Review: Season 2, Episode 1

Meant to post this a while ago. Oh well, here it is.

I’ve already brought up a couple of episodes which were among the earliest concepts I ever came up with, but I’m pretty sure this one has officially taken first place in that area. (Although that spot will be taken again very soon.) Following the very earliest plans for what will eventually become the finale, and a few related ideas for Season 0 and Crisis of Chaos, this was perhaps my very first idea for what comes in between. “If this is war is such a problem, why didn’t travel back in time and fix it the first chance they got?” I knew that if I was going to turn this into a series, that question would need to be answered. The way I saw it, there were only two possible options. Either they physically couldn’t, or they realized they shouldn’t. That had to get an episode either way. Either I had to come up with some sort of crazy, universe-bending excuse that would prevent me from ever using time travel for any reason throughout the remainder of the series (which admittedly could’ve made for a halfway decent episode on it’s own, if I’d really put some thought into it), or, I could come up with a time travel plot so ridiculously convoluted and deeply disturbing that no one involved would ever try anything like it again. The second option sounded like the far more interesting of the two, and was the far less restrictive. Certainly, Sonic and Shadow would never want to try time travel again, but now, if I ever need them to, they still can.

I was generally intending to leave it up in the air exactly when this episode would have to take place, but it became obvious pretty quickly that it wouldn’t make sense for them to do it if they didn’t do it as soon as they possibly could—the moment they obtained their second Emerald. That actually turned out to be a huge contributing factor towards the decision to do the Rouge-focused story arc for Season 1. I…to be totally honest…was actually legitimately planning on killing off Rouge. Maybe. Maybe not till a bit later. I don’t know. But I figured that the death of a main character would be the absolute best possible justification for attempting to fix things through time travel. It seemed like the, uhh…anime thing to do. And that’s not an insult, mind you. But anyways, I eventually decided a couple of things. One, I didn’t have the gall to kill off a canon character so early in the game. And two, this episode would be the most powerful if the timeline were brought back exactly the way it was—actually having Rouge die, and then be magically brought back because of accidental butterfly-effect would cheapen the effect. So, I settled for a nod to that scrapped concept, and a near-death into medical miracle. Besides, I still have at least a couple of plans for Rouge yet to come. And hey, maybe there were some unintended side-effects of injecting her with Chao blood that I haven’t come up with yet.

So, back on track, I had a framework in mind for an episode where they would try time travel and fail miserably, but that still left the question of content. Going back to Crisis of Chaos was really the only choice for time travel destination, given the context, and, believe it or not, I actually wrote the original Crisis of Chaos scene, where Sonic leaves Eggman alone in hangar bay, with the idea in mind that a time traveller from the future would eventually show up right at that moment. Fulfilling that plan was immensely satisfying. But that was only a small piece. What situation could possibly be traumatic enough to make a person like Sonic completely disavow the miracle cure-all that is time travel? I figured I’d have to go as traumatic as it gets by having him witness his own death. I originally had a slightly more gruesome death in mind, but I decided to dial it back just a bit. Still a PG story, after all. That change required introducing a new concept in a very odd way. Blacklight being able to drain life through physical contact was teased at the end of the 50th episode special, but I was not intending that to become relevant any time soon. But I thought that dropping the reader into the middle of what seems like it could have easily been the finale of a Season that never happened, with plot points and a history completely foreign, would not only be an interesting twist, but might also help the reader identify a little better with the completely nonsensically overwhelming nature of Sonic’s experiences, and so better understand why Sonic makes a rule against time travel in the end.

That was the first half. Actually, I originally had this in mind as a two-parter that would break as the Future Sonic appears, but I decided against that…mostly because this Season is crammed a little bit full, and didn’t really need the filler. I figured keeping it all focused and fast-paced would help avoid confusion, anyways, which is important for an episode like this. But anyways, why Future Sonic? Well, the whole, “go back in time, change the future for the worse, realize your mistake and fix it” plot certainly served my purposes, but on it’s own, it felt a bit…predictable. And, as you ought to know by now, an episode with a halfway decent plot but no character relevance just isn’t enough for me. I wanted something more, at very least, an extra layer of complexity that would really get the characters thinking hard about what’s going on. In other words, I needed to layer up the anti-time travel excuses. Sonic failing once was certainly traumatic. But him realizing that he would be destined to fail over and over again, countless dozens or hundreds of times, could completely transform his view of what is or isn’t possible. That’s basically the gist of it. Of course, that wasn’t twisty enough for me, so I decided that I had to make things even more complicated with the “kill your past self” suggestion. The idea there was to add an element of distrust—and if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Actually, I meant for Future Sonic to be the antagonist. The intention was for Present Sonic to be so overwhelmed by what’s going on that he would, at first, give in to the self-killing plan, but in the moment, would realize that he couldn’t go through with it, suddenly making an enemy of Future Sonic who will not allow this to go wrong. Seeing himself driven to that madness was supposed to be the nail in the coffin for the establishment of the no time travel rule. But I just…couldn’t justify getting our Sonic to agree to murder, even if it is only himself that he’s killing. Meanwhile, Shadow ended up being right smack in the middle of a character arc that, while seeming obvious given the episodes that needed to lead up to this one, I did not realize would be happening during the early planning phases for the episode. I certainly couldn’t ignore what he was going through, but my original plans for the episode really only had him there out of the necessity of a second Chaos-Controller. So, a lot of relatively last-minute changes resulted. I had it in mind that an interaction with Chaos had potential for an interesting story to tell, and when it came down to it, I decided that Shadow needed it more. If this had turned out to be a two-parter that focuses on Sonic as originally planned, I probably would’ve included a subplot about Sonic wanting to try to save Chaos, or bring him back to the present with them, but, once again, I settled for a quick nod to that scrapped concept instead.

Given the shifting focus to Shadow, turning Future Shadow into the true antagonist seemed like the natural way to go. I decided to keep the suggested mistrust of Future Sonic as a sort red herring instead. Anyways, Shadow seeing himself go so bad felt like a very sensible reason for him to finally start making his way towards becoming a nice person again. But wait! Shadow was a total jerk in the Team Sonic Racing special! Umm…oops. My goal in doing that was to show how much crazy stuff was going to happen in the Season finale, and I did not even consider the fact that I might be stepping on my own toes for this episode. But that turned out to be a beautiful inspiration. The idea of Past, Present, Future, and Original Sonic and Shadow all existing during the same moment in time was crazy enough, but mixing and matching them for who goes home in the end was exactly the sort of embracing of the insanity that I wanted out of this episode. Having Past Shadow suddenly confronted with two diametrically opposed versions of his future self was an obvious place to go from there, and fits in so unbelievably well with the central theme of his character. And…I suppose that just about covers the important points.

So, what does this episode mean for the rest of the season? Well…not much actually. This was as much a part three to last season’s finale as it was anything else. I like the idea of connecting one Season to the next so directly. (Little bit of inspiration from Star Trek there, which liked to have two-part episodes split up as the finale of one season and the premiere of the next.) But anyways, there was a little bit of effort made in a few places. One of my goals for Season 2 is to have emotions expressed a little more physically, and a little less verbally. Show, don’t tell, you know? I feel like that tends to be one of my bigger shortcomings as a writer, trying a little too hard to explain what people are feeling. Having Sonic give Tails an actual hug was a big step in that direction. That really shouldn’t feel like such a weird thing to do, but it did anyways. I guess I’m just worried people might interpret it the wrong way? Next episode probably isn’t going to help that either… Regardless, I do want to sell that brotherly bond between Sonic and Tails a bit harder this season. Let’s just say, it’ll become pretty important. I didn’t exactly embrace it for this episode, but I believe I’ve also mentioned that I hope to go a little more in the direction of an A-plot B-plot for more episodes in the coming season. Hopefully, that’ll allow me to do a little more exploring of the world and characters without mandating that additional dramatic plots be attached to all of them. I don’t know, I’ll see how it goes.

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

Review: The Blacklight Takeover

Phew, finally, don’t have to worry about maintaining my own ridiculous canon anymore. It’s time to review the story I wrote in which I was a character filming and talking to other characters who know that they are characters in another story that I film and direct in this story but write in real life. Isn’t comedy so much fun?

It’s difficult to think of exactly what to talk about here, as the whole event was very self-aware, and pretty thoroughly covered its own reason for existing. Have to give a big thank you, of course, to Yuni Oha, not only for briefly hosting my shenanigans on his site, but for actually role-playing the crossover posts on both of our sites with me. Seriously, those posts were made completely spontaneously, practically no pre-planning at all, we just sat down and starting role-playing to see where it would take us. And, you know, he was also the person who encouraged me to run this event in the first place, I was very hesitant about how much work it would take. I also wrote a Fire Emblem themed post for him, so that was fun.

So why did I put this whole thing together? Well…I like Blacklight, in case that wasn’t obvious. I couldn’t have ever asked for a better foil to Shadow’s character (and I didn’t ask, I just made him, so I guess I’d be concerned if that wasn’t the case…), and he’s just fun to write for. I was very sad that I had to kill him off. Sure characters like Zero and Chaos were nice and all, they served their purpose, but I don’t love them the way I love Blacklight. But I often feel like my purpose in creating that character isn’t always fully understood. I’ve even received a review on The Chaos Project suggesting that the reviewer outright disapproved of his design. And I get it. He looks like a standard, low-effort, edgy Shadow recolor OC, ridiculous rainbow color palette and all…because technically, that’s exactly what he is. I wanted an excuse to explain why it was intentionally done that way…and I wanted to show why it works. Of course, only ten people ended up seeing that explanation, but…eh. It was some good fun either way. But anyways, I also just wanted an excuse to use Blacklight again.

The recurring joke about Blacklight’s contract had one element that I was intending to mention, but never really came up. Blacklight was supposed to mention that, as a contracted main character, he is required to appear onscreen at least once each season. He got the 50th episode special in Season 1, and the premiere in Season 2. I can’t keep these cameos of a dead character up forever, though. That’s why I consider this event to be something of a test run. Come Season 3, I’m thinking that I may want to make an entire spin-off story out of Villain Chat, thus fulfilling Blacklight’s nonexistant contract. We’ll see how it goes. There was also meant to be a joke about Blacklight’s phone that I’m thinking I’ll save for said hypothetical story…

Making commentary on the state of the Sonic franchise was fun as well, of course. I share my opinions all the time here on the website, but dissecting it all in a humorous way was a nice change of pace. One of the reasons I was motivated to make this event at all is because I wanted to make this sort of commentary on Sonic Boom at some point, but I feel like the Boom franchise will officially become completely irrelevant once the next Sonic game hits the spotlight, which will be happening very soon. I also made commentary on the Sonic fanbase itself, which I usually tend to avoid, but I think I expressed all my opinions in that area pretty clearly. If your character looks a lot like another Sonic character, that’s fine in my opinion, as long as your character has its own identity. Just draw it yourself. And unless you love your drawing—unless there’s nothing about it you would change—hold off on publishing it to the internet. Keep practicing until you honestly believe you can’t make it any better, and even then don’t stop practicing. That’s how I got up to the level of making respectable replicas of the official artstyle. Seriously, look at where I started…

img003

“Nova” vs. Shadow, circa 2010

…compared to how I progressed after one year…

Nova

“Official” Nova art, June of 2011

…compared to how I progressed ten years later (admittedly with a 5-ish year break).

logoB

Blacklight Takeover logo, circa last month (technically I made the Shadow art this was based on in August of 2019)

I did it, and you can do it too. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Usually, I like to distance myself from my characters in terms of viewpoint and opinion. But that was definitely not the case during this whole thing. Generally speaking, “Mr. C” always represented me, but then Blacklight was like the little fun-loving devil talking into my left ear, and Shadow was the logical angel on my right. Whenever Shadow made a curt skeptical remark, that was me saying, “I’m perfectly aware of how ridiculous this all is. I’m aware of every single one of my logical inconsistencies and jokes that aren’t likely to go over well.” But Blacklight was there to say, “I don’t care, I think it’s funny.” That goes for Shadow’s prediction of viewership turnout as well. I was perfectly aware that no one was actually going to show up for this thing. (Even though I did reach out to a few of my reviewers to request help, who never actually came. No hard feelings though, I made it work.) I was really hoping for at least one question, though. One question that wasn’t seeded by an alt account from Yuni, anyways. Regardless, even though I was constantly touting that Q&A session I was supposed to be leading up to, I didn’t do this just for that live interaction. I did it for history. And for marketing. I want everyone who comes to this website over the next year and beyond to see that this happened and think, “Wow, that looks like fun. Maybe I should come back to see if they do it again next year.” And even if that doesn’t happen, I hope I could make at least one person out there laugh (besides Yuni, but making him laugh was nice too). My angel and my devil both agree on that.

Oh, yeah, and I guess I wrote a song. That’s a thing…that happened…and it was kind of fun, even if I cringe every time I hear it. Even back when I was a kid ten years ago making “Nova the Hedgehog” (pictured above), I liked for all my fan characters to have theme songs, because that’s just how Sonic works. And “Madness Inside” is actually a direct reinterpretation of “My Name is Nova” (great song title, I know). I was actually only able to remember the first verse and chorus, but that was plenty. I suppose I might as well share the old lyrics, since I’m already sharing cringy stuff anyways. To the same tune…

It started fifty years ago…

And it put on quite a show!

I was created to destroy…

And they used me like a toy!

[Chorus]

My name is Nova, I’m the Ultimate Life Form and my time is now!

Yep, that’s it. That’s all I remembered. Possibly all I ever wrote. The old chorus became what is now the buildup to the chorus, and the new chorus was created from scratch. Note the differing backstories (fifty years instead of forty, and created for very different reasons), hence why I had to rewrite all of the lyrics. But I actually did manage to cram in an even bigger reference in the final product, as “Madness Inside” refers to “A super nova” where the old song said “My name is Nova.” So that was fun. Looking back, while the old lyrics are completely ridiculous, I actually do prefer the old rhyme scheme. The “oh” and “oi” sounds just have a better impact than the “art” and “i” sounds that I ended up using. I would’ve used it the old way if I could, but it just didn’t work. What else can I say about the new song specifically? I crammed in as many references to Shadow songs as I possibly could, to reflect Blacklight’s jealousy, and also the fact that he actually quoted most of those song titles over the course of his life. There was an “All Hail Shadow” that was missed because it was part of the rap portion that I cut out. Why did I write a rap? Because this song was meant to be a bunch of ridiculous fun, and I could totally imagine Blacklight springing at the chance to roast Shadow in a rap battle that Shadow doesn’t even participate in. Why did I cut the rap? Partly for time, partly for sanity, just like Mr. C said. As mediocre as my singing was, I can promise that my rapping is worse. When I sing “Live and Learn,” it sounds pretty okay. But you do not want to hear me trying to sing “Infinite.”I think the rap lyrics of Blacklight’s theme had a pretty good rhythm and flow going, I just don’t trust myself to sing them.  In other news, the very first words to come out of Blacklight’s mouth upon being born, “This feels weird” was intended to be referenced by the opening of the song, “This feeling deep inside my heart.” So…maybe I’ll put out the full version of the song some day. Maybe I’ll actually compose a midi backtrack for it so you don’t have to sit through the cringy acapella next time. I’m still not as skilled in that area as I would like, and it would be one heck of a time sink.

So will there be another Blacklight Takeover next year? I hope so. But we’ll have to see how everything goes.

-And until then…embrace the madness inside.

Villain Chat! with Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik

blacklightlogo

[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Thank you, thank you, and welcome back to Villain Chat! Now, while we’ll be doing a lot more than just this little talk show today, I thought I’d keep the theme going for now. So let’s kick things right off by introducing our next guest! Shadow, would you like to do the honors?

[Shadow]: It’s Eggman.

[Blacklight]: Oh, come on, you can do better than that! Put a little pizzazz into it! *clears throat* Our next guest, though notoriously difficult to get ahold of for interviews—

[Shadow]: He knocked on our door and begged on his hands and knees to be on the show.

[Blacklight]: *clears throat more forcefully* Our legendary guest has been duking it out as a Sonic villain for near-on thirty years now! He plays by his own rules and conquers the world with his own tools, he is the egg-shaped man with the master plan, the one, the only, Mustache Junior!

[Audience]: *applause*

[Eggman]: Just call me Eggman.

[Blacklight]: Now, you guys remember the rules, right? I don’t want to hear about any sort of Empire versus Rebellion stuff. This is a war-free zone.

[Eggman]: But of course.

[Shadow]: Whatever.

[Blacklight]: Great! So how’re you doing tonight, MJ?

[Eggman]: Quite well, thank you for asking. Always happy for a chance to address my many adoring fans.

[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Well then, let’s get started. Your name has become practically synonymous with the word “evil.” What’s it like, being one of the most famous fictional villains of all time?

[Eggman]: Oh, please, you flatter me. I just do what any good villain would do.

[Shadow]: You mean, mindlessly pursuing the destruction of your adversary without any concern for the fact that you’ve abandoned all other dreams and ideals within your life, unaware that you’ll be left with a meaningless existence if you should ever succeed?

[Eggman]: Ha! If only you knew my true motives… Heh heh heh…

[Blacklight]: Ooh, nice villainous chuckle. I need to work on mine. Whenever I try, I always end up breaking out into complete hysteria.

[Eggman]: Nothing wrong with that. It’s important to take ownership of your own evil laugh.

[Blacklight]: Good point. Ah ha ha ha ha!

[Eggman]: Oh ho ho!

[Blacklight]: AH HA HA HA HA!!

[Eggman]: OH HO HO!!

[Shadow]: What am I doing here…?

[Blacklight]: Oh, don’t be such a sourpuss. Your evil laugh isn’t so bad, you know.

[Shadow]: I do not have an evil laugh.

[Blacklight]: Don’t you? Roll the clip!

[Eggman]: Ooh, that’s a pretty good one, Shadow.

[Shadow]: Why do you have these clips pre-prepared? And WHY IS IT STILL PLAYING!?

[Audience]: *laughter*

[Blacklight]: It goes on for over ten minutes. And I have a wall full of these clips at home. I’ve been spying on you, remember?

[Shadow]: How could I forget…?

[Eggman]: Well, you should probably shut off that clip, now. I might get nightmares if it keeps up much longer…

[Blacklight]: Fine, fine. So let’s move on to our next question, then. As will become the tradition here on Villain Chat, I’d like to talk a little bit about the most recent episode of The Chaos Project. (Better pause what you’re doing and read it now, if you haven’t already.) In this case, that would be the Premiere episode of Season 2, featuring—spoiler alert!—the triumphant return of yours truly.

[Shadow]: For five minutes in an alternate timeline.

[Blacklight]: (gritting teeth) It still counts!

[Eggman]: I had quite a substantial role in this episode as well.

[Blacklight]: Exactly what I was getting ready to ask you about. A spotlight for Eggman has been rather rare in The Chaos Project. How’d it feel to finally stretch your legs again?

[Eggman]: Oh, it was so much more than that. Throughout the show, I’ve always been relegated this dark and serious emperor-of-the-world role, which certainly looks good on me, but it never really lets me show off my fun, humorous side. But for once, in this episode, the situation was so dark and depressing without my influence that I was actually able to provide some comic relief. And relieving it certainly was.

[Shadow]: I also got to drag you, bound and gagged, through the dirt. That was pretty fun.

[Eggman]: Well, sometimes a bit of humiliation is necessary to strike the right comedic balance.

[Blacklight]: Just don’t humiliate yourself too much. You don’t want to end up like Boom Eggman.

[Eggman]: Hey, don’t be so hard on the guy. Have you tried his evil ham?

[Blacklight]: Wait…are you saying that’s an actual thing? Like, that I can buy?

[Eggman]: Well, I believe it’s sold out now, but yes.

[Blacklight]: Hold on, I need to make a phone call.

[Shadow]: Wait, don’t…leave me alone with him…

[Eggman]: So…guess it’s just you and me now, eh, Shadow old buddy?

[Shadow]: …

[Eggman]: So…why don’t you talk about your role in the episode?

[Shadow]: Oh. Well…this episode was certainly a very interesting one for me. Getting to work with Chaos again is always a pleasure, and for this one scene, they actually put three of me all in the same room. One of them was the hero, one of them was the villain, and the third had no idea what was going on. It was fun, but it was also very meaningful. I think it has the potential to take my character into some pretty interesting directions.

[Eggman]: I see. You should ask me a question, now.

[Shadow]: Okay, umm…

[Eggman]: Go on.

[Shadow]: No, I got nothing.

[Eggman]: Blacklight is right. You really are no fun.

[Blacklight]: Did someone say my name?

[Shadow and Eggman]: AHH!!

[Blacklight]: Why, yes, I would love to talk about my role in the episode. During my brief time on screen, I managed to show off a godly level of power never seen previously in Sonic history, wiping out all life on the face of the Earth. Then I manipulated Sonic and Shadow into fighting each other, killed them both anyways, and killed Eggman for good measure.

[Eggman]: Oh yeah. That part wasn’t as much fun…

[Shadow]: And suddenly, I don’t feel like such a monster anymore.

[Blacklight]: Welp, that’s all the time we have for this segment! MJ will have to be leaving now, but he’ll be back for our Q&A session at the end of the day! Don’t forget to leave your questions for him in the comments below!

[Eggman]: Leaving!? But I barely got to answer any questions!

[Blacklight]: Goodbye, Doctor.

[Eggman]: B-but I can stay and co-host with you guys! I can—

[Blacklight]: I said, goodbye, Doctor!

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Blacklight, no, don’t—

Technical Difficulties

[Eggman]: NOOOOOOOO!!!!

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: 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!

50th Episode Special – Crisis of Chaos: The Lost Episode

That’s right, folks. To celebrate 50 published chapters of The Chaos Project, we’re going back to where it all began. This pivotal episode in the series can finally be read, right here!

The Day of Earth’s Demise. Armies were unleashed. Battles were fought. Friends were lost. Untold stories were forgotten. Until now. Witness the missing chapter in the tale that started it all.

Preview: 50th Episode Special

I can’t promise that the episode will be done by next week, But since its been a while since the last post, I thought I’d give whatever update I can. So, here it is.

The evening twilight casts an eerie calm through the partially clouded sky, into the heart of the dense jungle.

The calm is broken as a blue streak cuts a path between the trees at high speed. Sonic the Hedgehog pants heavily as the forest rushes by him. He glances back over his shoulder as he runs. Seeing nothing, he wipes the sweat from his brow, and keeps on running. But something catches his eye. To his right, intermittently hidden by the trees rushing by, another figure rushes through the shadows, keeping perfect pace with Sonic. The trees momentarily clear, long enough to reveal the figure of Shadow the Hedgehog, his eyes locked firmly on Sonic.

“Shoot!” Trying to lose the pursuer, Sonic picks up the pace.

With a growl, Shadow speeds up to match.

As Sonic moves faster, it becomes clear that Shadow can’t quite keep up. Up ahead in the distance, a faint, shimmering, rainbow-colored light comes into view. “Come on, come on,” Sonic mutters to himself. “Just a little bit farther…”

In a flash of blue, Shadow suddenly appears in his path.

“Whoa! How did he–!?” Acting fast, Sonic leaps from the ground, flipping through the air to collide feet-first with a wide tree trunk, and kicks back off, shooting in a new direction that takes him away from Shadow. He lands on the ground and keeps on running.

Sonic looks off to his right, where his target, the glowing light, now waits. Not allowing himself to get too far from it, Sonic makes another leap, intending to get back on course. But this time, Shadow appears in the air directly above him, striking down with a hard kick that knocks Sonic straight to the ground.

“Oww…”

Shadow steps slowly up to Sonic’s fallen form. “Finally…I’ve got you right where I want you.”

What’s this!? Shadow attacking Sonic!? Just what kind of episode is this!? Find out next time, on The Chaos Project 50th Episode Special!

Review: Season 1, Episode 7

This episode was…not bad. The writing process dragged on a bit, but it was enjoyable really digging into Sonic’s emotions again. I almost cried for him in the beginning, but by the end I was cheering at him getting his spunk back. So theoretically that means I wrote it pretty well. But then again, I really didn’t care for the pacing as a whole. Nothing really happened for almost the entire episode, and then suddenly, there’s a brief bout of action, and then the episode ends rather suddenly, leaving the episode rather short by comparison to the rest of this season. This is the first time since episode one that I’ve used a Heavy solely for the purpose of adding action to an episode that otherwise wouldn’t have any. Not that it’s a bad thing, it made me really thank myself for bringing them in in the first place, but it does sort of emphasize the fact that this is a more boring episode.

I suppose I should mention, I intend for this to be the final significant impact of Chaos’ death, at least for a good long time. Three out of the last seven episodes felt a bit excessive, but I needed to deal with all of this while it’s still fresh (relatively speaking). So now, it’s on to other things when it comes to character development for Sonic and Shadow. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Big. If we’re being honest, he’s probably my single least favorite character in the entire Sonic franchise…at least as he’s been written (and played) in the games thus far. I’m still amused by the memes, though. But anyways, given that fact, I was very unsure of how to treat him in this series. I considered ignoring him entirely. I considered killing him off early on so I wouldn’t have to deal with him. I considered giving him a brief spotlight, and then sending him on his way so I wouldn’t have to keep dealing with him. Technically speaking, several of those options are still available. But anyways, I came to he conclusion that, if I was going to use him, as I ended up doing for the first time back in Crisis of Chaos, I would need to do something to elevate his character, if only a little bit. So I began the process back then.

Everyone sees Big as a bit slow (in more than one sense), so I thought it would be both refreshing and amusing if Chaos, someone who hadn’t yet met him, instead saw him as wise and misunderstood. This episode was simply a continuation of that. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t just Chaos’ unusual perspective that made it seem that way. Big spends his days isolated in the wilderness, like a guru or something, discovering the true meaning of life. Through the lens of fishing. The results, I think, are kind of hilarious, but also open up some interesting opportunities, such as those seen in this episode, making it more than worthwhile to include him, at least for the time being. What’s that you say? Malicious smile? I don’t know about any malicious smile. Big definitely isn’t an evil mastermind in disguise. Definitely. Probably. Well, actually… Wait and see.

And…I think that’s all I have to say on the episode. But there’s also the sprite animation to talk about. The reason why I made it? Well…it’s the same reason I made that official trailer a while back, the same reason I got into making sprites, the same reason I started writing The Chaos Project in the first place. I like to try new things. But what inspired me to do it now in particular? Well, I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while. But I decided a long time ago that frame-by-frame animation was more work than I was willing to do, and that Adobe Flash Builder was way outside of my price range. But I realized another option quite recently, while watching my Physics Professor give a lecture in class, which involved several animated objects on the PowerPoint slides. And I realized, if I can tell animated gif sprites to move across the screen in precise ways, that would be all I needed to create a quality animation. So yes, the video you’ve seen is actually a recording of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. There were a couple of small limitations for this method, but honestly, it worked even better than I’d hoped. I mean, if it works, right? Generally speaking, I was also waiting to come across a scene to write which could have some powerful visual impact based on setting and dialogue, without the need for excessive movement, because that would be harder to animate. There are a couple of options I’ve considered from earlier in the series, which…I may consider retroactively animating in the future. But I’m still a writer at heart, so animations like these are going to remain very rare in the future. Obviously, there are some external inspirations for this as well. Sprite animations wouldn’t even be on my mind if it weren’t for great fan works I’ve seen over the years, like Super Mario Bros. Z, Sonic RPG, and the recently-revived Final Fantasy Sonic X. I suppose I should mention before I go, a kind reviewer (thanks as always, Heat Salamance) gave “props to everyone involved”. I apologize for the confusion, I realize that I did say “our website” on the original advertisement for this video, but this was actually a solo project. My brother did review the video after it was done, but he wasn’t involved with the creative process or anything. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. And…I think that’s all I have to say for now.

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

Preview: Season 1, Episode 4

It’s that time again! Time to get a sneak peek at the next episode of The Chaos Project!

Shadow’s been acting strange recently. And Sonic has finally come to confront him about it. But it seems Sonic is the last person Shadow wants to hear from.

Sonic looks down in sadness from what Shadow says. “Shadow…”

Shadow suddenly stands, and walks past Sonic without a word.

“And where are you going?”

Shadow stops just long enough to answer, “For a walk. You wanted me to get out, didn’t you?” Then he continues his way out. Sonic doesn’t stop him.

Shadow marches along past the row of tents that mark the Rebellion camp, following along with the stream that runs through the center of the canyon. The camp seems to be pretty quiet, apparently mostly empty. He continues to walk in silence for quite some time. Eventually, he reaches a large, thick tree right in the canyon’s center, with an Emerald-shaped carving in its bark. The memorial for Chaos. He stops to stare at it for a while. His eyes shut as he clenches a fist at his side. Then he walks on past.

The area he proceeds into has quite a few more trees, almost like a small forest contained within the widening walls of the canyon. After a few moments, another pair of footsteps fall in line beside his. Shadow finally looks up and around his shoulder. Hero gives him a smile and a wave as he continues to walk alongside him.

“What do you want?”

Hero gives a shrug, and waves a hand past Shadow out to the forest.

“I don’t want your company. We may have worked together before, but that doesn’t make us friends.”

Beside Hero, Bruno lets out an angry squeak as he shakes a balled up tentacle at Shadow. Hero gasps at whatever it is he hears in the alien language, and starts waving his hands to get him to calm down.

Shadow rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Do what you want.” They continue their walk together for a while longer. Suddenly, Shadow stops in place again as one of his ears twitches. “Did you hear that?”

Hero glances around for a moment, but eventually gives another shrug.

A blur of motion passes behind Shadow. He turns sharply look at it, but he’s too slow to see anything. He tenses up as he advises quietly, “Be on guard. We’re being followed.”

Hero pulls his Wispon close, while Bruno moves around to watch his back. But everything is silent.

A dark-furred figure stands with his back pressed against the shadowed side of a tree, trying as hard as he can to glance around it without being seen. In his hand, the headband-wearing Jackal holds a weapon, a long dagger with a green hilt and a wavy blade.

Who could this bladed assailant be? What could he want? And what’s wrong with Shadow? Find out, on the next episode of The Chaos Project!