Review: Season 0, Episode 18

Alright, so, if this were the real game, the initial story would have ended about 20 seconds earlier, with Blacklight taking Shadow’s hand. Yay, a happy ending, right? Unfortunately, completing the initial story after all seven Emeralds are accounted for would unlock final mode, which begins with Blacklight’s coughing deception. Because, despite my best efforts to entice readers to take his side, we already know where his future leads. But, interestingly enough, I had no intentions of stopping the episode here. From the beginning, I planned on this being the final episode of the arc. Then I finished this “final episode,” and realized that I had written well over ten thousand words. Four thousand tends to be my lower limit. It was one thing, having 8000 word episodes for the past two finales, which could barely make two full episodes if split into two. There was no good splitting point near the middle for Black Cloak, and splitting Speed of Time would have made for a finale episode of almost entirely plot resolution with almost no action. But this time around, I had no such excuses. As much as I want to keep the episode count for this season down as much as possible, it would be silly of me to ask of my readers to sit through such an incredibly long episode. It just so happened to work out that this end point of the initial story and transition to final mode happened just before the middle of those 10,000 words.

Now that’s the end of the episode, let’s go back to the beginning. It’s actually been a long time since I started writing it because of the whole double length problem, but I’ll see what I can remember. Starting with the very first lines, there seems to be something odd going on with Professor Gerald, as if he had not only met Blacklight, but watched him die. We’ve already seen Blacklight’s death during Crisis of Chaos, so obviously that’s not true. Perhaps he’s mistaken Blacklight for someone else? The answer…not for quite some time to come. As for Maria…the idea to have her kidnapped didn’t come to me until I started to think about what to write for Blacklight’s connection about the Robotnik family. I realized that I’d made a plan for the goodbye scene between Shadow and Maria which no longer had any convenient place to be included if I wanted to use the goodbye scene with Gerald as well. I also realized that there were so many plot points throughout this arc which could be resolved far better by keeping Maria in the fold for a while longer. The results turned out quite wonderfully. And…I don’t have much to say, other than that. I suppose this episode was pretty…standard.

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

S0 E18: Project: Shadow

The climactic final battle begins in the newest installment of the Birth of Blacklight Arc. Read it here!

Blacklight stands between Shadow and the girl he never though he would get to see again. “Time and time again you’ve proven to me that you don’t deserve my help!” This time, Blacklight has gone too far. This time, Shadow can’t hold back. “Maria!”

Preview: Season 0, Episode 18

 

“I’m sorry, but that dripping is really starting to bother me.” Just as Blacklight says, Shadow is still slowly dripping wet.

Shadow is caught off-guard by the strange outburst. “Uh–”

“No, please, allow me to dry you off.” He suddenly pulls out the cyan Emerald and shouts, “Chaos Tempest!” He throws forward an upraised hand, and a massive gust of wind instantly begins to blow from behind him. The wind mildly ruffles his spikes, but blows into Shadow so hard that he is thrown into the wall behind him.

In the confusion, Blacklight snaps his fingers, and warps to a spot behind Gerald and Maria. They only have a moment to react before he seizes her with one arm, and snaps them back to his original position.

Disoriented, Shadow gets back up to see Blacklight holding Maria captive, covering her mouth with one hand to muffle her screams, and openly displaying the red Emerald in the other. The look on Shadow’s face quickly moves from one of utter fear, to one of uncontrollable anger. He moves as if to attack, but Blacklight stops him immediately.

“Nah, ah, ah. One wrong move, and Barbie’s perfect hair gets burned off of her scalp.”

Shadow hangs his head in defeat. “Alright. I’ll do whatever you say. Just tell me what you want.”

“My demands are simple. One portal.” He waves around the Emerald to convey his meaning. “And one 60 second head-start.”

“So that’s it? You’re doing this just to keep up your game?”

Blacklight shrugs. “Maybe. I could just end up waiting for you on the other side. Haven’t really decided yet.” Maria looks at Shadow desperately while he speaks. “So, are my terms agreeable?”

Silently, Shadow gives a slow nod, and takes out the yellow Emerald.

“Very good, very good.” He holds his own Emerald forward. “Let’s get started, shall we? Chaos…”

Shadow walks just close enough to put the two Emeralds in close proximity to each other. He mutters almost silently, “Chaos…”

They both finish in entirely different inflections, “Control.” As usual, a space-time rift forms between them.

Blacklight points back to Shadow one last time. “Remember, I’d better not see you out there for 60 seconds. Perhaps a stopwatch would be helpful? Not that I have one.” A lack of response from Shadow seems to irritate him slightly. “Fine, fine, I’ll go.” He gives a little wave. “Toodle-oo.” He gets a firm grip on Maria, and pulls them both into the rift.

Review: Season 0, Episode 17

Alright, lots to talk about this time around. The concept of having Shadow face off against Chaos was one of the earliest ideas I had for this whole arc. The thought has always stood out to me that the events of Sonic Adventure are the only really interesting thing to ever happen to Sonic that Shadow had no chance of being involved with. In the past I had considered making some kind of joke off that, having Shadow not believe that those events actually happened because nothing interesting can happen if he doesn’t know about it. But I decided that this episode was far more important than some vague and not-very-funny joke. The difficulty came with Sunlight (though I suppose I should officially be calling him Blacklight now). In Crisis of Chaos, Blacklight, when shown Mechaos 7.0, the Artificial Perfect Chaos, specifically mentioned having no knowledge or memory of it. So throughout this episode, I had to carefully avoid having him directly interact with either the real one or an active artificial one. As an accidental result, I kind of ended up having Chaos become a real enemy of Shadow. But I certainly have no problem with having that much more backstory I can work with later, so expect Shadow to face off against Chaos once more in the far-distant future. Anyways, I had planned on Artificial Chaos playing a far more important role in this episode than what ended up happening, seeing as its the one Shadow had actually encountered before, and had reason to fear. But Blacklight’s story took precedence, and I found that between him and the real Chaos, anything I did would have seemed dull and boring, as I felt the two actual paragraphs involving them were. Speaking of the real Chaos, my original idea involved Shadow being there to witness Perfect Chaos destroying the Echidna village, and never actually fighting it directly. But between Blacklight’s need to never encounter it, and his need to get another Chaos Emerald on this trip, using Chaos 6 worked out much better. The idea about Shadow’s strife in attempting to use Chaos Frost came fairly-last minute, when I was doing some research into the specifics of how the original Chaos 6 fight worked. I originally planned for Shadow to beat Chaos like normal, but decided that a failure would not only lead to a more emotional climax between Tikal and Chaos, but also make the problem with Artificial Chaos feel a little more personal (though, as I said, that part didn’t work out as planned). That’s in addition to the concerns he now has over his own abilities as compared to Blacklight’s.

Now, on to Tikal. The comparison between her and Maria has existed in my mind…ever since I first played Sonic Adventure, I guess. Having Shadow meet her was as much an inspiration for this episode as having having him face Chaos was. The connection between her dilemma and Shadow’s current one is something that I did have to force a little bit, but I thought it worked out quite well for my purposes. Speaking of said dilemma, Shadow’s conflict over Maria’s promise is the very reason why, last episode, I decided to send Shadow to the future, instead of to the ARK as was the original plan. I can’t say everything, since this has yet to be resolved until next episode, but I knew it would make for a generally better story to have Shadow questioning his ties to humanity for much longer. And just to make it clear before I move on to the next topic, Shadow is actively avoiding interacting with Maria, despite this being his first time actually seeing her since her death. One would certainly expect the opposite reaction, but Shadow is certainly going through a lot right now.

Now, there’s a lot going on behind-the-scenes with Blacklight as well. I mentioned last episode having the intention of showing that there is more to his madness than the simple factors that one might expect. Unmentioned in that episode was his quoting of classical poetry. Specifically, Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” (no I’m not talking about Sonic Boom). Now, his thought process as he said those things is up to the interpretation of the reader. Perhaps Lt. Alfred did give Sunlight a thorough instruction in the literary arts, and he is merely playing off of what he knows. Alternatively, such works of literature might not even exist in this world, and Blacklight simply has the soul of a poet. Either way, it really adds an intellectual level to his already complicated personality. I continued in my attempts to express this intellect throughout this episode, first with his using the French phrase, “Au contraire, mon ami.” The translation would be “On the contrary, my friend.” Next to “Bon appetit” and “Bonjour,” they are probably the most well-known French words in the English language, but that doesn’t prevent it from contributing to his air of intelligence, by knowing at least some slight amount about a foreign language, and one of the languages of romance at that. Additionally, there were two more direct references. The first was when he held the head module of Artificial Chaos, a reference to William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” known as one of the most famous tales of a tragic hero of all time. In particular it was the famous “skull scene” being emulated, in which Prince Hamlet speaks to the skull of an old friend. The head module was the stand-in for the skull. Now, contrary to what many believe, Hamlet never says “To be or not to be” during the skull scene, but I thought that I would add that quote just to make sure that readers understood what I was trying to get across. And besides, it fit well with the theme of contemplation that I was going for. Unlike the previous literary reference, this one was completely unplanned until the moment I realized how much the head module would resemble a skull, which happened while I was describing his holding it. The other reference, also unplanned, was to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” spoken by Blacklight in marveling over his new name. Unlike Hamlet, which I have read quite recently (in fact, I performed as King Claudius), I haven’t seen a word out of The Raven in almost 5 years. But I still remember the language very well, and as I was having Blacklight appreciate his own name, I recalled the lines, “But the Raven…spoke only that one word, as if his soul, in that one word, he did outpour.” I couldn’t not use it after I realized how well it fit. Now, Blacklight not only seems more intellectual in his insanity, but has also been likened to a tragic hero, and to a poet known for extremely dark and depressing writing. Now, on to one last thing.

Shadow and Blacklight’s little “war of Chaos Control” meant a lot more to me than just a cool action sequence. I was unusually particular about the details. That’s because this exact sequence has been hanging on my wall for longer than the Chaos Project has even existed as an idea. I had to be in 5th or 6th grade when I was at my first peak in Sonic obsession, surpassed only now, and only because of this very story. Anyways, I’ve mentioned before on this website how I (and my older brother, he deserves credit too) as a child loved to create my (our) own Sonic stories. They were absolutely nothing cohesive or deep, and most of those ideas have been all but forgotten. But there is one idea which has stood the test of time. It was my very first attempt at an Original Character, something that I didn’t even know was a thing back then. It was made in conjunction with my still-close friend, who contributed a lot of stories, and also indulged me in allowing me to share my own. Anyways, this character was relatively simple, a hedgehog with ice powers who would serve as a rival to Shadow. He was dubbed Frostbite. Sound familiar? That was one of the names that Blacklight has been contemplating throughout this arc. Later, as Frostbite’s backstory was solidified as not a replica of the Ultimate Life Form, but a prototype to it (between the Biolizard and Shadow), he was renamed to Blackice (which I would’ve actually used last episode instead of Frostbite, but I didn’t like the way it looked spelled out, and still don’t like). Blackice persisted for some time, until I described him to my older brother, who loved the idea so much that he embraced it as his own. Of course, he wouldn’t accept it exactly as-is. He didn’t like that he was limited to only ice powers. He asked, “Why not all of the elements?” Of course, a character with generic elemental powers couldn’t have the word “ice” (or “frost”) in his name, and so he was renamed to Nova (another name that may sound familiar), almost entirely for the sake of the “Super Nova” pun. All of this renaming is the source of inspiration for Blacklight’s entire name crisis, which is not only a driving force behind his character development in this arc, but was planned for from the very beginning, as you can see by looking at some of Blacklight’s comments in Crisis of Chaos. Anyways, to continue the story, Nova became a central feature in all of my brother’s best stories, which, at the time, he was better at creating than I was. Perhaps as some sort of attempt to make sure I still felt like the character was mine, I started to draw him using his various powers (I was a 5th grader at the time, and not exactly the best artist even by those standards. I couldn’t even figure out what Shadow’s spikes were supposed to look like from the side), including one picture of him threatening Eggman with icicle spears, a scene I specifically recreated as his introduction in Crisis of Chaos. But my favorite of all the pictures I ever drew, which I still have hanging on my wall to this day, shows him facing off against Shadow in a war of Chaos Control. The picture, as shown below if you’re interested, shows almost exactly the sequence I described in this episode, with the characters appearing in many places at once, neither with a clear advantage.

img003

I know, embarrassing, right? Oh, the things I do for you.

To finish the story, when I had the dream that inspired the Chaos Project 3 or 4 years later, Nova was not involved, as it was meant to be its own, single, inclusive story. But as I began to imagine the context of that story (what became Crisis of Chaos), I couldn’t resist the urge to include my old characters. But, as I wanted it to be my own story unrelated to my brother’s, I decided that Nova had to be completely re-imagined. I was very hesitant to give him any kind of special powers at all beyond Shadow’s, but I came to the conclusion that, if I could come up with a good justification for having those powers, I would keep them. It was another week or two before I decided to link each element to an Emerald, and that was good enough for me. I don’t know if I can really describe an exact inspiration for the change in backstory from Shadow’s prequel to Shadow’s sequel, but I felt that it would make for a better story, especially given the inclusion of Professor Gerald’s son and Maria’s father, an idea that I didn’t want to ignore after I had first thought of it. I chose the new name of Blacklight, partly as a nod towards the original Blackice name, but also to emphasize the balance/contrast of opposites theme which his story centers around. Lastly was the more specific changes made to his personality. Originally, Blackice was intended to have the mild, cool and polite villain personality which I later recycled for King (which, as you may recall, didn’t have the most pleasing results until much later on), with just a hint of passive-aggressive dislike towards Shadow. Once again, I can’t really say for certain what inspired this change, but I think it may have had something to do with Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, as I was actively watching that series at around that time, and, in hindsight, Blacklight seems very closely related to the character of Ray/Vector (yes, I realize that those are both names of Sonic characters, but I promise it’s from Yu-Gi-Oh). And…I suppose that concludes the story. Once all of those ideas were set, I started writing, and the rest is history.

-And until next time, remember that it’s a good idea to turn back once in a while.

Review: Cast by the Light Part 8

This is where the story actually got quite difficult. At this point, the Hero story and Dark story start to contradict each other. Before, there had been minor differences such as those about who won certain fights, but then they each had the same cutscene afterwards anyways, so it was easily fixable. But much larger difference started to show up here, which you almost wouldn’t notice playing the game casually. For example, in the Dark story, Eggman defeats Tails, takes the Emerald, and tells Shadow to deal with Sonic. But in the hero story, Sonic makes it back to the ARK, defeats Shadow, puts the fake Emerald into the Cannon, and makes it back to the outside of the Research Lab just as Tails defeats Eggman. Time wise, it just doesn’t match up. Then, of course, there’s the problem of which Emerald actually makes it into the Cannon (which will be given an in-universe explanation in the next part). In the Dark story, the Cannon doesn’t explode, it just fails to fire and then the colony starts falling. In all technicality, the Dark story actually makes more sense to be what really happened, since the Cannon is in working order and is fired in Shadow the Hedgehog. Problem is, that would make for a terrible story if Tails failed to beat Eggman and then Eggman accomplished exactly what he set out to do. So, Tails beat Eggman, but Eggman still stole what he thought was the real Emerald, which, in the only explanation I could come up with, Sonic used Chaos Control to swap with the real one (and I had to add a few seconds to the timestamp to allow Sonic time to do this in a scene that didn’t exist in the original). Sonic never actually went back to the Cannon himself, allowing the timelines to line up a bit better. The only change left was to have Eggman tell Shadow to deal with Sonic during his fight with Tails instead of after.

As for other changes, the first major one was to add a thought to Shadow’s meeting with Sonic after believing him to be dead. In the original, Shadow first says that he believes Sonic’s Emerald is real, but then almost immediately turns around and accuses that Sonic can’t possibly have used a fake to do what he did. So, I felt it necessary to add a thought in which Shadow specifically realizes that the Emerald isn’t real like he thought it was, allowing for a more smooth, entire thought process to be expressed. Lastly, after Shadow’s statement upon being defeated, I added one last thought, suggesting that Shadow was, at some point, informed by the Professor about a being equal in strength to his own, able to use Chaos Control. This was a lead-in to the Chaos Project, in which I will be exploring the many memories which Shadow has still failed to recall in the present. And that will be all until next time, a special double episode for the Final Story, in which Sonic Adventure 2 reaches its final climax.

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

Review: Premiere Event Part 3

The E-X robot models are each based upon a previous ultra-powerful foe of the hedgehogs, one that once took a super form to defeat. The main point of this was twofold. First it showed how powerful Eggman’s “Chaos Project” (I hope you caught that reference in the first episode) really was, actually able to power such powerful mechs. More importantly though, it showed just how much Sonic and Shadow have grown under Chaos’ teachings, and how strong Chaos is to begin with. Shadow’s mech, the E-4X Blackdevil, was based upon the final boss of Shadow the Hedgehog, Devil Doom. The 4 in the model number refers to Shadow the Hedgehog as the fourth core-series 3D Sonic game, just as the E-1X refers to Sonic Adventure as the first, it being a mechanized Perfect Chaos. For those who don’t recall, “Artificial Chaos” is an enemy which first appeared in Sonic Adventure 2, and made a return for Shadow the Hedgehog. Little is known about about them besides that they were made by Professor Gerald Robotnik in the model of the real Chaos from Sonic Adventure. This is what Eggman was referring to in the previous episode when he mentioned that E-1X was inspired by his grandfather. All that E-1X is is Artificial Chaos brought to a more powerful extent.

As for the E-25X, its point of origin is Season 0. Originally, the plan was for that to be based on Solaris from Sonic ’06 instead, but that wouldn’t make any sense seeing as Eggman’s knowledge of Solaris was erased from existence. The next thought was Dark Gaia from Sonic Unleashed, but there are a few obscure reasons that I decided that wouldn’t work (forget Season 0, you may not learn about that until as late as Season 4). The 25 is another nod to Sonic’s 25th Anniversary.

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

…4, 3, 2, 1!

Episode 1 comes out tomorrow! I promised you some more info, and here it is: a preview of what’s to come. A lot is at stake as Sonic and Tails try to find and stop Eggman. But Eggman, the evil genius that he is, is already ten steps ahead. What is this strange and terrible machine that he has made, that Sonic is so concerned about? Please have a look at this preview of Episode 2 of the Premiere Event.

Eggman stands alone in a small hangar. He appears to be impatient. Behind him sits an odd machine, long in shape. Three spike structures come out of the top towards the back. Long cables stick out of the far back. It hardly even looks like it’s meant to stand up on its own.

Sonic bursts through the roof and lands on the floor right in front of Eggman. “Give it up, Eggman. It’s over.” Tails flutters in after him.

“Over? Well, I suppose we can agree on something then. You’ve been so busy chasing me, I’m sure you haven’t even realized what’s going on.”

Tails demands, “What are you talking about!?”

“Oh, my poor Tails. I thought you were smarter than this. You can’t even recognize a diversion when you see one? As we speak, every major city in the world is under attack. Well, every city except for one.” He points straight downwards. “The invasion has already begun. But I would like to cut you a deal.” He pulls out a small device. “Surrender yourself and your one measly Chaos Emerald to me, and I will enter the code to deactivate every last robot I control. And the fine citizens of Station Square will never have to meet my friend here.” He pats the large machine behind him. “And I’m not talking for now. I’m talking for good. No more robots. Ever. And all you have to do is stay here for a few days, maybe a week or two, and then you’ll be free to return to your friends. Just think about the millions, maybe billions of people who won’t get hurt if you make the right decision. It’s an offer you can’t refuse.” Sonic stares curiously at the strange machine, as if recognizing it somehow. Eggman looks in the same direction. “You know, I am quite fond of this one.”

“And why is that?”

“Hmm… Well, to begin with, I couldn’t have possibly made it without the help of my grandfather. It’s almost as if this connects us. But, more importantly, it plays off of your weakness. And I didn’t even have to come up with it! But enough chatter. We were having a discussion.”

Sonic says nothing for a moment. Tails shouts, “Come on, Sonic! You can’t actually be thinking about this, can you?”

“Stay out of it, fox! This is between Sonic and I.” He turns back to Sonic. “Well then? What is your answer?”

Sonic remains silent a moment more. “…I don’t know what it is that you’re planning. I don’t know what you want me for. What I do know is that you’ve never once kept your word to me. If you expect me to bargain with you after making a reputation like that…then you really are as dumb as you look! Tails, grab that remote!” As Tails makes a grab for the device that Eggman holds, Sonic runs around the strange machine, looking for some sort of weak point.

Before Tails can ever reach his goal, Eggman says, “Very well then,” and presses a single key. The floor instantly parts open beneath the machine, and it plummets back towards earth.

Sonic shouts “No!” Without hesitation, he dives straight into the opening after it.

“Sonic!” Tails dives out after him.

Eggman shakes his head in disapproval, and presses another button to close the hatch. He takes out a communicator. “Orbot, Cubot, set our course back to base. The Hedgehog has been taken care of.” A voice responds briefly, “Yes, Sir.”

And there you  have it. See this episode in its full context on Thursday, June 30th, at 10:30 AM PDT. And remember to read the first episode tomorrow at that time, Sonic’s 25th Anniversary. Hope to see you there!