Review: Sonic Movie Special

(This is the review for the tie-in special published on the same day the movie came out. For the review of the movie itself, please see the previous post.)

I actually won a pair of early screening tickets to see the Sonic movie in San Francisco two weeks before it came out. Unfortunately…San Francisco is a bit too far of a drive for me to make right now. So I had to pass up that opportunity. (Believe me, I was jealous of Sonic that entire movie for that exact reason.) But for one fleeting moment, I was indescribably excited, not just for the novelty of seeing a movie before anybody else can, but because I could’ve used that information to write an absolutely perfect tie-in episode with zero dodging of unknown plot points and zero contradictions. That’s always the hardest part about making these specials. The more closely I can tie the episode into its source, the more relevant and interesting the episode can be—but the less I know about the source, the less accurately I’m able to do that. In my original Sonic Forces special, I had to dodge the question of whether or not Sonic even knows who Infinite is, because we knew that little about the game’s plot. Technically speaking, that was much less of an issue here. With dozens upon dozens of trailers and preview clips available, and a much more straightforward, predictable plot to begin with, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I could’ve predicted the entire movie on a moment-to-moment basis with roughly 90% accuracy. But that last 10% was still bothering me immensely. If I just had that last 10%, I could’ve written a completely different episode, one that dives deep into the lore and events the movie may have glossed over, without any worry of contradiction. But unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the early screening, and so I had to play it safe.

Was that really Teen Sonic’s home Green Hill Zone that the episode took place in? Dodged that question, because I figured the odds were high that that place was somehow destroyed or taken over, that being the reason why Teen Sonic had to leave in the first place. Does Teen Sonic know what a Chaos Emerald is? Dodged that question, because I figured the odds were high that they would be teased in the movie in some way, which would most likely preclude Sonic from knowing about them beforehand. (Technically, I’m still in a bit of a pickle there, since we have no clue what any potential sequels might bring.) Did our Sonic even end up remembering the events of this episode? Dodged that question too, even though it seems pretty irrelevant to the movie, because if our Sonic remembers, then Teen Sonic would remember as well, and there was no telling how many countless tiny contradictions that might’ve caused. (In fact, there’s a chance it did—he never says it directly, but Teen Sonic certainly implies in the movie that he hasn’t had a friend since Longclaw—and I giving him a new best friend in our Sonic flies pretty harshly in the face of that.) Does Sonic know who wants his powers, or why? Dodged that. Do those individuals belong specifically to this world, or is he being chased across worlds? Dodged that. Who the heck is Longclaw? Dodged that, too. (Admittedly, I mistakenly had our Sonic call her a “guy,” but Sonic knew little enough at that point in time that it was probably justified.)

Despite my fear of getting contradicted, there were plenty of risks that I chose to gamble on. I chose to establish concrete proof that Sonic spent some amount of time, however little, as a world-traveller, visiting many different worlds before finally ending up on movie-Earth. The trailers gave us no such evidence, instead suggesting on quite the contrary that Sonic went straight from Green Hill to Earth, and stayed there. If it weren’t for Baby Sonic, I probably wouldn’t have taken that risk. But getting that major piece of evidence that Sonic left his world at a very young age leaves lots and lots of time for him to do things offscreen in between. For all we knew prior to that, there might not have been any time at all—we might have seen, moment-for-moment, Sonic, as a teenager, leaving Green Hill, getting to Earth, and either getting stuck there or choosing to stay there right up until the inciting incident of the movie’s main plot. But—lucky me!—Sonic not only was given plenty of time where he could have been off Earth, but it was downright shown that he had a map of worlds to travel to, with multiple of them crossed off, all but confirming that he has been to them. (Interestingly enough, one of those worlds was denoted by a stylized Sun—could that have been representing the Sol Dimension, or “Sun World” as he called it…just like he called the other one “Mushroom World”? Then again, Sun World wasn’t crossed out, which would be an odd error for him to make if he had already decided against staying there—but then, if he had only decided that because there was too much water, and not because someone saw him using his powers, that might mean he decided to potentially try it again later—and yes, Eggman Nega saw his powers, but as I mentioned earlier, he may not necessarily remember that part. What was I talking about again? Oh, right gambles.)

Another gamble I took involved how Sonic uses those Rings. For one thing, I just assumed that’s what his little brown sack was for—got that one right. But then, I also had him put duct tape in there, which…now that I know where the sack came from, might seem a little bit disrespectful. Oh well, he needed to tape up that shoe somehow—another accurate prediction on my part, as a majority of pre-release clips showed him with his “canon” shoes, even though he didn’t actually have them yet (lucky me). But yeah, Rings. I made a pretty big stretch of the imagination by suggesting that he has no problem at all with just using as many rings as it takes to help his friend out. In fact, you might even call that a contradiction—in the movie, there’s a “for emergencies only” sign taped to the sack, not to mention the fact that I presented him as having very few of them, despite having very many in the movie. But then, right there at the beginning of the movie, Sonic uses up a Ring just for the heck of it, because he feels like getting a look at the Mushroom World. But anyways, I think I covered my bases there. Even though there was absolutely zero mention in the trailers or the movie of where the Rings actually come from, I went ahead and presented a means of having Sonic able to collect more of them. So, after the episode, he would’ve had plenty of time to tour around, find as many as he needs, and head back to Earth with more than he even knows what to do with—so in that way, I even provided an explanation for why Sonic was able to waste one so nonchalantly at the beginning. Lucky me! I just have to hope that future sequels don’t imply that…I don’t know, Sonic produces them from his body or something crazy like that. As long as the possibility is left open that Rings can somehow be found somewhere in the nature of some world, I think I’ll be fine. I figured that applying the rules of Special Stage Rings to them wouldn’t be too much of  a risk, anyways.

I did gamble a little bit with how Sonic’s powers work—I clearly didn’t catch on to the fact that they are so directly linked to his emotions, but I wouldn’t call that outright contradiction. But here’s something that was absolutely not intended to be a gamble—at the end of the episode I had Sonic absorb his powers directly back from Fang. I made that up, I swear! And yet, at the climax of the movie, an absolutely identical scene happened, where Sonic absorbed his powers back from Eggman. (Yes, I’m calling him Eggman, because that’s what Sonic ends up calling him. Same rules as the games.) So…lucky me, I guess!

So, what contradictions did I fail to avoid? I already mentioned calling Longclaw a guy, missing the mark on where Sonic’s powers come from, and…that might be it. Oh, right, I also said that Sonic isn’t prone to motion sickness, which was definitely contradicted in the movie. That’s definitely not one I was expecting, given that Sonic is, you know…fast? And the loop-de-loops? But you know, it was a funny joke, and…you could argue that Sonic was intentionally exaggerating when he said that, and the fact that he did get motion sickness might even be enough to say that I’m supporting the movie, rather than contradicting it.

I know I haven’t really said much about the episode itself yet, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say. It was a comedy—much more successful, I think, than my previous attempt with the Heavy Magician episode. I put a lot of effort into building up punchlines, and just having an actual comedic chemistry between these two characters. I’m a little bit disappointed in myself for trivializing Fang literally immediately after his dramatic character conclusion, but…I actually love Fang and Eggman Nega as a ridiculous comedic villain duo, and I hope to use them in that role again at some point in the future. Fang certainly wouldn’t have much else to do in this series otherwise. As for Eggman Nega…the thought actually occurred to me after I had already started writing this episode, and I was desperately trying to figure out a halfway decent conclusion to this otherwise relatively boring story about trying to clear the Special Stage. I realized that, now that I had a Riders special under my belt, Eggman Nega was literally the only Modern Sonic character that I had yet to reference in any way, shape, or form. (Unless you count the non-Zavok members of the Deadly Six, but I certainly don’t.) Anyways, given Nega’s role of travelling between dimensions, and his hatred of Sonic, he certainly seemed like the right fit for this episode. I was a little bit dubious about using Nega as a character before even properly using Blaze, but I didn’t want to let that get in the way of a good story. But still, him alone just didn’t quite feel right. I wanted to use the Special Stage story first and foremost, but Eggman Nega has zero association with that concept, so using him as the villain in that context would’ve been very strange. But then, who does have an association with the Special Stages? The answer was staring me in the face. Supposedly, it is canon in Sonic Triple Trouble that Fang actually lives in the Special Zone. I intentionally tried to avoid that weirdness, given that the canonicity of Special Stages is dubious to begin with, by simply offhandedly mentioning once or twice that Fang had to take “a long trip” to get to Eggman from where ever it is he came from. Throughout this series, I had definitely considered exploring the concept of Special Stages more than once—including an early prototype plot for the Dawn of Chaos arc, and again as a potential way to flesh out Fang’s character—but it always just felt too weird. Teen Sonic and his use of Warp Rings worked as a phenomenal bridge into that weirdness, finally allowing me to delve into it—and so, to include Fang as well. The rest practically wrote itself. And that’s the basic story of how this episode came to be.

-Too bad I wasn’t able to do any rock-connaissance on the movie.
(Okay, that was terrible, I’m sorry.)

Review: Season 1, Episode 18 (Finale)

Another kicker, this one was. I shouldn’t be surprised by now, the most important episodes are always the hardest to write, because everything needs to be absolutely perfect. As an episode…I’m a little bit hesitant to pass judgement on this one. I felt hyperaware during the writing process of how awkwardly paced this whole thing was, with lots of standing around and talking during what should have been intense and dramatic moments—it’s just hard to do otherwise when there are so many important things that need to be said—in addition to lots of sudden breaks between action sequences that were necessary in order to keep a wider view of events that doesn’t leave any one topic forgotten for too long. But as a conclusion to the season…I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I was worried about the daunting task of topping part 1 in terms of drama, and while it did take some doing, I think that I at least accomplished that much.

Not everything turned out exactly how I envisioned it. I originally imagined that the raid on the Death Egg would take up a more solid chunk of the episode, as Shadow grudgingly worked together with Sonic to overcome the station swarming with traps and guards and lots of thing to blow up. In general, the big question mark surrounding whether or not Shadow is able to trust Sonic was intended to play a much larger role in the episode. But then I threw Knuckles into the mix. Right up until the day I wrote the conclusion of Part 1, my intention was for that to be the last that was seen of Fang—he shoots Knuckles, takes the Emeralds, turns them over off-screen, and that’s the end of it. I soon decided that it would be too unceremonious of an end for a character who is effectively the main villain of the Season, so I decided the easiest way to get him to a more proper conclusion without changing plans too much would be to throw him on the Death Egg. At the time that I made that decision, it was actually supposed to be Tails who went up along with Sonic and Shadow—Knuckles was intended to be put out of commission for this episode when he was shot. So I figured that Sonic would be the most reasonable candidate of the three to have one final fight with Fang, and then Tails could even have a nice little growth story where he shows that fighting Eggman on his own is no longer proof of anything, but instead is now simply what he expects of himself as a hero. There were a few obvious logical issues that came out of all that. While Fang has certainly mentioned his hatred for Sonic quite frequently, Sonic as a rival for him hasn’t really been built up at all—they only met face-to-face once this Season before these episodes, and they only exchanged a few words. Knuckles, meanwhile, was specifically being built up as a rival (pretty much just for the purpose of taking his hat in the end), so having that final confrontation not include Knuckles would just be strange. Meanwhile, Tails, the medical expert of the Rebellion, abandoning Rouge when it’s being clearly established that she’s dying wouldn’t make any sense at all. And even then, Tails’ growth isn’t really something that’s been focused on this Season, it’s been deferred to next, so having him on the Death Egg wouldn’t really accomplish much. And so, even though it required a lot of rearranging and rethinking of this episode, I chose to swap Tails out for Knuckles. I’m definitely happy with that decision. Though I do wonder if that’s part of the reason writing this episode ended up taking so much longer.

Oh! Right, I was in the middle of something. Adding Knuckles (and Fang, counting those as one complicated decision) meant significantly increasing the amount of time that would be spent on these big boss confrontations, and so the idea of a Death Egg filled with traps and guards became not only unnecessary in terms of balancing the amount of action, but would’ve basically just wasted time. And I figured a completely empty, abandoned Death Egg would’ve added a layer of mystery to hint at Eggman’s true intentions…although I see now that may not have been clear enough, besides the part where Sonic and Shadow overtly discussed it.

There is one thing that did turn out exactly as I’d envisioned it. The simple ending scene, where Shadow learns of Rouge’s condition, and lets out all of his emotions at once on Sonic…that was a scene planned nearly word for word since before I even knew what this season was going to be about. I believe I’ve mentioned previously that the idea of Rouge turning spy for the Rebellion was one of a huge slew of ideas that were all bouncing around before the seasonal structure of this series was solidified, back in the very early phases of Season 0. Analyzing the emotional consequences of various dramatic scenarios was how I first populated this hypothetical series with episode ideas—so naturally, the scenario of Rouge seemingly turning traitor had to come with the weight of how Shadow would respond. That series of ideas eventually led me here.

And did I mention that hat? Why, yes, it was meant to be a reference to the Sonic OVA, thank you for asking. With another Sonic movie coming up, I suppose that’s pretty good timing. In fact, there may have been a couple of new Sonic Movie references thrown into this episode, if you were paying attention. But, anyways, the hat. I admit it. The idea of bringing Fang into the series wasn’t particularly appealing to me…until I realized that I could have Knuckles steal his hat. Yes. That was what sold me on the idea. That was what drove me to write basically this entire season. I regret nothing, and also everything. Usually, I pride myself on remaining vehemently game-canon, and I often have to go out of my way in order to not reference something like the Archie Comics. But if you ask me, Knuckles with a treasure hunter’s hat is the single most memorable thing to come out of that entire movie, and I just couldn’t resist the reference once I’d thought of it.

I suppose I can get into more random stuff now. The “Death Egg Emperor” was a rather last-minute addition. In the early planning phases (back when Tails was still going to be the one to fight it) a simple, perhaps slightly upgraded Death Egg Robot was what I assumed would fill this role. When you bring back the Death Egg, putting a Death Egg Robot on it seems like the next logical step. It only occurred to me as I began writing this episode that Sonic Generations, Mania, and Forces had really gone to great lengths to…I guess, normalize the Death Egg Robot. I realized that it wouldn’t make much of an impact if it were just another one of those things. The plan wasn’t necessarily to “merge” the DER with the final boss of Sonic Heroes, the whole Egg Emperor thing was just…an unfortunate(?) result of the fact that this completely new step up from the DER needed to reflect Eggman’s status as Emperor.

There were plans to have an extended ending scene where everyone meets back up, celebrate their victory, ponder the nature of Eggman’s pre-planning, and so on, but I ended up merging that all into the Daily Log addendum, mostly just for time. The episode was very ready to end, and I didn’t see much reason to drag it on longer than it had to go. I also skipped out on a scene where Eggman would be seen in his base, complaining about how much he hates that hedgehog, but it was cut for similar reasons.

Probably the most last-minute thing of all was Knuckles’ role specifically in the climax. Obviously everything about his role in the episode was last-minute, put this part was actually something that didn’t even occur to me until I wrote the words “What can I do to help?” When Tails was the plan, Sonic’s response was still going to be the same “Wait in the safety bunker” answer, and it was supposed to be a bit more touching with Sonic trying to protect his little bro. But Tails, instead of doing as he was told, would’ve instead gone out searching for a shuttle (planned before I I decided to mention that there were no shuttles) and, when Sonic realized that he was marooned and requested help, Tails would’ve swooped in at the perfect time to pick him up. That whole “I think I might need a little help here” joke was honestly just a hold-out from that otherwise-scrapped plan. The Death Egg room built over the Master Emerald Altar, then, was entirely unplanned until I realized in that moment that I needed something for Knuckles to do that didn’t involve flying. But I figured it would make sense that Eggman would “preserve” that particular location when building over Angel Island, given that Prof. Gerald proved with his replica on the ARK that the structure has a functional significance. Knuckles bringing the Master Emerald back to the closest thing left to “home” worked wonderfully to connect back to a comment he made in part 1 (not intended to be related at the time), as did his conjoined role with the Controller as mentioned by Tikal. Eggman putting a throne for himself on top of the monument that symbolically represents the people he’s conquered was a nice little cherry on top. I’ll admit that part of the inspiration behind that room, and even the throne on top, hearkens back to an issue of the new IDW Sonic Comics, in which, on a mechanized Angel Island (I had that idea first, I swear), Neo Metal Sonic awaited Sonic and friends in a throne room built out of the very same altar. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reference, just inspiration.

A question I was sort of asking myself by the end was…”Why did I split the Death Egg in half?” Something I originally had in mind was that the Death Egg would naturally start falling apart in that way as it fell through the atmosphere, forcing Sonic and Shadow to each take a separate half. But…for some reason, that just didn’t make sense to me. But the image of the two halves falling one after the other into the ocean, like a literal egg cracked open, was one that stuck with me even as my other plans changed.

Well, I think this has gone on just about long enough. So what’s next? Well, I’ll properly announce here and now that there will be a Sonic Movie Tie-In Special published on February 14th, the day of the movie’s release. After that, we move into Season 2. Season 1 was nice and all, but…for me, it was really just a proving grounds. From here, I start telling the stories that I’ve been anticipating since I first envisioned this series, stories that could only be told on top of the strong foundations that I’ve spent all this time building. Even though you’re probably not, I hope that you’re as excited as I am.

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

 

Review: Season 1, Episode 16

Well…here it is. My first attempt at a comedy. No matter how hard I try, it seems that I just can’t remove the serious plot development. So this episode ended up just feeling really weird to me, like…like you have a hard time laughing because you have to look out for important plot points. Honestly, I think I just needed more jokes. But I figured forcing in a bunch of extra jokes that even I wouldn’t find funny would defeat my own purpose. I went in to this hoping for something iconic and unforgettable, something like some of my favorite episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender, and I definitely fell short in my opinion. But hey, I’ll settle for a lighthearted chuckle before the dark finale to come.

They say it’s a bad idea to explain a joke, but I actually don’t have a whole lot else to say here, so I think I’ll point a few things out, just to be sure that they were understood. Heavy Magician’s unnamed transformation hijinks went as follows: Bark the Polar Bear, Bean the Dynamite Duck, Tiara Boobowski the Manx (of the cancelled Sonic X-treme), “Speedy” AKA Battle Kukoo XVI (of Tails Adventure), and lastly, Madonna (the scrapped character intended to be Sonic’s girlfriend in the original Sonic the Hedgehog). She actually quoted a couple songs from the real-world artist Madonna (including “Open Your Heart,” a natural connection to make). Her disguises for Big and Froggy first referenced the recent Team Sonic Racing Overdrive animated shorts, then proceeded to reference Scratch and Grounder, Eggman’s robotic companions from the early Sonic cartoons, and of course, R2-D2 and C-3P0 of Star Wars, the most famous robotic duo of all time.

Let’s see, anything else to explain? Cubot’s role in this episode was inspired by…well, technically, myself. Back in Season 0, Cubot implied that he may have a crush on Magician. It was meant to be a one-off joke, but I decided to roll with it, thanks in part to a suggestion by our good friend Yuni Oha. There is one other joke which was a bit unusual. Sonic being set off at the thought of Tails thinking someone else is cooler than him. This was actually a request left by a reader after the last episode, so big thanks to “sonic vs evil” for contributing the idea to this episode. I don’t think that they quite had it in mind as a joke, but I adapted the idea to this episode as best I could.

I suppose I should talk about the lasting impact that this episode may have. I wasn’t intending on bringing in the Spacial Ruby plot quite so soon, but…well, I needed a macguffin. Even though no Ruby was actually present in this episode, they are very much real. And with Eggman and Infinite both looking for them, they’re bound to turn up eventually.

And of course, there’s the more immediate impacts. There is a Death Egg, and its launch is imminent. But what exactly could Eggman do with a Death Egg when he already controls the world? Well…we’ll find out very soon.

-And until then, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Season 1, Episode 15

I’ve been waiting to make this episode for a long time. Well, technically half of this episode for longer than the other half. It was probably fairly easy to tell, but this was sort of like two incomplete episodes mashed together in order to save space and effort. But let’s be honest. Without Amy’s mystery, the episode would’ve been nothing but Tails and Shadow sitting in a pod and talking. And yet, without the brief bout of drama and action provided by the Shadow/Tails story, Amy’s mystery would’ve been little more than a glorified recap of the season. I felt that these ideas complemented each other well, which is why I wasn’t too concerned when I realized that the next episode, which was only fairly recently considered, would have to “replace” one of these two. And regardless, I am still heavily considering continuing with this idea of an A-plot and a B-plot for each episode, so it’s good that I keep getting chances to practice with it.

The idea out of these two that came earlier was the Shadow/Tails story. Even though the plot was technically a continuation of the relationship they began to form back in the Forces of Chaos arc of Season 0, that plot back then was actually inspired by the knowledge that this episode would eventually happen. This one came first. Why did I decide that I wanted Shadow and Tails to become good buddies? Well, I think Tails covered a lot of it. Tails likes Sonic because he’s cool, and to an impressionable pre-teen (as I was when Shadow became my favorite character) Shadow would easily be seen as basically a cooler version of Sonic. Why wouldn’t Tails like him? And, for spoiler-related story reasons, their friendship is going to become very important. But I knew it was something that couldn’t simply happen, Shadow and Tails are such fundamentally different characters that an episode would be required to justify how they first form a bond. This episode is what came to mind. It was largely inspired by an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9, in which two similarly disparate characters, Julian Bashir and Miles O’Brien, were forced together on a close-quarters mission, and inevitably ended up becoming best friends for the rest of the series. However, the concept of having them trapped together in a ship, leading to desperate measures of survival when it is destroyed, likely came more from an episode of Star Trek Voyager, which started the romantic relationship between characters Tom Paris and B’elanna Torres. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that part. Don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.

As for the Amy story, the idea came for it only recently, as I started counting on my fingers all of the characters who have had a spotlight this season, and realized that Amy was the only character left out entirely. Which also got me thinking that maybe females are a bit underrepresented in general in this series. I mean, Rouge is getting a spotlight role in this main premiere season of the show, so I don’t feel TOO bad about it. And a predominance of male characters is…not exactly out of the norm for the Sonic series in general. Regardless, that made me want to make sure that this Amy plot did good by this particular issue, so I started planning for something that would have her accomplish something important, something not in any way related to her relationship with Sonic. And I decided it was about time to reveal the full truth about Rouge. But…let’s be honest. As cheeky as I’ve been about it, the fact that Rouge has been a double agent was an obvious guess to make from the beginning, and I’ve only provided more evidence since then. And spending an entire episode leading up to Amy happening upon a fact that any reader could’ve guessed from the beginning felt somehow…anticlimactic. Certainly wouldn’t get across the point I intended of her solving an important problem. But since I wanted the information about Rouge to be confirmed either way, how about a fake out? Have Amy solve a true mystery, something completely unexpected even by the reader, and even accidentally find out about Rouge along the way. But what exactly did Amy solve? What was it she said? “She’s not on Eggman’s side.” If she wasn’t talking about Rouge, then what could she have meant? She had to be talking about someone. And Heavy Magician now appears to have been set free… What could that mean?

There was one other purpose to putting this episode at this time. I mentioned earlier that Amy’s story was sort of a glorified recap of the season, and that wasn’t unintentional. The season’s wrapping up, and it’s important that the reader remembers everything that’s led up to this point. That’s right! Only 3 episodes left in the season! (Man, if I’d kept last year’s pace this Summer, I could’ve actually started Season 2 before the Summer’s over. That would’ve been nice.) So, excluding the dark and serious two-part finale, there’s only one episode remaining. Naturally, how could it be anything else but a lighthearted comedy? I’m excited for what’s to come, and I hope you are as well!

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Season 1 Episodes 13 and 14 (Featuring Yuni Oha)

Yuni Oha here with a guest-written review for the guest-written episode.

When I suggested the idea of guest-writing to my brother, I knew right away that I wanted to do a story involving Shino the Hedgehog. You see, Shino originated in a time many years ago where I would, as a kid, create my own Sonic game concepts and narrate them to my brother. Shino, or, as I called him back then, Shinobi the Hedgehog, was one of the characters I created for those games, and one of my favorites who has yet to be adapted by my brother into a Chaos Project character. I came up with the idea of Shinobi when contemplating the fact that Shadow and Silver are essentially Sonic doppelgangers from the present and future respectively, so I decided there should be one from the past as well. My great love of ninja led me to create Shinobi, who was essentially the same character as Shino. The name Shinobi was selected to represent the fact that Sonic, Shadow, and Silver all had word-names that started with the letter S. Given The Chaos Project’s lore, it made perfect sense to bring in Shinobi as a past Controller. I changed his name to Shino both to avoid confusion with Heavy Shinobi and to make it a two syllable name like Sonic, Shadow, and Silver. Making him the head of the Shinobi Clan was a callback to his original name. Additionally, Nocta the Owl was created for the same game as Shino, while Ryu the Dragon was created a few games later for my concept for Sonic Heroes 2 as a power character in order to complete Team Ninja, who already had a speed and fly character with Shinobi and Nocta.

As for the story of this episode, it is extremely loosely based off of the original game concept I made to introduce Shinobi. I stress the loosely part, as I actually forgot most of that game’s story in the interceding years. Of course using both Espio and Heavy Shinobi in a plot revolving around a ninja-themed character seemed obvious, so I built from there. Obviously time travel was planned to be involved from the beginning, but I came up with the idea of stranding Sonic in the past so as to better be able to show off Nocta and Ryu, while also giving Sonic an important role. Kamitatsu was a new creation for these episodes. In my original concepts, Shino’s arch-nemesis was a shogun dictator called Bushido. My early plans for this episode involved Bushido using some great and powerful monster to attempt to defeat Shino, but I soon decided that I needed to cut down characters, so I combined Bushido and the monster into one character, and created Kamitatsu.

I scripted these episodes as I would one of my games, gameplay gimmicks and all. The game concept would have involved you switching back and forth between the past and present as Sonic and Shino respectively in order to progress through a level. Actions performed in the past would affect the present, while time vortexes could be opened to transport objects from the present to the past. This would allow- you to have both characters open up paths for one another.

On top of introducing Shino, the other objective of this game was to give some character development to the Chaotix, specifically Espio. I love the Chaotix, and as I said earlier, I love ninja, so naturally, Espio is a favorite of mine. I’ve always felt that the Chaotix got a little robbed, having their only main modern appearance being in Sonic Heroes, a game that gave little character development. One obvious question about them is why does Espio, the level-headed seeker of serenity, team up with the two outrageous personalities of Vector and Charmy. This episode was designed in part to explore this. At one point in the episode, Espio mentions how he used to be a hot-head. This is taken from his character biography from his original appearance in Knuckles’ Chaotix. Clearly this description does not match the character we know today, so I worked it into his backstory how he had to develop past it. It being Shino’s teachings that helped control his emotion also gives a foundation to his idolization of the ninja.

I hope you all enjoyed my episodes. I certainly enjoyed writing them. Perhaps some day in future, I might write again.

Review: Season 1, Episode 13 (Sort of)

Normally, I’d write reviews on an episode-by-episode basis, but I didn’t write this episode, and the author, Yuni, has chosen to wait to review both parts at once. So I suppose I’ll talk a little bit about the history that led up to this unusual episode. It’s a bit more personal than what I typically talk about here, but this event was a very personal one. Yuni has been an inspiration to me for a very long time. And I’ve been giving him plenty of inspiration as well. By that, I mean that we’re literally family, and we’ve been telling each other stories for as long as I can remember. Sonic was one of many such topics we liked to discuss. And while I had ideas such as Blackice, who would become Nova, who would become Blacklight, Yuni had ideas such as Shinobi the Hedgehog, now known as Shino. Another of his ideas, Hyper the Hedgehog, served as significant inspiration for who we now know as Chaos the Hedgehog. But while I was always drawn to these Sonic ideas, Yuni was just as interested in Pokémon, and invented a good handful of “Fakemon” from a very young age. I participated as well, but I was never quite as into it as he was.

Somehow, after years of these Sonic and Pokémon ideas, it was a rather sudden Yu-Gi-Oh concept that ended up spawning the first ever written work between the two of us. It was me who offhandedly brought up the fact while watching the “Waking  the Dragons” arc of the original series that it seemed rather odd that the characters Yugi and Kaiba seemed to reincarnate precisely every 5,000 years, even though no attention was ever drawn to it. If I remember correctly, it was a matter of days after that that Yuni came back to me with the idea for Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium, a story taking place 5,000 years in the future of the original series, and drawing the origin back 5,000 years before the earliest known incarnations. He was prepared to share this story with me verbally as we had always done, meticulously planning out and describing every turn of every Duel. And he did try it that way for a while. But once he brought up how difficult it was to keep track of all the little number values like ATK and LP, I suggested that he type it out like a book, and have me read it. He felt that would be a waste of effort to be read by just one person. So that’s when I said, “You know, I’ve heard of this website called FanFiction, which is meant specifically for publishing and sharing that sort of thing.” It took some convincing, but I got him to do it. He wrote out the entire first Season over the course of a year or so, then published it all at once in August of 2013. Of course, I was tasked with carefully proofreading every episode before publication.

Yuni enjoyed writing his first story so much that he published his second less than a year later. Recycling and updating many of his earliest Fakemon ideas, he created Pokémon Cosmic Quest. I drew up a sprite of one of his Pokémon on a whim one day, and ended up becoming his permanent sprite artist. It quickly began to consume more and more of my time. And as he prepared to move across the state, I felt like without him, I…didn’t really have anything satisfying to do with my life. Sounds a little grim, but I wasn’t in the best mental state at the time. And while any Pokémon idea either of us could ever dream of was easily expressed in his story, all those old Sonic ideas were still sitting stagnant. I’d been doing all this work for him for so long, I decided I wanted something that’s mine. So I decided to write The Chaos Project, without informing Yuni until it was much too far into development for him to take it over.

Sonic Forces: After the Fight was the first episode of mine that he ever read, though it had been over a year since I told him about the story by that point. He was impressed enough to go back and read from the beginning, though it took quite a few months before he found the time to do so. In fact, at the time he started writing this very episode, he had only just caught up a few weeks earlier. But I’m skipping ahead a bit. He had only just started his readthrough when he brought up the possibility of a writer’s exchange. Seeing how Blacklight had come of the Nova idea he was so fond of, and how Chaos was inspired by Hyper, he was disappointed that one his favorite OC’s, Shinobi the Hedgehog, hadn’t found its way into The Chaos Project (even though Zero, in as much as he is a Chaos-user from the past, was technically inspired by Shinobi). I told him that I had no specific plans to do anything much like Shinobi, but that having the character available to me could be beneficial later in the story. After a bit of discussion, we agreed. He would write in his own character in as close to its original form as he desired, and I would get some free advertisement by writing an episode of Pokémon Cosmic Quest in exchange (his story is a lot more popular than mine). I just had to figure out what to write. And if you want to hear more about that…I suppose you’ll just have to stay tuned to Yuni’s website, where I’ll continue this conversation as I discuss the Cosmic Quest episode that I wrote. Other than that, that’s the entire story, full-circle.

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Season 2 Preview – Team Sonic Racing Special

Bum bum bummmm! Bet you weren’t expecting a Team Sonic Racing special to have such a big impact on the series, were you? Well, there’s a reason I chose to make this a Season 2 preview episode, instead of just fitting it in where we are in Season 1. Much like with my Sonic Forces special, the deadline crept up on me just a little bit too quickly, but I knew this episode had to go here, and nowhere else.

Really, this was a Riders episode with a few tiny references to other racing games. Team Sonic Racing was more my excuse to write this episode than it was the inspiration for it. And…having now played and completed Team Sonic Racing, I’ll admit that this episode would have gone down much differently had I known what I’d have to work with. If this were Forces, I would proceed to write a second, more direct Special Episode that actually is based on TSR. But this is not Forces. It’s a random racing spin-off, and one episode spent celebrating it is probably more than it deserves. But don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I’ll be properly canonizing this game eventually, just as I did Riders. It just won’t be today.

Working with the Babylon Rogues was a dream. They’re such well-defined characters that their dialogue practically wrote itself. And yet, their motivations are so ambiguous that I was able to do practically whatever I wanted with them. And the Babylon history is much-needed fresh element of Sonic world-building when it often feels like the Echidnas are the only bit of real history I ever have to work with. Naturally, I tried to make storytelling and character building as accurate to the original Riders games as possible, with the unintended side-effect of basically turning this episode into a plot for Zero Gravity 2. Giving Jet a reconstructed Ark of the Cosmos was a bit of a last-minute decision, and the whole “rebuilding Babylon Garden” thing was even more last-minute than that. The original plan was simply to have Jet in it for the money and protection from Eggman. But I felt like in the circumstances I provided, with such a heated clash of wills against Sonic, that simply wasn’t a strong enough character drive.

On one hand, it was a bit of a shame that Wave and especially Storm were so left out in favor of a focus on Jet, but on the other hand, the fact that the three are usually a package deal made exploring Jet as an individual far more interesting to me. So, will they appear again? Definitely. Will it be soon? …Probably not. Honestly, no plans until Season 6 at the earliest. But you never know.

Now I suppose it’s time to talk about the evil robot in the room. Metal Sonic. After receiving my first question from a reader almost a year ago about what my plans were with Metal Sonic, following his surprise appearance at the end of S1 E1, it felt so good to finally address it. Or at least, start to. Big plans this season for Metal Sonic, for Omega, for Sonic, even for Tails. But, I’m quite literally getting ahead of myself. Need to wrap things up with Rouge and the Anti-Rebellion first. This episode was packed with out-of-context spoilers for the finale of Season 1 and the premiere of Season 2, just to anger you and amuse me.

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

Review: 50th Episode Special

As if it weren’t obvious, this episode was not exactly normal. I’ve mentioned multiple times before, both here and in the author’s notes of the actual story, that I had in mind the possibility of rewriting Crisis of Chaos, the four premiere episodes of the series. Besides just being generally poor in quality compared to my current standards of writing, those episodes had simply grown out of date as the series continued to grow. Being designed to come before the prequel, I of course did everything in my power to make sure that everything I would write thereafter would fit in correctly, but some inevitable contradictions and oddities popped up, especially in regards to Sonic Forces, which hadn’t even been announced at the time of those episodes being published. Eventually, I wanted to fix those problems, to address those conspicuously missing elements. But I’ve been focusing so hard on moving forwards that it always just seemed like a low priority. Then suddenly, I looked up from writing the Sonic Adventure Special, and realized that my next episode would be my 50th. Meanwhile, there were some unexpected delays in the episode that I had been planning on coming next. The secret Ninja Episode.

So, I realized that there would be no better time to go back to where it all began than for such a great milestone as a 50th episode. I figured that writing a new episode, rather than editing the old ones, would give me a lot more freedom to include things that would be considered spoilers if they’d been placed in those original episodes. Things like Fang, or even Infinite. It would also give me freedom in general, to write scenes which would have made for a very odd story flow if they’d been added before. I also figured that making a separate episode would attract a little more attention, and ensure that the new content would be read by people who already read the old episodes. So, with effectively no restrictions, I wrote.

This episode was dedicated to tying. Tying loose ends together, but also tying together the series as a whole. There are so many little things with considerable impacts that it would be hard to list them all. Probably the most important part, as mentioned above, was reconciling this story with the aspects that were introduced along with Forces (and Mania. I forget sometimes that that’s where the HBH’s come from.) It was addressing the questions of where Hero, Infinite, and of course, the Hard Boiled Heavies, were during this big war. I tried to write Hero’s introduction episode in this Season such that it didn’t matter too much, but still it left just a few questions hanging, which I hope have been answered. Infinite, on the other hand, benefited greatly from his one short scene in this episode. Where he was left at the end of Season 0, he had been given this odd sort of relationship with Blacklight which was left extremely vague, and next time we see him, Blacklight’s been dead for months and Infinite doesn’t say a word about him. I originally planned for him to at least say something at that point, but it just didn’t work with the episode. So finally, with this one, I was really able to show exactly what was going on between them. Infinite…had a friend…sort of. And that has a pretty significant degree of meaning for both of their characters.

The HBH’s are a little bit different. Technically speaking, there was nothing that really mandated their appearance in Crisis of Chaos, it would be very reasonable to say that, since they weren’t part of the big plan, they were just out fighting all the various offscreen battles. And technically that was true, though this episode actually retconned Heavy King into the ending scene of the original. But, just like Hero, it was nice to simply prove that they were there, and that they weren’t just sitting around and doing nothing.

Then, there were other things to reconcile. Things that, technically speaking, I could have planned for, but wasn’t able to anticipate, things that I would write of my own accord, knowing that they ran a bit against what the original Crisis seemed to suggest. One of the big ones there was Lumis. At the end of the Dawn of Chaos arc, Lumis was redeemed and welcomed back into the Realm of Chaos. But in the original Crisis, he was treated, both by myself the narrator, and by Chaos, as a villain, simply because all I had planned for Lumis at the time of Crisis was that he would be the future villain, with no details about how that story would end. That was reconciled in this episode by showing that Chaos was simply holding an unfounded grudge, with the added benefit of serious character development on both sides with the realization of similarities between them, and the fact that even the so-called-gods cannot be perfect.

And of course, there are the things I added simply to improve the depth of the story and characters, without any necessity otherwise. Little bits showing the relationships between Chaos, Sonic, and Shadow I found to be important because that dynamic was never really touched on outside of the original Crisis. And probably the part that added the most meat to this episode, the Commander subplot. At the time of the original Crisis, I had no idea how important the Commander would become in the grand scheme of the story. I knew I’d use him eventually, I just didn’t realize to what extent it would be. Naturally, I had to tell his missing story here after how much focus he got in Season 0, and even in the flashbacks of this season. Him combined with Hero was a fantastic way to show this war’s effect on the common man, something that was completely overlooked in the big robo-kaiju battle focus of the original Crisis.

And let’s not forgot the straight-up plotholes of the original that I had to fill here. Things that were pointed out me long after the original was published, such as “Why couldn’t the Hedgehogs just escape with Chaos Control?” and “Did Chaos die, or did he just go back to the Realm of Chaos?” and “Where did Tails get GUN technology from?” all got at least one dedicated scene to explaining. In regards to that last one, that “technology exchange” brought up for the first proper time in this episode was actually something I had planned on being discussed in a very, very similar scene in the original, and I’m not sure if I simply forgot to write it at the time, or if I actively decided to address it in what would become Forces of Chaos, and forgot once that came around. Either way, it never got addressed, so I had to fill it in here.

I’ll try not to drag this one out too much longer. I want to mention how I was randomly inspired to use the GUN Truck while watching a Sonic the Hedgehog Official Livestream a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very glad that I was. An action movie car chase scene just felt so right to use as the way that the Commander and Hero connect. To a certain extent, I was also inspired by a scene from the movie Captain America: Winter Soldier, in which Nick Fury, leader of the acronymed military organization SHIELD (I’ve drawn comparisons with the Commander before), was seemingly killed in a big, explosive car chase sequence. So what does that mean for the Commander? Is it possible that he’s still alive after being trapped in a sinking truck like that? Well, no one knows for certain. And eventually, that will become perhaps the single most relevant takeaway from this episode.

On a related note, this episode featured the second appearance of the mysterious “J. Naka”. Eventually, we will get to meet him in the present. But for now, his backstory just keeps getting built up little by little.

So what’s next after this big special episode? Normally, I’d say we’re going back to right where we left off in the main story of this season. But the specials aren’t over yet! Something important is happening in the next few days! The release of Team Sonic Racing! You didn’t think I’d let that slip by, did you? (Apparently I’ve never mentioned it on this site before. Wow, I really need to step up my game.) So does that mean we’re getting a Team Sonic Racing special episode? Actually…even better! This isn’t just any special episode. This is a very special preview at a full-length episode vital to Season 2, which celebrates all things Sonic Racing, and then some! Green Light Riders is coming very soon!

-And there’s no better feeling than to be here with you! Look out!

Review: Shadow of Time Finale

Well, at this point, listing the exact changes made from the original Shadow the Hedgehog would be a bit…arbitrary. It was…all change. Sure there were some old quotes used under new contexts, and of course Gerald’s message still played, but that’s about the extent of the similarities.

I suppose, right now, the most important thing I ought to talk about is the reason this story exists in the first place, now that the surprise twist is out there in the open. Sonic Boom. Why? Well, anyone who’s watched the full show might have been a little bit confused by one element of the epilogue. Shadow’s castle. You might be thinking, “Didn’t Shadow live in a cave or something?” The cave was just a clever hiding spot he chose for the Eggmen during his plot to destroy the universe in “Eggman the Video Game,” the series finale (and a pretty dang good finale it was). Other than that finale, Shadow’s only appearance in the show was the finale of the previous season, “It Takes a Village to Defeat a Hedgehog,” which you’ve just read a partial novelization of. So throughout the show, no actual indications were given as to where or how he lives. So then you might be wondering, “Where did the castle come from?” Well, personally, I’ll have to admit that I’ve only had the…”pleasure” of playing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Even though I’ve come to the understanding that the two handheld installments are superior in more ways than one, not the least of which is that they’re actually canon to the show while Rise of Lyric isn’t, I’ve never actually played either of them. But a few years back, not long after the launch of Fire and Ice, something was brought to my attention. Please, take a look for yourself.

See that symbol on the left? Look familiar? Here let me show you something else.

Shadow of Time Cover

In the Shadow of Time Cover Art

To my knowledge, Shadow the Hedgehog doesn’t even appear in Fire and Ice. But his presence is unmistakable. The top image shown above depicts the “Gothic Gardens” zone of that game. And that banner, bearing Shadow’s personal insignia hung upside-down, is not just hidden in some obscure place as some sort of cheeky reference. No. It’s plastered in plain sight over and over again throughout the level. If you’ve seen it before, it’s practically impossible to miss. That kind of thing doesn’t happen on accident. So the moment I first saw it, it got the wheels turning. In-universe, why could that possibly be there?

That emblem has appeared only one time. In the heart of the Black Comet. At first, I contemplated the possibility that Sonic Boom was actually a post-apocalyptic world where the Black Arms had taken over all but a few isolated pockets of the world.  But you gotta figure you’d see more evidence than this if that were true. So then, the Black Arms must have been defeated. But then, what would these banners be doing here? They obviously weren’t made by the aliens themselves, it’s not in their typical organic style. They would have to have been put up by someone, someone who knew what they meant, as if in the aliens’ honor. Perhaps, someone who is evil in this universe when they normally wouldn’t be, with an inherent connection to them already there. From there on out, the story practically wrote itself, explaining each and every difference between the main timeline and Boom, and how it could all be drawn back to the war with the Black Arms. In the Shadow of Time was born.

So…what else is there to say? Everything, and I mean everything about this story was built to achieve this eventual goal. It wasn’t originally planned as an April Fools joke, I very much meant it all seriously. If you want to believe this story, then you should never look at Boom the same way again. I only really started writing this story because I wanted a distraction to get past my writer’s block on The Chaos Project, and once that was done and I was back on track, this story fell by the wayside. April Fools was just a fun excuse to tie up loose ends.

So, what’s next? Any more spinoff stories on the horizon? Well…maybe. You could say that there’s…a sort of test run coming up soon. If you’ve looked very, very close around at the sight (which I’m sure no one has) you may have seen a hint I dropped for what’s coming soon on the Chaos Project. But actually, I hereby announce, there’s something else coming before that. I haven’t been touting it very much, but the next episode of The Chaos Project will be our 50th! That’s right! The big five-oh! So, I’m already writing a very special 50th Episode Celebration, where you might just be seeing that test run I mentioned earlier…

-Until then, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Season 1, Episode 12

Well…I’m running into the usual problem here of not being sure what to write about an episode that was started a very long time ago. I’ve touched on this a bit already, but I started this episode on December 20th, more than three months ago, three days before the actual anniversary. About a page in, I decided that writing the entire episode in three days would be unreasonable, and that Condition Extreme would be much better placed at that time, so I took a pause on this one and started writing that one instead.

So by now, you might be wondering…what was the point of this episode? Why make a Sonic Adventure episode focused on Rouge of all people? Well…I did fudge it a bit. In early planning phases of The Chaos Project, having a fake Big that infiltrates the Rebellion was one of my very first ideas (even before Heavy Magician existed). I wasn’t thinking much about that old idea, until I decided for certain that I was going to do Rouge’s arc for this Season, and I realized that I could work the two stories together. Everything about this episode that involved Rouge, Sly, and Big, were all planned at this point. But at that point, I figured it would be more like a “meanwhile, with Rouge” type of thing, while a different episode was happening with our normal characters. But I was never really sure what kind of episode I could fit that into. Eventually, the looming date of the Adventure 20th anniversary was brought to my attention, and I knew immediately that I had to celebrate it somehow. Big being such and important character to that game, this plot was brought to mind. But I knew that I couldn’t just make another Big episode and call it a day. That’s when the thought of Discord came to me. The moment I thought of it, I knew I had my episode, I knew that Discord would be an immensely fun character to explore. Eta came much later down the line. In fact, I wasn’t even certain that I was going to do Eta at all, until I started working on the assets for the Sprite Animation. But I knew I needed some kind of big, dramatic pull for the trailer, and a death match between not-Chaos and not-Gamma would totally do the trick.

Moving on to a related topic, given that Gamma was a very important character to Adventure, while Chaos was more a force of nature than a character, it was supposed to come as a bit of a shock which of their two substitutes turned out to be the victor this time around. As I was writing Eta’s destruction, it occurred to me that it might have been interesting to keep it around as well, but it was really only there as someone for Discord to fight, and I didn’t have any plans that could justify doing otherwise. I suppose Eta can always be rebuilt, if it comes down to that.

I suppose I should talk about Big as well. To be honest, writing the entire episode, right up to the end, my plan was to write him out at the end, send him to some isolated place where he can live in peace, as Sonic suggested. Big was the one character I was never really sure about whether or not I wanted to use in my story at all, as I mentioned once that he’s not exactly my favorite. Part of the whole point of this episode arc was to give him a good send-off so that I could justifiably not bother with him thereafter. But after everything I put him through, everything I expressed about his character, I simply couldn’t justify anything short of a promise to fight with his friends no matter what. So…I guess I’m stuck with him now. Maybe I’ll just kill him off later or something…

Heavy Magician is also of note here. Honestly, that entire end scene where Big meets Magician…I had no concrete plans for how that would go. I knew that no matter what I did, it would feel either awkwardly tagged onto the end of this episode, or onto the beginning of the next. The thought occurred to me while I was in the middle of it that I could’ve split this up into…not so much a two-parter as one episode directly continuing off of another, but honestly, after three months, I really just wanted to be done with that plot. And doing that would’ve required me to come up with something entirely new right on the spot to fill that second part. I mused over a few ideas, especially regarding what happened to Froggy after he jumped into Magician’s hat, but I decided against it. All of this lack of planning also means that Heavy Magician’s capture was a very last-minute decision. There was a small future scene I had in mind with Magician, but with this new decision came an entire future character arc revolving around that scene. That’s right. A character arc for Heavy Magician. And it’s gonna be a good one, too. So anyways, I winged that whole sequence, and I’m happy with it.

So let’s see, what else is there to say? You might be…a little bit confused in regards to how you’re supposed to feel about Discord. He’s cute, and kind, and deadly, and quite possibly evil. That’s exactly the point. Everything about Discord is supposed to make you feel uneasy. You want to believe that he’s still just a harmless Chao, but there’s really no way to tell for sure. You might be having a similar confusion about Rouge at this point. Is she, or is she not, working against the Rebellion? It’s less clear than ever. No matter what the answer is, this episode was built to show that she’s still a good person. And as to that answer, you’ll just have to wait and see.

And…I believe that’s all I have. So, until next time–

What’s this!?

[Shadow]: “This is a challenge to you, Sonic the Hedgehog! This planet now belongs to the Black Arms! If you want to stop me, then come and face me now!”

[Sonic]: “Okay, Shadow. Bring it on.”

Coming Soon: In the Shadow of Time — The Final Chapter