A REAL Preview: Sonic Adventure Special Episode (S1 E12)

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That’s right, folks. It’s happening again. I’ve poured all my heart and soul into making another sprite animation, this one in the true style of a trailer for the epic event that’s coming. Please, take a look.

 

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Review: Season 1, Episode 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Season 1, Episode 11

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

???

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

“Knuckles…”

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

The distant feminine voice merely repeats, “Knuckles…”

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

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

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

“Great danger is coming.”

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

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

“What do you mean? What danger?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Season 0, Episode 8

And it’s done! The mid-season finale of The Chaos Project Season 1! Yes, that means this season’s going to be quite a bit shorter than the last, but Season 0 was always supposed to be a special case. And actually, I’m really liking this 16-episode format so far, it gives the perfect amount of focus on the episodes that matter, while leaving just enough room for the occasional fun filler episode. But, on to the episode itself.

Obviously, I’ve been waiting to do this one for a long time, it being a turning point for the season and all. But that really only applies to the second half of the episode, as the event that would lead up to Rouge leaving was always left vague in my plans. It was by a series of coincidences that I ended up going with the 4th of July date. During early planning for this Season, this episode was actually going to be in early June, but about four episodes in, I decided to accelerate my plans for Sonic’s Birthday episode so that I could get Big in a bit earlier, which meant this one had to be at the end of June or later. I decided early July would leave a good amount of time between this episode and the last, and the 4th, obviously, was the first early July number that came to mind. Before I discarded the date for that reason, it occurred to me that I could have some irony, having the Rebellion take such a big loss on a day of independence. It was around that time, on an entirely separate train of thought, that the timeline of Sonic Forces came to mind. Six months Sonic was out of commission, plus three days for Eggman to execute his big Sun plan, applied to the start date of this new war, January 1st, makes July 4th. It was too perfect. So I went all-out with the Empire Day thing from there. Even so, the details of the big fight weren’t set until well after I had written this episode’s opening scene. Which means, Sonic’s fight with Infinite on top of the balloon floats was actually inspired by my own showcase of a balloon float on the news report at the beginning. I had only done that for something that makes sense to see, I was only planning fireworks at first, but you obviously wouldn’t be able to see those before the actual event. Of course, I was also inspired by a Spider-Man movie, which had a similar balloon float fight scene that I always thought was really cool as a kid. I think I captured that kind of action really well, even for the relatively short fight sequence.

I should, of course, mention the fact that I’m perfectly aware 4th of July is a specifically American holiday. There’s not much reason for anyone else in the world to celebrate it, and there’s even less reason for it to be celebrated in the Sonic universe. That’s why I had to be very careful in the way I phrased things. It was never stated in any way that the date had any significance beyond what Eggman had given it. But if you should happen to celebrate the holiday, then you’re very likely to agree with Sonic’s sentiment of it making you sick, just for considerably different reasons.

And…I guess that’s all I really have to say. Surprisingly short for such a long and important episode. From here, I may be going on a brief holiday/mid-season break, but then again, there’s a certain date I’m trying to make for a special episode coming soon, so episodes may actually be coming out even more rapidly than usual. We’ll have to wait and see.

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

Review: Season 1, Episode 7

This episode was…not bad. The writing process dragged on a bit, but it was enjoyable really digging into Sonic’s emotions again. I almost cried for him in the beginning, but by the end I was cheering at him getting his spunk back. So theoretically that means I wrote it pretty well. But then again, I really didn’t care for the pacing as a whole. Nothing really happened for almost the entire episode, and then suddenly, there’s a brief bout of action, and then the episode ends rather suddenly, leaving the episode rather short by comparison to the rest of this season. This is the first time since episode one that I’ve used a Heavy solely for the purpose of adding action to an episode that otherwise wouldn’t have any. Not that it’s a bad thing, it made me really thank myself for bringing them in in the first place, but it does sort of emphasize the fact that this is a more boring episode.

I suppose I should mention, I intend for this to be the final significant impact of Chaos’ death, at least for a good long time. Three out of the last seven episodes felt a bit excessive, but I needed to deal with all of this while it’s still fresh (relatively speaking). So now, it’s on to other things when it comes to character development for Sonic and Shadow. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Big. If we’re being honest, he’s probably my single least favorite character in the entire Sonic franchise…at least as he’s been written (and played) in the games thus far. I’m still amused by the memes, though. But anyways, given that fact, I was very unsure of how to treat him in this series. I considered ignoring him entirely. I considered killing him off early on so I wouldn’t have to deal with him. I considered giving him a brief spotlight, and then sending him on his way so I wouldn’t have to keep dealing with him. Technically speaking, several of those options are still available. But anyways, I came to he conclusion that, if I was going to use him, as I ended up doing for the first time back in Crisis of Chaos, I would need to do something to elevate his character, if only a little bit. So I began the process back then.

Everyone sees Big as a bit slow (in more than one sense), so I thought it would be both refreshing and amusing if Chaos, someone who hadn’t yet met him, instead saw him as wise and misunderstood. This episode was simply a continuation of that. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t just Chaos’ unusual perspective that made it seem that way. Big spends his days isolated in the wilderness, like a guru or something, discovering the true meaning of life. Through the lens of fishing. The results, I think, are kind of hilarious, but also open up some interesting opportunities, such as those seen in this episode, making it more than worthwhile to include him, at least for the time being. What’s that you say? Malicious smile? I don’t know about any malicious smile. Big definitely isn’t an evil mastermind in disguise. Definitely. Probably. Well, actually… Wait and see.

And…I think that’s all I have to say on the episode. But there’s also the sprite animation to talk about. The reason why I made it? Well…it’s the same reason I made that official trailer a while back, the same reason I got into making sprites, the same reason I started writing The Chaos Project in the first place. I like to try new things. But what inspired me to do it now in particular? Well, I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while. But I decided a long time ago that frame-by-frame animation was more work than I was willing to do, and that Adobe Flash Builder was way outside of my price range. But I realized another option quite recently, while watching my Physics Professor give a lecture in class, which involved several animated objects on the PowerPoint slides. And I realized, if I can tell animated gif sprites to move across the screen in precise ways, that would be all I needed to create a quality animation. So yes, the video you’ve seen is actually a recording of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. There were a couple of small limitations for this method, but honestly, it worked even better than I’d hoped. I mean, if it works, right? Generally speaking, I was also waiting to come across a scene to write which could have some powerful visual impact based on setting and dialogue, without the need for excessive movement, because that would be harder to animate. There are a couple of options I’ve considered from earlier in the series, which…I may consider retroactively animating in the future. But I’m still a writer at heart, so animations like these are going to remain very rare in the future. Obviously, there are some external inspirations for this as well. Sprite animations wouldn’t even be on my mind if it weren’t for great fan works I’ve seen over the years, like Super Mario Bros. Z, Sonic RPG, and the recently-revived Final Fantasy Sonic X. I suppose I should mention before I go, a kind reviewer (thanks as always, Heat Salamance) gave “props to everyone involved”. I apologize for the confusion, I realize that I did say “our website” on the original advertisement for this video, but this was actually a solo project. My brother did review the video after it was done, but he wasn’t involved with the creative process or anything. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. And…I think that’s all I have to say for now.

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

Review: Season 1, Episode 3

So I had just started writing this episode, when suddenly, I realized…”WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING!? Why am I cross-canon shipping Rouge the Bat with freaking Sly Cooper!?” Okay, so one, it’s not shipping, because they hate each other’s guts, and they never even kissed on-screen. Two, this was not, I repeat, NOT Sly Cooper. For those not aware, Sly Cooper is the titular character of a videogame franchise that released exclusively for the PlayStation family of systems. In those games, Sly is a thieving anthropomorphic raccoon born to a family with a history of thieving going back many generations. He wears a mostly blue outfit, and fights with his signature hooked cane. Given that information, it would be all too easy to misinterpret my Sly, who I’ll call Sylvester to make things easier, as being the very same person. So here’s how it went. Planning for this episode began with the simple desire to show why Rouge considers herself to be both a thief and a spy. The obvious answer to me was that she was once a thief, but her life was changed by an offer from GUN. I quickly decided that giving her a partner in crime, whom she would have to betray, would be a great way to add depth and drama to the episode. By adding a romantic relationship to the mix, I though it might subtly demonstrate the origin of Rouge’s flirtatious nature. The choice of a Raccoon for the other thief was beyond obvious. Calling him “Sly” wasn’t quite so obvious, but I’d hardly call it a stretch. At that point, I realized that a raccoon thief named Sly sounded oddly familiar. I’ve never actually owned a Sly game, but a friend of mine did, so I saw the first one played a fair amount. Anyways, I realized it was a thing, so I had two choices. I could start over from scratch, or I could keep rolling with the reference. I decided on the latter. So I added the blue outfit and the staff, and Sylvester was born.

There are a few notable differences, the largest being that Sly Cooper isn’t actually named Sylvester (as far as I know) and that Sylvester doesn’t have the last name Cooper. Additionally, Sly wears a blue beret and grey pants, which were notably missing from Sylvester’s outfit. Sylvester’s staff does not have a hook like Sly’s cane. That being said, Sylvester may have quoted Sly once or twice. His personality is intentionally very similar…with the whole criminally unstable thing added on top. I’d say the obsessiveness was also added, but…Sly actually was pretty obsessive in his games. And of course, Sly didn’t turn out to be a villain. Point is, it’s a reference. A parody, one might say. But absolutely not the same person. It’s still a little awkward that I put him in a relationship with a canon character, but I just had to keep reminding myself that he was never the point of the episode, just a character there to help tell Rouge’s story.

So, on to Rouge. I must say, minus the weirdness I’ve already talked about, I was really looking forward to this episode. My very first attempt at delving neck-deep backwards into Sonic lore, to tell the stories that were missed…unless you count the Forces Special, but that was recent enough that I wouldn’t call it “neck-deep backwards”. It’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to write this story in the first place. Maybe that’s why this is now among one of the fastest episode I’ve ever written. But why Rouge? I want to say that I mentioned something along these lines before, though I don’t really know when. I find Rouge to be a very…unique character, not necessarily in terms of her design or personality, but simply in simply in her role in the Sonic franchise. Rouge is one of the only characters introduced in the modern series who isn’t a completely special, one-of-a-kind person. I know that sounds like the opposite of what I just said, but think about it. Silver, Blaze, Infinite, Omega, even my own characters like Zero, Blacklight, and Chaos, they’re all very, very…specific characters. The only ones more like Rouge are Cream and Big, and they’re…well, not quite as interesting to work with. Rouge is just a normal person in the Sonic world, and yet she still manages to play an interesting role, and has a sort of mystery about her. I thought that made her the perfect candidate for my first backstory episode.

I already explained some of the basics behind planning for this episode, but there was one very important goal beyond Rouge herself. But I suppose it still began with her. When I knew I’d be telling a story about her joining GUN, I knew I needed to explain why. The answer seemed fairly obvious. She’s a jewel thief. And they needed seven very special jewels in their possession. As shown in Adventure 2, they absolutely were collecting Chaos Emeralds by that time, as they had three of them waiting in storage, not counting the one that Rouge was carrying with her (the very same one that kicked off this episode). In a general sense, it should be obvious why they would do that. But they’ve never done it before. So what got them started? I realized at that moment that I had the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between Adventure 1 and Adventure 2. And that became my mission for this episode. After all, the Perfect Chaos incident certainly seems to be the first time Sonic ever really went public. All of a sudden, these world-ending scenarios are now happening in the public eye. And of course, GUN would’ve known about that. Realizing the destructive potential of the Chaos Emeralds, locking them away would easily become priority one. So they needed Rouge. Gap officially bridged. Of course, there were a few extra references thrown in just to bind things that much tighter. Of course, there’s the blue Emerald that Rouge apparently holds onto all the way through Adventure 2. The three reports she receives at the end line up with the three she later has to retrieve from Security Hall in SA2, as well as the extra one in Tails’ “safe hands,” which he received due to his actions in Adventure 1, as you might recall. Then she was ordered to investigate the Master Emerald, which how her story was started off at the very beginning of SA2. And of course, the Commander flips out when Eggman steals the information he later uses to wake up Shadow.

I suppose that leads me into my next topic. This is the first indication that the Commander was ever present before the events of Shadow the Hedgehog. But we’ll most certainly be seeing more of him in this timeframe. Ever wonder why GUN went after Sonic when their leader knew very well about Shadow? We’ll certainly go over that, eventually. It may also have something to do with that soldier at the end, Mr. J. Naka. That name ring a bell? Well it shouldn’t. Necessarily. We’ll likely be seeing more of him in the future, though. Think of this as a sneak preview.

Something else I forgot to mention. Rouge’s flashback outfit was heavily inspired by an official concept art sketch recently revealed on Sonic social media channels (thank you, Aaron Webber). Here, I think I can just show you.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FSonic%2Fposts%2F10156220547112418&width=500

The third photo shown is a prototype design for Rouge, where she looks quite a bit younger. This is what I was referencing when describing her design. And that’s all I got for now.

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

 

Opinionated Review: Sonic Forces

Yeah, I’ve been holding out on this for a while, even though it’s the whole reason I started these reviews in the first place. This game…was something. And I’m honestly not going to be sure what something means until I’ve finished writing here. When I first finished the game, I was unsure of what to think, and while my opinions have solidified a little more since then, I was hoping to have a better idea by now. So here we go—even I don’t know where.

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Review: Season 0, Episode 24

So…here we are again. Five months later, and it’s all the same. So what am I going to say this time? That I, for the fourth time in a row, wrote a single finale episode that ended up being so long that I had to split it in two? Or perhaps that I cut out all but the most bare essentials, and still ended up with something that dragged on for far too long? Well, all of the above. But let’s start from the beginning. I was originally going to do one combined review for both parts of this episode, but that review, like the episode itself, ended up being way too long. So here’s part one instead.

I suppose I should clear up that Chaos blacked out and lost the Emerald in the last episode because Eggman used the device to control him. I tried to infer it, but it wasn’t very clear. Sonic’s concerns about his leadership skills, and subsequent reference to Zero and the Speed of Time arc, wasn’t something I was originally thinking about. It came up when I wanted to have everyone blame themselves for something to create a sense of hopelessness, and it was the best I could come up with for Sonic. I inserted the resolution to that concern in a conversation that I had been planning for a bit longer. Over the summer, I had my first real conversation with my older brother (fanfic writer Yuni Oha) about my story. He’s known about it since last December, but that was the first time we ever really talked about it. And when I brought up my headcanon on Sonic as the Controller, he brought up a point that I couldn’t ignore. While the concept of a “Chosen One” can add a certain sense of importance to the events of a story, and he agreed that my logic behind applying this concept to Sonic was sound, he warned that Chosen One implies destiny, and destiny discredits the actions and decisions of the One in question. If Sonic was really destined at birth to save the world, that means that every time he ever saved the world, it’s because he was destined to instead of because he has a kind and heroic heart. You can’t call him a hero for braving danger, because he never had a choice in the matter. I had never thought of it that way before. So I realized that I had to address it as soon as possible. And although actions speak louder than words, I decided that words were still quite important in this case. Words from someone wise, who would know exactly why it isn’t true. So I built the sunrise scene around that concept, to confirm once and for all that Sonic is as much in charge of his own actions as he ever was, even going further to say that he would still be a hero even without his abilities. Regardless, I absolutely love how that scene turned out. Besides being some wonderful and much-needed bonding between Sonic and Chaos, it also set up Lumis as a villain with much more depth, something that I was afraid I couldn’t get to work. And with that, I also disproved another common grievance with fanfiction. It is often said that fanfiction writers ruin the characters by making all of them share the writer’s opinions. Here I presented a clear difference in opinion between Sonic and Chaos, where even though Sonic agrees to protect the Balance, he disagrees on the best way maintain it. He believes some joy and some sorrow to be better than neither at all. And…I’m inclined to agree with him. I avoided the trap of using an OC to convert everyone to my opinions, by putting him against my opinions, while still making him a good person whose ideals can be respected. At least, that’s what I hope happened. This kind of thing is up to the reader.

From then through the end of part one, pretty much everything felt a bit obligatory, only existing to progress the story from middle to end, with one exception. The scene where Sonic goes into Lumis’ orb of light was, once again, meant to add depth to Lumis’ character, concluding for certain that he is not evil, but misguided. Anything else for part 1? There was that little bit Lumis said about Sonic’s pain of abandonment. That probably means something. Probably. Rewinding a bit, Eggman’s face being carved into the mountain is something that also happened in Sonic CD. Still trying to keep up those classic references. I’m glad that I got something to work out for the fake Emeralds, because I had no idea what I was going to do with them when I first brought the idea back up. Umm…the “backwards eclipse” marking the Ritual of Illumination is supposed to be what was pictured on the cover art for this arc, but that art was removed for Sonic Forces, so you can only see it in the Image Gallery now. The way Sonic tried to recharge the Chaos Emeralds was a direct callback to Sonic Adventure, where Perfect Chaos drained the negative energy of the Emeralds, but Sonic still went Super. This was an intentional subversion. Sonic proceeded to reference when Knuckles stopped the Emeralds in Adventure 2, as well as the Gaia Temples of Sonic Unleashed. And I’m pretty sure that’s everything for part 1. But…

This next part was meant to be part of the part 2 review, but that one even on its own was way too long, so I’m transferring it here. This is something that I’ve forgotten to do in every review up until now. That would be the game idea. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, every arc I write seems to be less and less like a game, but technically the underlying concept is still there…even though this one isn’t really all that thought out. This one wouldn’t have multiple stories or anything, but it would have, akin to Sonic 06, a number of “amigo” characters. In general, the game would focus on a “tag-team” mechanic, not unlike Sonic Forces. However, in this case, it would behave more like the classic Sonic games (or Shadow the Hedgehog), in that your partner would be controlled by an AI, unless a second player picks up another remote. For the most part, this team would be Sonic as the leader, with some other character following, though on certain occasions in the story, it would be Tails and Knuckles, or Knuckles and Amy, or something else like that. Different combinations of characters have different abilities and special Team Attacks, and in the post-game (as well as a few special parts of the story) you would be able to pick-and-choose both team members, some of which have access to secrets and areas which the mandated team for the first playthrough wouldn’t be able to reach. There would be a few exceptions where you don’t have a teammate, such as the tutorial Starry Hill Zone, and the first boss fight against Chaos. Although…thinking about it now, it would be pretty awesome if Chaos would be the teammate for that fight, creating a player vs. player battle. I don’t know, it’s not like I’m actually making the game. But anyways, that’s all for the basics of that. Except…I guess I never really came up with a title. Perhaps…Sonic Chaos? Oh wait, that’s already a Game Gear title. So…Sonic Chaos 2? Nope, that would be Sonic Triple Trouble. Maybe something more about the tag-team mechanic? How about Sonic Duo? Sonic Doubles? Oh, I got it! Sonic Double Trouble, make it spiritually linked to a Sonic Chaos sequel. But no, those titles are all lame. Yeesh, this is harder than I thought. Sonic Shining, reflect the concepts of Light? No, I don’t want this to sound like a horror film. Sonic Synergy, back on the teamwork concept? No, don’t want his to be confused with Sonic Boom. Sonic Fellowship…eh, Sonic Balance sounds lame, Sonic Moonstone is too vague…maybe I should just stick with Double Trouble. I don’t really know. But that’s all I have on that right now, so I suppose that wraps up this review of part 1.

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

Sonic Forces: A Few Words

With less than one week remaining until this game comes out, I thought that I would take a moment to really think about what the game is promising and how likely it is to deliver, as compared to my initial thoughts from the game’s first announcement. Yeesh, what did I even say when this game was first announced? Let’s see here… I think it will be easiest to start with my thoughts on gameplay.

“…I was hopeful that [the Adventure-like narrative] would mean the gameplay could be closer to Adventure era as well. Although, they start with “team that brought you Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations,” which are pretty far off from adventure-style gameplay. ”

“…this was confirmed as a game in the style of Sonic Unleashed, Colors, and Generations. If they think that they can get an Adventure lover like myself to love that formula, I’m glad to see them try.”

“As for the 2D…meh. If the 3D is good, then having the 2D certainly won’t ruin the game, it will just mean having less time enjoying the maximum that the game has to offer.”

I’m going to be honest here, and I’m sorry to anyone who I might offend. I don’t like Boost formula. Personally, I find it’s tendency towards straight hallways to be intrinsically inferior to the open, yet still high-speed, exploration that the Adventure formula encourages. In recent times I’ve come to understand that Sonic Generations, Seaside Hill in particular, finds a pretty good balance. And I respect that. Of course, Sonic Generations as a whole was still plagued by far too much 2D as compared to 3D, and I don’t like that. But the point is, I’m not really in the position to analyze Forces’ gameplay as compared to other Boost games. In terms of control, I can understand the desire to have full control during quickstep sections (I hate those too), rather than being locked into using only the quickstep buttons, and I understand that as a flaw of this game compared to Generations, in addition to the missing drift ability and automatic turning. But any more specific than that, and it all seems kind of the same to me. Rather than complain about it, I’ve learned to accept that that’s what I’m getting. Based on my understanding, these specifics of the Boost formula is the primary source of legitimate dislike for this game. If the only thing worth complaining about in this game is something that I can’t realistically complain about…does that mean that this actually is the perfect Modern Sonic game for me? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s a place to start. Moving on…

“Anyways, the existence of Classic Sonic pretty much removes any possible chance of other characters being involved.”

“I just find it so unfortunate, and it stands in the way of so many possible gameplay, and more importantly, story opportunities.”

Did I say that? Well, I was very wrong. It’s actually kind of insane thinking of how I went from “No possible chance of good story” to “Best story in over a decade.” I never would have thought that Classic Sonic and good story could go together in the same sentence, but here I am. It’s very hard for me to figure out what to say right now, because I feel like they’ve just made it so self-demonstrative. Obviously, the chance always exists that the full details of the game will shatter these Ruby Illusions of mine, and the story will turn out to be horribly anticlimactic. But…even if we’ve somehow already seen parts of every single cutscene in the game, the sum total will still be better than Colors. And Generations. And Mania. I’ll hold judgement on Lost World, because even though its story sucked too, it at least had some very good character going for it. What was I saying again? Oh, right. Somehow, Sonic Team has done the impossible by bringing back Classic Sonic, yet maintaining a cohesive story that doesn’t depend on his presence. I mean, imagine Sonic Rush, except that even though it is thoroughly explained how and why Blaze is there, a full, complex and enriching story existed separately from or only indirectly related to that explanation. It isn’t the obvious thing to do. It isn’t easy, either. But the results could be and are spectacular. And that’s all just the story. The other thing I mentioned was characters. Now, I’ll admit. It’s still kind of ridiculous that the playable characters of this game are Sonic, Sonic, and the opposite of Sonic. The Avatar (still waiting on that canon name, and no, Corvin the Bird doesn’t count) is slow, blandly-designed, and lacking in character. And even though I’m still not entirely sure how good of an idea the create-a-character deal is for Sonic…I’m okay with it. I see the appeal, not just for fanfic creators like myself, but for any child out there who dreams about going on an adventure with Sonic. It’s clear that the partner dynamic is going to be more than a little emphasized. On one hand, they’re really giving Tails the shaft, even going far enough to call the Avatar Sonic’s new sidekick. On the other hand, it’s opening the opportunity for a completely new, role-reversal type dynamic between Tails and Classic Sonic. What’s that? A character dynamic for Classic Sonic!? It’s actually happening! By the way, anyone else notice how Tails is taller and more mature than Classic Sonic, and yet he’s still considerably younger?

So, what’s the conclusion? Is this the perfect Modern Sonic game? No. Take the control and level design of Sonic Generations, flip the 2D-3D ratio the other way around, further expound on the intricacies of the level design, and slap on the story and creativity of Forces, and there you would have it. As Forces stands, it needs more 3D, more intricate level design, and more…something. Since the Avatar already plays so differently from Sonic, I feel like more creativity in that department would be appreciated. The addition of another playable character with more specific abilities could do it. As much as I would like that, I’m perfectly happy with how the characters are presently being used. To be totally honest, I don’t think we even need as many characters as we have in this game, as long as the characters used have variety, play important roles, and don’t get periodically forgotten. Back on topic, there is one very particular word I can use to describe my feeling about this entire game. Content. No, not like game content, like I am feeling content. Is it perfect? No. But accepting the fact that the gameplay will never be perfect for me, I derive serious satisfaction from almost everything else.

-So before I say goodbye to you, one more last fist bump!

Opinionated Review: Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)

As I mentioned on the footnote of Shadow of Time, I published it to celebrate something very special to me. For the first time in my near-15 year experience with Sonic games, I can finally call myself an expert at one of them. I completed Shadow the Hedgehog’s “Expert Mode” (with 90 lives to spare at that. Thanks, chicken gun.), a feat which I assume most players never even get the chance to attempt. (Just a few days later, I finally got the seventh Chaos Emerald and experienced the final boss for the first time in Sonic Heroes. This has been a really good week for me.) Anyways, in working towards getting an A-rank on every single mission of the game, I got an excellent chance to really analyze its core gameplay elements, while, writing for Shadow of Time, I’ve gotten an equally appropriate chance to analyze the story. Normally, I wouldn’t want to review a game that I first started playing over a decade ago, but these are special circumstances. Additionally, with Mania done and Forces on the way, I am interested in establishing a baseline of comparison between classic games, Adventure-style games, and modern games. Now, since this game came out 12 years ago, it would be unfair of me to compare it directly to modern games (unlike Sonic Mania, which came out last month). So, most comparisons will be made to Sonic Heroes and other Adventure-era games. So, without further ado, let us begin.
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