and subdue it long enough for him and Chip to restore one of the Chaos Emeralds.
With the restoration of the emerald, the Dark Gaia Phoenix was returned to normal and it regained its senses, and Sonic and Chip understood the reason for the Phoenix's transformation. After accepting some chocolate from Chip, the phoenix soon after returned to the Temple of Gaia to resume its duty as the temple and Chun-nan's guardian.
Powers and abilities
As one of Dark Gaia's Minions, the Dark Gaia Phoenix is shown to possess pyrokinetic abilities. He can envelope himself in an aura of flames that can make Sonic the Werehog catch on fire (and slowly drain his health) if he make physical contact with him by either attacking or touching him, just like the Fire Master, and he can send out waves of flames by stomping onto the ground. He also appears to possess great physical strength as seen on the 360/PS3 version where he can make entire towers crumble by simply flying into them.
The Dark Gaia Phoenix can also use his feathers as weapons; he can send out rows of feathers that will home into Sonic and track him over long distances. If they hit, they can cause Sonic catch on fire and knock him down for a moment, while on the 360/PS3 version they can even immobilize him for a short while. This attack cannot be blocked by Sonic the Werehog's guarding abilities. On the 360/PS3 version he can also shoot a steady barrage of feathers at Sonic. This attack can be blocked by Sonic the Werehog's guarding abilities.
The Dark Gaia Phoenix's greatest weakness, however, is water which he appears to be highly vulnerable to; if dowsed with water, his flames will go out and he will be so exhausted that he has to land in order to rest and reignite.
On an interesting note, as seen in the battle on the 360/PS3 version, the Dark Gaia Phoenix can apparently fully restore its health and flames each time he is on the verge of defeat. This might be a reference to the actual mythical phoenix which is said to rise from its ashes to be reborn anew. It is only until Sonic manages to throw him into the central pond that he is unable to restore his health and allows Sonic to fully defeat him.
It is unknown what kind of powers the Dark Gaia Phoenix has in his original form.
The Dark Gaia Phoenix starts off by firing several feathers at Sonic. Dodge them. When the boss charges up for a larger attack, jump up to one of the platforms and throw a water barrel at him and his fire aura will fall, giving you a window of opportunity to attack. If you do not throw a water barrel at the Dark Gaia Phoenix, he will launch feathers that will home in on Sonic and possibly destroy the water barrel. A button sequence (QTE) will play, giving you a chance to damage him more. The amount of water barrels to douse his fire aura increases by one every time you take a third off his health bar. After Sonic the Werehog attacks him, he stomps on the ground and creates a fire earthquake. After 3 attacks, he will fall.The time needed to "S" Rank is 5:00 any time greater than 5:00 yields a "C" Rank and no Sun Medal is awarded.
The Dark Gaia Phoenix starts out by shooting homing feathers at Sonic. Then it will fly around and land with a fire earthquake. Sonic can only hit it by throwing water jugs after it uses this attack, otherwise it will destroy it. After getting hit by a water jug, the Dark Gaia Phoenix flies over to one of the platforms to rest. Go over to it and hit it a few times to initiate a short QTE. After that, Sonic will punch him before leaping off and howling. After attacking it, it will fly around a bit before charging at Sonic, then fly up and come back down with a fire earthquake before repeating its usual pattern. This time, instead of homing feathers, it might just shoot a barrage of feathers at Sonic. Guard to protect Sonic from this attack. Sonic is required to toss two water jugs at the Dark Gaia Phoenix to weaken the flames. After completing the third QTE, which requires the player to push the /button six times, Sonic will grab the phoenix and throw it into the pool in the middle of the stage and the Dark Gaia Phoenix is defeated.
In other media
- In the 360/PS3 version, it is possible to defeat this boss in under a minute using the Missile Punch. It will only take two hits, then Sonic will say: "Strike three monster, that's enough out of you!".
- Dark Gaia Phoenix is the only Dark Gaia-related boss (apart from Dark Gaia itself) to have "Gaia" in its name. This may have been intentional to avoid confusion with Dark Phoenix, a character from Marvel Comics.
- The Dark Gaia Phoenix is the only boss in the game that is a "natural" guardian of the Gaia Temple, where all the others bosses appeared during the events of the game.
- A yellow figure resembling Dark Gaia Phoenix appears on the flag of Chun-nan, taking the place of the five stars of China's flag.
- The phoenix's shriek is reused two games later for the Biolizard in the 3DS version of Sonic Generations.
- The Dark Gaia Phoenix is the only boss in Sonic Unleashed who has its health bar emptied more than once (in the 360/PS3 versions), which is a nod to the concepts of phoenixes being able to come back to life via special revivals after dying in various ways.