Review: Infinite Possibilities

I normally pre-write these, but I didn’t have any time for that! I considered just waiting until later so I could sound more knowledgeable about the details of Forces (still haven’t played yet), but I decided that honesty was more important. So, let’s talk about all of the methods I used to make you think that I’ve played Forces, even though I haven’t! Do note, this review is for the special episode posted a week ago, not the regular Dawn of Chaos episode from a few days ago.

Of course, there were like a hundred and one quotes and references I could list off to you, but I’ll stick to the most important ones, like the words Sonic was greeted with each time the time loop iterated. “In the darkest of times…the world needs a hero.” These were the very first words that the public ever saw in regards to Forces, serving as the opening to the introduction trailer that aired at the 25th Anniversary party. I, for one, will probably never forget those words. They were the beginning of the roller-coaster ride towards what seems to have become the greatest Sonic narrative seen in the last decade. Also of note, in general, Infinite (and Sonic towards the end) quoted lines from him seen in the trailers, as well as his theme song. This helped (I hope) create the illusion that I actually knew what Infinite’s personality would be like.

Okay, on to bigger stuff. The biggest trouble I had for this episode, both conceptually and in terms of writing, was that I had no idea how Forces would end. I figured the exact content of the game wouldn’t pose too much trouble, but right up until the end I figured that there was about a 50-50 chance of a time-space reset at the end of the game. If that were the case, there would be no telling whether or not Sonic would actually remember Infinite, or any of the events of the game. So I had to work with that possibility in mind. In order to fill the content of the episode and create a sense of drama, without diverging from the Forces theme too much, nor standing too big of a chance of being contradicted by Forces, I decided that a time loop would satisfy all of those needs, while simultaneously reflecting the concept of “Infinite.” That way I only really needed to make one Forces-related event, repeated a bunch of times, and a fight against Infinite was the obvious choice for that, since the the trailers have given us a pretty good idea of his fighting capabilities and style. Of course, I knew right off the bat that I couldn’t just pull Infinite straight from Forces. I had practically no idea who that person under the mask was, and what their motives would be. I did see the sketched cover of the fourth prequel comic as it was leaked in the PDF of the first, so I knew that he wasn’t a character that we’ve seen before. And interviews with Sonic Team officials confirmed pretty resolutely that Infinite was indeed a regular animal character (animoid by my terminology) who was turned into a powerful entity by Eggman and the Phantom Ruby. And if Eggman could do it once, why not do it again? Obviously there’s bound to be some kind of reason why not, but I figure I can address that in the next chronological episode. Point is, I thought it would be a good idea to have Eggman make a new Infinite, so any discrepancy in character or plot (he might have died in Forces) could be easily dismissed. But who would this new Infinite be? Well, this arc was planned to be the return of Blacklight before Forces was even announced. And Blacklight is the kind of character who deserves to come back with a bang. So why not take care of both at once? To be honest, this episode, minus the time loop and Forces tie-ins, was pretty much how I planned to kick this arc off anyways, with a surprise, not-yet-explained return of Blacklight, who immediately takes Sonic out so that the real story can begin. So it almost feels like this Forces thing sort of fell into my lap. Of course, there were plenty of other problems, not the least of which was whether or not Sonic would remember Infinite, as I mentioned earlier. I needed to find a way, a specific behavior and/or statement from Sonic which could be interpreted either as remembering or as not remembering. What I settled on was his “This isn’t possible. Just what are you!?” If Sonic does remember, that would mean that he knows Infinite was defeated long ago, and so is baffled to see him return. If he doesn’t remember, then he is simply surprised at Infinite’s incredible power. Also related is Tails’ line of “Sonic, you can’t outspeed him!” Either he remembers this from last time, or he’s simply reacting in a different way than he did last time. I chose Chaos Control as a way to instigate the time loop because, as we know from Sonic Mania, the Ruby clearly does react in some odd way with the Emeralds, and yet I knew that the odds of Sonic ever using Chaos Control in Forces were practically zero. Seriously, I think the recent “Twitter Takeover” was the first time Roger Craig Smith Sonic has ever said Chaos Control. Episode Shadow puts a bit of a damper on things, but I still figure it’s pretty unlikely that the Emerald will touch the Ruby (assuming that Shadow has an Emerald at all. Please let him have an Emerald). Anyways, there were some other little things. I made sure to avoid having Sonic get hit by any of Infinite’s cubes, because I don’t really know what they would do (though the footage from a while ago from the Infinite vs. Avatar boss fight gives me a general idea).

Let’s see, is there anything else? Even though this episode worked out somewhat naturally with my plans, it certainly wasn’t my first idea. I considered having a sort of flashback episode, taking place during the time of Forces but from the perspective of another character. But without knowing the actual events of Forces, there’s really no character worth telling a story about who isn’t already in the game, and therefore involved in events that I don’t want to contradict. I considered bringing the Custom Hero back into the present-day fold as a character, but I couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t going to die after Forces, or get erased by the time reset or something. Besides, I don’t even know his name! (At this point I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a name, and that really sucks.) But anyways, the conclusion I came to just made the most logistical sense. And…I think that’s all I got until next time!

-So until next time, always see the light of hope shining in the distance…
(Gotta win, or we lose it all…)

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Fist Bump!

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

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

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

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

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

(I still don’t get it.)

Review: Season 0, Episode 5

Heh heh, funny thing… I thought that I had pre-written a review for this episode after I finished writing the episode itself (that would have been back in June, if memory serves)…but if that review ever existed, it’s missing now, likely gone forever. So…let’s see what I can remember.

I mentioned the time skip that happened in the review of the last episode, and, as I said there, all it really did is cut out a lot of story-lacking content intended for the format of a game. It would have been boring and senseless for me to write, and only slightly less boring for you to read, I hope. The meaning of the episode title “In Due Time…” is that this episode served as a major lead-in to the next arc in The Chaos Project, all about what’s going on with Shadow. I guess I should go there next. For some time in this story, I have been emphasizing that Sonic, while still physically capable, has had a recent personality change that has left him less psychologically capable of being a hero, a “fool” in the words of as many characters as I could possibly get to say it. Ever since Roger Craig Smith began voice-acting for Sonic (particularly in Sonic Colors), I have been noticing such a change. I needed Sonic to be a strong and mildly serious character for my series, more like he was in the late-Dreamcast early-Modern era of Shadow the Hedgehog through Sonic and the Black Knight, as performed by voice-actor Jason Griffith (I like Ryan Drummond too, but he didn’t get as serious) . Rather than simply ignore Sonic’s current personality, as many writers would, I decided not only to do something about it, but to use it to my advantage, and give Sonic a real character development arc. I thought, “Who better to snap Sonic out of his recent clouded judgement than the strong and serious character who has been missing from his life for all of this time?” It didn’t take long after that to imagine the scene in question. Funny thing is, that scene wasn’t originally intended for this arc at all, back before I had really planned these game ideas out as a real story. It was more likely going to be in the arc which will provide backstory for Chaos the Hedgehog, which I estimate to be about 14 episodes away at this point. Of course, that arc was supposed to take place a little earlier at that point, so it wouldn’t have been all that bad that way.  Actually, I originally imagined the scene in a grassy, outside area, and Sonic would have been hit into a tree instead of a wall. Anyways, when planning out this story, after putting everything in proper order, I decided very early on that I couldn’t go writing Sonic’s dialogue in the modern style for 20 episodes before he changes, that just wouldn’t have worked for me, and I don’t think that I could’ve been able to keep it up. So I knew that I had to do it now or never, and I chose to do it now. You may or may not have noticed a slight oddity in that Sonic was sent after a Sapphire which was only a very brief time in his own future, which Janice could easily have chosen as the time to recruit Sonic and sent him after it immediately. I still have a couple of excuses for that, either that Janice hadn’t found that Sapphire yet, or that she didn’t need to send him after it because she thought it would be faster to give him the one that she had. Point is, you may have noticed that the scene was kind of spliced in there. I could potentially have avoided such awkwardness by making the event in Sonic’s somewhat distant future instead, and there would have been an interesting layer of story added by having older Shadow suggest that Sonic has been this “fool” for years and years, and something went very wrong because of it. That would have been a nice bit of inspiration for Sonic to make the change. It was a choice between that, and leading into the next arc of this story with Shadow (which wouldn’t have worked if I made it in the far future). And, as mentioned above, I chose the lead-in. Maybe it was a mistake, but there’s no going back now.

What has yet to be discussed is Silver. If I remember correctly, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to do with that scene when I started the episode. I knew that I’d had it mentioned that Silver is “the last Controller,” and I knew I needed to do something to explain that (I originally said that because I needed some real reason as to why Silver is so important). So, I decided that he needed to go to his own future and meet himself. At first I was thinking along the lines of maybe having our Silver watch future Silver perish in some unusual manner which would somehow end the Controller lineage (perhaps by having him die in his Super Form, sort of like how the Avatar State works in Avatar: The Last Airbender). But I decided that that would require me introduce some incredible, indescribably dangerous force which would not only completely overshadow Sonic’s role in this episode, but would likely overshadow the entire arc. And then I’d have to get rid of it within half a chapter and ignore its existence for who-knows-how-many years. Instead, I decided to go with something a little more vague, suggest that something imperative is happening without outright showing it. That way, you don’t necessarily have to know the full story to understand what’s happening, while still leaving the room open for examining this idea in-depth at a later time. So, I had future Silver destroy the Chaos Emeralds, which is just as incredible, just as life-changing to know for our Silver, and still just as well explains why Silver is the last. (Still working towards explaining exactly what the Controller is.) Next came the setting. I quickly thought back to Cast by the Light (Sonic Adventure 2), and how the Master Emerald exists to counter the Chaos Emeralds. If anything has the power to destroy them, it would be that. Angel Island was the logical place to put it. Now all that’s left of note is that Silver not only saw a vision of the near-future within the Master Emerald, but activated its powers with a chant, things that only Knuckles has ever been known to do. Why that’s possible…well, let’s just say it has something to do with the concept of the Controller. But if you aren’t happy with that explanation, let’s put it a different way. Suppose, hypothetically (not actually going to spoil anything here, this is just a thought experiment), that Knuckles really is the last Echidna there is and ever will be. Wouldn’t the Master Emerald have to find a new, non-Echidna protector? Wouldn’t it be best if said protector had a pre-existing connection to Chaos, as Silver does? Not necessarily saying that Silver is the protector, but that he potentially could have the ability to interact with the Emerald. And…that’s everything that I can think of. Wow. I guess I overcompensated for the whole missing review thing. But, as they say…

– Live and learn, every day!

Review : Season 0, Episode 1

First off, I want to be absolutely clear about one thing, even though I’ve already mentioned it several times in the past, in various places. This episode takes place one year before the events of Crisis of Chaos (the premiere event), and the remainder of the season will fill this one year gap. In case you’ve been confused, that is the meaning of Season 0, 0 because it takes place before the first episode. Now, a brief history of the “Season 0” concept. Long before I had ever dreamed up The Chaos Project, my disappointment in the story value of Sonic Unleashed (made even more drastic by Sonic Colors later on) led me to come up with a few Sonic game ideas of my own. Each one was meant to be a game, not a story, and even had its own gameplay gimmicks which are so common in the series. However, the most important thing about these games was their stories, which were primarily meant to address the essential question that I’ve been bringing up in the past few reviews. That was the primary inspiration for the game which is now reinterpreted as “Speed of Time.” Back to the history, since these ideas existed only in my head for multiple years, many of them faded into obscurity. Then, in the winter of 2011, I literally woke up from a dream which inspired me to create what will eventually be the finale arc of The Chaos Project. And as that idea grew, I decided that the concept needed a more proper introduction, which became “Crisis of Chaos.” But in planning for the exact details of that, the thought came to me to bring back the characters which are now known as Blacklight and Chaos, who until then only appeared in those original game ideas. When the time came that I decided to write an actual FanFiction, I knew that couldn’t just bring in those characters without their original intended introductions. And yet, I wouldn’t even consider replacing the premiere event with some random isolated story which wasn’t even intended to be written out. So I came to the perfect compromise. Do the epic premiere first, then go back in time and write out the events that led up to it. So far, I am extremely happy with the results, and I feel that the premiere did exactly enough to hint at the characters’ purposes without spoiling any of Season 0. But then, that’s just my opinion, and its what the readers think that really counts (I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as the story develops and the characters get their proper introductions).

Wow, that dragged on a bit. Now to talk specifically about this episode. The first thing you probably noticed is the “previously” section at the very beginning of the episode. If you have extensive knowledge of all things Sonic, this probably won’t seem that useful to you, but I highly suggest that you read these anyways. They’ll only come up every once in a while, and anything said there can be extremely important to the story, possibly even because of the specific words used, something that I wouldn’t expect anyone to remember perfectly.

This has gone on for long enough, so I’ll make the rest quick. The motobug seen in the first scene was intended to look like the original version from Sonic 1, in case you couldn’t tell. Pretty much everything that happened to Eggman this episode is a lead-in to future plots. In the future please pay close attention to episode titles, as some may be extremely relevant puns, or may otherwise help in analysis and understanding of the episode. Take note of Sonic’s voice and personality, it’s more important than you might expect. The rest, I shall save for next time.

– And until that time comes, remember to live and learn every day.