Review: Season 2, Episode 1

Meant to post this a while ago. Oh well, here it is.

I’ve already brought up a couple of episodes which were among the earliest concepts I ever came up with, but I’m pretty sure this one has officially taken first place in that area. (Although that spot will be taken again very soon.) Following the very earliest plans for what will eventually become the finale, and a few related ideas for Season 0 and Crisis of Chaos, this was perhaps my very first idea for what comes in between. “If this is war is such a problem, why didn’t travel back in time and fix it the first chance they got?” I knew that if I was going to turn this into a series, that question would need to be answered. The way I saw it, there were only two possible options. Either they physically couldn’t, or they realized they shouldn’t. That had to get an episode either way. Either I had to come up with some sort of crazy, universe-bending excuse that would prevent me from ever using time travel for any reason throughout the remainder of the series (which admittedly could’ve made for a halfway decent episode on it’s own, if I’d really put some thought into it), or, I could come up with a time travel plot so ridiculously convoluted and deeply disturbing that no one involved would ever try anything like it again. The second option sounded like the far more interesting of the two, and was the far less restrictive. Certainly, Sonic and Shadow would never want to try time travel again, but now, if I ever need them to, they still can.

I was generally intending to leave it up in the air exactly when this episode would have to take place, but it became obvious pretty quickly that it wouldn’t make sense for them to do it if they didn’t do it as soon as they possibly could—the moment they obtained their second Emerald. That actually turned out to be a huge contributing factor towards the decision to do the Rouge-focused story arc for Season 1. I…to be totally honest…was actually legitimately planning on killing off Rouge. Maybe. Maybe not till a bit later. I don’t know. But I figured that the death of a main character would be the absolute best possible justification for attempting to fix things through time travel. It seemed like the, uhh…anime thing to do. And that’s not an insult, mind you. But anyways, I eventually decided a couple of things. One, I didn’t have the gall to kill off a canon character so early in the game. And two, this episode would be the most powerful if the timeline were brought back exactly the way it was—actually having Rouge die, and then be magically brought back because of accidental butterfly-effect would cheapen the effect. So, I settled for a nod to that scrapped concept, and a near-death into medical miracle. Besides, I still have at least a couple of plans for Rouge yet to come. And hey, maybe there were some unintended side-effects of injecting her with Chao blood that I haven’t come up with yet.

So, back on track, I had a framework in mind for an episode where they would try time travel and fail miserably, but that still left the question of content. Going back to Crisis of Chaos was really the only choice for time travel destination, given the context, and, believe it or not, I actually wrote the original Crisis of Chaos scene, where Sonic leaves Eggman alone in hangar bay, with the idea in mind that a time traveller from the future would eventually show up right at that moment. Fulfilling that plan was immensely satisfying. But that was only a small piece. What situation could possibly be traumatic enough to make a person like Sonic completely disavow the miracle cure-all that is time travel? I figured I’d have to go as traumatic as it gets by having him witness his own death. I originally had a slightly more gruesome death in mind, but I decided to dial it back just a bit. Still a PG story, after all. That change required introducing a new concept in a very odd way. Blacklight being able to drain life through physical contact was teased at the end of the 50th episode special, but I was not intending that to become relevant any time soon. But I thought that dropping the reader into the middle of what seems like it could have easily been the finale of a Season that never happened, with plot points and a history completely foreign, would not only be an interesting twist, but might also help the reader identify a little better with the completely nonsensically overwhelming nature of Sonic’s experiences, and so better understand why Sonic makes a rule against time travel in the end.

That was the first half. Actually, I originally had this in mind as a two-parter that would break as the Future Sonic appears, but I decided against that…mostly because this Season is crammed a little bit full, and didn’t really need the filler. I figured keeping it all focused and fast-paced would help avoid confusion, anyways, which is important for an episode like this. But anyways, why Future Sonic? Well, the whole, “go back in time, change the future for the worse, realize your mistake and fix it” plot certainly served my purposes, but on it’s own, it felt a bit…predictable. And, as you ought to know by now, an episode with a halfway decent plot but no character relevance just isn’t enough for me. I wanted something more, at very least, an extra layer of complexity that would really get the characters thinking hard about what’s going on. In other words, I needed to layer up the anti-time travel excuses. Sonic failing once was certainly traumatic. But him realizing that he would be destined to fail over and over again, countless dozens or hundreds of times, could completely transform his view of what is or isn’t possible. That’s basically the gist of it. Of course, that wasn’t twisty enough for me, so I decided that I had to make things even more complicated with the “kill your past self” suggestion. The idea there was to add an element of distrust—and if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Actually, I meant for Future Sonic to be the antagonist. The intention was for Present Sonic to be so overwhelmed by what’s going on that he would, at first, give in to the self-killing plan, but in the moment, would realize that he couldn’t go through with it, suddenly making an enemy of Future Sonic who will not allow this to go wrong. Seeing himself driven to that madness was supposed to be the nail in the coffin for the establishment of the no time travel rule. But I just…couldn’t justify getting our Sonic to agree to murder, even if it is only himself that he’s killing. Meanwhile, Shadow ended up being right smack in the middle of a character arc that, while seeming obvious given the episodes that needed to lead up to this one, I did not realize would be happening during the early planning phases for the episode. I certainly couldn’t ignore what he was going through, but my original plans for the episode really only had him there out of the necessity of a second Chaos-Controller. So, a lot of relatively last-minute changes resulted. I had it in mind that an interaction with Chaos had potential for an interesting story to tell, and when it came down to it, I decided that Shadow needed it more. If this had turned out to be a two-parter that focuses on Sonic as originally planned, I probably would’ve included a subplot about Sonic wanting to try to save Chaos, or bring him back to the present with them, but, once again, I settled for a quick nod to that scrapped concept instead.

Given the shifting focus to Shadow, turning Future Shadow into the true antagonist seemed like the natural way to go. I decided to keep the suggested mistrust of Future Sonic as a sort red herring instead. Anyways, Shadow seeing himself go so bad felt like a very sensible reason for him to finally start making his way towards becoming a nice person again. But wait! Shadow was a total jerk in the Team Sonic Racing special! Umm…oops. My goal in doing that was to show how much crazy stuff was going to happen in the Season finale, and I did not even consider the fact that I might be stepping on my own toes for this episode. But that turned out to be a beautiful inspiration. The idea of Past, Present, Future, and Original Sonic and Shadow all existing during the same moment in time was crazy enough, but mixing and matching them for who goes home in the end was exactly the sort of embracing of the insanity that I wanted out of this episode. Having Past Shadow suddenly confronted with two diametrically opposed versions of his future self was an obvious place to go from there, and fits in so unbelievably well with the central theme of his character. And…I suppose that just about covers the important points.

So, what does this episode mean for the rest of the season? Well…not much actually. This was as much a part three to last season’s finale as it was anything else. I like the idea of connecting one Season to the next so directly. (Little bit of inspiration from Star Trek there, which liked to have two-part episodes split up as the finale of one season and the premiere of the next.) But anyways, there was a little bit of effort made in a few places. One of my goals for Season 2 is to have emotions expressed a little more physically, and a little less verbally. Show, don’t tell, you know? I feel like that tends to be one of my bigger shortcomings as a writer, trying a little too hard to explain what people are feeling. Having Sonic give Tails an actual hug was a big step in that direction. That really shouldn’t feel like such a weird thing to do, but it did anyways. I guess I’m just worried people might interpret it the wrong way? Next episode probably isn’t going to help that either… Regardless, I do want to sell that brotherly bond between Sonic and Tails a bit harder this season. Let’s just say, it’ll become pretty important. I didn’t exactly embrace it for this episode, but I believe I’ve also mentioned that I hope to go a little more in the direction of an A-plot B-plot for more episodes in the coming season. Hopefully, that’ll allow me to do a little more exploring of the world and characters without mandating that additional dramatic plots be attached to all of them. I don’t know, I’ll see how it goes.

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

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!!

S2 E1: Time Heals All Wounds

[Blacklight]: So we meet again! And the Blacklight takeover begins! Make sure you start by reading the latest episode of The Chaos Project, available right here!

“We have a way…to fix…all of this.” Time travel—the end-all solution. As Sonic and Shadow take to the past to stop the war from ever happening, they must learn that change is rarely so easy. Can Rouge’s life really be saved?

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!

 

S1 E18: Doomsday Part 2

No preview this time! I wanted to get this episode out as soon as possible, so you can read it right now, right here!

Eggman has obtained all seven Chaos Emeralds. Rouge is dying. And the Death Egg is ready to launch. It’s a race against time as the Rebellion makes one last desperate struggle against a cataclysmic disaster.

Oh, and apparently it’s the website’s anniversary again today. That was totally unplanned, but it’s pretty fitting, I suppose.

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?

Review: Season 1, Episode 15

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Season 2 Preview – Team Sonic Racing Special

Bum bum bummmm! Bet you weren’t expecting a Team Sonic Racing special to have such a big impact on the series, were you? Well, there’s a reason I chose to make this a Season 2 preview episode, instead of just fitting it in where we are in Season 1. Much like with my Sonic Forces special, the deadline crept up on me just a little bit too quickly, but I knew this episode had to go here, and nowhere else.

Really, this was a Riders episode with a few tiny references to other racing games. Team Sonic Racing was more my excuse to write this episode than it was the inspiration for it. And…having now played and completed Team Sonic Racing, I’ll admit that this episode would have gone down much differently had I known what I’d have to work with. If this were Forces, I would proceed to write a second, more direct Special Episode that actually is based on TSR. But this is not Forces. It’s a random racing spin-off, and one episode spent celebrating it is probably more than it deserves. But don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I’ll be properly canonizing this game eventually, just as I did Riders. It just won’t be today.

Working with the Babylon Rogues was a dream. They’re such well-defined characters that their dialogue practically wrote itself. And yet, their motivations are so ambiguous that I was able to do practically whatever I wanted with them. And the Babylon history is much-needed fresh element of Sonic world-building when it often feels like the Echidnas are the only bit of real history I ever have to work with. Naturally, I tried to make storytelling and character building as accurate to the original Riders games as possible, with the unintended side-effect of basically turning this episode into a plot for Zero Gravity 2. Giving Jet a reconstructed Ark of the Cosmos was a bit of a last-minute decision, and the whole “rebuilding Babylon Garden” thing was even more last-minute than that. The original plan was simply to have Jet in it for the money and protection from Eggman. But I felt like in the circumstances I provided, with such a heated clash of wills against Sonic, that simply wasn’t a strong enough character drive.

On one hand, it was a bit of a shame that Wave and especially Storm were so left out in favor of a focus on Jet, but on the other hand, the fact that the three are usually a package deal made exploring Jet as an individual far more interesting to me. So, will they appear again? Definitely. Will it be soon? …Probably not. Honestly, no plans until Season 6 at the earliest. But you never know.

Now I suppose it’s time to talk about the evil robot in the room. Metal Sonic. After receiving my first question from a reader almost a year ago about what my plans were with Metal Sonic, following his surprise appearance at the end of S1 E1, it felt so good to finally address it. Or at least, start to. Big plans this season for Metal Sonic, for Omega, for Sonic, even for Tails. But, I’m quite literally getting ahead of myself. Need to wrap things up with Rouge and the Anti-Rebellion first. This episode was packed with out-of-context spoilers for the finale of Season 1 and the premiere of Season 2, just to anger you and amuse me.

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