Review: Season 0, Episode 19

I meant to post this last week, but I guess it just slipped my mind. Oh well, I guess that means more weeks worth of filler content while we wait for Forces. Keep in mind, this for the finale of the Birth of Blacklight arc, not the premiere of the Dawn of Chaos arc that was published 5 days later.

Since this was supposed to be a part of the last episode, I have a lot less to say. The first thing that comes to mind is how I wanted Shadow’s temporal displacement to be resolved. The way I saw, from the moment I had parallel-Sonic mention the one-way nature of the time machine, I had three options. The first was, as actually happened, to come up with some new convoluted means of time-travel. The second was also quite an enticing option, which was still referenced in the end. I considered having Shadow be put back in a stasis pod alongside Blacklight, spend another 40 years unconscious, to be awoken only when Blacklight is awoken as well. I was very much intrigued by the thought of having the two end with the same fate, and having Shadow dedicate himself solely to the task of protecting the world from his doppelganger. It would also be a nice, convenient way to exclude Shadow from the next story arc, not being reawoken until the following one. Making that choice would have required me to remove Maria from the equation, however, as she would have no means of returning home, and I think that would have taken away too much from the rest of the story to be worth it. There would have been a couple other minor problems as well.

The third option is actually what I was originally planning on doing. That would be to introduce a new Chaos-wielding character who could use Chaos Control to open another rift with Shadow. I had already conceptualized this character’s basic characteristics, personality, abilities, and even the dynamic he would have with Shadow. But then I started planning more specifically for Shadow’s first few interactions with Blacklight, and there ended being no good place to introduce an extra character before they had made their first time jump together, cutting out half of my chances. I suppose I could have altered his story to make him come from another time period instead, but I feel that would have ruined too much of what I had planned for him. And besides, by that point, I had decided that introducing another character that late in would seem silly, and take too much focus off of Shadow and Blacklight. This guy would be a “minor” character, he wouldn’t even get a sprite for this website. Anything I could do with him from that point would seem like a silly contrivance, like he’s only there because he has to be. Anyways, this guy hasn’t been forgotten about just yet, as he’ll certainly get a proper introduction later in the series. But even now, remnants of his existence can still be found. Gerald’s story in Shadow’s dream/flashback referred to this very character.

Speaking of that sequence, it was a reference to more than just the past and the future of this series. Some readers may recall from Cast by the Light, my Sonic Adventure 2 novelization, that I added a look into Shadow’s thoughts immediately after his final loss to Sonic aboard the ARK. His thought: “what is it about him…that allows him to fight me…to fight like me? Could it be…what the Professor told me about?” What the Professor told Shadow about was this very story, the story of the Controller.

I tried to make it as obvious as possible, but I should confirm that the realm in which Shadow and Blacklight faced each other for the final time is the very same place seen in a vision by all three hedgehogs in the premiere of Crisis of Chaos. This wasn’t something I was originally planning, and so I had to do a little bit of working around the fact that Shadow didn’t behave as if he had already been there when he saw it in that premiere. His specific statement was explained by Blacklight’s line in this episode, “Heck if I know.” Shadow doesn’t necessarily not recognize the realm, but, with his newfound learnings under Chaos, he is realizing for the first time what the energies are that he asked Blacklight about in this episode.

Lastly, I want to mention the meaning of the password, “MARIA.” As you may recall from Sonic Adventure 2 and/or Cast by the Light, that was the very same password which Eggman had to use to wake up Shadow from his pod. It never made sense to me that this was the case. If the military found Shadow and sealed him in a stasis pod, why did they seal it with a password that means nothing to them? Now, I’ve seen a few possible explanations, but none of them quite make perfect sense. When I first scheduled this arc to be written, all I knew is that it would be the introduction to Blacklight. I already had the framework of his backstory in mind, that Gerald’s son created him in an attempt to perfect the Ultimate Life Form after its initial failure. In building upon that backstory into this story arc, my central idea was to use this opportunity to fill in the blanks between Maria launching Shadow’s escape pod, and the military having Shadow safely sealed away. In light of everything else that happened during this arc, that original, core idea almost got lost. But in the end, I wanted to make sure that the original password problem wasn’t forgotten. The final explanation: Alfred found Shadow’s escape pod, and transferred him to a stasis pod sealed by a password of his own daughter’s name. The military obtained this pod, but never managed to change the password. There’s an interesting little note about how the military found Shadow’s pod, but I’m going to have to ask you to stay tuned for that answer.

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

Preview: Season 0, Episode 10…and some special news.

Today is a special day, not just for the sake of this preview. Today marks the one-year anniversary from the day I first conclusively decided to write this story, which I marked by making this website. I was constantly questioning myself before then, but it was one year ago today that I knew I wouldn’t be going back. It was a few days later that I started writing Cast by the Light, in order to get the practice I wanted before getting started for real. Of course, the anniversary of The Chaos Project itself is still a full 5 months off, first published on June 23rd, Sonic’s Birthday. But this day is still important to me, and it really puts into perspective how big of a project I’m undertaking here. Anyways, without further delay, here’s your regularly-scheduled preview.

Unsure of where else to turn, Sonic has decided to enlist the help of the Black Cloak in his search for Shadow. But Black Cloak seems to have other plans.

Sonic stands high atop a building, perhaps the tallest in the whole city. Behind him, a huge red sign reads, “The Daily News.” Behind the sign is an incredible view of a great city, full of more tall buildings, and crisscrossing roads. But in the direction that Sonic stares off into, a different story is told. Just as many buildings are in shambles as in fair repair. Sections of road are torn from the ground, lying in rubble or twisted into all sorts of impossible ramps and loops. Massive fissures in the ground appear regularly, just a few of them with makeshift bridges stretched across. Wrecked cars still lie on many of the undamaged streets.

“What are you doing here?” The Black Cloak stands behind Sonic, cloak billowing in the wind.

Sonic doesn’t seem surprised at his sudden appearance. “The fact that you’re here tells me you already know the answer to that question.”

“How did you know I would come?”

“It’s a pretty tall building. You can see the whole city from here. Look.” Sonic points off to an area on the outskirts of the city, with a nearby welcome sign. “You can even see where we fought those robots together. If someone were in trouble, there or anywhere else in the city…you could see it from here. Seems like a pretty good spot for your line of work.”

“It’s certainly not the tallest building.” He points off to another building not far away, on the border between the thriving city and the ruined one. Many stories taller than the one they stand on now, the sign reads, “King Industries.”

“I figured you wouldn’t be thrilled if you had to hang out there often.”

“You aren’t wrong about that.” He is silent for a moment. “…I saw that you’ve brought a friend in with you. She shouldn’t be here. It’s too dangerous.”

“So you’ve been spying on me? No wonder you got here so quickly. Rouge can handle herself just fine. There’s someone else I’m worried about. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I want your help.”

“Help from a dangerous vigilante like me, for the great Sonic the Hedgehog? You must be desperate.”

“I’m not that kind of person anymore. There are things that matter a whole lot more than my reputation. Like my friends.” Sonic pulls out the folder the Commander gave to him, full of everything known about Shadow. He tosses it forward, and it slides across the building, coming to a stop at Black Cloak’s feet. He picks it up and begins looking through it. “His name is Shadow the Hedgehog, you’ve probably heard of him. Especially around these parts. He went missing a few weeks ago, without a trace.”

Black Cloak stays silent for a long moment. “…And you think this ‘Shadow’ is here, in Westopolis?”

“It’s the only lead we have.”

Black Cloak tosses the folder back. “I don’t do personal jobs. I have bigger things to worry about. But I’ll keep an eye out. If I see any sign of your friend, I’ll be sure to tell you. Do you have anything else to waste my time with?”

“Are you sure you don’t know anything about him? Where he might be?”

“I’m sure that I haven’t seen his face since…since before I started working here.”

“If I ever need your help again, can I meet you here?”

Black Cloak turns and starts to walk away. “Don’t count on it.”

“But how will I find you!?”

He stops on the edge of the building and looks back. “You won’t.” With that, he leaps off the side.

Review: Season 0, Episode 9

I managed to write this episode in two days, which is incredible for me. It usually takes upwards of two weeks. I guess I was just excited after just having finished the last arc. Even then, a third of the time I spent on this episode was dedicated to the Previously section at the beginning. It’s easy enough to pull quotes from Sonic Adventure 2 now that I’ve written Cast by the Light, but things from Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 are a bit harder. Anyways, this isn’t my longest episode, but it’s far from my shortest.

Now onto the episode itself. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m trying to go a little darker and grittier here, while still keeping that fantasy element that remains so consistent through Sonic games. And do you know what’s both dark and gritty, and fantastical at the same time? Superheroes! Now, obviously I hope, Black Cloak is heavily inspired by Batman, hence the episode title in reference to the movie title, Batman Begins. However, all of this is not the reason that I created the Black Cloak character in the first place. That will have to wait for when his identity is inevitably revealed.

Now, besides Batman, the other source of edginess that inspires this arc is Shadow the Hedgehog itself. I decided pretty early on that this arc would have to take place in Westopolis, and the decision to start referencing Shadow the Hedgehog as often as possible followed quickly. I tried to draw a lot of parallels between Shadow’s first encounter with this city and Sonic’s newest one. For example, the hill and tree from which Sonic looked off at the city is the very same location where the opening scene of Shadow the Hedgehog began, where Shadow too had a conveniently informative newspaper blown into him. More parallels are likely to follow. Does that mean that Sonic will be tempted by Darkness, as Shadow was at this time? We’ll just have to wait and see…

One more thing we haven’t directly discussed. Where did Shadow disappear to!? Well, I can confirm that he isn’t dead. But you could have figured that out for yourself, seeing as he appears in the future Crisis of Chaos arc. I’m afraid that I can’t spoil anything else at this point, seeing as Shadow’s whereabouts are the entire driving force of this arc.

Oh, and before I leave, I almost forgot. Those sharp red projectiles that Black Cloak throws, there’s a good reason that you haven’t gotten a good look at them yet, it’s not just because they’re generic shapes or something. Their existence is inspired by the Batarang, a key weapon of Batman.

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

Review: Season 0, Episode 5

Heh heh, funny thing… I thought that I had pre-written a review for this episode after I finished writing the episode itself (that would have been back in June, if memory serves)…but if that review ever existed, it’s missing now, likely gone forever. So…let’s see what I can remember.

I mentioned the time skip that happened in the review of the last episode, and, as I said there, all it really did is cut out a lot of story-lacking content intended for the format of a game. It would have been boring and senseless for me to write, and only slightly less boring for you to read, I hope. The meaning of the episode title “In Due Time…” is that this episode served as a major lead-in to the next arc in The Chaos Project, all about what’s going on with Shadow. I guess I should go there next. For some time in this story, I have been emphasizing that Sonic, while still physically capable, has had a recent personality change that has left him less psychologically capable of being a hero, a “fool” in the words of as many characters as I could possibly get to say it. Ever since Roger Craig Smith began voice-acting for Sonic (particularly in Sonic Colors), I have been noticing such a change. I needed Sonic to be a strong and mildly serious character for my series, more like he was in the late-Dreamcast early-Modern era of Shadow the Hedgehog through Sonic and the Black Knight, as performed by voice-actor Jason Griffith (I like Ryan Drummond too, but he didn’t get as serious) . Rather than simply ignore Sonic’s current personality, as many writers would, I decided not only to do something about it, but to use it to my advantage, and give Sonic a real character development arc. I thought, “Who better to snap Sonic out of his recent clouded judgement than the strong and serious character who has been missing from his life for all of this time?” It didn’t take long after that to imagine the scene in question. Funny thing is, that scene wasn’t originally intended for this arc at all, back before I had really planned these game ideas out as a real story. It was more likely going to be in the arc which will provide backstory for Chaos the Hedgehog, which I estimate to be about 14 episodes away at this point. Of course, that arc was supposed to take place a little earlier at that point, so it wouldn’t have been all that bad that way.  Actually, I originally imagined the scene in a grassy, outside area, and Sonic would have been hit into a tree instead of a wall. Anyways, when planning out this story, after putting everything in proper order, I decided very early on that I couldn’t go writing Sonic’s dialogue in the modern style for 20 episodes before he changes, that just wouldn’t have worked for me, and I don’t think that I could’ve been able to keep it up. So I knew that I had to do it now or never, and I chose to do it now. You may or may not have noticed a slight oddity in that Sonic was sent after a Sapphire which was only a very brief time in his own future, which Janice could easily have chosen as the time to recruit Sonic and sent him after it immediately. I still have a couple of excuses for that, either that Janice hadn’t found that Sapphire yet, or that she didn’t need to send him after it because she thought it would be faster to give him the one that she had. Point is, you may have noticed that the scene was kind of spliced in there. I could potentially have avoided such awkwardness by making the event in Sonic’s somewhat distant future instead, and there would have been an interesting layer of story added by having older Shadow suggest that Sonic has been this “fool” for years and years, and something went very wrong because of it. That would have been a nice bit of inspiration for Sonic to make the change. It was a choice between that, and leading into the next arc of this story with Shadow (which wouldn’t have worked if I made it in the far future). And, as mentioned above, I chose the lead-in. Maybe it was a mistake, but there’s no going back now.

What has yet to be discussed is Silver. If I remember correctly, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to do with that scene when I started the episode. I knew that I’d had it mentioned that Silver is “the last Controller,” and I knew I needed to do something to explain that (I originally said that because I needed some real reason as to why Silver is so important). So, I decided that he needed to go to his own future and meet himself. At first I was thinking along the lines of maybe having our Silver watch future Silver perish in some unusual manner which would somehow end the Controller lineage (perhaps by having him die in his Super Form, sort of like how the Avatar State works in Avatar: The Last Airbender). But I decided that that would require me introduce some incredible, indescribably dangerous force which would not only completely overshadow Sonic’s role in this episode, but would likely overshadow the entire arc. And then I’d have to get rid of it within half a chapter and ignore its existence for who-knows-how-many years. Instead, I decided to go with something a little more vague, suggest that something imperative is happening without outright showing it. That way, you don’t necessarily have to know the full story to understand what’s happening, while still leaving the room open for examining this idea in-depth at a later time. So, I had future Silver destroy the Chaos Emeralds, which is just as incredible, just as life-changing to know for our Silver, and still just as well explains why Silver is the last. (Still working towards explaining exactly what the Controller is.) Next came the setting. I quickly thought back to Cast by the Light (Sonic Adventure 2), and how the Master Emerald exists to counter the Chaos Emeralds. If anything has the power to destroy them, it would be that. Angel Island was the logical place to put it. Now all that’s left of note is that Silver not only saw a vision of the near-future within the Master Emerald, but activated its powers with a chant, things that only Knuckles has ever been known to do. Why that’s possible…well, let’s just say it has something to do with the concept of the Controller. But if you aren’t happy with that explanation, let’s put it a different way. Suppose, hypothetically (not actually going to spoil anything here, this is just a thought experiment), that Knuckles really is the last Echidna there is and ever will be. Wouldn’t the Master Emerald have to find a new, non-Echidna protector? Wouldn’t it be best if said protector had a pre-existing connection to Chaos, as Silver does? Not necessarily saying that Silver is the protector, but that he potentially could have the ability to interact with the Emerald. And…that’s everything that I can think of. Wow. I guess I overcompensated for the whole missing review thing. But, as they say…

– Live and learn, every day!

Review: Season 0, Episode 4

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

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

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