Setting Sail with Shipping

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Excerpt from:

Blacklight’s Totally Awesome Espio x Amy Drabble Fanfic

Espio stared into the great globes of Amy’s eyes, and in that moment, he knew that they were perfect for one another. He began to—

[Shadow]: What are you doing?

[Blacklight]: Writing a shipping fanfic.

[Shadow]: Why?

[Blacklight]: Because literally everyone does it.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) That’s a lie.

[Blacklight]: Oh, I’ll deal with you in a minute.

[Shadow]: Espio…and Amy? Those characters have barely ever interacted in the canon. What in the world would give you the idea that they’re in love?

[Blacklight]: Oh, my poor, innocent Shadow. When it comes to shipping, there are three rules that always hold true.
Rule #1: If two characters show animosity towards one another, that means they are hiding their true feelings for each other, and are actually in love.
Rule #2: If two characters are good friends and spend a lot of time together, that means that they’re actually in love.
Rule #3: If two characters have never met before, that’s because it’s obvious that they would fall in love the moment they meet.

[Shadow]: So…basically…every pair of fictional characters in history?

[Blacklight]: Now you’re getting it!

[Shadow]: That can’t be true…

[Blacklight]: Of course it is! I’ve seen you shipped with almost every character in the Sonic cast! Rouge, Amy, Cream… *raises eyebrows* …Sonic.

[Shadow]: Ugh…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) That’s enough, you need to stop this. In this studio, we respect the intentions of the creators. That means no pushing of a romantic relationship between two characters in any extent greater than that which has been explicitly shown in canon material.

[Blacklight]: What about between three characters?

[Shadow]: Good Lords…

[Blacklight]: Oh, I’m just referring to the little love triangle you’ve clearly been setting up between Rouge, Knuckles, and Shadow, boss.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) You’re imagining things.

[Blacklight]: And what about pairing a canon character with an OC?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Slightly more debatable. Regardless, I don’t believe a character should ever be created for the sole purpose of of a romantic pairing with another character. That’s just bad writing practice in general.

[Blacklight]: So where does that leave the thing you’ve been setting up between the Rookie and Infinite?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) For the love of… Look, it’s perfectly normal for people to show some degree of caring for one another without there being anything in romantic involved.

[Blacklight]: You are clearly forgetting about rule number 2. And number 1, in this instance.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) For the last time, I don’t have any shipping in The Chaos Project.

[Blacklight]: The weird tension you’ve clearly been setting up between myself and Shadow says otherwise.

[Shadow]: That’s it. I’m out. Done with this. *exits*

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) See what you’ve done? You’ve crossed a line.

[Blacklight]: Don’t worry, he’ll be back.

[Shadow]: (offscreen) And I’m not coming back!

[Blacklight]: Welp…maybe Shadow will come back to answer your questions if you leave them in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes on the Set of The Chaos Project

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[Blacklight]: Alright, you folks have waited for long enough for answers. Time for me to fess up.

[Shadow]: Finally going to explain why you aren’t dead?

[Blacklight]: What? No. This is the story of how I became so incredibly handsome.

[Shadow]: Your face was made as an exact replica of mine. The end.

[Blacklight]: You just have to suck the joy out of everything, don’t you?

[Shadow]: Yes. Now why don’t you explain the other thing?

[Blacklight]: Oh, fine. Why am I not dead? Well, that’s actually a very complicated question. You see, while I am Blacklight, the life of the Blacklight you know isn’t necessarily identical to—

[Shadow]: We’re actors.

[Blacklight]: We are not actors! We’re characters on a reality show! The cameras capture our actual lives!

[Shadow]: With some input from the director. Such as you getting killed off.

[Blacklight]: Don’t remind me…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Yes, please don’t remind him…

[Blacklight]: So anyways, I didn’t actually die. The director just wanted me off the show, for some incomprehensible reason.

[Shadow]: Not that it ever stopped you from showing up.

[Blacklight]: Exactly what I was getting to! Since I figured you folks at home wouldn’t believe me, I prepared a special behind-the-scenes look at the filming of an episode of The Chaos Project! Please, take a look!

Behind-the-Scenes of The Chaos Project

Season 1, Episode 17: Doomsday Part 1

[Tikal]: The world will always depend…on the Controller…and the Guardian… *fades away*

[Knuckles]: Now, what to do with– *shot in the back*

[Fang]: Hello, Sonic. Long time no see.

[Director]: Cut! That’s a wrap! Everyone take your places for scene one of episode eighteen!

[Blacklight]: *applauding* Bravo, bravo! Beautiful scene! Hey, is it alright if I ask Sonic a few questions for a thing I’m putting together?

[Sonic]: What!? No! A little bit busy here!

[Fang]: Who is this guy again?

[Director]: Get out of the shot, Blacklight! We’re about to start filming!

[Blacklight]: Fine, fine, I’ll go somewhere else.

—–—

On-set interview with the director

[Blacklight]: So how exactly do you manage all this?

[Director]: Well, we try to keep cameras rolling all the time to capture the really good stuff, but there are always a few vital scenes that need to be set up in just the right way.

[Blacklight]: Like my death scene?

[Director]: Exactly.

[Blacklight]: Still plotting my revenge for that, by the way.

[Director]: That would be in violation of your contract.

[Shadow]: (offscreen) Then every single one of you is to blame for what’s happened to her!

[Director]: Oh, speaking of the good stuff…

[Blacklight]: You know, this would really be the perfect time for me to come back from the dead and hit him with the life advice he desperately needs.

[Director]: No.

[Blacklight]: As a ghost?

[Director]: No.

[Blacklight]: Hallucination?

[Director]: Still no.

—–—

Later in Episode 18

[Blacklight]: Shadow, buddy, hey, I need a favor on something!

[Shadow]: Blacklight, get out of here! I need to plant this explosive before the Death Egg fires!

[Blacklight]: It won’t be long, I promise! I just want you to help me co-host this thing that I’m—

[Shadow]: Blacklight, get off of the set! You don’t work here anymore!

[Blacklight]: Actually, I have a contract. I may not be allowed on camera, but they actually can’t legally kick me out.

[Shadow]: Ugh, where’s that *** director when you need him? Blacklight, I swear to *** Lords of ***, if you don’t *** out of here *** now, I am going to *** *** you are *** out onto the *** *** you’ll have to beg for ***. Do you *** me!?

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: As you can see, this is what I have to deal with on set every day.

[Shadow]: What did you do…?

[Blacklight]: Oh, I just bleeped out some of the words for fun. Add a little spice, a little excitement, you know? That’s what they do on reality shows, right?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Not on mine.

[Shadow]: I am going to destroy you.

[Blacklight]: Aw, you wouldn’t do that. You love me too much.

[Shadow]: (glowing with red energy) You are going to regret the day you were born.

[Blacklight]: Uhh…boss? Could you…do something about this?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Yeah, sure. I’ll cut the camera before the violence starts. You kind of deserve this.

[Shadow]: Prepare to die, you filthy piece of—

Technical Difficulties

[Shadow]: CHAOS BLAST!!

Villain Chat! with Shadow the Hedgehog

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[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Yeah, that’s right, you’re excited. Avid Chaos Project fans may remember that hosting a late-night Villain Chat talk show has always been my dream in life.

[Shadow]: Always? It was only brought up offhandedly in the 50th Episode Special that retconned the premiere, and even that took place almost six months after your chronological introduction to the current events of the story.

[Blacklight]: Nah ah ah. I’m the one asking questions here. We’re kicking off today’s festivities by interviewing the second most popular character in the entire Sonic canon, Shadow the Hedgehog.

[Shadow]: Your show is called Villain Chat. Why would I be your first choice to interview?

[Blacklight]: That brings us to our first question of the night! Shadow, tell me, how does it feel to be branded as a villain by the very people who created you?

[Shadow]: I…don’t follow.

[Blacklight]: I speak of our parent companies, SEGA and Sonic Team, of course.

[Shadow]: I still don’t follow.

[Blacklight]: Well, just look at your presentation in any recent Sonic game. Take Sonic Boom, for instance. In that world, Shadow the Hedgehog exists as nothing more than an obstacle, an angry jerkwad who hates Sonic and hates friendship because…reasons.

[Shadow]: Different world. Why does it matter?

[Blacklight]: Is it really different? Regardless of whether you look at the games or the TV show, Sonic Boom presents its cast of characters as if they’re people with a long history that you should be intimately familiar with. Most of its jokes downright depend on that frame of reference. For example, the often-repeated joke of presenting the fighting between Sonic and Eggman as if it’s an office job is only funny if you assume that it isn’t the norm, and it’s only abnormal if you include the context of the canon games. And that brings us to Shadow. Shadow, like everyone else, is introduced as if you already know exactly who he is and what he should be doing. So naturally, he immediately attempts to destroy Sonic, because that’s totally in-character.

[Shadow]: Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear that the people who made Sonic Boom had very little idea of what Sonic is supposed to be. It’s as if they took one look at the original version of me and said, “Oh, that must be an evil version of Sonic.” That was never really in question. To answer your question, everything about Sonic Boom makes me feel disappointed, and this is no different.

[Blacklight]: Okay, so let’s ignore Sonic Boom, then. Instead, we turn our attention to Sonic Generations, your only significant role in the decade that came between Sonic ’06 and Sonic Forces. In Generations, you attempted to kill Sonic to stop him from acquiring the Chaos Emerald, because…reasons.

[Shadow]: That game depicted me as a rival, not a villain.

[Blacklight]: *clears throat* “I don’t know where we are, nor do I care. This is where I finish you, Sonic.”

[Shadow]: That…doesn’t make me a villain…

[Blacklight]: Right, because you were totally redeemed by that heroic and heartfelt speech you gave at the end of the game. Roll the clip!

[Shadow]: …I blame the game’s poor writing and lack of direction.

[Blacklight]: Yeah, that tends to be a running theme when it comes to Sonic games these days. But wherever you place the blame, it shows just the same that the people making these games seem to have absolutely no idea what Shadow the Hedgehog is supposed to be.

[Shadow]: Well, at least they started getting back on track with Sonic Forces. That game finally gave me a large enough spotlight to prove that I’m still the same person I always was.

[Blacklight]: Did it? Did it really? Sonic Forces has become notorious for its poor handling of villains, and you’re right there in that group. You’re placed on Infinite’s team in the game and all of its promotional material, and yet there’s no greater mystery surrounding that fact than there is about any of the other Replicas. Of all people, Knuckles is the only person who seems to show any legitimate concern over what’s going on. Sonic is upset by it, but it certainly doesn’t seem to surprise him much.

[Shadow]: Sonic wouldn’t be upset by it if he thought it was normal, which means that I’m clearly not thought of as a villain. The running theory they give is that I was being controlled.

[Blacklight]: True. But that isn’t the only issue. We also have Episode Shadow.

[Shadow]: The best thing to happen to the Sonic franchise in twelve years.

[Audience]: *laughter*

[Blacklight]: I wouldn’t be so sure about that. You may have been the protagonist of Episode Shadow, but that doesn’t make you the hero.

[Shadow]: Coordinated attacks against Eggman’s facilities to prevent a war, plus a dramatic escape of Infinite’s most powerful Virtual prison, doesn’t sound heroic enough to you?

[Blacklight]: Well, A for effort, but…uhh…Episode Shadow shows unapologetically that your reckless behavior and total lack of empathy are responsible for instigating a war that resulted in millions of deaths.

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: You don’t have to fight the hero to be a villain. And it’d be one thing if you finished what you started, but no. Instead, you seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth for six months of war, for…reasons. Finally, you return…to deliver a few lines of exposition. That’s it. That’s Shadow the Hedgehog’s role in Sonic Forces. Starting a war, then sitting back and watching while other people fight it. In fact, by the sounds of it, you’re not just a villain. You’re a master manipulator, sewing chaos in the world and never getting blamed for it.

[Shadow]: I’m a monster…

[Blacklight]: It’s okay, buddy. You’re among friends.

[Audience]: *awwww*

[Blacklight]: So, now that we know how you really feel, let’s look back on some happier times with our next question.

[Shadow]: How long is this going to go on for?

[Blacklight]: As long as I feel like it. But trust me, I think you’ll like this question. You…have a LOT of theme songs.

[Shadow]: That’s true.

[Blacklight]: (reading from list) Let’s see here… We have “Throw it All Away” from Sonic Adventure 2, “This Machine” from Sonic Heroes…

[Shadow]: That’s Team Dark’s theme, not just mine.

[Blacklight]: Technically, yes, but it’s sung from your perspective, and repeats the words “Chaos Control” more than a few times.

[Shadow]: True.

[Blacklight]: Anyways, then we have a whopping six songs from the Shadow the Hedgehog game, from “I Am…All of Me” to “Never Turn Back,” and finally a repeat of “All Hail Shadow” for Sonic ’06. You’re already making me jealous here. But there’s also some extra vocal themes associated with you in Sonic Adventure 2, “Rhythm and Balance,” “Supporting Me,” “For True Story,” “Live and Learn” to some degree, and…”The Supernatural?” I don’t even remember that one…

[Shadow]: The theme of the Final Rush level. Lyrics were a bit hard to hear.

[Blacklight]: Yeah, whatever. That’s fourteen songs! Fourteen! How in blazes do you keep track of them all!?

[Shadow]: Categorizing by game and/or level certainly helps.

[Blacklight]: That was a rhetorical question. The real question is…of all these songs, which do you feel most accurately depicts you? Which of these songs is the essence of Shadow the Hedgehog?

[Shadow]: Well…that’s a difficult question to answer. Each song serves its own purpose. Sometimes, I’m a lost soul. Sometimes, I’m fighting for my ideals. Sometimes, I’m simply the coolest.

[Blacklight]: So what, you have a song for each mood? For each day of the week!? Some of us don’t even get one theme song, you privileged little—

[Audience]: *gasps*

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Language!

[Blacklight]: Sorry…what I meant to say was…even the newest of those songs is fifteen years old now. So which one would you say has still…retained its value, so to speak? Which one has the most staying power, which one aged the best?

[Shadow]: Well…”Live and Learn” is a classic…but it’s not quite personal enough. As fond as I am of “All Hail Shadow,” I suppose I’d have to say that “Never Turn Back” is the one that still works best for the place I’m at right now.

[Blacklight]: Ah, I see. Least favorite?

[Shadow]: You want me to choose a least favorite of my precious children?

[Blacklight]: …

[Mr. C]: …

[Audience]: …

[Blacklight]: Who are you and what have you done with the real Shadow?

[Shadow]: I was trying to be funny…

[Blacklight]: Well you’re terrible at it. Just answer the question.

[Shadow]: Fine. I’d have to go with “Almost Dead,” the theme of the Dark ending in my game. It’s noisy, it’s repetitive, and it has very little meaning beyond “being ambivalent,” which is kind of strange, since you’d think it would be about pure evil. Basically, it’s a standard heavy metal song.

[Blacklight]: Are you saying that you don’t like heavy metal? You certainly seem like the type who would.

[Shadow]: You’re talking about the wrong Shadow. Try asking the one from Sonic Boom. You might get a different answer.

[Blacklight]: Oh, I see. You’re trying to tie this whole piece together by making commentary about the harm of judging a person by appearance without understanding who that person really is.

[Shadow]: No, I just don’t like heavy metal.

[Blacklight]: Ah, to each his own, I suppose. And I’m gonna have to stop you there. Villain Chat! will be right back after a quick word from our sponsors. But before we leave, don’t forget! We’ll be doing a special Q&A session at the end of the day to answer all of your burning questions! What would you have asked Shadow in this interview? Tell us in the comments below, or shoot a message our way! Be right back!

Review: Season 1, Episode 18 (Finale)

Another kicker, this one was. I shouldn’t be surprised by now, the most important episodes are always the hardest to write, because everything needs to be absolutely perfect. As an episode…I’m a little bit hesitant to pass judgement on this one. I felt hyperaware during the writing process of how awkwardly paced this whole thing was, with lots of standing around and talking during what should have been intense and dramatic moments—it’s just hard to do otherwise when there are so many important things that need to be said—in addition to lots of sudden breaks between action sequences that were necessary in order to keep a wider view of events that doesn’t leave any one topic forgotten for too long. But as a conclusion to the season…I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I was worried about the daunting task of topping part 1 in terms of drama, and while it did take some doing, I think that I at least accomplished that much.

Not everything turned out exactly how I envisioned it. I originally imagined that the raid on the Death Egg would take up a more solid chunk of the episode, as Shadow grudgingly worked together with Sonic to overcome the station swarming with traps and guards and lots of thing to blow up. In general, the big question mark surrounding whether or not Shadow is able to trust Sonic was intended to play a much larger role in the episode. But then I threw Knuckles into the mix. Right up until the day I wrote the conclusion of Part 1, my intention was for that to be the last that was seen of Fang—he shoots Knuckles, takes the Emeralds, turns them over off-screen, and that’s the end of it. I soon decided that it would be too unceremonious of an end for a character who is effectively the main villain of the Season, so I decided the easiest way to get him to a more proper conclusion without changing plans too much would be to throw him on the Death Egg. At the time that I made that decision, it was actually supposed to be Tails who went up along with Sonic and Shadow—Knuckles was intended to be put out of commission for this episode when he was shot. So I figured that Sonic would be the most reasonable candidate of the three to have one final fight with Fang, and then Tails could even have a nice little growth story where he shows that fighting Eggman on his own is no longer proof of anything, but instead is now simply what he expects of himself as a hero. There were a few obvious logical issues that came out of all that. While Fang has certainly mentioned his hatred for Sonic quite frequently, Sonic as a rival for him hasn’t really been built up at all—they only met face-to-face once this Season before these episodes, and they only exchanged a few words. Knuckles, meanwhile, was specifically being built up as a rival (pretty much just for the purpose of taking his hat in the end), so having that final confrontation not include Knuckles would just be strange. Meanwhile, Tails, the medical expert of the Rebellion, abandoning Rouge when it’s being clearly established that she’s dying wouldn’t make any sense at all. And even then, Tails’ growth isn’t really something that’s been focused on this Season, it’s been deferred to next, so having him on the Death Egg wouldn’t really accomplish much. And so, even though it required a lot of rearranging and rethinking of this episode, I chose to swap Tails out for Knuckles. I’m definitely happy with that decision. Though I do wonder if that’s part of the reason writing this episode ended up taking so much longer.

Oh! Right, I was in the middle of something. Adding Knuckles (and Fang, counting those as one complicated decision) meant significantly increasing the amount of time that would be spent on these big boss confrontations, and so the idea of a Death Egg filled with traps and guards became not only unnecessary in terms of balancing the amount of action, but would’ve basically just wasted time. And I figured a completely empty, abandoned Death Egg would’ve added a layer of mystery to hint at Eggman’s true intentions…although I see now that may not have been clear enough, besides the part where Sonic and Shadow overtly discussed it.

There is one thing that did turn out exactly as I’d envisioned it. The simple ending scene, where Shadow learns of Rouge’s condition, and lets out all of his emotions at once on Sonic…that was a scene planned nearly word for word since before I even knew what this season was going to be about. I believe I’ve mentioned previously that the idea of Rouge turning spy for the Rebellion was one of a huge slew of ideas that were all bouncing around before the seasonal structure of this series was solidified, back in the very early phases of Season 0. Analyzing the emotional consequences of various dramatic scenarios was how I first populated this hypothetical series with episode ideas—so naturally, the scenario of Rouge seemingly turning traitor had to come with the weight of how Shadow would respond. That series of ideas eventually led me here.

And did I mention that hat? Why, yes, it was meant to be a reference to the Sonic OVA, thank you for asking. With another Sonic movie coming up, I suppose that’s pretty good timing. In fact, there may have been a couple of new Sonic Movie references thrown into this episode, if you were paying attention. But, anyways, the hat. I admit it. The idea of bringing Fang into the series wasn’t particularly appealing to me…until I realized that I could have Knuckles steal his hat. Yes. That was what sold me on the idea. That was what drove me to write basically this entire season. I regret nothing, and also everything. Usually, I pride myself on remaining vehemently game-canon, and I often have to go out of my way in order to not reference something like the Archie Comics. But if you ask me, Knuckles with a treasure hunter’s hat is the single most memorable thing to come out of that entire movie, and I just couldn’t resist the reference once I’d thought of it.

I suppose I can get into more random stuff now. The “Death Egg Emperor” was a rather last-minute addition. In the early planning phases (back when Tails was still going to be the one to fight it) a simple, perhaps slightly upgraded Death Egg Robot was what I assumed would fill this role. When you bring back the Death Egg, putting a Death Egg Robot on it seems like the next logical step. It only occurred to me as I began writing this episode that Sonic Generations, Mania, and Forces had really gone to great lengths to…I guess, normalize the Death Egg Robot. I realized that it wouldn’t make much of an impact if it were just another one of those things. The plan wasn’t necessarily to “merge” the DER with the final boss of Sonic Heroes, the whole Egg Emperor thing was just…an unfortunate(?) result of the fact that this completely new step up from the DER needed to reflect Eggman’s status as Emperor.

There were plans to have an extended ending scene where everyone meets back up, celebrate their victory, ponder the nature of Eggman’s pre-planning, and so on, but I ended up merging that all into the Daily Log addendum, mostly just for time. The episode was very ready to end, and I didn’t see much reason to drag it on longer than it had to go. I also skipped out on a scene where Eggman would be seen in his base, complaining about how much he hates that hedgehog, but it was cut for similar reasons.

Probably the most last-minute thing of all was Knuckles’ role specifically in the climax. Obviously everything about his role in the episode was last-minute, put this part was actually something that didn’t even occur to me until I wrote the words “What can I do to help?” When Tails was the plan, Sonic’s response was still going to be the same “Wait in the safety bunker” answer, and it was supposed to be a bit more touching with Sonic trying to protect his little bro. But Tails, instead of doing as he was told, would’ve instead gone out searching for a shuttle (planned before I I decided to mention that there were no shuttles) and, when Sonic realized that he was marooned and requested help, Tails would’ve swooped in at the perfect time to pick him up. That whole “I think I might need a little help here” joke was honestly just a hold-out from that otherwise-scrapped plan. The Death Egg room built over the Master Emerald Altar, then, was entirely unplanned until I realized in that moment that I needed something for Knuckles to do that didn’t involve flying. But I figured it would make sense that Eggman would “preserve” that particular location when building over Angel Island, given that Prof. Gerald proved with his replica on the ARK that the structure has a functional significance. Knuckles bringing the Master Emerald back to the closest thing left to “home” worked wonderfully to connect back to a comment he made in part 1 (not intended to be related at the time), as did his conjoined role with the Controller as mentioned by Tikal. Eggman putting a throne for himself on top of the monument that symbolically represents the people he’s conquered was a nice little cherry on top. I’ll admit that part of the inspiration behind that room, and even the throne on top, hearkens back to an issue of the new IDW Sonic Comics, in which, on a mechanized Angel Island (I had that idea first, I swear), Neo Metal Sonic awaited Sonic and friends in a throne room built out of the very same altar. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reference, just inspiration.

A question I was sort of asking myself by the end was…”Why did I split the Death Egg in half?” Something I originally had in mind was that the Death Egg would naturally start falling apart in that way as it fell through the atmosphere, forcing Sonic and Shadow to each take a separate half. But…for some reason, that just didn’t make sense to me. But the image of the two halves falling one after the other into the ocean, like a literal egg cracked open, was one that stuck with me even as my other plans changed.

Well, I think this has gone on just about long enough. So what’s next? Well, I’ll properly announce here and now that there will be a Sonic Movie Tie-In Special published on February 14th, the day of the movie’s release. After that, we move into Season 2. Season 1 was nice and all, but…for me, it was really just a proving grounds. From here, I start telling the stories that I’ve been anticipating since I first envisioned this series, stories that could only be told on top of the strong foundations that I’ve spent all this time building. Even though you’re probably not, I hope that you’re as excited as I am.

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

 

Review: Season 1, Episode 17

Man, where do I even begin here? I suppose it should be with another apology about the delay. I didn’t mean for this episode to take significantly longer than any other. But then I got Fire Em–…uh, I mean, generic-dudes-with-swords-fantasy-tactical-RPG-in-which-you-choose-between-three-different-houses game. I put something like 150 hours into that game without ever typing once. I’m sorry, it’s a good game, okay? The fact that it encourages 3+ full playthroughs doesn’t help either…but I’m still a Sonic fan, okay!? I’m not giving up on this!

*ahem* Seriously, sorry about that. But let’s talk about this episode! I wrote two-thirds of it about three months ago, and the rest in the last three days. Hope it didn’t feel too disjointed because of that, but…when you’re writing an episode that’s just one giant fight scene, it’s kind of hard to be disjointed.

In a lot of ways, this was meant to be a sort of Sonic Adventure celebration part 2. If all had gone well, it actually would’ve come out around the time of the American 20th anniversary…but, you know…whatever. But anyways, when I first planned to make that first Adventure special, it came inherently with this episode as a conclusion. Before I came up with that first episode, this one would likely not have been a two-parter. It would’ve just been a disjointed Rouge returns story in the first half (with much less drama) followed by the conclusion of the Death Egg story in the second half. It actually would’ve been a lot like the mid-season finale in that way. I didn’t much care for how the mid-season finale turned out. Or wait, maybe I didn’t even have the Death Egg in mind by that point… Yeah, looking over my old notes, the story of fake Big as resolved in the Adventure special was originally planned to be part of the Rouge-returning finale. Man, that would’ve been a boring finale. So everything works out!

I think I was in the middle of saying before…oh, that’s right. This as a second part to the special. My preliminary idea for the Adventure special was little more than “let’s find a way to bring back Chaos 0”. When that idea gave way to the Discord idea, I still had the thought of bringing back the real Chaos bouncing around in the back of my mind. What I was thinking at first was that Discord would, in the end, join Chaos in the Master Emerald (as Knuckles was trying to make happen) so that neither Chaos nor Discord would be alone in the universe. That was the original intended meaning of Tikal’s vague “Chaos…alone…you…”. But, as usual, it was my good brother Yuni Oha who recommended the possibility that Discord be somehow cured, so the Chao could become a sort of mascot for the Rebellion. I loved the idea of giving this episode a real lasting impact for the rest of the series, so I made it work. Of course, Yuni also highly recommended the use of Perfect Chaos and/or Discord, and I had to disappoint on that front. But who knows? It may happen someday. *wink wink*

I keep meaning to go here and getting sidetracked. Chaos himself. I loved the way that scene turned out. He was on-screen for all of five minutes, didn’t say a word, and yet had one of the most compelling character moments I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing in this show. Not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit when I wrote about him stroking the Chao’s head. Is it weird to cry about something you wrote? Anyways, my only real complaint about that scene is that, after all the buildup Discord got, it was completely upstaged by Chaos. Then again, Discord is staying on as a permanent character, and Chaos isn’t, so I had to treat Chaos right for his brief cameo.

That was most recent on my mind, but I suppose there is much else to talk about. Rouge, for example. Every last scene of hers was extremely complicated to write. I had to approach some very dark and mature concepts in a PG (K+) format. How do you talk about someone getting stabbed in a way that makes sense when you’re not allowed to show blood coming out of a person? (I don’t know if that’s actually the rule, but it’s the rule I’ve taken to. There can be blood, it just can’t be seen actively coming out of a body.) And that’s after she got tied to a chair and beaten, after Shadow tried to blow her up, after Infinite and Fang seemingly murdered one another (something obviously went wrong there). So is she dead now? I’d have to say, “probably”. But we’ll all have to wait and see. I suppose I should say the same about Sly.

This episode set up A LOT of future character arcs. Sonic, Tails, Shadow, Knuckles, and Cream all come to mind immediately. I guess that’s the point of a good finale, isn’t it? My point is, I guess…pay attention? I don’t know, I always worry that the hints of foreshadowing I drop go completely unnoticed if I don’t make them super duper obvious, like “hey, this is something that might happen later!”. At least this time, you’ve already had hints of the future character dynamics between Sonic, Shadow, and Tails through the Green Light Riders Season 2 preview. (Man, I published that in May! Now it’s December! I was supposed to be caught up by now!)

Finally think I’m running out of things to say. One interesting note is that this is actually one of the first planned two-parters that didn’t get split from one or need to get split into three. I planned on the separation between this episode and the next from the beginning. Trouble with that is that I knew I would be forcing myself to write an episode-long fight scene, which, as I’ve said in the past, is a major weakness of mine. The discouragement of making one fight last so long might be part of the reason I wasn’t more adamant about balancing my writing with my video game life. I could already tell by the time I stopped writing that this one foe with a very specific skillset was making for a very stagnant fight. Having to juggle so many different allies for the fight did keep things a little bit less predictable on one hand, but also added its own challenge on the other.

Although, quite possibly the hardest part of the episode was managing the logic behind Knuckles, Shadow, Amy, and how they would interact with Rouge, how and why they would leave the fight with Discord, and how it could make sense that they react in just the ways they needed to. It’s what I spent a vast majority of my break time thinking about. And even now, I think it all came out a little forced. Knuckles and Rouge really needed a proper reunion to demonstrate that Knuckles was able to trust her, but that simply didn’t fit. It didn’t make a lot of sense that Amy felt right about leaving the fight with Discord to check on Shadow, and even less that she didn’t say a word when she passed Knuckles. Sonic calmly accepting Knuckles’ plan didn’t make sense either, especially considering his reaction when Tikal voiced the same intent back in the finale of Sonic Adventure. But Discord needed to be close by for Knuckles’ plan to go through, and if Sonic were there with the intent to stop Knuckles, he easily could have. I had no sound justification for getting rid of Sonic in that moment, so having him accept the plan was the only option. I think it was all just a bit of a mess. A mess that did its job wonderfully, mind you. These conclusions for Rouge and Discord’s stories worked out just as I always pictured them, which is a rare accomplishment for me.

And I think I’ve been ranting on for long enough, so I suppose I’ll have to leave you until we meet again for part 2, the finale of season 1! (It’s been a long time coming.)

S1 E17: Doomsday Part 1

After much too long a wait, the first part of the Chaos Project Season 1 Finale has finally arrived! Read it right here!

The time has come for Eggman to enact his most dangerous plan yet. As Rouge faces the danger of delivering his plans, the Rebellion faces their final confrontation with the deadly Discord. Who will survive this dangerous battle? Who won’t? And what does Eggman truly plan to do with the Death Egg?

Preview: Season 1, Episode 17

It’s not a normal posting day, bu this news is too exciting not to share! The first part of the Season 1 finale is finally finished! And it’s coming soon! Real soon, like, this Saturday soon, I promise! In the meantime, please enjoy this preview!

“Retreat! Everyone, get out of here!” Sonic shouts his order from the rooftops of the Station Square Casino District.

On the streets below, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy fight their way out through a swarm of robots. Knuckles shouts up, “We’re pinned down! There’s too many of them!”

“Don’t worry, I’m coming!” Sonic prepares to leap down from the building. But he is stopped as a rock suddenly strikes the side of his head. “Ah! What the–!?” He looks down in the direction the projectile came from.

A small mob of human citizens has gathered. The one in front, presumably the same who threw the rock, shouts through cupped hands, “Get out of here, Rebels!” Another voice agrees, “Yeah, we don’t need your kind of help!” “Let us live in peace!” “Take your war somewhere else!” The shouts quickly meld into a frenzy.

Another rock flies past Sonic’s head as he ducks just in time. He takes his hand away from the spot he was hit before, showing a clear wound left behind. He looks down to the crowd with worry, with fear, ready to shout some sort of objection.

“Sonic!”

Remembering what’s important, he turns his back on the mob and leaps down onto the battlefield on the other side, planting a foot into the robot he lands on. A few quick spinning attacks take out what remains between him and his friends. He grabs an arm each of Knuckles and Amy, and nods his head for Tails to follow. He takes off, pulling them with him at high speed. The only opening in sight is a flight up stairs. They take it without hesitation.

The stairs open into the train station. More robots are at the ready on the upper level, and open fire at the appearance of the Rebels. They never slow down, opting instead to crash through the barred glass front doors into the street outside. They round the first corner in the road.

No matter how many turns they take, there are robots waiting on every corner. A few brave citizens even jeer at them through open windows above.

But one voice is different from the others. “Hey, in here!” A man stands holding open a door down the street, beckoning to them furiously. “Quickly, before they see you!”

Not having much other choice, Sonic and the others follow him in, and he shuts the door firmly behind them.

This is only the beginning. The beginning of Doomsday.

-Until then, remember to live and learn every day!

Review: Season 1, Episode 11

So yeah. This was supposed to be the Sonic Adventure special that I’ve been teasing for far too long. So I started writing said special, and I got about a page and a half in, and then I realized, “the last three episodes in a row have all heavily featured Rouge, and this would be the fourth. I’m also wasting an opportunity to better lead up to this special, and call back to [the episode I’m now reviewing]. Given that the anniversary I’m trying to celebrate is 2 days from now, and there’s absolutely zero chance of getting this done by then, perhaps I should consider fitting another episode in between?” Yeah, that was well over a month ago. Regardless, one iteration of my storyboard for this season did have this episode coming before the special, and I only planned to accelerate the special because I thought I wasn’t going to meet the anniversary date, which happened anyways. So I ended up reverting back to that earlier plan, and Condition Extreme was born in its final form.

I suppose it’s probably for the best that the Sonic X-Treme episode come in as a lead up to the Adventure special. What’s that? You have no idea what I’m talking about? I suppose it’s actually pretty obscure at this point. Sonic X-Treme was supposed to be the first ever proper 3D Sonic game, developed for the Sega Saturn, well before Adventure could appear on the Dreamcast. There’s some conflicting information on exactly what happened during development (it was a nightmare no matter which source you believe), but when the game failed to make its intended Holiday ’96 release window, the entire project ended up getting scrapped. Hey, that story sounds kind of familiar…
Anyways, during the game’s development, there were at least a good 5 different stories written for it. Among those stories, there was one frequently recurring plot element (besides Sonic’s new girlfriend Tiara Boobowski): the DoomVirus. Now that should sound familiar. But it gets better. In these stories, the DoomVirus gets released, and infects Sonic, when the Master Emerald is shattered. I’m sure you see the connection, but I’ll get back to that topic later. Interestingly enough, plot elements relating to the DoomVirus were later repurposed for the Chaos character in Sonic Adventure, and even, to my utter shock, the Deadly Six from Sonic Lost World, nearly 20 years later! But I think that’s enough obscure trivia for now.

On to this episode itself, finally. Fun fact. After deciding to make The Chaos Project a full-length, multi-season series, this was the second episode idea I ever came up with. Given that the first episode idea was shallow and uninteresting and I have no current plans to actually use it, that makes this episode the very earliest look at The Chaos Project anyone will ever have. And…that age probably shows. The original idea was really more of a general concept with two specific scenes attached. The idea was that Knuckles, due to leaving the Master Emerald shattered for too long, would lose his connection to it, and his powers as well. The two attached scenes were him fainting in the opening scene, and him jumping off the cliff to discover that he is unable to glide. The episode remained in that simple, unplanned state, up until about a year and a half ago, when I was doing some reading on the cancelled Sonic X-Treme. When I saw the original concept for the DoomVirus, I knew right then and there that I had my episode. I couldn’t pass up on the connection between the shattering Master Emerald and the incapacitation of characters as a result, and I was downright excited to reference and acknowledge that portion of Sonic history. Throw in the drama of the race for a cure and everyone else becoming infected, and I figured that would be enough to fill the necessary episode length.

But that’s all this episode really ended up feeling like in the end. Filler. Given, that was technically the plan. At the time, the prospect of a multi-season project terrified me because I didn’t believe that I could come up with the requisite number of episodes. These days, I’m more worried about overstuffing my seasons and running out of space to fit in my funnest filler-ish ideas. And you know, it’s not like this episode is without its merits, as I’ve even had a reviewer like it especially. It’s our very first look into Knuckles’ personal history, something we’ve known absolutely nothing about up until now. And the chance to really dig into what happened to the Echidnas post-Perfect Chaos (Knuckles did all the necessary explaining on that point) satisfied what’s been bothering me for years. But one big question still remains. What was the “shadow” that allegedly spread the Doom Virus all those years ago? Anyways, my point is, this episode was necessary for a lot of reasons, but I feel like it just doesn’t stand up very well on its own. But that’s just my opinion.

So, coming up next (hopefully two weeks from now, if all goes well), the long-anticipated Sonic Adventure 20th Anniversary Special. In the meantime, there might be something else to look forward to. I’ve recently opened the “Theatre” page on this website, and not without good reason…

-But until then, remember to…keep an open heart!

S1 E11: Condition Extreme

Or should it be “Condition X-Treme?” A new episode of The Chaos Project is out, celebrating the first first 3D Sonic game you never knew existed! Read it right here!

Decades ago, the last of the Echidnas were wiped out by a mysterious illness. When Knuckles comes down with the very same disease, Sonic and the team must risk everything to save him. Great waves of change are coming. But what can stop the Doom Virus?

Preview: Season 1, Episode 11

No, it’s not the Sonic Adventure special yet. But it is leading up to it. I promise that’ll be coming very soon. But until then, please enjoy what comes before.

???

A child’s eyes look down slowly from the blue sky above, to the mountain of a reddish hue that rises in front, to the base of the mountain at his feet, where an unmarked headstone is planted by a mound of recently-moved earth. The child does nothing, says nothing for quite some time. Finally, he looks to his gloved, spiked hand, which holds a familiar white flower. Then, he begins to speak. “We are both the last.” Slowly, he kneels down, and places the flower gently on the mound. “It shouldn’t have to be that way.” He remains there, kneeling on the ground in a somber silence.

“Knuckles…”

Knuckles turns sharply in the direction of the sound. “Huh!? Who said that?” The sound of his own voice prompts him to look down at his hands, no longer small like a child’s.

The distant feminine voice merely repeats, “Knuckles…”

Knuckles gets up from his spot on the ground, and starts to run in the direction of the voice, through a valley between two mountains. He calls as he goes, “Who’s there!? Who are you!?”

Soon, he exits into an open area. A bridge stretches out over a body of water towards an isolated landmass, where a crumbling stone shrine holds the Master Emerald at its top, in its whole form. The Emerald glows and pulsates brightly. “That shouldn’t be here…” He continues to run, across the bridge, and up the stone steps to the top of the shrine.

Once Knuckles reaches the top, he places a hand on the Emerald. “What’s happening here…?”

“Great danger is coming.”

Knuckles turns around with surprise. Standing there behind him is a familiar Echidna girl dressed in traditional tribal garb. “Tikal?”

Tikal looks down to the ground, as if in shame. “We couldn’t protect you any longer… But you must survive. Great danger is coming.”

“What do you mean? What danger?”

For a moment, Tikal seems to fade in and out of existence. As if not noticing, she continues, “A great calamity, as foretold long ago…  The entire world may be consumed.”

“Consumed by what? I don’t understand!”

As Tikal continues to fade, her words do as well. “… …Chaos… … …alone… … …you.” She disappears completely.

Knuckles reaches out for her. “Wait! Come back!” He turns around. The Master Emerald, too, begins to fade away. “No!” He looks down, and takes a step back in surprise. The ruins beneath his feet, the island it sits on, the ocean far below, the sky all around, all of it begins to give way to empty blackness. One by one, everything around him disappears. In the empty void, he collapses to his knees, staring down into the darkness.

A child’s voice mutters meekly, “I don’t want to be alone…”