As far back as I can remember, I've been living here on this dark island, always guarding the Master Emerald from anything that can harm it. I don't know why i was given this job, why it was my fate, destined to be here... forever. — Knuckles the Echidna, Sonic Adventure
Angel Island (エンジェルアイランド,Enjeru Airando?), previously known as the Floating Island (浮遊島,Fuyūtō?), is a prominent location in the Sonic the Hedgehog series which was first introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It is an island that floats high in the sky using the eternal energy of the Master Emerald; without it, the island will inevitably plummet from the sky. The island is inhabited by various Animals and is also the home of Knuckles the Echidna, who is the guardian of the Master Emerald and the only surviving member of the Knuckles Clan that once inhabited the island.
The idea of a levitating island goes back at least as far as Nephelokokkygia ("Cloud Cuckoo Land"), the airborne city of birds from Aristophanes' play The Birds; another example is Laputa from Johnathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels.
Angel Island is likely to have been inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's interpretation of Laputa - a lost city, that is featured in his 1986 animated adventure film Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Similarities between Laputa and Angel Island include their dependency on a giant green gem to stay aloft, in Laputa this was called a Levistone. Many backgrounds for various Zones in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are heavily influenced by number of Laputa's locations and both games' story sequences bear strong similarities to many scenes from the film.
Over 4,000 years ago, Angel Island was part of the Mystic Ruins, where it was the location of the Altar of the Emeralds containing the Master Emerald and its Chaos Emeralds. One night, Pachacamac, the leader of the Knuckles Clan, decided to storm the Altar Emeralds and take the Emeralds to gain power. However, Pachacamac's daughter, Tikal, tried to stop them, believing using the Emeralds for power was terrible. However, Pachacamac did not listen and he raided the shrine, injuring or killing residential Chao in the process. This act infuriated Chaos, the Guardian God of the Chao, who used the seven Chaos Emeralds to transform into Perfect Chaos and destroyed most of the Knuckles Clan. Before Perfect Chaos could go destroy everything else in its blind rage, Tikal sealed it inside the Master Emerald. The sealing of Perfect Chaos created an energy surge from the Master Emerald, resulting in an energy backlash that ripped a large fragment of the land and a portion of the Mystic Ruins from the ground, causing it to float in the sky, thus creating Angel Island.
Over time, stories about the Floating Island's creation arose, saying that the Gods arrived after the incident with Perfect Chaos, removing the territory as an island and hoisted it into the sky, isolating the Master Emerald from the world and taking the surviving Echidnas with it.
After that, the Emeralds became known as Chaos Emeralds, and the Echidnas took the sacred role of guardians to make sure the tragedy could never repeat. In the present day, Knuckles the Echidna is the only surviving member of his tribe. It is unknown if the Chaos Emeralds scattered after Chaos was sealed, but it is known that the civilization of West Side Island used one of the seven Emeralds before it is believed the Gods sealed it away to prevent another misuse of power, and five or six of them may have been resting in the depths of Cocoa Island a very long time before the events of the series.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles "Tails" Prower destroyed Dr. Ivo Robotnik's large space station, the Death Egg. After entering the atmosphere, the Death Egg crashed onto the Floating Island, pressing it down into the ocean. While rebuilding his forces, Robotnik met Knuckles, the guardian of the Master Emerald and the last living descendant of the island's civilization. Robotnik managed to trick the Echidna into believing that Sonic was coming to steal the Emerald. (The original manual stated it was the Chaos Emeralds that were used to trick him, and implied it was Knuckles' duty to watch over them all. This is still some source of confusion among fans. However, the Master Emerald was referred to as a unique Chaos Emerald in early Japanese manuals, and by association Knuckles would believe Sonic was the villain if he was found with the other Emeralds.) In the beginning of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic and Tails arrive at the island to investigate the cause of a recent tidal wave. Sonic becomes Super Sonic, and flies over to the island, but Knuckles attacks them and steals their Chaos Emeralds, and hides the gems in Special Stages. Sonic and Tails continue through the island to find Robotnik attempting to re-launch the Death Egg. They battle through Robotnik's Launch Base and reach the main site. They board a convenient platform beneath the operational ship and have a throwdown with Robotnik. Sonic defeats Dr. Robotnik, making the Death Egg lose flight and plummet all the way down into the Lava Reef's volcanic mountain.
In Sonic & Knuckles, the direct continuation and expansion, Sonic (and Tails if locked on) travel to the inside of the volcano. They discover the Hidden Palace, and battle Knuckles there. After Knuckles is defeated, the three hear some ruckus further away in the palace, and they run off. The three find that Robotnik took advantage of the commotion to find and steal the Master Emerald. Knuckles discovers who the real villain is, tries to stop him, but gets electrocuted. After Robotnik escapes with it, the three fall down to a hidden room. Knuckles, after regaining consciousness, takes Sonic and Tails to a special room with a teleportation device that sends them to ancient floating ruins called the Sky Sanctuary Zone. There, the Death Egg is relaunched with an added power boost from the Master Emerald, and humanoid EggRobos are ejected to slow them down. Knuckles is too tired, so he stays behind while Sonic and Tails go on to infiltrate and destroy the Death Egg. Once the Death Egg crumbles, Robotnik takes the Emerald in his escape mech and tries to make a swift getaway in space, but Sonic uses the power of the Emeralds to give chase with no sign of Tails. The two battle in deep space while dodging asteroids. Finally, Robotnik is defeated and Sonic falls back to earth. Luckily, Tails catches him in the Tornado and they return the Master Emerald back to where it belongs. With the Floating Island once again airborne, the two fly off and end the game.
In Knuckles' story of the game, the Master Emerald is stolen again by the remaining EggRobo, and the Floating Island starts wobbling. Knuckles goes through the island and eventually clashes with an Emerald-powered Mecha Sonic. After defeating him, the area they were on begins to crumble, but Knuckles and the Master Emerald are saved by Sonic in the Tornado.
In Sonic Adventure, it is now renamed Angel Island as of the redesign, after the first zone of its debut game. Knuckles' story begins with him sleeping next to the Master Emerald when it is suddenly shattered, revealing Chaos (and also, secretly, a strange red orb form of Tikal). Knuckles attacks Chaos, but is swiftly defeated, and Chaos melts away. Due to the pieces of the Master Emerald flying away everywhere, the island crashes in the Mystic Ruins below, confusing everybody about where the Ruin's new "mountains" came from. Knuckles goes on a quest to find all the pieces, which he eventually does at the end of his story, nearly destroying Chaos in the process. In the game's "Final" story (Super Sonic), the island falls again due to Chaos and Tikal not taking their rightful places back in the Master Emerald. Later, Eggman crashes on the grounded Angel Island in his floating pod, after Chaos had betrayed and attacked him. Chaos then steals the six Chaos Emeralds Knuckles brought to the shrine after previously defeating him.
Sonic Adventure 2
In Sonic Adventure 2, Rouge the Bat steals the Master Emerald, which is shattered by Knuckles himself due to Eggman trying to steal it while Knuckles and Rouge were arguing. Rouge is furious, but Knuckles explains he did it as an emergency measure as only he can put it back together. It is unknown if the desert area that the Master Emerald is seen in during the first cutscene is located on the Angel Island, or if Rouge had taken the Master Emerald with her, and that Knuckles had chased her to the current location. The "Wild Canyon" stage may also be located on the island, as there are several Echidna murals on it, and the lyrics to the music (which is assumed to be Knuckles' thoughts), contains "I've gotta protect this place, I'll do it for my race".
In Sonic Advance 3, Eggman uses Chaos Control to split the world in seven pieces. The seventh piece is Chaos Angel, a large amount of floating ruins set in a semi-apocalyptic theme. The ruins are assumed to be part of Angel Island, as the boss of Chaos Angel is fought right at what is now called Altar Emerald. In the background of the final boss fight in Altar Emerald, there is an altar holding the Master Emerald, indicating that the fight takes place at Angel Island.
In Sonic Jump, Angel Island is visited by Eggman where he intends to get the last of the Chaos Emeralds from Knuckles. Knuckles refuses to hand over the Chaos Emerald and, suddenly, Sonic shows up. Knuckles isn't too thrilled to see Sonic but when Knuckles looks over at Sonic, Eggman uses that opportunity to steal the Chaos Emerald. Sonic wants to know what Eggman is going to do with all seven of the Chaos Emeralds and Eggman replies that he is going to take over the world as usual. However, Eggman plans to use the Emeralds in his latest creation, the Brainwash Beam. With that, Eggman takes his leave. Knuckles blames Sonic for distracting him, but Sonic replies that Knuckles was the one who turned his attention away from Eggman. Fortunately, Tails breaks up the argument. Sonic asks Tails where they could find Eggman and Tails says that Eggman has to be in outer space since it's the only way to send the brainwash waves across the world. Tails continues saying that Eggman may have a space station in South America and plans to use a rocket to launch into space from there, prompting the trio to head to South America.
Prior to the events of Sonic Rivals, Doctor Eggman Nega brings Onyx Island, which is the future version of Angel Island, to the present. Sonic and Tails travel to the island to investigate only for Tails to be imprisoned in a card thanks to Eggman Nega's camera. Knuckles seeks Eggman for the Master Emerald's disappearance in which as he took a picture of the Master Emerald, it disappears in all existing time frames.
In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Angel Island disappears from its normal location over Mystic Ruins; it is revealed that the leader of the villainous Marauders, Ix, was using the Chaos Emeralds to tow the Island over to his base in Metropolis with the intent on invading it and stealing the Master Emerald. Angel Island seems smaller than it usually is, but if the player looks around the top right area of the map on the top screen, a section of trees and/or mountains can be seen, which could mean the island continues more in that direction and the player only moves around a small area at the edge of Angel Island.
In Sonic Forces, Knuckles was on Angel Island, resting next to the Master Emerald, until Silver the Hedgehog appeared to warn him about trouble of some sort involving Dr. Eggman. However, the two soon noticed that the island around them had suddenly disappeared, and in its place was the Mystic Ruins, due to the influence of the Phantom Ruby being in Eggman's hands. There, Knuckles and Silver fought Chaos and managed to suppress it. However, Chaos disappeared, along with the Mystic Ruins. Knuckles then went along with Silver to warn the rest of their allies that danger was approaching while Eggman watched with glee and was satisfied his test on Angel Island worked.
Other game appearances
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2013)
In the 2013 re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Floating Island makes a brief appearance in the good ending of the game, which is seen if all the Chaos Emeralds are collected. The Death Egg is shown approaching the Floating Island, and then the aftermath of the crash is shown, revealing Dr. Robotnik's survival. He immediately throws a childish temper tandrum in front of his wrecked Death Egg Robot, as certain echidna-shaped eyes slowly reveal themselves from within the bushes and ominously stare at the doctor. This scene is missing from previous versions of the game, as the only difference shown in the original game's endings is the presence of Super Sonic and/or different Animals.
Sonic Advance series
In Sonic Advance, Angel Island is simply a zone in itself. It is filled with ancient ruins and some sand, and the boss is a robotic Knuckles, which ironically pokes fun at Knuckles. Its overall appearance highly resembles the Sky Sanctuary Zone.
Sonic Advance 2
In Sonic Advance 2, the floating Angel Island is seen on the stage select map. Upon selecting the island, the player enters the Sky Canyon stage, which is seemingly set on a cloudy, canyon-filled mountain. When you first finish the level in story mode as Sonic, the boss is Knuckles himself, who has been tricked by Eggman.
Sonic Pinball Party
In Sonic Pinball Party, there is an Angel Island board based on the stage from Sonic Advance. Tikal makes a cameo there as a stone carving.
In Sonic Battle, Knuckles lives on a mountain known as "Holy Summit", an area that resembles the Sonic Adventure Adventure Field. Some ruins and an altar is nearby, and Chaos can be fought in the crater. While it is possible that this is indeed Angel Island, the adjacent areas appear to be either mainland or a normal island.
In the Fleetway-published Sonic the Comic continuity, Angel Island remains largely the same. However, it is never referred to as 'Angel Island'; instead, the comic uses the name Floating Island. The Island was able to fly by the power of its six Chaos Emeralds; however, if the Master Emerald is removed, the island will fall regardless. As in the games continuity, Knuckles lived alone on the island for as long as he could remember, with only ruins and ancient texts to help him understand his long-departed people, the Ancient Echidnas.
Originally thought to be a myth, the Floating Island became a centrepoint for many of Dr. Ivo Robotnik's operations after the doctor discovered the island, mainly the reconstruction of his Death Egg II. However, the island was firmly purged of his influence after Sonic and Knuckles destroyed the Death Egg. Afterwards, the Floating Island would serve as a refuge for the Emerald Hill Folk until the end of Robotnik's tyranny. Regardless, the Floating Island would still be attacked by villains seeking its valuable contents, like Robotnik, the Drakon Empire and Ms Alpha's gang. During the last arc of the comic, Knuckles was forced to scatter the Chaos Emeralds to keep them from Chaos, making the Floating Island plummet into the sea were it sank.
The Floating Island hosted many settlements, but the communities of note echidnas of Echidnaopolis and the Dingo Regime of Cave Canem. Tensions were high between the two due to the Dingo Regime often raiding their neighbors for technology. The breaking point came when the dingoes unleashed a nuclear strike. The attack was foiled, but the island was ruined by the nuclear fallout. GuardianHawking used Dimitri's research to move the settlements into its own pocket zone while he and the Brotherhood of Guardians oversaw the cleanup of the island. It took a hundred years to return it to its natural splendor, but eventually almost all societies were returned to the island.
In Sonic Underground, Angel Island is referred to only as the Floating Island and is aloft by a Chaos Emerald. Sonic and his siblings went to the Floating Island to look for their mother, where Knuckles mistook them as thieves seeking the island's Chaos Emerald. Learning that Sleet and Dingo lied to him, Knuckles teamed up with the Sonic Underground and stopped them.
In the anime series Sonic X and its comic series published by Archie Comics, Angel Island mostly mirrors its role in the games, with some differences. The island was originally part of Sonic's home planet, but was transported to Earth via Chaos Control later in the series. The island and its Master Emerald would then play a role in the series during its adaptations of the events of Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, before being sent back to its original planet.
Angel Island was later revealed to be the location of the Planet Egg, which is the planet's life source. When the Planet Egg was stolen by the Metarex, the planet's flora started to wither.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Subspace Emissary mode has an area known as the Isle of Ancients. In the last part of the level, "Outside the Ancient Ruins," the island has a similar appearance to Angel Island if one looks into the background.
Strangely, when the Master Emerald shattered in Sonic Adventure 2, the fate of Angel Island is never mentioned. Given previous circumstances, it is likely to have returned to the surface until Knuckles was able to bring the Emerald back. Sonic Universe #63 appears to take this view, as it is mentioned that the island had fallen during the events that took place in the game.
The island as first presented is shown to be massive, possibly the size of a continent, seen most obviously in backgrounds of stages such as the IceCap Zone, Carnival Night Zone, or Sandopolis Zone. Between games, the island's size seems to vary.
Full linework of Floating Island that has been featured in Japanese Sonic & Knuckles instruction manual.