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!

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Part 7: …Thy Name is Ruin

This is no April Fools joke. Two full years after I began writing, the final chapter of Shadow of Time is finally available to read, right here! (Plus a bonus Epilogue!)

“You probably think…that I’ve become the greatest evil you’ve ever faced…don’t you?” The time for the final battle has come. A hero’s name is in ruin. It’s every Hedgehog for himself, Devil Doom take the hindmost. Everything must end in one great Boom.

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– (Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of an April Fools joke. But you’ll have to read to find out!)

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

Review: Shadow of Time Part 6

Well, this is where the story really starts getting interesting. The number of word-for-word scenes from the original Shadow the Hedgehog were extremely small this time. It would probably be easier to count those than it would be to count the changes. However, there was a slight problem as a result of that. This Part was supposed to reflect The Last Way, the level played during Final Mode. But because Shadow was on Black Doom’s side, there was no reason to play that level, leaving this entire part almost completely devoid of action. But then, Shadow did get to hit a few people, and I think those moments of intense drama made up for it. I wasn’t totally sure about the decision to leave Rouge alive, but I’m glad I did, because that moment of striking her proved to be very meaningful for Shadow, the final turning point in his path to Darkness. And of course, technically speaking, I wouldn’t want to kill her just in case something goes wrong involving this story’s surprise twist. It’s pretty unlikely it was ever going to matter, and at this point it’s practically impossible, but you never know. As a last note, the whole Shadow Android part was kind of unfortunate. Everything in this story so far has been very interconnected and important, so this, much like it did in the original game, kind of just felt like filler. It was necessary to give Eggman a role in the story, and introduced several necessary concepts for the big twist, I just wish the meaning could’ve been somehow greater.

And now, as usual, a list of changes.
1. Shadow defeats the Egg Dealer after already having fought Diablon.
2. Shadow has a flashback to the first Shadow Android seen in Sonic Heroes. (This was really only here obligatorily, I didn’t want to violate the one-flashback-per-part rule until the final part.)
3. Shadow obtains one of Black Doom’s trinkets, using it to cut the back of his hand, proving that he is not an android.
4. Shadow shuts up Eggman with some very hurtful insults.
5. Because Sonic and Eggman are already on the scene, and Knuckles is incapacitated, it is Rouge who shows up with Tails and Amy to stop Shadow from giving the Chaos Emeralds to Black Doom. Amy is wearing some unusual gloves.
6. Shadow attacks Rouge at the mention of Maria, knocking her out.
7. With one last chance to convince him, Sonic tries to give Shadow the Inhibitor Ring that he kept after the events of Sonic Adventure 2, which Shadow breaks in rejection.
8. The Ritual of Prosperity proceeds without The Last Way ever happening.
9. Breaking free from the effects of the nerve gas under Black Doom’s advision, Shadow kneels to him and swears his loyalty, instead of swearing to destroy him.
10. After his own transformation, Black Doom willingly gives the Chaos Emeralds to Shadow.

Part 6: Punishment…

Another five months, another one measly part of In the Shadow of Time. Read it right here!

“Those heartless humans who stand in our way…I’ll destroy them all,” the hybrid soldier swore. Punishment for the humans is the last way, the only way to protect the planet from destruction. The Ritual of Prosperity has arrived. And Shadow will ensure that it succeeds.

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Review: Shadow of Time Parts 4 and 5

I didn’t even realize that I forgot to do the review for the last one, so here’s both, to get us all caught up. But part 4 was a while ago, so I’ll have to see what I can remember.

I’m a little worried about things getting too formulaic here. Shadow plays the Dark mission of a level, meets the hero of said level, and eventually gets rid of the hero before completing the level, followed by a newly-made scene that includes a flashback. Part 5 sort of broke that mold, with its flashback near the beginning and its focus on the boss fight at the end, but Part 4 was definitely a culprit. That’s why I specifically made a sort of joke over the fact that Shadow expected to be interrupted as he was preparing to destroy the ARK defense systems, as he was by Vector. A little later, I decided to cut out the Commander’s flashback, because I wanted to focus on Shadow, and it didn’t really add much to the scene beyond what he was saying anyways. So, why did I decide to have the Commander lose an eye? Well, it’s just a continuation of a preexisting symbol. Just like with the President’s photograph, the Commander’s heterochromatic eyes were already there for me, begging to be used. In the original game, they were there to symbolize the game’s entire theme, the thin line between good and evil, and the duality between them. But this story’s theme is a bit different. By cutting out the Commander’s “good guy” eye, Shadow symbolically cut out the goodness within himself. Additionally, the altered situation made for a great lead-in for the team-up of the Commander with Sonic, since that’s something that came up very suddenly in the original game. There’s also one other reason. Ever heard of Nick Fury? Fury is to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe as the Commander is to G.U.N. in Sonic. And Fury has an eyepatch. I couldn’t resist making the comparison. As for Part 5, there isn’t as much to say. It was nice, finally writing the meeting of Shadow and Sonic, even if it was mostly constructed from recycled quotes. Either way, there’s more of that interaction to come.

Now, as usual, a chronicle of specific changes:
1. Change in level order, The ARK/Cosmic Fall/Space Gadget are combined into one, and now come after Air Fleet dark mission. The introduction scene used most closely reflects The ARK.
2. Despite Vector’s presence, the ARK is not collapsing, and Shadow is still destroying Defense Units. Vector has donned a black leather jacket for unknown reasons. (That was very relevant at the time I wrote it, but it’s been a while since then.)
3. The Commander encounters Shadow after the level instead of before. In the encounter, Shadow attacks the Commander and slices his eye. After the encounter, Sonic finds and helps him.
4. In a scene that did not exist before, Shadow meets Black Doom in the Eclipse Cannon control room. As Black Doom forces Shadow to fire the Cannon, Shadow has a flashback to his first encounter with Rouge in Sonic Heroes.
5. In a scene that did not exist before, the President learns that the Eclipse Cannon is targeting the GUN base he occupies, and gives a last goodbye to the workers in the room, before the base is destroyed by the Cannon. Rouge is presumed dead.
6. In a scene that did not exist before, Sonic and the Commander watch from space as the GUN base is destroyed, and decide to go after the Black Comet together. The Commander makes a speech to whoever is left to hear to join them in the fight. Emerald placement has been slightly modified.
7. In a scene that did not exist before, Black Doom takes Shadow to the room where he was first awoken, and agrees to unlock Shadow’s memories. Shadow has a flashback to the very moment he was awoken, and the promise he made to Black Doom at the time.
8. Sonic and Shadow spend some extra time on the Black Comet debating over Shadow’s allegiances.
9. During the battle, Sonic and the Commander argue and interfere with one another.
10. Once Shadow gathers all seven Chaos Emeralds, he spares Sonic’s life. At the last moment, Eggman appears, claiming Shadow to be an Android.

Part 5: Apogee of Darkness

Don’t think that a five month break means that I forgot! The next part of Shadow of Time has finally arrived! Read it right here!”

“This is what I was born to do,” Shadow stated calmly, letting go of his final haunt. On the Black Comet, the paths of Light and Darkness finally cross. And when the Darkness reaches its apogee, the Ritual of Prosperity can finally begin.

Preview: Shadow of Time, Part 5

The next episode of The Chaos Project isn’t quite ready yet, so we’ll be taking a brief detour for the return of Shadow of Time! Here’s a preview!

Amidst the alien world that is the interior of the Black Comet, Shadow steps forward slowly, wielding easily in one hand a long gatling gun, several times his own size. Before him waits a massive squadron of GUN Trooper robots, headed by three mass-produced Big Foot models, all with weapons directed at Shadow.

Doom’s Eye comments from behind, “So, the humans have decided to play their hand, have they? Go! Show them your true power, Shadow!”

“Hmph.” Shadow pulls down on the trigger, letting loose a continuous stream of destruction from the powerful weapon in his hand, which shreds through every last robot in the path Shadow directs it along, until there’s nothing left but smoke and a few scraps of metal. Shadow tosses the emptied weapon aside, and it clatters across the ground as he goes to pick up a new one from the rubble.

“Yes…show them how powerless they truly are!”

Another voice interjects, “Powerless? You hear that, Commander? The jellyfish with an eyeball just called us powerless!”

Shadow doesn’t turn to the source of the voice. “Sonic.”

Sonic stands with his arms crossed in front of a giant red mech. The mech floats with no legs, but has two massive, powerful looking arms, and a single large eye-like structure on the front of its head. Small white print on each of the mech’s arms reads “U78-X/D Diablon”. Holding the purple Chaos Emerald in one hand, Sonic points accusingly with his other at Doom’s Eye. “Why don’t you come out of hiding and meet us face-to-face, Boss Man? We’ll show you just how ‘powerless’ we are.”

Shadow turns angrily at Sonic. “I thought I told you to stay out of my way!”

“Yeah. And I told you to stay away from that thing.” Sonic again points at Doom’s Eye. “I guess neither of us is very good at taking orders. Which makes me wonder why you’re taking orders from a jellyfish!”

Shadow closes his eyes and clenches a fist. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Is that what you told Tails before you attacked him? Or Knuckles, before you blasted him into a building? Or what you would’ve told Rouge, before you obliterated the military base!?” Shadow growls, and clenches even harder. “Shadow, I want to understand. I want to help you! But you have to talk to me!”

The Commander barks at Sonic, “Don’t you get it!? That monster doesn’t want to be helped! He’s chosen his side! And he’s ready to destroy us all!”

“Shadow…why are you siding with those black creatures?”

“It’s because…it’s what I have to do.”

“You don’t have to do anything, Shadow! You have your own free will! You don’t have to live for anyone else! You can help people, you can do whatever you think is right! I thought you already learned that!”

“You’re wrong! These humans don’t deserve help! They don’t value life, I’ve seen it with my own eyes! I’ve relived it over and over again! Even the innocent don’t understand! This is what I was born to do, Sonic. I can bring order to this planet.” Shadow closes his eyes again. “Just hand over the Emerald, Sonic. You don’t have to be a part of this.”

Sonic shakes his head. “I can’t let you go, Shadow. Not like this.”

“I don’t want it to come to this, Sonic. But if you try to stop me…I’ll destroy you, too.”

“If that’s how it’s gonna be, Shadow…” Sonic raises his fists “…then bring it on!”

Doom’s Eye commands, “Enough fooling around! Shadow, finish them!”

The Diablon bangs its metal fists together, and some sort of yellow ray shield raises around the mech. “This is for my family, and for Maria! I’ll settle this once and for all!”

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After all that’s happened, the paths of Sonic and Shadow must finally collide. And only one can come out on top.

In the Shadow of Time: Part 4: Destruction and Scorn

It’s now a week later than I promised, but the next part of the Shadow of Time story is finally here! Read it right here!

“Finally…justice is served,” the ex-resident of the ARK shouted. Nothing but destruction and scorn awaits Shadow aboard the Space Colony ARK, the space gadget that was once his own home. A cosmic fall is imminent. And then the Black Arms can finally rule.

Preview: Shadow of Time, Part 4

I figured, “Eh, why not?” So here’s a little preview of what I’m posting next week.

Shadow opens fire on the strange green mechanism that serves as the ARK’s floating defense unit with his heavy machine gun. In seconds, it is destroyed. “The Eclipse Cannon is ours.”

Doom’s Eye approaches from behind. “Well done, Shadow. Meet me in the cannon’s control room.” It flies off just as quickly as it arrived.

With no ammo remaining, Shadow discards the weapon, as heavy footsteps across the glass floor can be heard from behind him. “It’s been a long time…Shadow.” Shadow turns to look into the achromatic eyes of the GUN Commander, who points his pistol directly at Shadow’s head.

Shadow turns to face him calmly. “Who are you supposed to be? Another one claiming to know who I am?”

The Commander continues to step forward, never lowering the weapon. “I know you…Shadow the Hedgehog.” He stops a few feet short of Shadow. “You killed everyone I loved. My family. Maria!” He jabs the gun forward for emphasis, as Shadow lets out the slightest gasp at the name. “I’ve been waiting all my life for this day!”

Shadow closes his eyes, and clenches a fist tightly. “You’re wrong. I didn’t kill anyone, not on that day.” He opens his eyes again, and looks directly into the face of his opponent. “Even though Maria didn’t know who I really am, even though she would have been terrified of me if she did, I still tried to save her, because I thought she was a good person. But there are no good people.”

“How dare you!? Maria was like a sister to me! She meant more to me than anyone else! And because of you…she was killed!” The Commander closes his eyes as he thinks back. “I witnessed it all…the Professor and that black alien planning to create a horrifying, evil creature!”

Shadow is once again struck with surprise. “You’re saying that…I was created by Black Doom?”

“And that insane Professor who unleashed it all!”

Shadow has to take a step back as he clutches at his head. “That explains…why…” His eyes dart back and forth as he starts to connect everything, the promises, the demands, the memories, the alien soldiers.

The Commander snaps him out of it with a loud shout. “You don’t fool me! It’s not just about Maria! Thanks to you, everyone I knew and loved was killed aboard the ARK. Finally…justice is served!” He suddenly pulls the trigger, and the gunshot sounds violently through the otherwise silent space. But no one is standing in front him. He only has a moment to realize that he missed before he is struck in the back of the head by Shadow’s kick. He collapses onto the floor as his dropped weapon slides a fair distance away.

Shadow looks down on the white-haired man with scorn. “You’ve wasted enough of my time.” He turns to leave. “I have work to do.”

The Commander tries to contain his rage by pressing his fingers into the solid glass floor. He mutters quietly, “I’ve waited too long to let you get away that easily.” Too far from his gun, he draws a knife that he had concealed. “You’ll regret turning your back on me!” He quickly stands and charges at his foe with the sharp weapon.

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Well, things seem to be turning out a bit differently this time. Shadow physically attacks the Commander? The Commander has a knife? Could this be the end for either of them? Find out, next week on “In the Shadow of Time.”

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