Review: The Blacklight Takeover

Phew, finally, don’t have to worry about maintaining my own ridiculous canon anymore. It’s time to review the story I wrote in which I was a character filming and talking to other characters who know that they are characters in another story that I film and direct in this story but write in real life. Isn’t comedy so much fun?

It’s difficult to think of exactly what to talk about here, as the whole event was very self-aware, and pretty thoroughly covered its own reason for existing. Have to give a big thank you, of course, to Yuni Oha, not only for briefly hosting my shenanigans on his site, but for actually role-playing the crossover posts on both of our sites with me. Seriously, those posts were made completely spontaneously, practically no pre-planning at all, we just sat down and starting role-playing to see where it would take us. And, you know, he was also the person who encouraged me to run this event in the first place, I was very hesitant about how much work it would take. I also wrote a Fire Emblem themed post for him, so that was fun.

So why did I put this whole thing together? Well…I like Blacklight, in case that wasn’t obvious. I couldn’t have ever asked for a better foil to Shadow’s character (and I didn’t ask, I just made him, so I guess I’d be concerned if that wasn’t the case…), and he’s just fun to write for. I was very sad that I had to kill him off. Sure characters like Zero and Chaos were nice and all, they served their purpose, but I don’t love them the way I love Blacklight. But I often feel like my purpose in creating that character isn’t always fully understood. I’ve even received a review on The Chaos Project suggesting that the reviewer outright disapproved of his design. And I get it. He looks like a standard, low-effort, edgy Shadow recolor OC, ridiculous rainbow color palette and all…because technically, that’s exactly what he is. I wanted an excuse to explain why it was intentionally done that way…and I wanted to show why it works. Of course, only ten people ended up seeing that explanation, but…eh. It was some good fun either way. But anyways, I also just wanted an excuse to use Blacklight again.

The recurring joke about Blacklight’s contract had one element that I was intending to mention, but never really came up. Blacklight was supposed to mention that, as a contracted main character, he is required to appear onscreen at least once each season. He got the 50th episode special in Season 1, and the premiere in Season 2. I can’t keep these cameos of a dead character up forever, though. That’s why I consider this event to be something of a test run. Come Season 3, I’m thinking that I may want to make an entire spin-off story out of Villain Chat, thus fulfilling Blacklight’s nonexistant contract. We’ll see how it goes. There was also meant to be a joke about Blacklight’s phone that I’m thinking I’ll save for said hypothetical story…

Making commentary on the state of the Sonic franchise was fun as well, of course. I share my opinions all the time here on the website, but dissecting it all in a humorous way was a nice change of pace. One of the reasons I was motivated to make this event at all is because I wanted to make this sort of commentary on Sonic Boom at some point, but I feel like the Boom franchise will officially become completely irrelevant once the next Sonic game hits the spotlight, which will be happening very soon. I also made commentary on the Sonic fanbase itself, which I usually tend to avoid, but I think I expressed all my opinions in that area pretty clearly. If your character looks a lot like another Sonic character, that’s fine in my opinion, as long as your character has its own identity. Just draw it yourself. And unless you love your drawing—unless there’s nothing about it you would change—hold off on publishing it to the internet. Keep practicing until you honestly believe you can’t make it any better, and even then don’t stop practicing. That’s how I got up to the level of making respectable replicas of the official artstyle. Seriously, look at where I started…

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“Nova” vs. Shadow, circa 2010

…compared to how I progressed after one year…

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“Official” Nova art, June of 2011

…compared to how I progressed ten years later (admittedly with a 5-ish year break).

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Blacklight Takeover logo, circa last month (technically I made the Shadow art this was based on in August of 2019)

I did it, and you can do it too. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Usually, I like to distance myself from my characters in terms of viewpoint and opinion. But that was definitely not the case during this whole thing. Generally speaking, “Mr. C” always represented me, but then Blacklight was like the little fun-loving devil talking into my left ear, and Shadow was the logical angel on my right. Whenever Shadow made a curt skeptical remark, that was me saying, “I’m perfectly aware of how ridiculous this all is. I’m aware of every single one of my logical inconsistencies and jokes that aren’t likely to go over well.” But Blacklight was there to say, “I don’t care, I think it’s funny.” That goes for Shadow’s prediction of viewership turnout as well. I was perfectly aware that no one was actually going to show up for this thing. (Even though I did reach out to a few of my reviewers to request help, who never actually came. No hard feelings though, I made it work.) I was really hoping for at least one question, though. One question that wasn’t seeded by an alt account from Yuni, anyways. Regardless, even though I was constantly touting that Q&A session I was supposed to be leading up to, I didn’t do this just for that live interaction. I did it for history. And for marketing. I want everyone who comes to this website over the next year and beyond to see that this happened and think, “Wow, that looks like fun. Maybe I should come back to see if they do it again next year.” And even if that doesn’t happen, I hope I could make at least one person out there laugh (besides Yuni, but making him laugh was nice too). My angel and my devil both agree on that.

Oh, yeah, and I guess I wrote a song. That’s a thing…that happened…and it was kind of fun, even if I cringe every time I hear it. Even back when I was a kid ten years ago making “Nova the Hedgehog” (pictured above), I liked for all my fan characters to have theme songs, because that’s just how Sonic works. And “Madness Inside” is actually a direct reinterpretation of “My Name is Nova” (great song title, I know). I was actually only able to remember the first verse and chorus, but that was plenty. I suppose I might as well share the old lyrics, since I’m already sharing cringy stuff anyways. To the same tune…

It started fifty years ago…

And it put on quite a show!

I was created to destroy…

And they used me like a toy!

[Chorus]

My name is Nova, I’m the Ultimate Life Form and my time is now!

Yep, that’s it. That’s all I remembered. Possibly all I ever wrote. The old chorus became what is now the buildup to the chorus, and the new chorus was created from scratch. Note the differing backstories (fifty years instead of forty, and created for very different reasons), hence why I had to rewrite all of the lyrics. But I actually did manage to cram in an even bigger reference in the final product, as “Madness Inside” refers to “A super nova” where the old song said “My name is Nova.” So that was fun. Looking back, while the old lyrics are completely ridiculous, I actually do prefer the old rhyme scheme. The “oh” and “oi” sounds just have a better impact than the “art” and “i” sounds that I ended up using. I would’ve used it the old way if I could, but it just didn’t work. What else can I say about the new song specifically? I crammed in as many references to Shadow songs as I possibly could, to reflect Blacklight’s jealousy, and also the fact that he actually quoted most of those song titles over the course of his life. There was an “All Hail Shadow” that was missed because it was part of the rap portion that I cut out. Why did I write a rap? Because this song was meant to be a bunch of ridiculous fun, and I could totally imagine Blacklight springing at the chance to roast Shadow in a rap battle that Shadow doesn’t even participate in. Why did I cut the rap? Partly for time, partly for sanity, just like Mr. C said. As mediocre as my singing was, I can promise that my rapping is worse. When I sing “Live and Learn,” it sounds pretty okay. But you do not want to hear me trying to sing “Infinite.”I think the rap lyrics of Blacklight’s theme had a pretty good rhythm and flow going, I just don’t trust myself to sing them.  In other news, the very first words to come out of Blacklight’s mouth upon being born, “This feels weird” was intended to be referenced by the opening of the song, “This feeling deep inside my heart.” So…maybe I’ll put out the full version of the song some day. Maybe I’ll actually compose a midi backtrack for it so you don’t have to sit through the cringy acapella next time. I’m still not as skilled in that area as I would like, and it would be one heck of a time sink.

So will there be another Blacklight Takeover next year? I hope so. But we’ll have to see how everything goes.

-And until then…embrace the madness inside.

The Takeover Takeover

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[Shadow]: So…what exactly are we still doing here, now that Blacklight’s in the hospital?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) We have the whole day slotted up, need to do something with it. There’s another interview coming up next, but we’re free until then.

[Shadow]: So…what do we do?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I don’t know. You’re the only host now, what do you want to talk about? What would you be doing if this were the “Shadow the Hedgehog Takeover?”

[Shadow]: (pondering) Hmm… The Shadow the Hedgehog Takeover…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Just, please, no guns.

[Shadow]: What? I don’t do guns anymore.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Well then, what would you do?

[Shadow]: Well…I suppose I’d want to talk about things like…my theme songs…my role in The Chaos Project…my depiction in recent Sonic games…

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) So what you’re saying is…Blacklight really understands you on a deep level, and he’s hosting this event as much for you as he is for himself, if not more? That without his bold creativity, you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy talking about the things that interest you? That he—

[Eggman]: Hey there! Word on the street is that you guys are short by one host.

[Shadow]: Eggman get out of here.

[Eggman]: Oh, and I suppose that you have ideas for segments that will entertain the audience for the rest of the day?

[Shadow]: …Okay, sit down.

[Eggman]: Oh, goody! *clears throat* Welcome, one and all, to the beginning of the first official Dr. Eggman Takeover!

[Audience]: *confused applause*

[Eggman]: For our first segment, we’ll be playing a live game of my favorite pastime, a little game I like to call “Hedgehog Hammer!” Shadow will take to the playing field first.

[Blacklight]: (covered from head to toe in bandages) Ooh, can I play?

[Eggman]: AHHH!

[Shadow]: Stop doing that!

[Blacklight]: Come on, Shadow, you know I’d never pass up the chance for a surprise entrance. And as for you, MJ…didn’t learn your lesson the first time, did you? *cracks knuckles*

[Eggman]: N-no no, message clear, leaving now! *flees from room*

[Shadow]: Hey, are you…alright?

[Blacklight]: Shadow…was that genuine concern I just heard coming out of your mouth?

[Shadow]: I won’t say it again.

[Blacklight]: Fair enough. Yeah, I’m fine, I heal fast. Doctor said I should be able to take off the bandages in an hour or so.

[Shadow]: You know, those bandages make you look just like a Sonic Boom character.

[Blacklight]: (examining bandage-wrapped hand) Huh, you’re right. You think they’d hire me?

[Shadow]: Well, given that Season 2 ended in 2017, and there’s been no hint of a return to the series since then, so they probably wouldn’t even hire Sonic right now… You know, on second thought, go for it.

[Blacklight]: You got it, buddy. Now, let’s get this show back on the road, shall we?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Actually, we’re out of time for this segment.

[Blacklight]: Oh, wait, don’t shut it off yet, I have to remind the audience to leave their questions for the Q&A in the comments—

Caught on Camera: Blacklight’s Phone Call

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[Blacklight]: Hello? Hello, yes?

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Yes, I’d like to purchase some evil ham*, please.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Yes, I know it’s sold out, but this is very important.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Because I’m a celebrity!

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: My name is Blacklight. I’m the Ultimate Life Form.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Never heard of me!? I’m hosting a talk show right now! Right this second!

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: No, I should not be getting back to that, this is much more important!

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Make my own?

[Phone]: … … … … … … … … … … … …

[Blacklight]: Liquid paper? That doesn’t sound safe for consumption…

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Yes, I suppose that would make it more evil.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Look, how about you just get your boss, and tell him that this is a special request from Blacklight? He’ll know who I am.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Dr. Eggman. The guy who makes the evil ham.

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Mike Pollock? No, his name is Ivo Robotnik. From Sonic Boom. At least, I think that’s still his name in that universe…

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Oh, so you’re the celebrity now, Mr. Pollock? Well why haven’t I heard of you?

[Phone]: … … …

[Blacklight]: Fine! I don’t want your stupid ham anyways! *hangs up* The nerve of some people…

[Eggman]: (offscreen) Blacklight is right. You really are no fun.

[Blacklight]: Did someone say my name?


*Yes, evil ham is a real trademarked thing. You’re welcome. https://www.itsamike.com/shop/evilham 

Villain Chat! with Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik

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[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Thank you, thank you, and welcome back to Villain Chat! Now, while we’ll be doing a lot more than just this little talk show today, I thought I’d keep the theme going for now. So let’s kick things right off by introducing our next guest! Shadow, would you like to do the honors?

[Shadow]: It’s Eggman.

[Blacklight]: Oh, come on, you can do better than that! Put a little pizzazz into it! *clears throat* Our next guest, though notoriously difficult to get ahold of for interviews—

[Shadow]: He knocked on our door and begged on his hands and knees to be on the show.

[Blacklight]: *clears throat more forcefully* Our legendary guest has been duking it out as a Sonic villain for near-on thirty years now! He plays by his own rules and conquers the world with his own tools, he is the egg-shaped man with the master plan, the one, the only, Mustache Junior!

[Audience]: *applause*

[Eggman]: Just call me Eggman.

[Blacklight]: Now, you guys remember the rules, right? I don’t want to hear about any sort of Empire versus Rebellion stuff. This is a war-free zone.

[Eggman]: But of course.

[Shadow]: Whatever.

[Blacklight]: Great! So how’re you doing tonight, MJ?

[Eggman]: Quite well, thank you for asking. Always happy for a chance to address my many adoring fans.

[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Well then, let’s get started. Your name has become practically synonymous with the word “evil.” What’s it like, being one of the most famous fictional villains of all time?

[Eggman]: Oh, please, you flatter me. I just do what any good villain would do.

[Shadow]: You mean, mindlessly pursuing the destruction of your adversary without any concern for the fact that you’ve abandoned all other dreams and ideals within your life, unaware that you’ll be left with a meaningless existence if you should ever succeed?

[Eggman]: Ha! If only you knew my true motives… Heh heh heh…

[Blacklight]: Ooh, nice villainous chuckle. I need to work on mine. Whenever I try, I always end up breaking out into complete hysteria.

[Eggman]: Nothing wrong with that. It’s important to take ownership of your own evil laugh.

[Blacklight]: Good point. Ah ha ha ha ha!

[Eggman]: Oh ho ho!

[Blacklight]: AH HA HA HA HA!!

[Eggman]: OH HO HO!!

[Shadow]: What am I doing here…?

[Blacklight]: Oh, don’t be such a sourpuss. Your evil laugh isn’t so bad, you know.

[Shadow]: I do not have an evil laugh.

[Blacklight]: Don’t you? Roll the clip!

[Eggman]: Ooh, that’s a pretty good one, Shadow.

[Shadow]: Why do you have these clips pre-prepared? And WHY IS IT STILL PLAYING!?

[Audience]: *laughter*

[Blacklight]: It goes on for over ten minutes. And I have a wall full of these clips at home. I’ve been spying on you, remember?

[Shadow]: How could I forget…?

[Eggman]: Well, you should probably shut off that clip, now. I might get nightmares if it keeps up much longer…

[Blacklight]: Fine, fine. So let’s move on to our next question, then. As will become the tradition here on Villain Chat, I’d like to talk a little bit about the most recent episode of The Chaos Project. (Better pause what you’re doing and read it now, if you haven’t already.) In this case, that would be the Premiere episode of Season 2, featuring—spoiler alert!—the triumphant return of yours truly.

[Shadow]: For five minutes in an alternate timeline.

[Blacklight]: (gritting teeth) It still counts!

[Eggman]: I had quite a substantial role in this episode as well.

[Blacklight]: Exactly what I was getting ready to ask you about. A spotlight for Eggman has been rather rare in The Chaos Project. How’d it feel to finally stretch your legs again?

[Eggman]: Oh, it was so much more than that. Throughout the show, I’ve always been relegated this dark and serious emperor-of-the-world role, which certainly looks good on me, but it never really lets me show off my fun, humorous side. But for once, in this episode, the situation was so dark and depressing without my influence that I was actually able to provide some comic relief. And relieving it certainly was.

[Shadow]: I also got to drag you, bound and gagged, through the dirt. That was pretty fun.

[Eggman]: Well, sometimes a bit of humiliation is necessary to strike the right comedic balance.

[Blacklight]: Just don’t humiliate yourself too much. You don’t want to end up like Boom Eggman.

[Eggman]: Hey, don’t be so hard on the guy. Have you tried his evil ham?

[Blacklight]: Wait…are you saying that’s an actual thing? Like, that I can buy?

[Eggman]: Well, I believe it’s sold out now, but yes.

[Blacklight]: Hold on, I need to make a phone call.

[Shadow]: Wait, don’t…leave me alone with him…

[Eggman]: So…guess it’s just you and me now, eh, Shadow old buddy?

[Shadow]: …

[Eggman]: So…why don’t you talk about your role in the episode?

[Shadow]: Oh. Well…this episode was certainly a very interesting one for me. Getting to work with Chaos again is always a pleasure, and for this one scene, they actually put three of me all in the same room. One of them was the hero, one of them was the villain, and the third had no idea what was going on. It was fun, but it was also very meaningful. I think it has the potential to take my character into some pretty interesting directions.

[Eggman]: I see. You should ask me a question, now.

[Shadow]: Okay, umm…

[Eggman]: Go on.

[Shadow]: No, I got nothing.

[Eggman]: Blacklight is right. You really are no fun.

[Blacklight]: Did someone say my name?

[Shadow and Eggman]: AHH!!

[Blacklight]: Why, yes, I would love to talk about my role in the episode. During my brief time on screen, I managed to show off a godly level of power never seen previously in Sonic history, wiping out all life on the face of the Earth. Then I manipulated Sonic and Shadow into fighting each other, killed them both anyways, and killed Eggman for good measure.

[Eggman]: Oh yeah. That part wasn’t as much fun…

[Shadow]: And suddenly, I don’t feel like such a monster anymore.

[Blacklight]: Welp, that’s all the time we have for this segment! MJ will have to be leaving now, but he’ll be back for our Q&A session at the end of the day! Don’t forget to leave your questions for him in the comments below!

[Eggman]: Leaving!? But I barely got to answer any questions!

[Blacklight]: Goodbye, Doctor.

[Eggman]: B-but I can stay and co-host with you guys! I can—

[Blacklight]: I said, goodbye, Doctor!

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Blacklight, no, don’t—

Technical Difficulties

[Eggman]: NOOOOOOOO!!!!

Villain Chat! with Shadow the Hedgehog

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[Audience]: *applause*

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

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

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

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

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

[Shadow]: I…don’t follow.

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

[Shadow]: I still don’t follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Audience]: *laughter*

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

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

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

[Shadow]: …

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

[Shadow]: I’m a monster…

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

[Audience]: *awwww*

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

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

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

[Shadow]: That’s true.

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

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

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

[Shadow]: True.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Audience]: *gasps*

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Language!

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

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

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

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

[Blacklight]: …

[Mr. C]: …

[Audience]: …

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

[Shadow]: I was trying to be funny…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Shadow of Time Finale

Well, at this point, listing the exact changes made from the original Shadow the Hedgehog would be a bit…arbitrary. It was…all change. Sure there were some old quotes used under new contexts, and of course Gerald’s message still played, but that’s about the extent of the similarities.

I suppose, right now, the most important thing I ought to talk about is the reason this story exists in the first place, now that the surprise twist is out there in the open. Sonic Boom. Why? Well, anyone who’s watched the full show might have been a little bit confused by one element of the epilogue. Shadow’s castle. You might be thinking, “Didn’t Shadow live in a cave or something?” The cave was just a clever hiding spot he chose for the Eggmen during his plot to destroy the universe in “Eggman the Video Game,” the series finale (and a pretty dang good finale it was). Other than that finale, Shadow’s only appearance in the show was the finale of the previous season, “It Takes a Village to Defeat a Hedgehog,” which you’ve just read a partial novelization of. So throughout the show, no actual indications were given as to where or how he lives. So then you might be wondering, “Where did the castle come from?” Well, personally, I’ll have to admit that I’ve only had the…”pleasure” of playing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Even though I’ve come to the understanding that the two handheld installments are superior in more ways than one, not the least of which is that they’re actually canon to the show while Rise of Lyric isn’t, I’ve never actually played either of them. But a few years back, not long after the launch of Fire and Ice, something was brought to my attention. Please, take a look for yourself.

See that symbol on the left? Look familiar? Here let me show you something else.

Shadow of Time Cover

In the Shadow of Time Cover Art

To my knowledge, Shadow the Hedgehog doesn’t even appear in Fire and Ice. But his presence is unmistakable. The top image shown above depicts the “Gothic Gardens” zone of that game. And that banner, bearing Shadow’s personal insignia hung upside-down, is not just hidden in some obscure place as some sort of cheeky reference. No. It’s plastered in plain sight over and over again throughout the level. If you’ve seen it before, it’s practically impossible to miss. That kind of thing doesn’t happen on accident. So the moment I first saw it, it got the wheels turning. In-universe, why could that possibly be there?

That emblem has appeared only one time. In the heart of the Black Comet. At first, I contemplated the possibility that Sonic Boom was actually a post-apocalyptic world where the Black Arms had taken over all but a few isolated pockets of the world.  But you gotta figure you’d see more evidence than this if that were true. So then, the Black Arms must have been defeated. But then, what would these banners be doing here? They obviously weren’t made by the aliens themselves, it’s not in their typical organic style. They would have to have been put up by someone, someone who knew what they meant, as if in the aliens’ honor. Perhaps, someone who is evil in this universe when they normally wouldn’t be, with an inherent connection to them already there. From there on out, the story practically wrote itself, explaining each and every difference between the main timeline and Boom, and how it could all be drawn back to the war with the Black Arms. In the Shadow of Time was born.

So…what else is there to say? Everything, and I mean everything about this story was built to achieve this eventual goal. It wasn’t originally planned as an April Fools joke, I very much meant it all seriously. If you want to believe this story, then you should never look at Boom the same way again. I only really started writing this story because I wanted a distraction to get past my writer’s block on The Chaos Project, and once that was done and I was back on track, this story fell by the wayside. April Fools was just a fun excuse to tie up loose ends.

So, what’s next? Any more spinoff stories on the horizon? Well…maybe. You could say that there’s…a sort of test run coming up soon. If you’ve looked very, very close around at the sight (which I’m sure no one has) you may have seen a hint I dropped for what’s coming soon on the Chaos Project. But actually, I hereby announce, there’s something else coming before that. I haven’t been touting it very much, but the next episode of The Chaos Project will be our 50th! That’s right! The big five-oh! So, I’m already writing a very special 50th Episode Celebration, where you might just be seeing that test run I mentioned earlier…

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

Part 7: …Thy Name is Ruin

This is no April Fools joke. Two full years after I began writing, the final chapter of Shadow of Time is finally available to read, right here! (Plus a bonus Epilogue!)

“You probably think…that I’ve become the greatest evil you’ve ever faced…don’t you?” The time for the final battle has come. A hero’s name is in ruin. It’s every Hedgehog for himself, Devil Doom take the hindmost. Everything must end in one great Boom.

Untitled

– (Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of an April Fools joke. But you’ll have to read to find out!)

Review: Season 0, Episode 31 (again)

Again, because the numbering system for the episodes was changed. This review is in regards to the episode that came out last week, “The Time of Reckoning Part 1.”

This episode was much more difficult than I was expecting. Every single one of these scenes was something I’ve been planning out for quite some time now, and I guess that was sort of my problem. I prepared so much that I had a hard time getting all the completely separate ideas to fit together. I had to constantly go back and edit scenes, that meditation with Chaos and Shadow was rearranged and added to at least 4 or 5 times over the course of my writing the episode. And now it’s my longest episode ever, even longer than After the Fight, the Forces Special. It’s so long, it’s going to be hard to remember what my thoughts were on the earlier scenes. But I’ll do my best.

It was a last-minute decision to include Cream, but I decided to use this episode as an opportunity to showcase as many characters as physically possible, and I decided she needed a proper introduction before Season 1 anyways. But, no need to worry about her being shoved to the side, she’ll play a more important role in the next episode. Anyways though, I was definitely happy to start a bond between Cheese and Bruno early, because that will be pretty important later. The conversation with Amy and the Commander immediately afterwards probably seemed very random, because it sort of was. But, I wanted to show off a bit of character for the Commander, I wanted to set up for his role in Cream’s plot next episode, and Amy was really just conveniently there for me to do that.

Let’s see…after that, it was my awkward best attempt at finding a good excuse for them to not go into battle right away, so Shadow and Chaos could have their conversation. I was hoping to have the vote come in as a tie, and then have Hero come in to break that tie, but the numbers just didn’t work out that way. I was kind of forcing certain votes as it was. So, I had to come up with some other way to break the tie. I considered accounting for the votes of Cheese and Bruno, but…I thought that would be a bit unfair, since it’s a given that they would vote with their partners, not to mention the fact that for the numbers to work, I would’ve needed them to each vote differently anyways, which would’ve defeated the purpose and brought back the tie.

I almost forgot about the Commander with Hero. That interaction was definitely important, and I probably would’ve led into it a bit better…if Hero could talk. But, him being silent, there’s only so much I can express with just gestures and grunts. The silent point I’m trying to make is that Hero is sort of without a purpose at the moment. He spent a long time searching for Infinite, but it seems his true calling is as a soldier. Perhaps soon, he will figure that out for himself.

Onto Shadow and Chaos. Usually here in Season 0, I write with the intention that you shouldn’t have to know what happened in the premiere, Crisis of Chaos. But in this case, I kept in mind that Chaos and Shadow were pretty close at that point. So, just when it seemed like they were starting to bond, I wanted to make a shock by having them suddenly hate each other. Of course, they were already over that by the end of the episode. One of the disadvantages of bringing Chaos in so late in the arc. Anyways though, I really enjoyed that scene, because it referenced the events of every single one of my previous arcs, which really helped to tie this whole season together in my mind.

So…did you catch any of the references during the “Null Space is leaking” narrative? I mean, Blaze and Classic Sonic were obvious, but anything else? I also referred to Boom Sonic pretty directly, the one that wears a scarf. But then there were the rest, different colors, different outfits, different numbers of spikes. The idea was sort of for you to fill in the blanks for yourself. Who had a different number of spikes? Maybe Sonic from Sonic X? Or any other cartoon, for that matter? Who has a different color of fur? Maybe Scourge? Who has a strange outfit? Maybe Stealth the Hedgehog? If you wanted to, you could even imagine Super Mario poking his head through one of those fissures, since he has a basis for crossing over with the Sonic universe. Now, to be clear, none of this is canon. Except maybe Boom, who I specifically described. But don’t expect the story to start regularly crossing over with Sonic Boom now, let alone the comics.

The fights in this episode probably felt pretty rushed, and that’s because they were. I was feeling completely uninspired when I got to each of the three major action sequences, so I skipped them, choosing to come back to them later. But, as it turned out, by the time I reached the end, I was already well over 9000 words (where I like 6000 to be my high average), and those fights still had to be written. So, I felt obligated to cut them a bit short. Besides, we’ve already seen Infinite fights like 10 different ways, and the same goes for Blacklight fights, so how much could these ones really add? But action wasn’t really the point of this episode anyway. You can think of this as more of the “character finale” while the next and last part is going to be more of the “action and plot finale.” Obviously, both have both, but this is where I wanted all of the character arcs to reach their climax, while next time is where the story itself actually resolves, obviously with a spectacular show, as I hope you’ve come to expect out of this series. I just hope that the next one doesn’t end up looking ridiculously short compared to this one. (Forget I said that. It’s actually 50% longer.)

There’s probably a lot I could say about the many important character interactions that happened thereafter, but honestly, there’s so much that happened, I wouldn’t even know where to start. And honestly, I hope that it all speaks for itself, except for the parts that will get wrapped up next episode, obviously. So…I guess that’s sort of it. So before I go, one last big announcement. One week from today, I’ll be forgoing the usual Preview piece, in favor of publishing the season finale a week early! I just finished writing last night, and as I mentioned above, it’s a big one. Like, really big. Like, more words in this one episode than in all four parts of Crisis of Chaos combined. But I promise, it will be exciting, and terrifying, and heartwarming, and it will bring everything together so that Crisis of Chaos can finally happen.

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

Review: Shadow of Time Parts 4 and 5

I didn’t even realize that I forgot to do the review for the last one, so here’s both, to get us all caught up. But part 4 was a while ago, so I’ll have to see what I can remember.

I’m a little worried about things getting too formulaic here. Shadow plays the Dark mission of a level, meets the hero of said level, and eventually gets rid of the hero before completing the level, followed by a newly-made scene that includes a flashback. Part 5 sort of broke that mold, with its flashback near the beginning and its focus on the boss fight at the end, but Part 4 was definitely a culprit. That’s why I specifically made a sort of joke over the fact that Shadow expected to be interrupted as he was preparing to destroy the ARK defense systems, as he was by Vector. A little later, I decided to cut out the Commander’s flashback, because I wanted to focus on Shadow, and it didn’t really add much to the scene beyond what he was saying anyways. So, why did I decide to have the Commander lose an eye? Well, it’s just a continuation of a preexisting symbol. Just like with the President’s photograph, the Commander’s heterochromatic eyes were already there for me, begging to be used. In the original game, they were there to symbolize the game’s entire theme, the thin line between good and evil, and the duality between them. But this story’s theme is a bit different. By cutting out the Commander’s “good guy” eye, Shadow symbolically cut out the goodness within himself. Additionally, the altered situation made for a great lead-in for the team-up of the Commander with Sonic, since that’s something that came up very suddenly in the original game. There’s also one other reason. Ever heard of Nick Fury? Fury is to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Universe as the Commander is to G.U.N. in Sonic. And Fury has an eyepatch. I couldn’t resist making the comparison. As for Part 5, there isn’t as much to say. It was nice, finally writing the meeting of Shadow and Sonic, even if it was mostly constructed from recycled quotes. Either way, there’s more of that interaction to come.

Now, as usual, a chronicle of specific changes:
1. Change in level order, The ARK/Cosmic Fall/Space Gadget are combined into one, and now come after Air Fleet dark mission. The introduction scene used most closely reflects The ARK.
2. Despite Vector’s presence, the ARK is not collapsing, and Shadow is still destroying Defense Units. Vector has donned a black leather jacket for unknown reasons. (That was very relevant at the time I wrote it, but it’s been a while since then.)
3. The Commander encounters Shadow after the level instead of before. In the encounter, Shadow attacks the Commander and slices his eye. After the encounter, Sonic finds and helps him.
4. In a scene that did not exist before, Shadow meets Black Doom in the Eclipse Cannon control room. As Black Doom forces Shadow to fire the Cannon, Shadow has a flashback to his first encounter with Rouge in Sonic Heroes.
5. In a scene that did not exist before, the President learns that the Eclipse Cannon is targeting the GUN base he occupies, and gives a last goodbye to the workers in the room, before the base is destroyed by the Cannon. Rouge is presumed dead.
6. In a scene that did not exist before, Sonic and the Commander watch from space as the GUN base is destroyed, and decide to go after the Black Comet together. The Commander makes a speech to whoever is left to hear to join them in the fight. Emerald placement has been slightly modified.
7. In a scene that did not exist before, Black Doom takes Shadow to the room where he was first awoken, and agrees to unlock Shadow’s memories. Shadow has a flashback to the very moment he was awoken, and the promise he made to Black Doom at the time.
8. Sonic and Shadow spend some extra time on the Black Comet debating over Shadow’s allegiances.
9. During the battle, Sonic and the Commander argue and interfere with one another.
10. Once Shadow gathers all seven Chaos Emeralds, he spares Sonic’s life. At the last moment, Eggman appears, claiming Shadow to be an Android.

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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