Cast by the Light Part 2: It Doesn’t Matter

Not only is the next episode up and ready to read, but it’s actually early this time!

The second episode of Cast by the Light is right here!

“I won’t give in, won’t compromise…” Sonic the Hedgehog has been kidnapped by G.U.N., the most powerful military force the world has ever known. And for our blue hero, there is no compromising. The only thing to do is break free, escape from the city, and discover the identity of the mysterious hedgehog who framed him.

Cast by the Light Part 1: Throw it All Away

I promised you some weekly Sonic reading, and here it is! Cast by the Light is a novelization of Sonic Adventure 2, which I actually wrote before I started writing the Chaos Project, mostly for the sake of getting practice writing for the characters, and understanding better what I want from the content of my own story. So technically, this is actually my first FanFiction. I wasn’t originally planning on publishing it at all, but when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep the pace I wanted for Chaos Project episodes, I decided that I could use this as filler instead.

The first episode is right here!

“Now, wake up, up, up, up…” The time of Shadow the Hedgehog’s awakening has come. And humanity hasn’t changed one bit since he was put to sleep. So that only leaves one thing to do. Fulfill the promise he is so certain that he made. No harm done if he has to fool a few suckers into helping him do it.

Review: Season 0, Episode 4

I regret to inform you that I must now be the bringer of bad news. I did mention this earlier, that this would be the last Chaos Project episode for a while. Due to some somewhat unforeseen circumstances, I have lost the ability to regularly type for the summer. I have just recently regained regular access to a computer, about three months after the time that this episode was actually written. However, any writing will be slowed for about another month, and even then I hope to have a few more episodes than the current 2 in storage before I resume posting, so Chaos Project will be on a short break until then. I can promise you, however, that you will not lose your weekly Sonic reading, as I have an entirely different story that I didn’t originally plan on posting already pre-written and ready to be posted in place of the Chaos Project. More on that next week.

Now, on to happier matters. Just as I have now begun to feel like the Chaos Project is officially out of its “shiny and new” phase, I can also say that this is one of my favorite episodes yet. I had only the most basic of plans when I first started, just a cut-and-dry idea of the three events that would happen. But when I began writing for the scene with Zero and Amy, the ideas just kept flowing. I already had this being the basis for her outfit change plan, but what came to me as I wrote was the origin of her hammer, the transformation to Zero’s character with one of her friendship speeches, the origin of Eggman’s outfit and name change, the origin of Beta, and of course, Robo Sonic. I hope with all of my soul that someone, somewhere, understood what I was doing with Robo Sonic. If you’re still confused on that, please take a look at THIS picture. Still don’t get it? Robo Sonic is intended to be the unnamed Sonic robot seen in a capsule outside of the Final Egg stage in Sonic Adventure, right across the room from Metal Sonic (comic readers might recognize Robo Sonic better under the name “Silver Sonic II,” but the comics are non-canon). Funny thing is, Robo Sonic was not only a last-minute decision, but a retconned decision. I wrote out the original episode not with Robo Sonic, but with plain old regular Metal Sonic. Then when I got to the scene with Eggman, I wrote that in the pod across from Metal Sonic was Mecha Sonic. Then I thought, “Wait, wasn’t it Silver Sonic?” So I looked it up. And it was neither. I took advantage of a golden time-travel opportunity when I saw one, and I completely re-wrote the scene to include the mysterious Sonic robot which was seen but never fought. The hard part was coming up with a name that matched the pattern set by Metal, Mecha, and Silver Sonic. A different thought came to my mind besides Robo Sonic, but I decided to save that one for the future. And I will end this review by saying that the Chaos Project break will actually be (unintentionally) reflected within the story, as the next episode will begin with a brief time-skip, to the final few “levels” of the “game.” Theoretically, this would be the point in the game where a series of levels are played in a row with little or no dialogue occurring between them, making for a rather boring story. I’ll save you (and myself) the trouble.

-Until next time (pay attention now, this is important) always Live and Learn, every day!

S0 E4: Once, Upon Many a Time

Sorry it’s an hour late, but the next (and last, for a while) episode of the Chaos Project is up.

Read it here!

The three heroes of time have begun their quest. Each has a mission, and each plans to succeed. But as the level of danger continues to rise, tensions rise as well, and the whole operation may fall apart. Is Janice really hiding something?

Review: Season 0, Episode 3

The working title for this episode was “Silence is Golden, Absolution is Silver.” While being a nice chance to reference Silver’s theme from Sonic 06, Dreams of an Absolution, I felt that the pun barely worked, and when the thought crossed my mind to call it “Silver Lining,” I decided that was also a much more general idea that could better encompass the parts of the episode that weren’t about Silver. It was also more in line with the previous episode’s title, a simple two-word pun.

Now, the decision to include Silver in this arc was a pretty easy one. One of my major points in making this arc was to show that a good story for a Sonic game can be made using multiple characters, but not Shadow. For whatever reason, the Sonic series decided to drop multiple playable characters and Shadow at the same time, which I have always felt was only because they thought they were overusing Shadow, but couldn’t come up with an excuse to use multiple characters without Shadow being one of them. Whether or not they were overusing Shadow is debatable, but they were using him more than they had originally planned, and I am afraid of overusing Shadow in this series as well. Anyways, first I decided to use multiple “playable” characters without Shadow, then I decided to make this the introduction to the “Controller” concept, then I decided to make a time-travel story. All of those signs pointed me to Silver. I’ve always thought it was a shame that Silver’s participation in mainstream Sonic games began and ended in Sonic 06 (I’d like to mention now that the Sonic Rivals series is non-canon to this story. Too many contradictions, not enough relevance to console games). Silver had such good potential as a character, but his writing wasn’t great, and his overall association with Sonic 06 hasn’t helped his case. I decided that this was a great opportunity to further explore his character, especially in the complete absence of Blaze. The time reset was a necessity, based on the fact that Iblis, the single half-being which shaped Silver’s future into what it was once recognized as, no longer exists based on the ending of Sonic 06. I could have created another apocalypse scenario for him, but I thought that the utopic future would help with how I wanted to portray his character, in addition to not seeming so homologous to Zero’s story (plus it also falls better in line with a random comment made by Silver in Sonic Colors DS, but that’s also non-canon).

Lastly, as to why I included parts to this episode not about Silver, despite the title, that has to do with the fact that this story arc is intended to be structured like a game, rather than a story. I have three concurrent “playable” character stories running, and were I to have continued following Silver, he would have reached that point in the game where you play through a bunch of levels in a row with little or no cutscenes, making for a very boring period of story, where you watch Silver do a bunch of platforming with pretty much no dialogue. The same does NOT go for Zero in the previous episode. That was more just because the point where we stopped following Zero in favor of Silver was the perfect transition point. Otherwise, that episode would have ended the same way that this one did, and then randomly jumped to Silver this episode. The structure simply didn’t work out, so I named the episodes based on the majority of the focus, instead of the entire focus. And I guess that’s all I have for now.

– Until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

S0 E3: Silver Lining

It’s that time of the week again! After a slight delay, the next episode is up now.

Read it right here.

The future’s not what it used to be. And now that the future has been invaded by Chronos, Silver the Hedgehog is the only one who can stop it. But Chronos is just as powerful as the hedgehogs have been led to believe. Can Silver really stop him? And what happens when the three hedgehogs meet?

Opinion Piece: Sonic Mania

I rather enjoyed writing the opinion piece on Project Sonic 2017, so I thought that I would do another one, this time on the other game announced at the same event. Once again, watch the below trailer first if you haven’t already.

This paragraph is mostly a rant, so skip to the bottom if you want to get to actual discussion about the game. Since I started the last one with a thank you to developers for including Nintendo, I’m afraid that I’m going to have to start here by expressing my strong disapproval at this game’s nonexistence for any Nintendo platform. I don’t necessarily have any outright dislike towards X-Box or Playstation. In fact, I still own my old PS2 slim, the console on which I first started playing Sonic games with Sonic Mega Collection Plus. But as a not-particularly-wealthy gamer, I don’t have the luxury of simply getting every gaming technology available in the world. I had to make a choice between the primarily M-rated market of X-Box and Playstation, or the primarily family-oriented market of Nintendo. I chose Nintendo. It is my honest belief that Sonic as a series fits far more homogeneously with Mario, Zelda, and Animal Crossing than it ever could with Halo, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto. That being said, I still think that it’s unfair to Sonic fans to put Sonic games exclusively on Nintendo systems. What they did with Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog, I believe, is by far the best option, developing games which can play exactly the same no matter what system you own. Sonic Unleashed was also adequate, but it is unfortunate that some players (such as myself, who got the cheaper PS2 version) had to settle for non-optimal versions of the game. Anyways, what seems likely to me is that the slew of third-party developers which worked on Sonic Mania simply had a bias against Nintendo, as most third-party developers do. I find it hard to believe that a game meant to play exactly like games for the SEGA Genesis could possibly be unable to be handled by a Nintendo handheld, let alone the Wii U.
In short, when it comes to platforms of release, Project Sonic did it right, Sonic Mania did it wrong.

SM

Now, to the actual game. Unlike Project Sonic, we’ve actually been treated to a considerable amount of information about the game this time around, including the gameplay of two levels, Green Hill Zone and Studiopolis Zone (NOT pronounced “studio-opolis” as Gamexplain would have you believe). Overall, I was quite satisfied by Studiopolis. I thought that its design really did capture the feel of those classic Sonic games, particularly Sonic CD and a little bit of Sonic 2. The aesthetic background elements had exactly as much detail put into them as I would expect out of a classic game. Green Hill Zone, on the other hand…well, let’s just say that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Rant alert! Right at the moment where the preview level transitions from an exact copy of the original level into new territory, I felt the time and effort put into that classic level just slip away. To use a quote from the 20th Anniversary book, The History of Sonic the Hedgehog,

“The level was remade countless times. It was modified and restarted again and again, and was finally completed after almost eight months of work…Sonic Team wanted to make sure that this first level portrayed their hero in just the right way.”

That’s the kind of effort that I’m talking about. That’s the kind of effort that I felt was missing from the second half of the new level. One of the wonderful things about the real Green Hill Zone is that it gives off the feeling that, in some perfect world, it is a place that could somehow really exist. That feeling is completely shattered when that spring at the middle of the level suddenly bounces you up to a huge land mass that’s just kind of chilling up there in the sky, not supported by any sort of cliff like the real level does for its highest areas. Of course, there are floating platforms in the original, but they are tiny and add to the magical feel of the place. But this particular breach of physics serves only to shatter the illusion that this is a reality which is only just out of reach. End Cluck Alert…uh, I mean, rant alert. As for the rest of the level design, it felt like it probably would have been more homogeneous in Sonic 2 than in the original, but I suppose that that much is excusable. It does, after all, have that faster-paced feel that the original Sonic the Hedgehog was a little bit lacking in, all things considered.

Next up, the music. I was really expecting something that sounded like it might have come right out of the Genesis, I was looking for a few of my most nostalgic instruments in particular. Instead the music is a little more reminiscent of Sonic CD, sort of classic-sounding in the way that it’s composed, but with no actual recognizable sound quality limitations. Below is an example, the Studiopolis theme. It’s a pretty good theme all around, but apparently I’m not as impressed as most of the vocal Sonic community, and once again, I would have rather it had Genesis sound quality to match the graphics.

Last to discuss is the entire idea of the game as a whole. I’m going to be frank here. As I’m sure you can tell, if nothing else than by the banner of this very website, I do have a thing for sprites. I find them to be quite charming, and it’s very interesting to see how much expression can be packed into so few pixels. But above all else, they are easy. Infinitely easier than full-quality artwork, at least in my opinion from my experience. And that’s why I’ve always had trouble accepting modern games which purposefully use sprites. It makes me feel like they’re being lazy, not doing as much work as they possibly could to make the game look good and professional. But that’s what makes this so weird. Sonic already tried to go back to a classic feel without sprites, in the form of Sonic the Hedgehog 4. And for some reason that I fail to comprehend, those games were apparently a failure (though I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the reason were that Episode 2 never came to a Nintendo system *cough* looking at you Mania *cough*). I felt that Sonic 4 was a great way to satisfy the Sonicwunners (to borrow a term from Pokémon players in reference to Genwunners who only like the original games) who demanded that Sonic be in 2D. As we’ve been seeing in the past few Sonic games, when those people aren’t satisfied by spin-offs, their needs instead infiltrate the games that would otherwise be entirely in 3D like many other fans (like myself) want. Anyways, I enjoyed Sonic 4, and I’m sad that Episode 3 (& Knuckles?) will never come. But, back on topic, I understand that if Sonic 4 won’t do it, this is the only way to keep die-hard fans of the classics happy. In short, the sprites, just because they’re easier to do, aren’t necessarily done out of laziness, but out of necessity.

Final Conclusions: some people think that Sonic needs a game that can restore him to his “former glory,” and this could be it. It’s not the ideal game for me, but it very well could be for others. If any Sonic game could ever be out of my playable reach, I suppose that I’m good with it being this one. Of course I would rather play it than forever go without playing it, but then, I feel the same way about Sonic 06. If this game is what it takes to keep everyone happy, then I shall embrace it with open arms.

– And until next time, you too should open your arms, and open your heart!

Edit: Direct encoding of videos, a few typo fixes, and the addition of a missing tag.

Review: Season 0, Episode 2

Continuing from last week’s discussion of the history of Season 0, we can now come to Speed of Time itself. Even though I did say that the “original game ideas” came before the concept of the Chaos Project, that actually isn’t true in this case. There was something else, however. The original concept was entirely different, the basic premise being a dimension-hopping adventure instead of a time traveling one. The main antagonist would have been an evil, parallel universe version of Sonic, who, with Sonic’s unwitting help, would have taken over Sonic’s home city while Sonic was locked away in yet another dimension. Twelve dimensions total were planned, one of which would have been the Sol Dimension. In the finale, Sonic would have called upon the power of not just the Chaos Emeralds, but seven “miracle gems” from each dimension, becoming what I was at the time calling “Hyper Gem Sonic,” who would literally have had his skin entirely coated in gemstones. In this state, Sonic could not only have spoken to, but had his actions controlled by the Lords of Chaos, the one factor which connects this concept to Speed of Time. This arc will serve as the proper introduction to the concepts of Controller and Lord of Chaos, hopefully answering most of your questions. Anyway, the primary reason that I cancelled this idea was that I couldn’t come up with that many concepts for other dimensions, though I was also having trouble properly planning a connection between the middle of that story and the end. That was almost the death sentence for Season 0 as a whole, but as I said earlier, I just couldn’t give up having Chaos and Blacklight in the premiere. So, I reinvented the idea instead, and Speed of Time is what I came up with.

Now, on to this episode, starting with Zero. His name is has something like three hidden meanings, and his appearance in Season 0 is not one of them. You may have noticed, based on the episode title, his connection with nuclear detonation, and while this wasn’t 100% intentional, I had my choice of apocalypse methodology after creating the character, and that was part of the inspiration. The other two meanings are actually story important, so I won’t spoil it. I’d like to mention here that most of my important OC names are directly linked to the story, something that I’m actually quite proud of. Now, the addition of Zero was something that I knew was necessary. Even if I wanted to use Shadow here (something that I wanted to take a step back from for a little bit) he wouldn’t have fit into this story well at all, and I knew that just Sonic and Silver (more on that next week) would make for a pretty lame story. So I knew that I needed to make a third character, preferably one with a deep past that could help drive the story along. The concept for Zero came along pretty quickly from there. And for now, that’s all I’ve got!

– And until next time, remember to live and learn every day!