Review: Season 0, Episode 22

What was it that I said about the last episode? That I got stuck, not knowing what to write? Well, this episode took almost as long, and for an essentially opposite reason. Because I had such trouble figuring out what to write in the last episode, I thought it would be a good idea to set up an entire plot for this one. Have Sonic captured, make a sub-plot about Tails and Knuckles rescuing him. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but I felt like I spent almost this entire episode writing myself out of that hole I dug. Rather than having no idea where to go, I knew I exactly where I was going, but struggled to fill what comes in between with interesting content. It was definitely worth it, or else I would have no idea how to manage an entire 4-5 episodes for the arc. But it was troublesome.

Tails and Knuckles were an interesting development that I wasn’t really planning on originally. Even though Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles seem like a practically inseparable trio, I propose that not all is as it seems in that relationship. The only time we’ve ever seen Tails and Knuckles together without Sonic, as far as I can remember, is the opening scene for Team Sonic from Sonic Heroes, and that only lasted for a few seconds before Sonic entered the picture. We have no idea how they might have been interacting before the scene started, and so, I was able to invent my own dynamic. The idea is that Tails and Knuckles, two people with very different personalities and outlooks, actually clash strongly…when Sonic isn’t around. The three as a whole work very well together, because both consider themselves to be best friends with Sonic. But without Sonic, the two share very little in common, and so they shouldn’t get along too well. Sonic is like the glue of the relationship, holding the other two together when they otherwise wouldn’t stick. For this dynamic…I’ve actually drawn inspiration from my own personal experiences. I was once the Sonic in a relationship like this one. Once upon a time, back in Middle School, my friends and I made a successful Yu-Gi-Oh group. Every lunch period, we would stay in the cafeteria and play cards together. Anyone who would look at our trio from the outside would think that we were all very close friends. But if I ever left the room for any reason, I would always come back to find them arguing. One day, one of those arguments nearly came to blows, and it might have if I hadn’t gotten there in time. The group completely fell apart, and I haven’t heard more than a few words from those two ever since. But with the power of the pen, I was able to write a happier ending for this story.

After that…came the big robot battle royale. I’d like to confirm that “Blue Bomber” is neither a Worlds Collide comic reference, nor a Mega Man reference in general. That entire sequence was actually more of a reference to Sonic Chronicles: the Dark Brotherhood (to this day one of my favorite handheld video games of all time. Seriously, I beat that game like 8 times over). For those who aren’t aware, Sonic Chronicles was an RPG style game for the Nintendo DS, loosely inspired by, though not necessarily related to, the comics. Anyways, one component of that game’s battle system was POW moves, in which you would have to follow a correct sequence on the touchscreen in order to deal extra damage or some additional effect. Some POW move are done individually, while others require multiple characters to be on the same team. One POW move, requiring Sonic and Tails, was titled “Blue Bomber,” which behaved exactly as described in the story. Similarly, one requiring Sonic and Amy was called “Fastball.” “Spike Me” is not a POW move, as Sonic and Knuckles had no such POW move. The closest would be “Knuckles Sandwich,” which requires Amy as well as Sonic and Knuckles. At first I was just going to have Sonic shouting specific commands to everyone in addition to “spike me,” but I wanted to demonstrate the high degree of teamwork by having everyone understand what he’s saying based on no more than two words. I was just going to make up these brief 1-2 word commands, but then remembered the POW moves, and thought, “Why make it up when this is already here?”

So, what’s left? The thing I had going on with Eggman and Cubot probably seemed a little random, but that was actually me making fun of myself. I’ve noticed that, even though I have Cubot as a character, Eggman only ever calls on Orbot when something actually needs to get done. Since I don’t like to use Orbot and Cubot too much without making some kind of joke, I thought it would be fun to subvert that usual tendency by implying that Cubot screwed something up and deactivated Orbot. It’s part of the joke that you don’t really need to know what happened.

Anything else? Just as with Janice, I do wonder how much of a mystery was really left with the identities of Chaos and Lumis. Obviously, it was spoiled by Crisis of Chaos, but this whole arc has been written with the intention of forcing the reader to forget that fact and look at what’s going on for what it is. I just don’t know whether or not that was successful. I suppose that’s all for what did happen in the episode, but there’s also what didn’t. Very, very few of my original plans for this arc actually ended up surviving the writing process. Some of those original plans included Chaos having a fight with Shadow, and Eggman tricking Chaos into thinking that he himself is the Controller instead of Sonic, thereby swaying him to his side. I decided to include Amy instead of Shadow, mostly as an experiment to see how well I could perform by using only classic characters, as well as just for the sake of having Amy play some kind of important role before the season ends. As for that part about Eggman, that was mostly leftover from the original plans for the story before I had invented Lumis for Crisis of Chaos. I would have done that story if Lumis weren’t in the picture, but I decided that making Chaos an antagonist in addition to Eggman would draw too much importance away from Lumis in the end. I essentially had two different scenes planned for Chaos finally getting his wits about him: one in Eggman’s lab, and one in Tails’. I decided on the latter. And I suppose that’s all.

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

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S0 E22: Day and Night

I was busy yesterday, but today I finally got out the next part of The Chaos Project. Read it right here!

With Sonic, Amy, and the mysterious Moonstone hedgehog captured, it’s up to Tails and Knuckles to work together and save them. Only then can the truth finally be revealed. But sometimes, the truth can hurt.

-Until next time, remember to live and learn every day.

Opinionated Review: Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)

As I mentioned on the footnote of Shadow of Time, I published it to celebrate something very special to me. For the first time in my near-15 year experience with Sonic games, I can finally call myself an expert at one of them. I completed Shadow the Hedgehog’s “Expert Mode” (with 90 lives to spare at that. Thanks, chicken gun.), a feat which I assume most players never even get the chance to attempt. (Just a few days later, I finally got the seventh Chaos Emerald and experienced the final boss for the first time in Sonic Heroes. This has been a really good week for me.) Anyways, in working towards getting an A-rank on every single mission of the game, I got an excellent chance to really analyze its core gameplay elements, while, writing for Shadow of Time, I’ve gotten an equally appropriate chance to analyze the story. Normally, I wouldn’t want to review a game that I first started playing over a decade ago, but these are special circumstances. Additionally, with Mania done and Forces on the way, I am interested in establishing a baseline of comparison between classic games, Adventure-style games, and modern games. Now, since this game came out 12 years ago, it would be unfair of me to compare it directly to modern games (unlike Sonic Mania, which came out last month). So, most comparisons will be made to Sonic Heroes and other Adventure-era games. So, without further ado, let us begin.
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Review: Season 0, Episode 21

So, this episode probably felt a bit…disjointed. Altogether, this one took about nine weeks to write. I don’t know how I can go from a two-day episode to a nine-week episode, but I was writing steadily all the way up until the wall I hit after the hedgehog (Chaos) escaped from Sonic and Amy. Over the next few days, I struggled to crank out the one very short scene immediately after. After that, nothing. Not a single word. For almost a month. I simply didn’t know what to do with it next. Several times I sat down and stared at the story, or reviewed the last episode, for an hour or more before giving up. But finally, after weeks of brainstorming, I managed to start going at about one paragraph per day of writing, and that pace finally started to increase towards the end. In the end, I actually managed to even get a few extra ideas in there which weren’t necessary for the purpose of completing the episode.

But enough of that boring stuff. Thinking back to what I can remember, I find it kind of funny, but I wrote about the appearance of Lumis just a few weeks before the appearance of the character “Steve Eggman” (Morpho) in the Sonic Boom show, who looks relatively similar to what I always imagined for Lumis.

Now, in case you couldn’t tell, the “Moonstone” is not a name which I had originally planned back in Crisis of Chaos. It would have been named such if I had been planning it. Originally it was simply to be called the rainbow Chaos Emerald, or simply not have a name at all, but I realized that I couldn’t be calling him “The Rainbow Chaos Emerald hedgehog” for the entire episode plus. I decided that it probably should get a real name, so I started looking into possibilities. There aren’t a lot of gemstones which legitimately contain multiple colors at once, but when I saw that moonstone could, I was immediately sold on the idea. I had already planned on it coming from space before then, so that fell into place quite nicely.

Another interesting note for this episode is its use of Amy. Originally, I was going to have her play her usual “mistake character-of-the-week for Sonic” role. I even set up for this by having his fur be blue at the time she sees him. But in the end, I decided that I wanted to play off of expectations instead. Last time we saw Amy in this series, she was quite a bit younger. Last time she played an actual role in the games (not counting Forces), she wasn’t all that much older. But approximately two years have passed since the events of Sonic 06, and my proposition in this episode is that she’s finally starting to mature a bit. We saw the first hints of that in Sonic Unleashed, when she actually did some work instead of fawning over Sonic the whole time. I wanted to continue the development seen through those two games. It was satisfying, in a way, making her not-totally-useless. And besides, while I haven’t decided on a concrete relative age for Chaos yet, I want him to be a sort of father figure for Sonic, which would make him much too old for Amy. I don’t want to get creepy with this.

And…there’s not a lot more I can say without spoiling the future of this arc, even though you probably already know where it’s going.

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

S0 E21: Life and Death

When I posted the episode 24 hours ago, I apparently forgot about this part of the process. Anyways, you can finally read the newest episode of the Chaos Project right here.

Sonic isn’t the same irresponsible person he used to be. He’s determined to solve any problem that he’s caused. But with a powerful creature on the loose, that may be a harder task than it sounds. Who is the Moonstone hedgehog?

Opinion Piece: Sonic Forces

The name is real! Today, a panel was held for Sonic at SXSW (South by South-West), where details were revealed for Sonic Mania, and, more importantly, this game. The game formerly known as Project Sonic 2017 now has the official name of Sonic Forces, which I believe refers to a battle between the forces of good and evil. But that wasn’t the only news announced today, and I’m here to talk about what we now know.

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In addition to the logo pictured above, we also had a full reveal of a previously shown (but cropped) concept art, pictured below. Nothing too far beyond expectations based on what we already knew, the same dark, fiery, destructive theme. It was pretty obvious before, but it was confirmed early in the reveal that the game’s plot does involve the existence of the Eggman Empire “…as I always dreamed it!” (Quote from Mike Pollock, voice of Eggman). Also clarified information that we had before, this was confirmed as a game in the style of Sonic Unleashed, Colors, and Generations. If they think that they can get an Adventure lover like myself to love that formula, I’m glad to see them try. But as it stands, I currently and always have felt like watering down Modern Sonic’s gameplay with the 2D sidescrolling that we already get from Classic Sonic is just a bad idea, plain and simple. But once again, I could certainly learn to love the high-speed boosting style of gameplay if they execute it perfectly.

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Now, on to the real news. 3. I’m not talking about a certain non-child-friendly game series that will not be mentioned here, nor about any conspiracy theories. Three playstyles. That’s what they said this game would have. Modern Sonic. Classic Sonic. And a third. I don’t even want to begin at guessing what that third style is, for risk of disappointing myself in the future. But, needless to say, that leaves potential to include the style of gameplay which I have been sorely missing for over ten years of Sonic games, in which case I would be perfectly fine with the overuse of 2D in the other 2 styles. I would also mention that, in describing the title of the game, the words “Sonic and friends” were used, inferring that this third slot could be filled by a character other than Sonic. But that’s just a theory. A game

The video above was also unveiled at this event. The main theme of Sonic Forces. The rumors have been flying around for over a year now that Crush 40 would be performing music for this next Sonic game, though Johnny Gioeli (lead singer) confirmed in an interview some time ago that they hadn’t been in any way contacted about it or otherwise involved in it by that point. However, before this theme was played, they stated that it had only just recently been recorded, meaning that something could very well have changed since that interview, and finally come to fruition. Now, as you’ve probably listened to and heard, the above song has no vocals. However, it was confirmed that the real theme song does have vocals, and that this was merely an instrumental version. Now, let’s be honest here. The song doesn’t quite line up with Crush 40’s usual style. The guitar doesn’t even come in prominently until over 15 seconds in, and even then, it isn’t nearly as pronounced as I would expect. This probably isn’t a Crush 40 song, though I wouldn’t say that it’s absolutely impossible. What the musical style does remind me of, however, is that of Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Lost World, the final boss fight theme of the latter in particular. And Lost World had a pretty good soundtrack. It’s not like a Sonic song has to be composed by Jun Senoue (lead guitarist of Crush 40 and music director of the Sonic series starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 3) to be good. I am actually quite fond of “Endless Possibility,” the lyrical theme of Sonic Unleashed. But as a Sonic fan of the Adventure era, anything that can make this game feel more like what I know and love can be a good thing. Now, I suppose I haven’t said what I think about the song itself yet. I’ll admit, I am very happy with it, and the piano at the end got me feeling really emotional. It feels way too upbeat given the tone of the game as we’ve seen so far, but it’s still a good piece of music.

Most importantly for today’s reveals, some brief footage of gameplay. Now, around this time, they also talked a bit about the gameplay in general. They confirmed that this game runs on the entirely new “Hedgehog Engine 2.” It looks very pretty, but in all honesty, I didn’t notice anything that made it clearly superior to the old engine. The gameplay style appears exactly the same as you would expect based on how they explained this game’s relations to old ones. Though I would point out that they did not showcase any 2D sidescrolling, which could be a very good sign for me. Of course, it could just be that they didn’t want to bother showing it because it doesn’t look nearly as pretty or exciting. We’ll have to wait and see. What we don’t have to wait for is the confirmation that Wisps are indeed returning to this game. Sigh. Wisps were a very clever and creative gimmick for Sonic Colors which did a good job in tying the gameplay together with what little story that game had. Their return for Generations was perfectly normal, in fact, the Colors levels would have been rather empty without them. Then Lost World came around. The inclusion of Wisps in Lost World was ridiculous, senseless, and, quite frankly, wrong. The end of Colors clearly established that the Wisps were gone, returned to their home planets. Now…the possibility exists that Lost World actually takes place in the Wisp galaxy (or solar system or whatever), since literally the only thing we know about the Lost Hex is that it is a “floating continent.” (Honestly, it really irritates me how little we know about that entire story.) It could be a continent floating above an alien planet, no one said it had to be above the Earth we know. I probably would’ve been satisfied with that explanation. But there was no explanation, forcing us to assume that these creatures we thought were aliens also happen to live natively on a floating continent above the planet, which, apparently, no one ever noticed. And now, here the Wisps are again, not just on this distant, almost planet-like continent, but now also on what we can only assume to be the surface of Sonic’s Earth. They fuel his boost gauge, though they don’t appear quite like the same white Wisps we saw in Colors. Since it seems like this game might have an actual story, unlike what we’ve been getting recently, I really, really hope that they actually take a whole 20 seconds out of their way to explain why the heck the Wisps are still here.

Conclusion
I can no longer say that this game has the potential to be the absolute perfect game, in my opinion. But the outlook isn’t so bad. This game could still shape up into the absolute highlight of the Modern Sonic era. The soundtrack is looking good so far, they have a chance to perfect the gameplay style, and the story is looking like it might be the best we’ve gotten in ten years. I’m still looking forward to seeing what’s in store for that third playstyle, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high. All in all, I’m still very excited for this game. Though I am more worried than ever about it stepping on the toes of my story.

-Until next time, remember to live and learn every day!
(Couldn’t come up with a good “forces” pun.)

Edit: It has been confirmed that characters including Knuckles, Amy, and unspecified members of the Chaotix appear in the game, including dialogue spoken to Sonic over a radio during gameplay. It has also been confirmed that none of these characters are playable, and that Modern Sonic gameplay does include 2D sidescrolling “occasionally.” Just because these other characters aren’t playable doesn’t mean that they have no role in the story, which is a lot of what I care about. If they acknowledge the existence of these characters in the Sonic universe in a capacity greater than the normal pathetic cameo roles, I’ll be very happy. The sorts of roles these side characters had in Shadow the Hedgehog (2005), minus the second-player playability of course, is the kind of thing I’m talking about, where we simply come across the characters doing exactly what one might expect them to do given the situation. And of course, just because these specific characters aren’t playable, doesn’t mean that some other character won’t be. As for the 2D…meh. If the 3D is good, then having the 2D certainly won’t ruin the game, it will just mean having less time enjoying the maximum that the game has to offer. I expected as much.

Review: Season 0, Episode 6

Well, this is the first ever episode I’ve made to go over my expected word count limit of 5,000 with a total of 5,337 by the count of my word processing program. If it had gone on much longer, I probably would have just split it into two, but this entire arc already has way too many episodes. The funny thing is, I went into this episode unsure of whether or not I would have to include what will now be the first scene of the next episode, because this one wouldn’t be long enough.

Now, I feel like this episode overall was pretty self-explanatory, and I’ll leave it to you to guess at its implications for the Sonic universe. Everything that was vaguely hinted at in this episode will get a more thorough explanation at a later point in the series. Originally, this whole history with the experiments and the Chaos War was not intended to be explained until not just the final season, but the epilogue, which is years and years away at this point. But when the time came to make Zero, I decided that this would make the perfect backstory for him.

Now, since I have a little bit of free space here, I’ve decided to explain something that I’ve been meaning to for quite a while. As I have mentioned before, Season 0 is composed of what, if matched to my original vision, would actually be video games, not a TV show like the rest of the series. As such, this Speed of Time arc actually has intended gameplay style and mechanics. Loosely resembling the style of Sonic 06, this game would have 3 initial stories, however each one has only one playable character each (Sonic, Zero, and Silver, though Tails, Amy, and Shadow would also be playable in 2-player mode only). Sonic’s story would be unlocked first, and other stories would be unlocked as you encounter their characters for the first time. There would also be a final story unlocked upon beating the other three (which we will be getting into over the next couple of episodes). Now, each character has their own play style, though it would be possible to go back and play old levels as any of the three characters. Sonic’s play style would pretty closely resemble the current accepted model of Sonic games, a high-speed 2D/3D hybrid, focusing on Boost and with parkour as an ability. Silver, breaking from his more traditional 06 style, would more closely resemble dungeon-crawling puzzle solving, making heavy use of Silver’s psychic abilities. Lastly, Zero’s play style might be described as a cross between how Sonic used to play in the Adventure era, and the Werehog portion of Sonic Unleashed, with maybe a little bit of Shadow in 06. A moderate-speed exploration/beat-em-up, in which you would be required to defeat large numbers of enemies in order to progress, and would gain experience and learn new abilities as time goes on. Some abilities, such as those relating to Time Control, would be locked to story progression.

As I said before, any character could play any level, which would be the primary method for unlocking secrets and collectibles. An area in Silver’s level, for example, might be blocked off by a psychic puzzle to solve. However, also nearby might be a cracked wall which Zero can break through, leading to a shortcut area through the level (full of enemies to defeat in Zero’s style), or there might be a long gap with a ramp that only Sonic can Boost over, or wall jump over, or a low wall which only Sonic can run up (leading to a 2D area in Sonic’s style). I guess that sums up all game mechanics that aren’t self-evident. I suppose I can mention that Zero fights more Bosses than anyone else, Sonic plays more levels, and Silver’s levels are far longer. I can also mention music. Obviously, I haven’t actually composed any music myself, but theoretically, Sonic’s theme music and stage music would be primarily orchestrated in the style of Sonic Unleashed and Lost World, Zero’s music would be primarily guitar in the style of the Adventure games, and Silver would be primarily techno/synth, only really comparable to the Classic Sonic levels of Sonic Generations. At some point, all of this information may end up on its own page for game ideas, but this is the only place to put it for now.

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

Review: Cast by the Light Part 9

Originally, I was planning on releasing parts 9 and 10 together, but I realized that I needed a little more time to work on the Chaos Project. Instead, I wrote an Epilogue that I will be releasing alongside part 10. Anyways, the first change in this episode came in the very beginning. As Eggman becomes concerned with with the ARK’s falling, I felt the need to make sure it was specified that the Cannon’s exploding and the ARK’s falling were not related incidents. Otherwise, Sonic would be responsible for nearly destroying the entire planet. That would have been bad. The next change came with Eggman’s explanation of the imminent danger. I don’t remember exactly what the original said, but I remember feeling that there theoretically wouldn’t be as much of a problem with what he was explaining as what the rest of the dialogue in the game ends up suggesting.

There is one creative liberty I took, seeing as this is a story instead of a game. In the previous scene, it was inferred that the game cut to the level just before Eggman began explaining the plan. Instead of having him explain it again over the radio, I had each character’s instructions explained through a flashback that occurred as they were going through the stage, which obviously wouldn’t have been possible in the real game. Another small change came in the form of Eggman and Tails’ goal in getting to the Cannon’s Core. Originally, their target was to destroy two security doors. For what I hope are obvious reasons, that makes no sense. Maybe one door would make sense, since they need an entrance in the first place. But after this, everyone ends up going through the same place, making a second door a complete waste of time and effort. Instead, I had security locks described, machines which prevent access through the single necessary entrance to the liquid-flooded area. Lastly, I modified Amy’s friendship speech to Shadow slightly, since I felt the original “they’re basically good” line was a little bit too awkward. And that’s all for now. Coming next is the most fun I’ve ever had writing for a fight scene!

– Until then, remember to live and learn every day!
(Apparently, I can’t align text to the right anymore, so this little outro doesn’t look as pretty. Oh, well.)

Cast by the Light Part 8: For True Story

A little late again, the conclusion to the Hero and Dark stories is here at last.

Read it right here!

“Stars don’t twinkle, the moon doesn’t shine…” And the moon certainly can’t shine, now that half of it has been blown out of the sky. And up on the ARK, high in space, stars certainly don’t twinkle. Perhaps Shadow thinks of this as some metaphor for his own life as he begins the final conflict with his rival, while Tails and Eggman duel over the fate of Sonic, Amy, the final Chaos Emerald, and the world.

Review: Cast by the Light Parts 6 and 7

Another combination review for lack of content. In fact, Part 6 has almost nothing. Just the note that I added a little bit to either side of the scene where Knuckles opens the door, the later end of which because, as I mentioned in an earlier review, they don’t like showing people actually opening doors for some reason. As for the beginning of the scene, I just wanted to clearly demonstrate that Knuckles did beat King Boom Boo, without actually describing the reality-screwing physics of that fight. And that’s all for that! As for part 7, there was a little bit of dialogue right at the beginning I felt the need to alter. Even though Sonic, Tails, and Amy had clearly been walking through the ARK for quite some time since landing, and Knuckles had every reason to have separated from them immediately upon landing (if not sooner), the original script had Sonic behave as if he were only just realizing that Knuckles was no longer with them. Not only that, but Sonic had only just been talking as if Knuckles clearly weren’t there (at least, I assume he wouldn’t insult Knuckles in the third-person if he were standing right there). So altered it just a bit to convey more the sense that Sonic had been ranting about Knuckles ever since he left, and only just then got to the question of where he actually went. Besides that, I added a few thoughts and flashbacks for Sonic throughout the part. And that’s all!

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