Review: Sonic Movie Special

(This is the review for the tie-in special published on the same day the movie came out. For the review of the movie itself, please see the previous post.)

I actually won a pair of early screening tickets to see the Sonic movie in San Francisco two weeks before it came out. Unfortunately…San Francisco is a bit too far of a drive for me to make right now. So I had to pass up that opportunity. (Believe me, I was jealous of Sonic that entire movie for that exact reason.) But for one fleeting moment, I was indescribably excited, not just for the novelty of seeing a movie before anybody else can, but because I could’ve used that information to write an absolutely perfect tie-in episode with zero dodging of unknown plot points and zero contradictions. That’s always the hardest part about making these specials. The more closely I can tie the episode into its source, the more relevant and interesting the episode can be—but the less I know about the source, the less accurately I’m able to do that. In my original Sonic Forces special, I had to dodge the question of whether or not Sonic even knows who Infinite is, because we knew that little about the game’s plot. Technically speaking, that was much less of an issue here. With dozens upon dozens of trailers and preview clips available, and a much more straightforward, predictable plot to begin with, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that I could’ve predicted the entire movie on a moment-to-moment basis with roughly 90% accuracy. But that last 10% was still bothering me immensely. If I just had that last 10%, I could’ve written a completely different episode, one that dives deep into the lore and events the movie may have glossed over, without any worry of contradiction. But unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the early screening, and so I had to play it safe.

Was that really Teen Sonic’s home Green Hill Zone that the episode took place in? Dodged that question, because I figured the odds were high that that place was somehow destroyed or taken over, that being the reason why Teen Sonic had to leave in the first place. Does Teen Sonic know what a Chaos Emerald is? Dodged that question, because I figured the odds were high that they would be teased in the movie in some way, which would most likely preclude Sonic from knowing about them beforehand. (Technically, I’m still in a bit of a pickle there, since we have no clue what any potential sequels might bring.) Did our Sonic even end up remembering the events of this episode? Dodged that question too, even though it seems pretty irrelevant to the movie, because if our Sonic remembers, then Teen Sonic would remember as well, and there was no telling how many countless tiny contradictions that might’ve caused. (In fact, there’s a chance it did—he never says it directly, but Teen Sonic certainly implies in the movie that he hasn’t had a friend since Longclaw—and I giving him a new best friend in our Sonic flies pretty harshly in the face of that.) Does Sonic know who wants his powers, or why? Dodged that. Do those individuals belong specifically to this world, or is he being chased across worlds? Dodged that. Who the heck is Longclaw? Dodged that, too. (Admittedly, I mistakenly had our Sonic call her a “guy,” but Sonic knew little enough at that point in time that it was probably justified.)

Despite my fear of getting contradicted, there were plenty of risks that I chose to gamble on. I chose to establish concrete proof that Sonic spent some amount of time, however little, as a world-traveller, visiting many different worlds before finally ending up on movie-Earth. The trailers gave us no such evidence, instead suggesting on quite the contrary that Sonic went straight from Green Hill to Earth, and stayed there. If it weren’t for Baby Sonic, I probably wouldn’t have taken that risk. But getting that major piece of evidence that Sonic left his world at a very young age leaves lots and lots of time for him to do things offscreen in between. For all we knew prior to that, there might not have been any time at all—we might have seen, moment-for-moment, Sonic, as a teenager, leaving Green Hill, getting to Earth, and either getting stuck there or choosing to stay there right up until the inciting incident of the movie’s main plot. But—lucky me!—Sonic not only was given plenty of time where he could have been off Earth, but it was downright shown that he had a map of worlds to travel to, with multiple of them crossed off, all but confirming that he has been to them. (Interestingly enough, one of those worlds was denoted by a stylized Sun—could that have been representing the Sol Dimension, or “Sun World” as he called it…just like he called the other one “Mushroom World”? Then again, Sun World wasn’t crossed out, which would be an odd error for him to make if he had already decided against staying there—but then, if he had only decided that because there was too much water, and not because someone saw him using his powers, that might mean he decided to potentially try it again later—and yes, Eggman Nega saw his powers, but as I mentioned earlier, he may not necessarily remember that part. What was I talking about again? Oh, right gambles.)

Another gamble I took involved how Sonic uses those Rings. For one thing, I just assumed that’s what his little brown sack was for—got that one right. But then, I also had him put duct tape in there, which…now that I know where the sack came from, might seem a little bit disrespectful. Oh well, he needed to tape up that shoe somehow—another accurate prediction on my part, as a majority of pre-release clips showed him with his “canon” shoes, even though he didn’t actually have them yet (lucky me). But yeah, Rings. I made a pretty big stretch of the imagination by suggesting that he has no problem at all with just using as many rings as it takes to help his friend out. In fact, you might even call that a contradiction—in the movie, there’s a “for emergencies only” sign taped to the sack, not to mention the fact that I presented him as having very few of them, despite having very many in the movie. But then, right there at the beginning of the movie, Sonic uses up a Ring just for the heck of it, because he feels like getting a look at the Mushroom World. But anyways, I think I covered my bases there. Even though there was absolutely zero mention in the trailers or the movie of where the Rings actually come from, I went ahead and presented a means of having Sonic able to collect more of them. So, after the episode, he would’ve had plenty of time to tour around, find as many as he needs, and head back to Earth with more than he even knows what to do with—so in that way, I even provided an explanation for why Sonic was able to waste one so nonchalantly at the beginning. Lucky me! I just have to hope that future sequels don’t imply that…I don’t know, Sonic produces them from his body or something crazy like that. As long as the possibility is left open that Rings can somehow be found somewhere in the nature of some world, I think I’ll be fine. I figured that applying the rules of Special Stage Rings to them wouldn’t be too much of  a risk, anyways.

I did gamble a little bit with how Sonic’s powers work—I clearly didn’t catch on to the fact that they are so directly linked to his emotions, but I wouldn’t call that outright contradiction. But here’s something that was absolutely not intended to be a gamble—at the end of the episode I had Sonic absorb his powers directly back from Fang. I made that up, I swear! And yet, at the climax of the movie, an absolutely identical scene happened, where Sonic absorbed his powers back from Eggman. (Yes, I’m calling him Eggman, because that’s what Sonic ends up calling him. Same rules as the games.) So…lucky me, I guess!

So, what contradictions did I fail to avoid? I already mentioned calling Longclaw a guy, missing the mark on where Sonic’s powers come from, and…that might be it. Oh, right, I also said that Sonic isn’t prone to motion sickness, which was definitely contradicted in the movie. That’s definitely not one I was expecting, given that Sonic is, you know…fast? And the loop-de-loops? But you know, it was a funny joke, and…you could argue that Sonic was intentionally exaggerating when he said that, and the fact that he did get motion sickness might even be enough to say that I’m supporting the movie, rather than contradicting it.

I know I haven’t really said much about the episode itself yet, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say. It was a comedy—much more successful, I think, than my previous attempt with the Heavy Magician episode. I put a lot of effort into building up punchlines, and just having an actual comedic chemistry between these two characters. I’m a little bit disappointed in myself for trivializing Fang literally immediately after his dramatic character conclusion, but…I actually love Fang and Eggman Nega as a ridiculous comedic villain duo, and I hope to use them in that role again at some point in the future. Fang certainly wouldn’t have much else to do in this series otherwise. As for Eggman Nega…the thought actually occurred to me after I had already started writing this episode, and I was desperately trying to figure out a halfway decent conclusion to this otherwise relatively boring story about trying to clear the Special Stage. I realized that, now that I had a Riders special under my belt, Eggman Nega was literally the only Modern Sonic character that I had yet to reference in any way, shape, or form. (Unless you count the non-Zavok members of the Deadly Six, but I certainly don’t.) Anyways, given Nega’s role of travelling between dimensions, and his hatred of Sonic, he certainly seemed like the right fit for this episode. I was a little bit dubious about using Nega as a character before even properly using Blaze, but I didn’t want to let that get in the way of a good story. But still, him alone just didn’t quite feel right. I wanted to use the Special Stage story first and foremost, but Eggman Nega has zero association with that concept, so using him as the villain in that context would’ve been very strange. But then, who does have an association with the Special Stages? The answer was staring me in the face. Supposedly, it is canon in Sonic Triple Trouble that Fang actually lives in the Special Zone. I intentionally tried to avoid that weirdness, given that the canonicity of Special Stages is dubious to begin with, by simply offhandedly mentioning once or twice that Fang had to take “a long trip” to get to Eggman from where ever it is he came from. Throughout this series, I had definitely considered exploring the concept of Special Stages more than once—including an early prototype plot for the Dawn of Chaos arc, and again as a potential way to flesh out Fang’s character—but it always just felt too weird. Teen Sonic and his use of Warp Rings worked as a phenomenal bridge into that weirdness, finally allowing me to delve into it—and so, to include Fang as well. The rest practically wrote itself. And that’s the basic story of how this episode came to be.

-Too bad I wasn’t able to do any rock-connaissance on the movie.
(Okay, that was terrible, I’m sorry.)

Review: Season 1, Episode 16

Well…here it is. My first attempt at a comedy. No matter how hard I try, it seems that I just can’t remove the serious plot development. So this episode ended up just feeling really weird to me, like…like you have a hard time laughing because you have to look out for important plot points. Honestly, I think I just needed more jokes. But I figured forcing in a bunch of extra jokes that even I wouldn’t find funny would defeat my own purpose. I went in to this hoping for something iconic and unforgettable, something like some of my favorite episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender, and I definitely fell short in my opinion. But hey, I’ll settle for a lighthearted chuckle before the dark finale to come.

They say it’s a bad idea to explain a joke, but I actually don’t have a whole lot else to say here, so I think I’ll point a few things out, just to be sure that they were understood. Heavy Magician’s unnamed transformation hijinks went as follows: Bark the Polar Bear, Bean the Dynamite Duck, Tiara Boobowski the Manx (of the cancelled Sonic X-treme), “Speedy” AKA Battle Kukoo XVI (of Tails Adventure), and lastly, Madonna (the scrapped character intended to be Sonic’s girlfriend in the original Sonic the Hedgehog). She actually quoted a couple songs from the real-world artist Madonna (including “Open Your Heart,” a natural connection to make). Her disguises for Big and Froggy first referenced the recent Team Sonic Racing Overdrive animated shorts, then proceeded to reference Scratch and Grounder, Eggman’s robotic companions from the early Sonic cartoons, and of course, R2-D2 and C-3P0 of Star Wars, the most famous robotic duo of all time.

Let’s see, anything else to explain? Cubot’s role in this episode was inspired by…well, technically, myself. Back in Season 0, Cubot implied that he may have a crush on Magician. It was meant to be a one-off joke, but I decided to roll with it, thanks in part to a suggestion by our good friend Yuni Oha. There is one other joke which was a bit unusual. Sonic being set off at the thought of Tails thinking someone else is cooler than him. This was actually a request left by a reader after the last episode, so big thanks to “sonic vs evil” for contributing the idea to this episode. I don’t think that they quite had it in mind as a joke, but I adapted the idea to this episode as best I could.

I suppose I should talk about the lasting impact that this episode may have. I wasn’t intending on bringing in the Spacial Ruby plot quite so soon, but…well, I needed a macguffin. Even though no Ruby was actually present in this episode, they are very much real. And with Eggman and Infinite both looking for them, they’re bound to turn up eventually.

And of course, there’s the more immediate impacts. There is a Death Egg, and its launch is imminent. But what exactly could Eggman do with a Death Egg when he already controls the world? Well…we’ll find out very soon.

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

S1 E16: Maggie Magician and the Magic MacGuffin

What kind of episode title is that!? The newest episode of The Chaos Project might be just as ridiculous, and you can read it right here!

With motives that are questionable at best, Heavy Magician claims that she wishes to defect to the Rebellion. Could she be telling the truth? Honest or not, one thing is certain. She’ll be putting on quite a show.

Preview: Season 1, Episode 16

Heavy Magician scrambles wildly with flailing arms to avoid the volley of missiles being fired by Omega. Omega shouts as he fires off one after another, “I will eradicate all Eggman robots! You will not fool me!”

Heavy Magician suddenly freezes in place, somehow in the perfect position not to be hit as she says to herself, “What am I doing? This is so undignified.” With an elegant motion, she whips off her hat, holding it out in front of her to catch the next oncoming missile inside. Holding the hat with just one hand, she quickly swings it from place to place, perfectly catching each missile instead of avoiding them. Once she has all of them, she flips the hat around to show off the inside, demonstrating that it appears to be empty. Finally, she points the hat straight upwards, and all of the missiles she caught fire off in unison, launching into the air and somehow exploding into an impressive fireworks display.

Done with her trick, Magician turns to Shadow, who’s been watching with an amused expression the entire time. “Could you control your…robot?”

“Don’t worry.” Shadow puts on an uncharacteristic smirk. “He’ll warm up to you.”

Omega switches his missile launcher for a flamethrower.

Could it be true? Could Heavy Magician truly wish to switch sides? Would they even let her? Find out, in the next episode of The Chaos Project, coming soon!

Review: Season 1, Episode 15

I’ve been waiting to make this episode for a long time. Well, technically half of this episode for longer than the other half. It was probably fairly easy to tell, but this was sort of like two incomplete episodes mashed together in order to save space and effort. But let’s be honest. Without Amy’s mystery, the episode would’ve been nothing but Tails and Shadow sitting in a pod and talking. And yet, without the brief bout of drama and action provided by the Shadow/Tails story, Amy’s mystery would’ve been little more than a glorified recap of the season. I felt that these ideas complemented each other well, which is why I wasn’t too concerned when I realized that the next episode, which was only fairly recently considered, would have to “replace” one of these two. And regardless, I am still heavily considering continuing with this idea of an A-plot and a B-plot for each episode, so it’s good that I keep getting chances to practice with it.

The idea out of these two that came earlier was the Shadow/Tails story. Even though the plot was technically a continuation of the relationship they began to form back in the Forces of Chaos arc of Season 0, that plot back then was actually inspired by the knowledge that this episode would eventually happen. This one came first. Why did I decide that I wanted Shadow and Tails to become good buddies? Well, I think Tails covered a lot of it. Tails likes Sonic because he’s cool, and to an impressionable pre-teen (as I was when Shadow became my favorite character) Shadow would easily be seen as basically a cooler version of Sonic. Why wouldn’t Tails like him? And, for spoiler-related story reasons, their friendship is going to become very important. But I knew it was something that couldn’t simply happen, Shadow and Tails are such fundamentally different characters that an episode would be required to justify how they first form a bond. This episode is what came to mind. It was largely inspired by an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9, in which two similarly disparate characters, Julian Bashir and Miles O’Brien, were forced together on a close-quarters mission, and inevitably ended up becoming best friends for the rest of the series. However, the concept of having them trapped together in a ship, leading to desperate measures of survival when it is destroyed, likely came more from an episode of Star Trek Voyager, which started the romantic relationship between characters Tom Paris and B’elanna Torres. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that part. Don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.

As for the Amy story, the idea came for it only recently, as I started counting on my fingers all of the characters who have had a spotlight this season, and realized that Amy was the only character left out entirely. Which also got me thinking that maybe females are a bit underrepresented in general in this series. I mean, Rouge is getting a spotlight role in this main premiere season of the show, so I don’t feel TOO bad about it. And a predominance of male characters is…not exactly out of the norm for the Sonic series in general. Regardless, that made me want to make sure that this Amy plot did good by this particular issue, so I started planning for something that would have her accomplish something important, something not in any way related to her relationship with Sonic. And I decided it was about time to reveal the full truth about Rouge. But…let’s be honest. As cheeky as I’ve been about it, the fact that Rouge has been a double agent was an obvious guess to make from the beginning, and I’ve only provided more evidence since then. And spending an entire episode leading up to Amy happening upon a fact that any reader could’ve guessed from the beginning felt somehow…anticlimactic. Certainly wouldn’t get across the point I intended of her solving an important problem. But since I wanted the information about Rouge to be confirmed either way, how about a fake out? Have Amy solve a true mystery, something completely unexpected even by the reader, and even accidentally find out about Rouge along the way. But what exactly did Amy solve? What was it she said? “She’s not on Eggman’s side.” If she wasn’t talking about Rouge, then what could she have meant? She had to be talking about someone. And Heavy Magician now appears to have been set free… What could that mean?

There was one other purpose to putting this episode at this time. I mentioned earlier that Amy’s story was sort of a glorified recap of the season, and that wasn’t unintentional. The season’s wrapping up, and it’s important that the reader remembers everything that’s led up to this point. That’s right! Only 3 episodes left in the season! (Man, if I’d kept last year’s pace this Summer, I could’ve actually started Season 2 before the Summer’s over. That would’ve been nice.) So, excluding the dark and serious two-part finale, there’s only one episode remaining. Naturally, how could it be anything else but a lighthearted comedy? I’m excited for what’s to come, and I hope you are as well!

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

Review: Season 1, Episode 12

Well…I’m running into the usual problem here of not being sure what to write about an episode that was started a very long time ago. I’ve touched on this a bit already, but I started this episode on December 20th, more than three months ago, three days before the actual anniversary. About a page in, I decided that writing the entire episode in three days would be unreasonable, and that Condition Extreme would be much better placed at that time, so I took a pause on this one and started writing that one instead.

So by now, you might be wondering…what was the point of this episode? Why make a Sonic Adventure episode focused on Rouge of all people? Well…I did fudge it a bit. In early planning phases of The Chaos Project, having a fake Big that infiltrates the Rebellion was one of my very first ideas (even before Heavy Magician existed). I wasn’t thinking much about that old idea, until I decided for certain that I was going to do Rouge’s arc for this Season, and I realized that I could work the two stories together. Everything about this episode that involved Rouge, Sly, and Big, were all planned at this point. But at that point, I figured it would be more like a “meanwhile, with Rouge” type of thing, while a different episode was happening with our normal characters. But I was never really sure what kind of episode I could fit that into. Eventually, the looming date of the Adventure 20th anniversary was brought to my attention, and I knew immediately that I had to celebrate it somehow. Big being such and important character to that game, this plot was brought to mind. But I knew that I couldn’t just make another Big episode and call it a day. That’s when the thought of Discord came to me. The moment I thought of it, I knew I had my episode, I knew that Discord would be an immensely fun character to explore. Eta came much later down the line. In fact, I wasn’t even certain that I was going to do Eta at all, until I started working on the assets for the Sprite Animation. But I knew I needed some kind of big, dramatic pull for the trailer, and a death match between not-Chaos and not-Gamma would totally do the trick.

Moving on to a related topic, given that Gamma was a very important character to Adventure, while Chaos was more a force of nature than a character, it was supposed to come as a bit of a shock which of their two substitutes turned out to be the victor this time around. As I was writing Eta’s destruction, it occurred to me that it might have been interesting to keep it around as well, but it was really only there as someone for Discord to fight, and I didn’t have any plans that could justify doing otherwise. I suppose Eta can always be rebuilt, if it comes down to that.

I suppose I should talk about Big as well. To be honest, writing the entire episode, right up to the end, my plan was to write him out at the end, send him to some isolated place where he can live in peace, as Sonic suggested. Big was the one character I was never really sure about whether or not I wanted to use in my story at all, as I mentioned once that he’s not exactly my favorite. Part of the whole point of this episode arc was to give him a good send-off so that I could justifiably not bother with him thereafter. But after everything I put him through, everything I expressed about his character, I simply couldn’t justify anything short of a promise to fight with his friends no matter what. So…I guess I’m stuck with him now. Maybe I’ll just kill him off later or something…

Heavy Magician is also of note here. Honestly, that entire end scene where Big meets Magician…I had no concrete plans for how that would go. I knew that no matter what I did, it would feel either awkwardly tagged onto the end of this episode, or onto the beginning of the next. The thought occurred to me while I was in the middle of it that I could’ve split this up into…not so much a two-parter as one episode directly continuing off of another, but honestly, after three months, I really just wanted to be done with that plot. And doing that would’ve required me to come up with something entirely new right on the spot to fill that second part. I mused over a few ideas, especially regarding what happened to Froggy after he jumped into Magician’s hat, but I decided against it. All of this lack of planning also means that Heavy Magician’s capture was a very last-minute decision. There was a small future scene I had in mind with Magician, but with this new decision came an entire future character arc revolving around that scene. That’s right. A character arc for Heavy Magician. And it’s gonna be a good one, too. So anyways, I winged that whole sequence, and I’m happy with it.

So let’s see, what else is there to say? You might be…a little bit confused in regards to how you’re supposed to feel about Discord. He’s cute, and kind, and deadly, and quite possibly evil. That’s exactly the point. Everything about Discord is supposed to make you feel uneasy. You want to believe that he’s still just a harmless Chao, but there’s really no way to tell for sure. You might be having a similar confusion about Rouge at this point. Is she, or is she not, working against the Rebellion? It’s less clear than ever. No matter what the answer is, this episode was built to show that she’s still a good person. And as to that answer, you’ll just have to wait and see.

And…I believe that’s all I have. So, until next time–

What’s this!?

[Shadow]: “This is a challenge to you, Sonic the Hedgehog! This planet now belongs to the Black Arms! If you want to stop me, then come and face me now!”

[Sonic]: “Okay, Shadow. Bring it on.”

Coming Soon: In the Shadow of Time — The Final Chapter

Preview: Season 1, Episode 8

Well, as much as I’d love to do an animated preview for every episode, that last one took almost as long to make as the episode itself, and that was supposed to be an easy one! If I kept making those, I wouldn’t have any time left to actually write the stories they’re trying to tell! So, for now, it’s back to the old, boring, block-of-text previews. That certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll never do another animation again, it just might be a while. We’ll have to wait and see. And so, without further delay, I give you the preview for the very first Mid-Season Finale, coming one week from today!

The Eggman Empire Day Festival — Empire City

Down on the streets, citizens of many races and species are gathered in great lines down the sidewalks, staring up silently as confetti rains down from the sky. Speakers loudly blare a familiar yet strangely upbeat tune celebrating the Eggman Empire, and the sound of cheering can be heard as the first balloon float approaches between the skyscrapers, depicting a more classic appearance of Eggman, even blown up in a familiar pose. Despite the odd cheering, there don’t seem to be many happy faces in the crowd. Large digital screens hung up on the walls of buildings show zoomed images of what appears to be the same crowd, though that digital crowd seems unusually excited. Several of the real people in the back rows give an occasional nervous glance back at the guard robots stationed periodically behind the groups of people, weapons raised raised up to their chests as if prepared to fire on a moment’s notice.

One robot is suddenly drawn back into the shadows in a blur, and the sound of crunching metal can be heard. No one seems to notice. A few moments later, another disappears in the same way. This time, just a few people manage to see. Whispers quickly begin to spread through the crowd. The guard robots start to scan around on high alert, but still they disappear one by one, some hit with weapons, others by more direct attacks. By the time the second float approaches, depicting the Egg Mobile carrying a large checkered ball on a chain, there’s a clear excitement and confusion amongst the crowd. And that’s when Sonic appears on top of it.

He wears a large earpiece with a microphone that extends most of the way down to his mouth. When he speaks, his voice is greatly amplified, booming through the streets of the city. “Citizens of Empire City! As most of you probably know, my name is Sonic the Hedgehog!” All of the screens on the walls that had been showing the floats are now pointed directly at him, so the entire city can see. “No matter what Eggman’s been trying to tell you, I’m still alive, and I’m still fighting!”

The members of the Rebellion, now spread throughout the crowd, start to cheer. The rest of the crowd quickly joins in.

“Eggman wants us to give up! To accept his rule, to celebrate it! But we’re doing no such thing! The Rebellion will keep fighting until this world is ours again! And if you care about this world, if you’re tired of Eggman’s tyranny, then you can–”

“You can scatter like insects to avoid a far worse fate.” Infinite’s voice projects through the streets just as loudly as Sonic’s. “Because your little blue savior won’t be saving anyone today.” Infinite descends down to stand on the float across from Sonic, caught on the cameras for the whole city to see.

Sonic doesn’t lose his confidence. “Well, look who’s back from the dead. The masked clown. I almost can’t believe you’ve been hiding from me all this time. It’s been years, hasn’t it? Guess I must’ve left a pretty big impression.”

Infinite lets out a booming laugh as he adjusts the mask on his face. “How amusing it is that you think I fear you, filthy little sewer rat. It may have been years for you, but it wasn’t so long ago that I held your life in my hands. You are the only one who has something to fear.”

“I wasn’t afraid of you before, and I’ve only gotten stronger since then.”

“You could never defeat me alone.”

“I never said I was alone.”

On the streets below, the members of the Rebellion step forwards amidst their crowds, cheered along by the citizens around them.

Infinite pushes his mask up once again. “True. But then, neither did I.”

Heavy King slams down onto the street in front of Knuckles and Hero. Citizens immediately begin to scatter, screaming in terror with the new danger so close to them. But he is also not alone. Heavy Rider zooms through the streets, skidding to a stop in front of Amy and Tails. Heavy Gunner jets through the air, drifting down with weapon pointed at Shadow and Omega. Heavy Shinobi leaps in to cut off the escape route of Vector and Espio.

“So, you’re working with Eggman again? Guess some things never change.”

Infinite answers as he lifts back into the air, “We’ve been expecting you. Are you afraid yet?”

“Hmph.” Sonic wipes across the bottom of his nose, and takes off at a run, leaping from the float in a Spin Attack.

Rouge watches all these battles unfold nervously, slowly stepping back into the shadows of an alleyway. Until she is stopped by the muzzle of a gun pointed at her head. Fang gives a smirk behind her. “Rouge. Fancy meeting you here.”

The Battle of Empire City has begun. But something far more sinister lurks behind. What is the Anti-Rebellion planning? And where’s Heavy Magician?

Review: Season 0, Episode 31

…Do I even need to say it? Pretty much all of this was supposed to be part of the last episode. The exception there would be the scene of the Heavies’ betrayal. That was supposed to come next time. But when I realized how long this episode was getting, I decided to fastforward it a bit, so that pretty much all lose ends can be tied up before we start getting into the finale. That’s right, the finale comes next. Can’t promise it will only be one episode, but that’s hypothetically my goal.

I can say now that this ranks among my favorite episodes yet. The sheer horror and insanity of the Virtual Reality, the intrigue of the Replicas, and the satisfying character progression of the Heavies conveniently combined to make a single, focused episode. This is probably quite a bit like how episodes will look once Season 1 finally comes around, with a focused primary plot (Virtual Reality), and a subplot in the background (the Sonic Replicas), that both end up resolved by the episode’s end. And there’s a reason that I plan on making a majority of this series in such an episodic format, while only this prequel season is so serialized. It’s because those focused plots should allow for better storytelling, as they have here.

But enough of that, on to the more specific. As I mentioned above, the idea with the Virtual Reality was to make it as horrific yet ridiculous as possible. Let me start from the beginning. I don’t think it occurred to me while I was playing Shadow’s Virtual Reality for the first time, but when I was playing the Avatar’s Capital City immediately after (I jumped into Episode Shadow the moment things were cleared up after Sunset Heights). I saw those giant stretched Infinite illusions (“longbois” as I’ve seen them called), and that’s when I realized that, with Blacklight as Infinite, I’d have to step it up. If the old Infinite could concoct something that terrifying, what would a complete psychopath make? I got to planning this quite quickly. I wasn’t sure who or why at that point, but after I finished the story and looked back on it in retrospect, I realized I could best emphasize this through a complete Virtual Reality, not just illusions. Something acknowledging Blacklight’s fixation with apples quickly came to mind. It was the fake Zavok’s snake tongue from a few episodes that made me think he might have a thing for snakes as well. Between the apple, the snake, the flood, and the fact that this whole thing takes place not far from EDEN…read into that symbology how you will. Anyways though, it was only as the scene was approaching that I thought to step things up slowly, from pretty scary, to completely insane, to incomprehensible madness. As well, it was only soon before writing in the last episode that it occurred to me to make Sonic’s coma induced by Virtual Reality, which came right along with the idea to have him meet Hero in there.

And Sonic leads me on to my next topic, the Sonic Replicas. I was, to a slight degree, inspired by a fellow FanFiction user out there (if you’re reading, thanks, CapitalGMA) who I’ve been discussing the plot of Sonic Forces with for quite some time. There isn’t much relation, just the thought of the Ruby being used to create a Replica of Sonic. Mephiles in the last episode was really only there to lead into this plot point, because otherwise it would just be kind of random. I originally had it in mind to play off of the confusion between the Replicas and the Virtual Reality Sonic, make it unclear which is real and which is fake, but…I couldn’t really come up with anything along those lines. I thought it would be so completely obvious that the Virtual Reality one was real, that it would ruin the drama and uncertainty over the Replicas. And I keep saying Replicas, even though one of them wasn’t that at all. I used Heavy Magician in that way, because I wanted more than just King to be used, and I wasn’t planning on Gunner at the time. Besides King, I thought that Magician would make for the most interesting battle, but I was thinking it would be a total waste to use Magician without utilizing her ability to disguise herself as obscure and forgotten characters. But…I wasn’t quite ready to go that far myself. So, with a little inspiration, I thought instead to play a different sort of trick, fool the Resistance and the leader into thinking that Sonic had joined them. But, as I said in the last review, Sonic isn’t playable in the main story. That would’ve given it away, if you were paying attention.

Also worth mentioning is Heavy Gunner and Omega’s scene. I mentioned last time that I might hint at Gunner’s deeper backstory, and I did just that. It was just a slight reference, a little obscure by some standards, but if something that Gunner said sounded odd and familiar to you, there’s a good reason for that.

Last to talk about is the big betrayal. As I mentioned earlier, the Heavies were originally included mostly just for parity, so Eggman can have his Generals to counter the Replicas and Resistance. So in initial planning, I didn’t really think much about the possibility of the Heavies wanting to work against Eggman. I was even thinking about Eggman maybe just making his own, totally obedient Heavies, instead of taking the original Mania ones. But I was convinced, once again by my brother Yuni (he’s been helping out a lot lately) that with King ending Mania by betraying Eggman, they should likely still be working against him now. I came to agree, but I still needed my Generals! So I thought to have Eggman force them to work for him, solving both problems and opening the way to this nice character development later. The Titanic Monarch seemed like a perfectly reasonable way for the Heavies to try and get around Eggman, while also nicely tying up a severe loose end from Mania. Now Eggman is all ready for a Super fight (something I wasn’t sure about before), and he and King will be working together for a long time to come, now out of a well-established mutual respect. And…that’s all I got for today. But in the near future, keep an eye on the website for some very special bonus content.

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