I Know You’re Supporting Me

I almost cried. I literally almost cried.

Shadow in Sonic Forces has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. When he first appeared in gameplay footage for Sunset/City Heights, I was very, very excited. When the Villains trailer dropped the next day, the hype died quite a bit as I learned that Shadow was a villain, but I was still craving an answer as to why, far more so than I cared for Infinite at the time. When Enter Infinite came along, I shoved Shadow aside and never turned back, as I was far more interested in Infinite after that. I was accepting, if not satisfied, of the fact that Shadow would do whatever the heck Shadow does, and we would still get an interesting character out of Infinite either way. As we learned that Infinite is just another creation of Eggman’s, I became a bit less interested, but then this happened. I suppose I should post that last video as well. (Edit: Official English version.)

That’s all very interesting, and I’m excited for the story, but we’re talking about Shadow right now. Shadow who stood back and watched while Infinite beat Sonic to the ground. Shadow who didn’t even appear in the above story trailer. Shadow who, after Sonic Boom, had me very, very afraid for what Sonic developers really thought of him. But all of that changes now. Free DLC for all players, which includes a new playable character and 3 prequel levels to go with him (besides the “over 10 Modern Sonic-based stages” he can also play in) as well as a new side of the story. Story! I say it a lot, and I mean it! Supposedly, these new levels chronicle the fate of Team Dark (apparently that’s now an official term outside of the comics) and teach the player about the true nature and origin of Infinite. That is really exciting.

But that does bring up some concerns. Are they seriously telling me that you don’t actually learn about Infinite’s origin in the actual main game? If so, that’s a pretty bad sign for the game’s plot as a whole. I’m glad that they’re telling us at all (that’s more than we got for Lost World), but a story with a powerful villain who never gets an explanation in the main story sounds a bit lackluster. Additionally, that seems to confirm that Rouge and Omega don’t appear in any significant role in the main story, which isn’t necessarily bad, but removes the possibility of some good character interactions that could have gone on with Shadow.

And…there’s something else I haven’t mentioned yet. Even though I’ve been waiting to play as Shadow again for the last ten years, this isn’t exactly what I was hoping for in terms of gameplay. I was kind of hoping that I would never have to see Shadow in 2D. There goes that. And canonically giving Shadow Boost gameplay severely, severely decreases any future chances of him playing in the Adventure style in any future games where they might choose to bring back separate playstyles. The level design that they just showed us…looks okay at best. If they wanted to get us hyped, they should have cut the footage time in half and showed us 3D gameplay instead. Unless…Shadow is almost all 2D. *shivers* I don’t really want to think about that. But these days, who knows? Seeing as Shadow, unlike Sonic and the Custom Hero alike, has only ever appeared in 3D, it seems like this would be the correct opportunity to make Shadow’s levels, like the tag team ones, entirely in 3D (guess I never talked about tag team on this site either. Gameplay style looks like a fun changeup, all-3D levels looks and sounds very nice.). Anyways, I’m sad that it had to happen this way, but I’m thrilled that it’s happening at all. After ten years, Shadow finally gets his chance to shine. Let’s hope that Kirk Thornton doesn’t screw this up too badly.

-Until next time, let’s hope we won’t be losing Shadow before long.

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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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Fist Bump!

(Ugh, I can’t believe I just said that.) *clears throat* What I meant to say was, because Sonic game music matters so much to me, I’ve decided to do an entire opinion piece on the Sonic Forces announcement made today. Take a look.

Since I already brought it up, let’s talk about that title first. I guess I can see what they’re going for? They want it to sound cool, and hip, and teen-like, right? Because I have some news for them. Fist bumps aren’t cool. The line which the song title appears in, “One more last fist bump” made me cringe just as much as seeing the title for the first time did, mostly because a solid 70% of the song otherwise sounded pretty good. To move along with the negatives, the first two lines, “I can’t do this alone / Even though I am strong” made me cringe almost as much as the previously mentioned line. As someone with experience writing lines to represent Sonic, having Sonic praise himself in such a context, even when asking for help, appears pitiful and out of character to me. Of course, it’s not too far off from what we’ve been seeing in the past few Sonic games with Roger Craig Smith, but everything we know about the game so far has been leading me to believe that the writers might actually be giving him back his less obnoxious, more serious character seen in games like Sonic Unleashed. Now, what these two negative factors do heavily remind me of is Sonic’s character in the Sonic Boom series, a caricature of the already less-than-desirable modern personality. Then again, I don’t think that character would even be humble enough to admit the need for help, even if praising himself while doing so. I hope I’m on the side of the majority here who wouldn’t want to see the Boom personality in a real game, right?

Now for the stuff I’m not really sure what to think about. As I mentioned before, I like about 70% of lyrics, but the first and last lines are so bad that I don’t know if I can call them good lyrics as a whole. All the stuff about working together and sharing a belief, it fits perfectly for a Sonic song. Nothing particularly special about it, but fitting. I could say the same about the singer. Apparently, the singer, Douglass Robb, sings for a relatively popular band called “Hoobastank.” That news surprised me, because I honestly felt that the singing skill sounded a bit on the amateurish side. I’ll also take this moment to say that this Douglass Robb person sounds close enough to Crush 40 that they should have just gone with Crush 40. I mean, seriously, Jun Senoue is still on the music team for this game, that’s half the band already. Even if the lyrics themselves would still have taken some getting used to (I can say that about plenty of other Crush 40 songs), Crush 40 would have left me with no qualms about the quality of the singing, and could have easily hit the nostalgia cord for myself and hundreds of thousands of Sonic fans like me. Anyways, the sum total of this song sounds…kind of like a fan dub of the instrumentals to me. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, fan dubs can have some pretty high quality when they try hard enough. And this felt like one of those high-quality fan projects to me, good and thorough, but lacking a certain professional touch. Sort of like good fanfiction, but in song form.

Even though it’s just a song, and songs have had some weird and false implications for Sonic games in the past, I feel the need to analyze the lyrics. Over and over again, it refers to two individuals. Not three. Two. So who’s getting left out? Does this mean that Sonic doesn’t interact much with the Hero character, meaning that this Hero has his own separate story? Or does Sonic not count Classic Sonic because they’re essentially the same person? I’d say either is possible. Either way, I still love the music, and I’m still excited for the Solaris Phase 2/Perfect Dark Gaia style final boss remix.

-So, until next time…one more last fist bump?

(I still don’t get it.)

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.

Cast by the Light: Finale

Funny story. In all the stress of wrapping up a story, I forgot to post about it here! But the final two chapters of Cast by the Light have been up and running for some time now, Part 10: Live and Learn and the Epilogue: This Machine.

Can you feel life, movin’ through your mind…?” Shadow certainly could, as his entire life led up to his confrontation with his own prototype. Can Sonic and Shadow work together and save the planet? Will Shadow at last fulfill his promise? Or will he die, trying?

“We all danced in fire, looking through the screen…” The final battle is long over. And Rouge has moved on with her life. But looking for treasure, she finds something else instead. Something she never could have expected.

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!

Opinion Piece: Project Sonic 2017

Starting off, if you haven’t seen the below reveal of this new Sonic game, do that now, first.

Now, where to begin? I guess I first have to thank the developers for not isolating part of their fanbase, and releasing this new game on the Nintendo Switch as well as other consoles. Moving on to more important information. All I can say is that I’m very weary. For one thing, I’m a little upset that they presented this to us specifically saying that this would not be a sequel. And then Classic Sonic comes and ruins that. Not that I have anything against Classic Sonic, or the time-travel implications that he presents. But I was really hoping, as just one thing, that we would actually go back to playing as characters other than Sonic and more Sonic. And at the opening of the trailer, where they seemed to present what could potentially be a narrative the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Adventure era, I was hopeful that that would mean the games could be closer to Adventure era as well. Although, they start with “team that brought you Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations,” which are pretty far off from adventure-style gameplay. Anyways, the existence of Classic Sonic pretty much removes any possible chance of other characters being involved. Other characters were a staple of the Sonic series from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, one of the most beloved Sonic games of all time, all the way to 2006. Excluding spin-offs like Sonic Boom, we’ve only ever been able to play as Sonic (or Sonic and other Sonic) ever since. I just find it so unfortunate, and it stands in the way of so many possible gameplay, and more importantly, story opportunities.

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One last thing to mention. The trailer really seemed to heavily infer something relating to the Archie Comics, which scares me. Once again, I have nothing against the comics, but I just think we shouldn’t go mixing universes without a very good reason (which this still could potentially have, which is why I’m worried, not necessarily disappointed). More importantly, I’m worried about how this could conflict with the Chaos Project, which, despite not being in any way directly related to the comics, does share a considerable number of similarities, opening the door for contradictions between this coming game and my own story.

But enough about me. My final conclusions: there’s really no telling at this point, but this game could be very good, or very bad. I was hoping for a good indication of the answer, but that just didn’t happen. What we’ve seen could mean very good things for the story, or very bad things. It’s sort of confusing in a way, I just don’t know what to think. But I suppose that was the point. One other thing I was really hoping for was confirmation of rumors that Crush 40 composed a song for this game, but even if there is no song, then that’s far from a deal-breaker for the game.

Edit: Apparently, the general internet is referring to this game as “Project Sonic” rather than “Sonic 2017” as the official Sonic Twitter called it, so the title of the post has been updated accordingly.
Edit 2: The NX is now known as the Nintendo Switch, and I also added a direct encoding of the trailer.

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

“Time to Rock and Roll!”

If any of you, like myself, weren’t lucky enough to get a ticket to the Sonic Anniversary Party in San Diego this weekend, not all is lost! The entire event is being live streamed at the link given below, starting at 6:00 Pacific Time this Friday, July 22nd (the same day that the next episode of The Chaos Project comes out). Join us for a night of fun and celebration, including the official reveal for the next Sonic the Hedgehog game, and, most importantly, a live musical performance by the one and only Crush 40! Crush 40 are the writers and performers of all of the best Sonic songs, including “Open Your Heart,” the theme of Sonic Adventure, “What I’m Made Of,” the final boss theme of Sonic Heroes, and of course, their most famous, “Live and Learn,” the theme of Sonic Adventure 2. As our good friend Sonic once said, “Looks like the party’s getting started! Time to rock and roll!”

Visit https://www.twitch.tv/sonicofficial for all of the fun! Hope to see you there!

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