Opinion Piece: Sonic the Hedgehog (2019 Movie)

Gee, just what we needed. Another laughable Sonic installment with no subtitle to identify it by. All jokes aside, hi. It’s been a while. My last opinion piece of any kind was my Sonic Forces review, well over a year ago. Come to think of it, and speaking of missing subtitles, I guess I was supposed to write a Sonic ’06 review somewhere along the way? Did I never publish that? I’ll look into it.

But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for my take on the Sonic Movie. So I’ll warn you right now. If you’re looking for someone to share your rage and disgust with, you’ve come to the wrong place, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of that elsewhere. I intend to look at this from as objective of a standpoint as possible. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

Obviously, no one’s seen the actual movie yet, so this is more about my opinions on the trailer than on the movie as a whole. So let’s start from the beginning. Sonic is fast. Even I, as a writer, have a hard time making sure that fact remains important, so I’d call it a good thing that this is what they decide on as the very first thing to show the audience. Human cop. So what? I prefer Sonic’s world with a human population, or at very least, I prefer the games that do so. Given the human inclusion, filming the movie in live action makes sense enough to me. Would I have preferred a completely animated film? Yeah, probably. And it certainly would’ve alleviated a lot of the movie’s fundamental issues as I currently see them. But they’re trying to sell a movie to the masses, and an animated movie about a videogame character just isn’t going to sell as well in that context.

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References. I approve of references. It’s the one easy way to appease fans in a way that makes no impact on the general audience. Not sure why they went with “Green Hills” instead of “Green Hill,” but that’s hardly worthy of complaint. And if you’re going to complain that Green Hill Zone is overused, you can leave now. Obviously, this isn’t Green Hill Zone, visually, musically, or otherwise, it’s just a reference to a memorable location. And speaking of references, sound effects. The use of classic sound effects for rings, for spindashing and jumping, goes a long way in helping me personally connect this movie to the franchise that I grew up with. And it’s not just Classic, either. I could be mistaken, but I believe at about 1:32 in the trailer, as a harpoon is being shot into the truck, a jump sound effect out of the 2000’s era games can be heard.

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Apparently, Sonic now generates electricity when he runs, which sticks to his quills even after they fall off. This is a fact that is constantly brought up throughout the trailer. Not exactly consistent with Sonic’s representation in the games, but I’d call it well within creative liberty. If you’ve ever had experience with “The Flash,” a DC Comics character, you may recall that this speedster does the same thing. In fact, The Flash learns to harness this power to throw lightning at his opponents. And while its not exactly good realistic physics, there is a certain understandable logic to the idea that static electricity could build up on someone who runs fast enough as they rub against particles in the air. But that might not even be the answer here. As demonstrated a bit later, this could very well be the origin story to Eggman’s use of animals to power his robots, a central element to the original Sonic games. It could be that, by this movie’s explanation, all animals from Sonic’s world (or planet, or dimension, or whatever they’re going with, more on that later) generate this natural energy regardless of whether or not they can run fast, and Eggman learns to use this over the course of the movie. After all, even combined with a sonic boom, static electricity would hardly be enough on its own to knock out power to a whole quadrant of a country. It would seem there’s more going on than just that.

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Alright, this was bound to happen eventually. Let’s talk design. To put it briefly…I’m very okay with this. To be fair, I did choose what is perhaps the most flattering shot in the entire trailer to put above. But I think that shot looks pretty darn good, actually. Sure, this new design doesn’t look flattering from every angle. And sure, I dislike that his stomach is a different color than his muzzle. And sure, I’d rather him have gloves to cover up those freaky hedgehog fingers. And sure, I don’t get why he isn’t wearing socks. But other than that…I don’t see much problem with this design. It looks like Sonic in live action. I’ve seen plenty of attempts to “fix” this design, but a vast majority of them end up looking even worse to me. Lets rewind a bit. A few months ago (and I’m actually kind of surprised that I never commented on it at the time. In fact, this movie’s been announced since before the Chaos Project even started, yet I don’t think I’ve ever one mentioned it on the site. Anyways…) some concept images for Sonic’s style in this movie were leaked out. Here, look for yourself.

Like anyone else, I was a bit shocked at first glance. But, to be totally honest, it was that depiction on the bottom left, which may look a bit familiar to some people, which really sold me on the viability of Sonic’s separated-eye, human-like proportions style. And since then…they made it even better. There is the issue of the stomach color, but other than that, I think they improved the shape of the eyes and muzzle, decreased the awkward prominence of the eyebrows, and just overall improved the body shape. Main point, the redesign is certainly shocking at first glance, but there’s nothing about it that makes it “not Sonic”. I certainly prefer this over certain fan interpretations I’ve seen of how Sonic might look in live action that came out before this movie was ever a thing.

Look familiar?

Gotta go fast. There’s the other thing about this particular scene in the trailer. Cringeworthy? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh hysterically. Combine that with Sonic pretending to be a cat when discovered by a human, and the possible universe-crossing implications that the trailer gives off, and you’ve got yourself a nice pile of Sonic X references. And as I said before, I like references, especially when they’re in regards to my personal favorite non-canon interpretation of Sonic. I suppose we should also start talking about the voice here. I like it. It’s clear that they’re going for a much younger interpretation of Sonic, one who can be called a “child,” I’d guess perhaps 13 or 14. And, given that, this new voice works very well. It remains to be seen whether or not I prefer it to Roger Craig Smith, but I think that the potential is there. A bit hard to compare either way. Moving on…

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Next up, Eggman. Or perhaps I should be calling him Robotnik? I actually find it rather odd that they never confirmed one way or the other in the trailer. But as the trailer goes on to show, it seems that this entire movie may be dedicated to the transformation of an eccentric scientist into the evil genius we now know as Eggman, so a name change to go along with that would certainly be fitting. How do I feel about him? Obviously, he doesn’t look much like Eggman in the picture above. But the end of the trailer shows how that changes. As I said, they’re starting him off as a normal, if eccentric, scientist, and I don’t mind that they put their own design to that. He’s practically a different person. But if we actually get to see this person become the Eggman we know, I don’t see that as anything but a good thing. At least he has a mustache. But what about his character? Well…to be honest, a see personally see a little bit too much…Jim Carrey (the actor for the character) in it. It’s hard to explain exactly, but I just felt like a proper Eggman needs to be just a bit more threatening. Maybe threatening isn’t the word, because I felt like even Sonic Boom got it just a bit better. Hard to explain. But regardless, if that part of his personality is brought in more strongly over the course of the movie, I see no problem with it.

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Alright, so let’s talk about the plot. It feels like very typical Hollywood-type reinterpretation stuff. Such and such magical or otherworldly creature winds up in a world that is otherwise identical to our own, the police/government/whatever wants to kill/study/whatever it, but the friendly human character teams up with the creature to get them back wherever they came from so they can be safe again. There’s obviously some sort of save-the-world plot going on behind that, but that’s nothing new. “Nothing new” seems to describe this movie in a lot of ways, actually. So there, putting it flat out, I’m not excited for this plot in the slightest. I don’t see anything wrong with it, you might even call it “tried and true,” but it doesn’t garner any interest from me. That’s probably the closest thing to hate you’ll be getting out of me today.

Okay, let’s see here, what else? Umm…Eggman’s got himself some boss mechs, that’s cool…wants to study Sonic, talked about that already…ooh, and he gets his tiny glasses for a hot second. He didn’t even have those at the end when he looked transformed into the proper Eggman. Then…Eggman licks Sonic’s quill, gets shocked, more eccentricity, then…ooh, here’s something.

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Warp Rings! That’s what I’m talking about! For some strange reason, I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how “that’s not what rings do in Sonic games,” or, even worse, “you may be surprised to know that Warp Rings are actually from the comics where people could use them to teleport between Zones.” Oof, that one made me groan. I’m not sure how people missed that Warp Rings are are a recurring element that played pretty important roles in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and even the recently acclaimed Sonic Mania. A giant floating ring that teleports you to Special Stages. They’re all over the place. They’re the origin of the even-more-frequent Goal Ring. Rings are not a single-purpose item in Sonic games! But what they are is an unexplored plot element. 20 years of 3D Sonic history, and the only mention of any kind of ring in a story was an offhanded reference to the regular gold rings in Sonic Generations. But now here this movie goes, apparently putting a story behind a gameplay element of the Classic games that even the real games haven’t dared venture into. That not even I have dared yet venture into. I’m very impressed, and I’m interested to see where they go with it. Could this be how Sonic got to this planet in the first place? Is our Earth actually just another Special Stage?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the whole “planet” thing. People seem to be taking it to mean that Sonic is a space alien, and…sure? I mean, it could be. But it seems much more likely to me that it refers to the typical Sonic X explanation of Sonic’s world being different from Earth (which is a planet that is not the planet that Sonic comes from). Either way, at least they’ll be putting an explanation to it, instead of randomly deciding that Sonic sometimes has humans and sometimes doesn’t.

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And look at this! We have another example of Sonic pretending to be The Flash as he goes into “Flashtime,” slowing the world around him to a pace that even “the speed of sound” wouldn’t be nearly enough to justify. Either Sonic grows exponentially faster as the movie goes on, or they just randomly decided to get him moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light in one scene only. One is inclined to believe the second thing I said. But, on the brighter side, we have a nice nod to Classic Sonic’s idle animation. And I can’t deny, it looks like a pretty epic scene that shows off a lot of personality as well.

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And finally, here’s that end clip of Eggman I kept talking about. Goggles on bald forehead, red outfit, long wiry mustache, this is plenty close enough to the Eggman we know. If they spend the movie building up to this, I’m good with that. But wait…that background…is he in Mushroom Hill Zone!?!? Probably not that specifically. But that would be a very satisfying reference if it was.

So, final conclusion? This movie’s not exactly my dream come true. In fact, it might even be described as a train wreck. But that won’t stop me from seeing it, and, most likely, enjoying every minute of it. There’s some weird stuff mixing around, but it can’t exactly be called “bad” just yet. So, in the surprisingly apt closing words of the trailer…

-“It smells like body spray and an old ham sandwich.”

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S1 E7: The Bigger They Come

The episode that inspired the sprite animation is finally available to read! Learn the full story, right here!

A special day has come around once again. But this time, it’s an unhappy Birthday that awaits our hero. Sonic is always running. And there’s only one person in the world who can show him how to slow down.

Review: Season 0, Episode 30

Not again! I already mentioned that about 3/4 of this episode were supposed to be part of the last, but that one ran long. And I did have something new in mind to accommodate this episode’s new structure. And that STILL didn’t work, because this one ran long as well. This time, I had to give in and tag on a couple thousand extra words, and it still wasn’t enough. This episode originally had the title that will now be held by the next, because this one was supposed to focus on a topic that I didn’t even get to start. (Here’s a hint for you: The next episode will be called “Don’t Believe.”) That ending was just the beginning. I even had to rearrange some of the scenes to have the more dramatic ending.

Beyond all of that, I’m not sure that I have a whole lot to say about this episode. I suppose I should start with the story of Heavy King. In case it wasn’t clear, yes, I’m implying that King is the very same Egg Robo who served as an antagonist in Knuckles’ story in Sonic & Knuckles. Back when I used to play that game a lot as a kid, I would play Knuckles’ story A LOT more than Sonic’s, and I wasn’t nearly good enough to get very far in either of them. So I had no idea what this thing that isn’t Eggman was that I was fighting, because I’d never seen it as an enemy in Sky Sanctuary. In fact, I don’t think I ever figured that out until Sonic Generations came around, that was my first experience with the zone. I was probably a little bit disappointed when I learned that this thing was nothing more than a random enemy robot trying to take Eggman’s place. But there was still a latent curiosity about the character, which is probably what inspired me to make this unusual headcanon. At least, I’ve never seen it theorized by anyone else. I’m trying to establish Heavy King as a sort of rival to Knuckles, which is perfectly reasonable seeing as Knuckles had an exclusive fight against him in Mania, but now it’s a lot more personal than that. Other characters are going to have their own Heavy rivals as well, I might go a bit into Omega’s rivalry with Heavy Gunner next episode, but King is the important one for the purposes of this story, hence why he got this little backstory. Eventually, I hope to give similar backstories to each of the Heavies, basic explanations as to why the Ruby changed them each the way it did, though plans are tentative at best. Again, Gunner is currently the closest to a complete idea.

I want to talk about Infinite, but I’m not quite sure what I can say at this point. It’s not altogether clear what the future has in store for him. What is clear is that right now, he’s at his absolute lowest. And the Phantom Ruby matters more to him than anything else.

I’m trying hard to reference not just as many of my own arcs as possible, but as much of the entire Sonic history as well, for this penultimate arc of Season 0. Hence, a few things. I chose Star Light Zone for a location, because I wanted a location from the classic games that wouldn’t automatically look like a reference to Forces, Generations, or Mania, and for a place that seems like it could be of some strategic value to conquer, Star Light seemed like the obvious choice. On the opposite side of things, we have Mephiles. I never much considered what Replicas Blacklight would have during the planning phases for this arc, and when the time came two episodes ago and I only wanted three to face off against the three characters, Shadow seemed like the obvious one to exclude, to avoid confusion and unnecessary dialogue. I was fine just leaving it that way at first, but in the scene where Blacklight is pondering over what to conquer, I realized that three wasn’t really enough compared to Eggman’s five Heavies. I considered bringing Shadow back as a Replica without any fanfare, but I was also wanting to do something that would set him apart from Infinite. I remembered how I had Blacklight mention learning about Mephiles from the Chaos Emeralds, and also thought about how much people were talking before the release of Forces about Mephiles needing to be a part of Infinite’s villain squad, or even Infinite being Mephiles himself. Most importantly, I was thinking about a scene for the next couple of episodes which may have included Mephiles as a Replica anyways, with or without this introduction. So I decided with was better.

Also worth mentioning here is the Apotos ice cream man. Come on, you all remember him, right? The guy who gave Chip his name? Do you remember how he talked? I was still fairly young when I first played Unleashed, and I didn’t know much about voice actors, but when that man first started speaking, I looked around, excited to see Knuckles. But there was no Knuckles. Just a man voiced by Dan Green, the same talented actor who was voicing Knuckles at the time. Ironically enough, he also voiced Mephiles. Back on topic though, when I realized that I was sending Knuckles into the city from Unleashed, I couldn’t not make this joke, them realizing that they have the same voice. Just to drive it in, I likened the ice cream recipe to the Master Emerald, making them seem not just similar in voice, but in character as well. I was mistakenly thinking he was from Spagonia, not Apotos, so I actually ended up changing which city they were going to just to accommodate this scene. It’s not like this was totally out of the blue, I wanted him and Amy to have some kind of character moment between the battles, and this seemed like the obvious one to do.

I also mentioned the references to my own arcs. Obviously, it isn’t necessary to force references to Birth of Blacklight, since Blacklight just being here is doing that for me. To a lesser extent, the same is true about Dawn of Chaos, but I still have to have it discussed as long as Chaos himself isn’t here. But I did make sure in this episode to call back to Shadow’s time as the Black Cloak, as well as how Sonic changed all the way back in Speed of Time. The continuation from there to here isn’t as obvious, so I need to make sure that this arc properly seems like the culmination of everything that’s happened so far. It’s a bit of a shame that Sonic isn’t here for this big conclusion, but now that Sonic is training with Chaos, he’s all caught up with Crisis of Chaos, he just doesn’t need anything more. Shadow, on the other hand, is a bit farther off than I’d hoped by this point. That conversation with Tails before Mephiles showed up wasn’t totally planned, but was absolutely vital in getting him where he needs to be. The key moment can’t come until very close to the end, but he needs to go from “I don’t want to be here” to “I want to be a better person,” over the course of just a few episodes, which is really asking a lot. I planned on Birth of Blacklight being that transition point I need, but I ended up taking it way too far there (as you might have been able to tell by Shadow’s statement in the last episode about being weak and gullible at the time), and I ended up having to dial it back this time, removing that transition, which I’m really kicking myself for right about now. I just hope that I can make up for it with one powerful moment. And by the way, as to Sonic, no need to worry about him not being here. You’ll be seeing him again very soon.

-And 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: After the Fight

Wow. This was an undertaking. Where do I even begin? From the beginning, I suppose. Our starting point would be the moment I finished Infinite Possibilities, the first Sonic Forces special. At that point, I had literally no idea what would come next. I had the basic, rudimentary outline of what the next episode arc would be, and made that first special purely as a way to kick off that arc while simultaneously celebrating the release of Forces. I wrote it knowing that I would eventually have to explain how Blacklight became Infinite, but I figured, based on the “Phantom Ruby prototype” concept (which I only knew about because of the beta release of the mobile game, Sonic Forces Speed Battle) that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to explain later that Eggman simply made another fake, if all else failed.

Unrelated to that train of thought, a little while after the game came out, I was accidentally spoiled by a single name. “Null Space.” I had no idea what it was, or what its role was in the game (though the spoiler in question did contain the statement that it was underused in the plot). I knew at that moment that I had found my connection between Sonic Forces and my story. From the beginning, back when I wrote the final episode of the Birth of Blacklight arc, I specifically left one very vague statement at the end. “He is safely hidden away.” On one hand, I actually hadn’t yet put the thought into where exactly that hiding place would be, as I knew that I had the whole Dawn of Chaos arc in the middle to think of a good location to kick off this new arc (originally, the location of Sonic’s fight in what would become the first Forces special was supposed to be that hiding spot, he was supposed to see Blacklight getting woken up). On the other hand, the imminent release of Forces was in the back of my mind, and I had a pretty good feeling at that point that it would coincide with the beginning of this new arc. I saw an opportunity to connect them, so I decided that a great way to do so would be to make that hiding place an important location from Forces itself. So when I saw the words “Null Space,” what I saw was something that could almost certainly be the exact place I was looking for to bring this all together. The decision to make Blacklight into Infinite was entirely separate, so when I actually played the game for myself, and learned that Null Space was so intrinsically related to the Phantom Ruby and Infinite, I was almost giddy. The connection wasn’t just there, it was perfect.

One other spoiler I accidentally got was a snapshot of the final scene before the credits, all the characters cheering in front of what I later learned was the Eggman Empire Fortress. By that point, I had already learned quite a bit about Infinite as a character, between the prequel comics, the trailers, and my own attempt with Blacklight-Infinite. I had grown very attached to him. I thought that the face under his mask was…well, sort of adorable. Maybe handsome would be a better word. Either way, I liked him. I wanted to see that guy be happy. So I started planning for a redemption story. I wanted him to come crawling back at the moment of that snapshot I saw, begging for forgiveness, warning of some greater threat. I wanted he and the Avatar to become good friends, for the Avatar to truly show him the way back to heroism. Sound familiar? Bcause that’s pretty much exactly what I ended up writing…up to the last three minutes or so. More on that in a moment.

After I played the game, things just kept falling into place. The “Fading World” background song for Imperial Tower (that level was a great experience, by the way) implied that the Ruby prototype was calling to the Avatar’s dark emotions, helping to justify Infinite’s being a better person without it. Infinite disappeared towards the end of the story, without a clear end, without any serious character resolution. Best of all (or worst, from any standpoint other than mine as a writer) Eggman didn’t even use the real Ruby! He used Infinite’s prototype! (At least, I’m 90% sure on that. It wasn’t extremely clear, and I’ve seen some debate about it.) All of the pieces lined up into a perfect puzzle, where the Phantom Ruby itself could be framed as the true final villain, Infinite would have perfect reason to be the necessary exposition to explain that, and could be truly redeemed from there. I explained some of the basics of my ideas to my brother and fellow writer, Yuni Oha. He was skeptical. He didn’t really see redemption as a reasonable option, because Infinite was so darned evil in the real story. I argued back that his one blue eye was meant to show that he still had some good in him, and he just tried to cover it up with the mask. He countered that everything I said may make for a good excuse, after the fact, of why I did it, but none of it makes for a proper reason to make it happen in the first place. Not long later, the full Sonic Forces soundtrack was released. After he listened to Infinite’s full theme for the first time, he begged me not redeem him. And, after some further discussion, I was convinced. No more redemption for Infinite. Problem was, I’d already planned such a full and complex story to write, that heavily depended on Infinite as a character. In fact, I still started writing this episode less than 24 hours after that. So I thought…Let’s fake it! More specifically, let’s help out Infinite’s character in a different way. Let’s see him at his lowest, see him show a level of caring that we haven’t seen before, give all of us a reason to care about him as a person, even as he stays evil to the end. I was still able to write a fundamentally similar story, just with an added moment of extra drama right at the end. But that still left one problem. If Infinite is still Infinite, how can Blacklight become Infinite? In order to answer that question, I ended up coming up with a much better concluding scene than I was originally planning. “Better” being a relative term. Because it was kind of sad for me, going through all that work to bring Infinite back to power, only to take it away from him. But at that point, the first Forces special had been out there for well over a month, and it was absolutely necessary that Blacklight become the primary problem. I needed to write myself out of that hole with that scene. And it was a good scene, sudden and unexpected, but disappointing from Infinite’s perspective all the same.

So, what else is there to talk about? I ended up writing this episode with the thought in mind to make it as easy as possible to read for someone who’s never read any part of the rest of the series before, partly because Yuni said he wanted to read it after the Infinite conversation we had, and partly just because, as a direct insert into Sonic Forces, direct connections to the rest of my story weren’t really all that necessary. That’s why I didn’t actually name Lt. Alfred when he was voicing over at the beginning, why I had him give a brief synopsis of the Birth of Blacklight arc in the first place.

The design and concept of the Phantom Nightmare was something that came to me quickly and easily. After all the buildup with the Replicas, you only ended up fighting half of them in the final game, and even then they never really did anything. Plus, it was something Yuni and I had been talking about long before the game came out, that all four of the advertised Replicas had some manner of Super Form. It was a logical step to give them all a purpose, while creating an opponent worthy of Super Sonic. With the Ruby’s illusionary powers, fusing them all together into a single monster seemed like a logical extreme. The addition of Heavy King was something that I was debating at first, but in the end I decided that anything that gives Classic Sonic a reason to exist is a good thing. (That one line, “This was never your fight,” was a stab at the fact that Classic Sonic didn’t even belong in this game). I also debated using Titanic Monarch instead of Phantom King as the Heavy King’s “Super Form,” but I was convinced that it just couldn’t properly be justified at this time. Originally, I was planning on having the Phantom Nightmare simply tear out of Null Space right from the get-go. But Yuni, once again, convinced me to have a clear scene where each of the Replicas transform before fusing, just to make it clear what’s really happening.

Let’s see, what else? I was glad to give an excuse to exclude Shadow and Silver from this Super fight, where Generations DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER. *Ahem* Sorry, that’s just a thing that bothers me.

The Avatar’s character arc is something that most people would say Forces did relatively well, especially compared to most recent Sonic games. But I knew that it could use a little extra something. The Avatar grew from point A to point B, which was good. But any good character development arc requires a moment of reflection. A moment where a question is posed, and resolutely answered, of how valid that development was. Speaking of the Avatar, his new little Wisp friend is something that came to me sort of randomly, but I thought it would be good for him to have someone he could call a partner, even when he’s out there alone.

Well, there’s more I could probably say, but I think this has gone on long enough. But rest assured. This is not the last you’ve seen of Infinite or the Avatar.

-And before I say goodbye to you, one more last fist bump!
(For real this time, last one, I promise.)

News Update, and a New Note on Canon

First off, happy New Year, everyone. 2017 was a great year for Sonic, so here’s to hoping that…we’ll get absolutely nothing this year so that they can focus on giving us something great in 2020.

Next off, the news update. It’s been far too long coming, but I’ve finally played and completed Sonic Forces, and you know that means. The next episode of The Chaos Project is finally in development! Even now, I’m still debating how it will end, but I can promise that it’ll be exciting.

Lastly, the canon. After much deliberation and reconsideration, I’ve concluded that I have no other choice. Sonic Forces simply doesn’t fit into my established timeline. Therefore, against my better wishes, I must alter my present timeline to accommodate it. Before, the Speed of Time arc, the earliest chronological episodes, took place six months after Generations. Hence forward, that will be one year and six months. This extra dummy year should easily accommodate any future Sonic games, and shouldn’t mess up much that has been said in-universe. Timestamps, on the other hand, may have to be altered significantly. I’ll implement those changes slowly over the coming months.

-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!

Forces Shenanigans, and a New Note on Canon

Here’s a whole bunch of stuff, because I’m too lazy to make separate posts every time something new happens. First, some nice atmospheric music.

Now, for the main reason I’m here. Recently, they have begun putting out a series of short prequel comics to the game. The first one was pretty uneventful, but the second brought something important to my attention. Take a look.

In particular, note pages 2 and 7. Knuckles and Silver clearly know each other. For Knuckles, there are plenty of explanations, the most obvious of which would be that Sonic Rivals is canon. As for Silver…I don’t don’t know how it is that they screwed this up, but they did. Either…
A) — Silver comes from a ruined future timeline of Forces, in which Sonic loses and Eggman maintains control over the world, in which case Silver should have absolutely no recollection of any past encounters with Sonic and/or friends, since he’s from a different future than he was in any such encounters. Or…
B) — Silver comes from a peaceful future, as we’ve seen in some games, and got the brilliant idea to intentionally go back in time and screw with history, potentially ruining the peace that he has. Bravo, Silver.
There is an option C), but it’s a bit of a stretch. In a previous ruined-future timeline game, Silver returned from his attempts to save history, only to find that absolutely nothing had changed, because somehow, his meddling led to Sonic losing in Forces, and Sonic losing in Forces happened to result in an identical future to what Silver was supposed to fix. So, memories still intact, he would have to make a second try. It bothers me, but I can accept it if I must.
Okay, I suppose there might be option D) as well. Through some kind of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey nonsense, Silver was not affected by the changes to his own timeline, even though he has been in the past (future?). Related option D2): In a similar change-up of established rules, Silver’s time-travel has already occurred, he is able to read about himself in the history books, so he knows that he has to go back in time because he’s already been there. That’s a paradox right there, but it’s technically an explanation. I’m not willing to take either of these at face value, but if it gets explained in the game, I’ll be happy with it.

But wait! Something doesn’t sit right with me about what Knuckles said. “I thought you you returned to the future? [sic]” (Bad grammar, by the way. That was a statement, not a question. Yes, I do care about that more than the double you. No, that wasn’t me making a transcription error. Yes, I am interrupting an entire thought to complain about typos, when I make plenty of them myself. Don’t judge me.) Sorry about that. Anyways, let’s take a moment to consider that quote carefully. Knuckles is implying that he has a hard time understanding how Silver could possibly have time-traveled more than once, instead stating that his gut reaction was to assume that Silver had never left. But…there’s more than one Sonic Rivals game. If Sonic Rivals were canon, then the concept of Silver popping back and forth between the present and the future would be no big deal. If Silver, in memory, had come back to the present multiple times, then Knuckles’ first thought would more likely have been “Oh no. If you’re you’re here again, that must mean something bad is about to happen.” (I didn’t realize what I just had Knuckles say until after I wrote it. Oh no. And yes, you’re you’re was a joke.) So, I conclude with near-certainty that Silver must have canonically come to the present exactly one time before. And since 06 decanonized itself, and you can’t trust a word of what the handheld port of Colors tells you, that leaves one reasonable conclusion. Sonic’s birthday party, at the end of the events of Sonic Generations, is canon and remembered (something I’ve been sort of avoiding in my story, but I had a plan that just got more difficult). Additionally, at said party, Silver and Knuckles must have interacted off-screen, not to the point of becoming good friends, but enough to remember each other’s names and basic backstory. That’s certainly the sense I got from the way they interacted, anyways. That also solves the problem of Silver’s memory. Since he didn’t actually change anything in the past, he returned to his future as-is.

So, there it is. If you don’t think about it, it works just fine. If you do think about it, it looks like complete nonsense. But if you analyze even deeper, it isn’t necessarily unreasonable. But something’s still not sitting quite right with me. Oh, yeah. It’s because my entire Speed of Time arc seems to completely contradict this. Yes, it’s a problem only a fanfic writer could have, but can you blame me for thinking that Silver would never play such an important role again? After ten years of nothing but rudimentary stories featuring only Sonic and Tails? So here’s how it is. Everything is canon. No, not everything. But this comic is canon to The Chaos Project, and The Chaos Project will not be retconned to accommodate it. How does it make sense that Silver doesn’t believe in time-travel in Speed of Time, but remembers his previous time-traveling experiences in Forces? How does it make sense that Sonic doesn’t remember Silver from Generations, but Knuckles supposedly does? (I know this also applies to Forces, but I’m waiting to jump to conclusions until after I know the full story.) These questions will be answered…eventually. I have a plan. It has to do with time-travel. Big shocker, I know. But…it may not have anything to do with Generations. That’s an entirely different continuity nightmare that will be addressed in an entirely different episode or story arc.

Before I go, one more piece of news.

I haven’t really taken the time analyze this fan-subbed new trailer yet, but it’s definitely looking good. Space battles? Yes please. Exciting yet serious story? Yes please. Epic and powerful villain? Yes please. Avatar rental? Who cares!?

-Before I say goodbye to you one more last fist bump!

EDIT: Wait a minute! I just figured out, when you first meet Silver in Generations, he recognizes you! AGH! This ruins everything! This means not only that Silver must have been in the past more than once before Forces, but that Generations has the same exact problem! In fact, if Generations is taken to be canon, that means that either Colors DS or Rivals must also be canon. But Rivals is still a continuity nightmare, and Colors DS is barely any better. Or…Silver remembers Sonic from 06. Which would be bad. Very bad. So…how to make this work…well, Silver’s exact words are: “Sonic? Is it really you?” So…I’ve got it! Silver had never actually met Sonic before. Instead, he recognizes him as a historical figure, perhaps even an idol. That way, he’s less likely to trust Sonic upon meeting him, never having met him before, as well as solving the problem of Knuckles’ line in the comic, since that would make Generations his only canon use of time-travel. I would propose that this is the same Silver from the end of Silver’s story in 06, the timeline where Iblis is defeated (which eventually gets erased). Problem with that is that Crisis City is still in…well, crisis. There’s no way that a Silver could have been pulled from an Iblis-controlled Crisis City who is on friendly terms with Sonic. Except for…if he had been pulled straight out of the final Iblis fight. But then, I feel like he would be a lot more concerned with being separated from Blaze in the middle of an important fight than he would be about a potential impostor of Sonic trying to steal the Emerald from him. Anyways, none of this really matters, since Generations is not the answer to Forces according the the canon that I’m building, but it really bothers me all the same.

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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Opinionated Review: Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania is now 1 week old. Yeah that’s right. Sonic Mania. Last I really spoke on this topic, I did nothing but whine and complain that “indie” developers are biased against Nintendo, and wouldn’t make a game for the Switch as a result. I still don’t have a very high opinion of indies, but since that time, they not only announced that it would come Switch, not only that the Collector’s Edition would come to Switch, but I, being the Sonic nerd that I am, couldn’t resist buying said Collector’s Edition (it’s pretty nice, but I’m a little disappointed in the statue. Its chin is totally flat, it barely looks like the picture at all! And then, why wouldn’t they let you put the fake Mania cartridge into the fake Genesis? Seriously. Such a wasted opportunity. I also wish it came with a soundtrack, but now I’m just rambling). So, I’ve got it, I’ve played it, and I’m prepared to make a full, detailed review, from a perspective that you shouldn’t expect to find anywhere else on the internet. I am one of an insanely small handful of people, probably in the world, who can appreciate the classic games, not hate on them just for being old, while also not being completely and utterly blinded by nostalgia. Be warned if you haven’t played the game, as the following review contains immense spoilers. It is also very long, so click the “Read More” tag to show the content.

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