Review: Season 2, Episode 4

I have been waiting for such a long time to write this episode. It wasn’t necessarily my earliest idea, but I knew from the moment I thought of it that it was a story that needed to be told. For the longest time, whenever I tried to think to the future of this series, this was almost always the episode that my thoughts drifted to first. It’s hard to explain exactly why that is. I believe I’ve said before that growth and coming of age is one of the greatest overarching themes of this series, and even in the canon, Tails has long been the representative of that idea. Everyone grows up over time, and in this series, Tails is no exception. Knowing that he would one day, years from now, be grown into a mature adult, I suppose I always saw this episode as a vital transition point. If there will ever be a moment where you can say that Tails grew up, it will be this episode. Sonic has long kept him in a world of black-and-white—we’re the good guys, and we fight the bad guys. But on this day, Tails was pushed into a much greyer world. And, more to the point, it was a reflection of Sonic who gave him that push.

And I suppose this is the part where I talk about Metal Sonic. That big twist at the end…wasn’t necessarily part of the original plan. I suppose I must give credit where credit is due. Usually in this series, I try to make everything my own. When it comes to new ideas and big reveals that were never a part of the original games, I have to dig deep to put the pieces together, and form my own ideas about what does and doesn’t work in the established world of Sonic. It’s rare that I become truly inspired by another person’s theories or headcanons, but this would be one of those instances. When I saw The Sega Scourge’s “Metal Sonic is Sonic, Roboticized” video, I was inspired—not because the theory was particularly convincing, but because it added so much weight and meaning to Metal Sonic’s long history that wasn’t there before. And weight and meaning are exactly the primary factors I consider when writing in such ideas. It’s not enough to have an interesting idea if it doesn’t add anything to the greater context, but this most certainly did. I started wondering immediately if there was a way I could make this admittedly outlandish theory work in my favor. And when I considered what that big reveal would add to this particular episode, I was sold.

Unfortunately, while the story of Tails and Metal Sonic was well planned and put together, the rest was not so much. As often as I thought ahead to this episode, I never muched considered how it could be made any more than one long, slightly boring conversation. A rescue party going after them was obvious of course, but what wasn’t obvious was how to make that relevant. Sonic running off to rescue Tails without any other kind of conflict or moral just wouldn’t have been interesting. At first I thought, with how I’ve been setting up a rivalry between Omega and Metal Sonic, it would be reasonable to have Omega go with him, and I could go through with some of the Metal Sonic-related conflicts I’d been planning in that area, but then I realized…I already had an episode just like that last season. While I enjoy pairing up characters in unusual ways for episodes, I certainly didn’t want to use the same unusual pair a second time when there are so many other pairs waiting to be done. I decided on Espio instead, for fairly obvious reasons, but…there was no conflict there. Both Sonic and Espio would want the same thing, both would be very focused on the task, I wouldn’t be much better off than with Sonic on his own. I decided to compromise and go for both. I thought that I could have the primary friction be between Espio and Omega, since they clash on a more fundamental level than Sonic ever did with Omega, but…that didn’t really go anywhere. They disagreed, and then…that was it. I mean, that conflict could have been taken as a warning sign for what was to come, but it just didn’t add anything to the bulk of the episode. The only other real option would’ve been having them make up and come to a better understanding of one another by the end, which there definitely wasn’t room for with the focus on Tails. It might have been possible without having Sonic awkwardly in the middle, but I was not willing to remove Sonic from the episode when the plot was so personal to him.

There’s one other disappointment of this episode, which you may have noticed. The ending was…not exactly conclusive. What did Metal Sonic do with Omega? I didn’t say. Why did they leave him behind? I didn’t say. What were the repercussions of that decision? I didn’t say. What ever happened to Charmy becoming a doctor? I didn’t say. The problem here is, the answer to each of those questions would’ve required just one more scene tacked onto the end of the episode. As it is, I already felt like I gave up a very good ending by continuing on after the moment that Metal Sonic attacked Omega, but Sonic and Tails talking about what happened was an absolute necessity. As for the rest…most of it will be integrated into the beginning of the next episode, where it will be irrelevant and out of place and distracting from the intended plot. But that’ll still be better than ending this episode five times over.

And now, for some general trivia! (I hope to make this a tradition with future reviews.)

  • The following locations from previous Sonic games were featured in this episode:
    • Emerald Hill Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Aquatic Ruin Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Hill Top Zone (Sonic 2)
    • Mystic Cave Zone (Sonic 2) (implied)
    • Lost Labyrinth Zone (Sonic 4) (cameo appearance)
    • Metallic Madness (Sonic CD) (implied)
  • Metal Sonic’s memory featuring the Lost Labyrinth was an exact first-person recreation of a cutscene from Sonic 4 Episode Metal.
    • The artifact obtained in this scene was stated to be the source of Metal Sonic’s copy ability and shapeshifting power seen in Sonic Heroes.
      • The actual purpose/history of this artifact has never been officially confirmed. However, in-game text does pose the question, “Just how did Metal Sonic make his comeback after Sonic the Hedgehog CD?” Given that Metal Sonic’s first canon chronological comeback after CD would be in Heroes, this implies a connection between the plots of the two games.
  • Both Metal Sonic and Tails frequently refer to the events of Sonic Heroes—particularly, the battle between Team Sonic and Metal Overlord—which took place approximately five years before this episode.
  • In describing how he was betrayed by Eggman, Metal Sonic refers to the events of Sonic CD, Sonic 4 Episode Metal, and an unspecified number of Classic Sonic games which take place in between, and feature some form of mechanical Sonic.
    • As there are no such “main series” Sonic games, this must refer to more obscure titles. Sonic Triple Trouble is the most likely candidate, as it has already been Chaos-Project-canonized by the appearance of Fang in Season 1.
  • Metal Sonic frequently quotes the phrase, “I am no longer afraid of anything,” originally spoken in the opening moments of the Metal Overlord fight.
    • He quotes himself on several other occasions, including the famous “I am the one true Sonic.”
  • This episode marks the first in-universe usage of the name of one of Metal Sonic’s abilities, V. Maximum Overdrive.
    • I have no idea what the “V” stands for. Maybe velocity? Metal Sonic was also shown using the Black Shield, an ability not seen outside of the 2-player mode of Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.
  • The episode title “Before I Sleep,” combines with the title of the previous episode, “Miles to Go” (also meant to be a reference to Tails’ given name) to form the line, “Miles to go before I sleep,” a repeated phrase from the Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
    • While this is not a two-part episode, the related titles show that the episodes are meant to be grouped together.
    • The implication of this line is that someone is on a path towards their end (sleep), and has much to do before that time comes.
  • This episode marks the first time the Chaotix tent has been shown in an episode written by me. Its original appearance in Season 1, episodes 13 and 14, (“Out of the Shadows” parts 1 and 2) was written by a guest author.
  • When attempting to convince Tails, Metal Sonic provides the first ever CP-canon implication of a population size of Sonic’s world, giving the approximation of 10 billion.
    • Given that the real world has a population of about 8 billion, and that Sonic’s Earth typically approximates the very near future of ours, this implies that the number of animoids in Sonic’s world is somewhat less than 2 billion.
    • This number was chosen as one that is large enough to reasonably populate large-scale animoid-majority cities such as Sunset Heights, while still showing that they are vastly outnumbered by humans as implied by most other relevant games.
    • It is also notable that 10 billion is predicted as the maximum stable human population that Earth can support.
  • During a conversation with Sonic, Espio refers to himself as Charmy’s guardian. It is not specified whether this title is legal or honorary. Either way, it is a component of their relationship which has not previously been described.
  • Metal Sonic suggests that he does not remember Omega, despite having fought him as Metal Madness during the events of Sonic Heroes, as well as several prior encounters while disguised as Eggman.
    • It is possible that Metal Sonic has forgotten that particular detail, or that he was pretending not to care in order to maintain a more menacing image.
  • While it is never stated directly, Metal Sonic implies that his head may contain Sonic’s actual organic brain.
    • This is supported by his especially protective actions towards the machinery around his head.
    • A direct confirmation was avoided, partly because I may want to change my mind about that in the future, partly because the image of it might be a bit graphic for children, and partly because I felt the idea might be a bit more powerful if the reader could come up with it themselves.
  • This episode marks Espio’s first successful usage of an entirely new chakra-based Ninja Arts technique—the Shadow Sealing, which he was shown failing to do in S1 E15: In Too Deep—opening the way for him to potentially learn many more.
    • Why did I decide to give Espio magic shadow powers? I mean, he can already create a whirlwind using his fingers, so I didn’t think this would be much of a stretch.
    • Regardless, I expect any future technique he learns to be similarly underpowered. It isn’t exactly efficient to spend a minute-long fight scene drawing a seal on the ground and hoping that the enemy stands right in the middle of it without noticing.
    • What do I mean by chakra-based? That’ll be explained in a future episode.

And there we have it. Flawed though it may be, I still love this episode and all of the deep implications it presents. There’s one other interesting note here. This episode was designed with the idea in mind that the reader may have to choose a side. If Sonic is right, then every word Metal Sonic said was a convoluted attempt at psychological warfare, forcing Tails to play into his hand. But if Tails is right, then Metal Sonic is still Sonic at his core, and can be saved. So are you Team Sonic? Or Team Tails? Make your choice.

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

Villain Chat! with Shadow the Hedgehog

blacklightlogo

[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: Season 1, Episode 18 (Finale)

Another kicker, this one was. I shouldn’t be surprised by now, the most important episodes are always the hardest to write, because everything needs to be absolutely perfect. As an episode…I’m a little bit hesitant to pass judgement on this one. I felt hyperaware during the writing process of how awkwardly paced this whole thing was, with lots of standing around and talking during what should have been intense and dramatic moments—it’s just hard to do otherwise when there are so many important things that need to be said—in addition to lots of sudden breaks between action sequences that were necessary in order to keep a wider view of events that doesn’t leave any one topic forgotten for too long. But as a conclusion to the season…I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I was worried about the daunting task of topping part 1 in terms of drama, and while it did take some doing, I think that I at least accomplished that much.

Not everything turned out exactly how I envisioned it. I originally imagined that the raid on the Death Egg would take up a more solid chunk of the episode, as Shadow grudgingly worked together with Sonic to overcome the station swarming with traps and guards and lots of thing to blow up. In general, the big question mark surrounding whether or not Shadow is able to trust Sonic was intended to play a much larger role in the episode. But then I threw Knuckles into the mix. Right up until the day I wrote the conclusion of Part 1, my intention was for that to be the last that was seen of Fang—he shoots Knuckles, takes the Emeralds, turns them over off-screen, and that’s the end of it. I soon decided that it would be too unceremonious of an end for a character who is effectively the main villain of the Season, so I decided the easiest way to get him to a more proper conclusion without changing plans too much would be to throw him on the Death Egg. At the time that I made that decision, it was actually supposed to be Tails who went up along with Sonic and Shadow—Knuckles was intended to be put out of commission for this episode when he was shot. So I figured that Sonic would be the most reasonable candidate of the three to have one final fight with Fang, and then Tails could even have a nice little growth story where he shows that fighting Eggman on his own is no longer proof of anything, but instead is now simply what he expects of himself as a hero. There were a few obvious logical issues that came out of all that. While Fang has certainly mentioned his hatred for Sonic quite frequently, Sonic as a rival for him hasn’t really been built up at all—they only met face-to-face once this Season before these episodes, and they only exchanged a few words. Knuckles, meanwhile, was specifically being built up as a rival (pretty much just for the purpose of taking his hat in the end), so having that final confrontation not include Knuckles would just be strange. Meanwhile, Tails, the medical expert of the Rebellion, abandoning Rouge when it’s being clearly established that she’s dying wouldn’t make any sense at all. And even then, Tails’ growth isn’t really something that’s been focused on this Season, it’s been deferred to next, so having him on the Death Egg wouldn’t really accomplish much. And so, even though it required a lot of rearranging and rethinking of this episode, I chose to swap Tails out for Knuckles. I’m definitely happy with that decision. Though I do wonder if that’s part of the reason writing this episode ended up taking so much longer.

Oh! Right, I was in the middle of something. Adding Knuckles (and Fang, counting those as one complicated decision) meant significantly increasing the amount of time that would be spent on these big boss confrontations, and so the idea of a Death Egg filled with traps and guards became not only unnecessary in terms of balancing the amount of action, but would’ve basically just wasted time. And I figured a completely empty, abandoned Death Egg would’ve added a layer of mystery to hint at Eggman’s true intentions…although I see now that may not have been clear enough, besides the part where Sonic and Shadow overtly discussed it.

There is one thing that did turn out exactly as I’d envisioned it. The simple ending scene, where Shadow learns of Rouge’s condition, and lets out all of his emotions at once on Sonic…that was a scene planned nearly word for word since before I even knew what this season was going to be about. I believe I’ve mentioned previously that the idea of Rouge turning spy for the Rebellion was one of a huge slew of ideas that were all bouncing around before the seasonal structure of this series was solidified, back in the very early phases of Season 0. Analyzing the emotional consequences of various dramatic scenarios was how I first populated this hypothetical series with episode ideas—so naturally, the scenario of Rouge seemingly turning traitor had to come with the weight of how Shadow would respond. That series of ideas eventually led me here.

And did I mention that hat? Why, yes, it was meant to be a reference to the Sonic OVA, thank you for asking. With another Sonic movie coming up, I suppose that’s pretty good timing. In fact, there may have been a couple of new Sonic Movie references thrown into this episode, if you were paying attention. But, anyways, the hat. I admit it. The idea of bringing Fang into the series wasn’t particularly appealing to me…until I realized that I could have Knuckles steal his hat. Yes. That was what sold me on the idea. That was what drove me to write basically this entire season. I regret nothing, and also everything. Usually, I pride myself on remaining vehemently game-canon, and I often have to go out of my way in order to not reference something like the Archie Comics. But if you ask me, Knuckles with a treasure hunter’s hat is the single most memorable thing to come out of that entire movie, and I just couldn’t resist the reference once I’d thought of it.

I suppose I can get into more random stuff now. The “Death Egg Emperor” was a rather last-minute addition. In the early planning phases (back when Tails was still going to be the one to fight it) a simple, perhaps slightly upgraded Death Egg Robot was what I assumed would fill this role. When you bring back the Death Egg, putting a Death Egg Robot on it seems like the next logical step. It only occurred to me as I began writing this episode that Sonic Generations, Mania, and Forces had really gone to great lengths to…I guess, normalize the Death Egg Robot. I realized that it wouldn’t make much of an impact if it were just another one of those things. The plan wasn’t necessarily to “merge” the DER with the final boss of Sonic Heroes, the whole Egg Emperor thing was just…an unfortunate(?) result of the fact that this completely new step up from the DER needed to reflect Eggman’s status as Emperor.

There were plans to have an extended ending scene where everyone meets back up, celebrate their victory, ponder the nature of Eggman’s pre-planning, and so on, but I ended up merging that all into the Daily Log addendum, mostly just for time. The episode was very ready to end, and I didn’t see much reason to drag it on longer than it had to go. I also skipped out on a scene where Eggman would be seen in his base, complaining about how much he hates that hedgehog, but it was cut for similar reasons.

Probably the most last-minute thing of all was Knuckles’ role specifically in the climax. Obviously everything about his role in the episode was last-minute, put this part was actually something that didn’t even occur to me until I wrote the words “What can I do to help?” When Tails was the plan, Sonic’s response was still going to be the same “Wait in the safety bunker” answer, and it was supposed to be a bit more touching with Sonic trying to protect his little bro. But Tails, instead of doing as he was told, would’ve instead gone out searching for a shuttle (planned before I I decided to mention that there were no shuttles) and, when Sonic realized that he was marooned and requested help, Tails would’ve swooped in at the perfect time to pick him up. That whole “I think I might need a little help here” joke was honestly just a hold-out from that otherwise-scrapped plan. The Death Egg room built over the Master Emerald Altar, then, was entirely unplanned until I realized in that moment that I needed something for Knuckles to do that didn’t involve flying. But I figured it would make sense that Eggman would “preserve” that particular location when building over Angel Island, given that Prof. Gerald proved with his replica on the ARK that the structure has a functional significance. Knuckles bringing the Master Emerald back to the closest thing left to “home” worked wonderfully to connect back to a comment he made in part 1 (not intended to be related at the time), as did his conjoined role with the Controller as mentioned by Tikal. Eggman putting a throne for himself on top of the monument that symbolically represents the people he’s conquered was a nice little cherry on top. I’ll admit that part of the inspiration behind that room, and even the throne on top, hearkens back to an issue of the new IDW Sonic Comics, in which, on a mechanized Angel Island (I had that idea first, I swear), Neo Metal Sonic awaited Sonic and friends in a throne room built out of the very same altar. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reference, just inspiration.

A question I was sort of asking myself by the end was…”Why did I split the Death Egg in half?” Something I originally had in mind was that the Death Egg would naturally start falling apart in that way as it fell through the atmosphere, forcing Sonic and Shadow to each take a separate half. But…for some reason, that just didn’t make sense to me. But the image of the two halves falling one after the other into the ocean, like a literal egg cracked open, was one that stuck with me even as my other plans changed.

Well, I think this has gone on just about long enough. So what’s next? Well, I’ll properly announce here and now that there will be a Sonic Movie Tie-In Special published on February 14th, the day of the movie’s release. After that, we move into Season 2. Season 1 was nice and all, but…for me, it was really just a proving grounds. From here, I start telling the stories that I’ve been anticipating since I first envisioned this series, stories that could only be told on top of the strong foundations that I’ve spent all this time building. Even though you’re probably not, I hope that you’re as excited as I am.

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

 

Review: Season 1 Episodes 13 and 14 (Featuring Yuni Oha)

Yuni Oha here with a guest-written review for the guest-written episode.

When I suggested the idea of guest-writing to my brother, I knew right away that I wanted to do a story involving Shino the Hedgehog. You see, Shino originated in a time many years ago where I would, as a kid, create my own Sonic game concepts and narrate them to my brother. Shino, or, as I called him back then, Shinobi the Hedgehog, was one of the characters I created for those games, and one of my favorites who has yet to be adapted by my brother into a Chaos Project character. I came up with the idea of Shinobi when contemplating the fact that Shadow and Silver are essentially Sonic doppelgangers from the present and future respectively, so I decided there should be one from the past as well. My great love of ninja led me to create Shinobi, who was essentially the same character as Shino. The name Shinobi was selected to represent the fact that Sonic, Shadow, and Silver all had word-names that started with the letter S. Given The Chaos Project’s lore, it made perfect sense to bring in Shinobi as a past Controller. I changed his name to Shino both to avoid confusion with Heavy Shinobi and to make it a two syllable name like Sonic, Shadow, and Silver. Making him the head of the Shinobi Clan was a callback to his original name. Additionally, Nocta the Owl was created for the same game as Shino, while Ryu the Dragon was created a few games later for my concept for Sonic Heroes 2 as a power character in order to complete Team Ninja, who already had a speed and fly character with Shinobi and Nocta.

As for the story of this episode, it is extremely loosely based off of the original game concept I made to introduce Shinobi. I stress the loosely part, as I actually forgot most of that game’s story in the interceding years. Of course using both Espio and Heavy Shinobi in a plot revolving around a ninja-themed character seemed obvious, so I built from there. Obviously time travel was planned to be involved from the beginning, but I came up with the idea of stranding Sonic in the past so as to better be able to show off Nocta and Ryu, while also giving Sonic an important role. Kamitatsu was a new creation for these episodes. In my original concepts, Shino’s arch-nemesis was a shogun dictator called Bushido. My early plans for this episode involved Bushido using some great and powerful monster to attempt to defeat Shino, but I soon decided that I needed to cut down characters, so I combined Bushido and the monster into one character, and created Kamitatsu.

I scripted these episodes as I would one of my games, gameplay gimmicks and all. The game concept would have involved you switching back and forth between the past and present as Sonic and Shino respectively in order to progress through a level. Actions performed in the past would affect the present, while time vortexes could be opened to transport objects from the present to the past. This would allow- you to have both characters open up paths for one another.

On top of introducing Shino, the other objective of this game was to give some character development to the Chaotix, specifically Espio. I love the Chaotix, and as I said earlier, I love ninja, so naturally, Espio is a favorite of mine. I’ve always felt that the Chaotix got a little robbed, having their only main modern appearance being in Sonic Heroes, a game that gave little character development. One obvious question about them is why does Espio, the level-headed seeker of serenity, team up with the two outrageous personalities of Vector and Charmy. This episode was designed in part to explore this. At one point in the episode, Espio mentions how he used to be a hot-head. This is taken from his character biography from his original appearance in Knuckles’ Chaotix. Clearly this description does not match the character we know today, so I worked it into his backstory how he had to develop past it. It being Shino’s teachings that helped control his emotion also gives a foundation to his idolization of the ninja.

I hope you all enjoyed my episodes. I certainly enjoyed writing them. Perhaps some day in future, I might write again.

Review: Shadow of Time Part 6

Well, this is where the story really starts getting interesting. The number of word-for-word scenes from the original Shadow the Hedgehog were extremely small this time. It would probably be easier to count those than it would be to count the changes. However, there was a slight problem as a result of that. This Part was supposed to reflect The Last Way, the level played during Final Mode. But because Shadow was on Black Doom’s side, there was no reason to play that level, leaving this entire part almost completely devoid of action. But then, Shadow did get to hit a few people, and I think those moments of intense drama made up for it. I wasn’t totally sure about the decision to leave Rouge alive, but I’m glad I did, because that moment of striking her proved to be very meaningful for Shadow, the final turning point in his path to Darkness. And of course, technically speaking, I wouldn’t want to kill her just in case something goes wrong involving this story’s surprise twist. It’s pretty unlikely it was ever going to matter, and at this point it’s practically impossible, but you never know. As a last note, the whole Shadow Android part was kind of unfortunate. Everything in this story so far has been very interconnected and important, so this, much like it did in the original game, kind of just felt like filler. It was necessary to give Eggman a role in the story, and introduced several necessary concepts for the big twist, I just wish the meaning could’ve been somehow greater.

And now, as usual, a list of changes.
1. Shadow defeats the Egg Dealer after already having fought Diablon.
2. Shadow has a flashback to the first Shadow Android seen in Sonic Heroes. (This was really only here obligatorily, I didn’t want to violate the one-flashback-per-part rule until the final part.)
3. Shadow obtains one of Black Doom’s trinkets, using it to cut the back of his hand, proving that he is not an android.
4. Shadow shuts up Eggman with some very hurtful insults.
5. Because Sonic and Eggman are already on the scene, and Knuckles is incapacitated, it is Rouge who shows up with Tails and Amy to stop Shadow from giving the Chaos Emeralds to Black Doom. Amy is wearing some unusual gloves.
6. Shadow attacks Rouge at the mention of Maria, knocking her out.
7. With one last chance to convince him, Sonic tries to give Shadow the Inhibitor Ring that he kept after the events of Sonic Adventure 2, which Shadow breaks in rejection.
8. The Ritual of Prosperity proceeds without The Last Way ever happening.
9. Breaking free from the effects of the nerve gas under Black Doom’s advision, Shadow kneels to him and swears his loyalty, instead of swearing to destroy him.
10. After his own transformation, Black Doom willingly gives the Chaos Emeralds to Shadow.

Review: Season 1, Episode 5

I love this episode so much. It’s completely random. It has no bearing on the plot of this season. The storytelling pace is way off. But I love it anyways. Just having an episode about the Chaotix is something that I’ve been excited to do for a very long time, they’re a very fun group to work with. But it goes twofold, because of the lovely tie-in with Shadow the Hedgehog. Shadow is a game that deserves love. Because it leaves a lot of questions behind, not the least of which is “What the heck actually happened before the Last Story?” There are ten different endings, and each one is a skew on the true sequence of events. But that means we never actually get to know what the true sequence of events is. And I had the pleasure of spending this episode filling in some of those blanks. At first glance, it may seem like I simply chose one of the fake endings and canonized it, but that actually isn’t true. It is the case that I have long believed that the ending in question, Semi-Hero-Hero (Cosmic Fall, Vector’s mission), is by far the most believable of the ten. Ending on Cosmic Fall is the only way to see Shadow’s face-to-face encounter with the Commander, which he remembers during the Last Story, so that alone points to this ending pretty strongly. It is also necessary that Vector finds the computer room, since he and the Chaotix are accessing data from it in the Last Story. And if you do the Dark mission for this level, you end up fighting Eggman, which is…kind of unnecessary to the plot. But facing Black Doom in the existential moment when Shadow demands to know whether what the Commander said is true or not, that is very important to the plot. Plus, there’s the fact that Vector is the only partner character in these end scenes who actually interacts with Shadow, even ending the story on a cliffhanger. There’s just one problem. This story ends with Black Doom being killed aboard the ARK and Shadow walking away saying something very morbid with slight suicidal undertones. And Last Story mandates that Shadow find the seventh Emerald on the Black Comet, after which Black Doom approaches him and demands that he hands them over. Those two can’t really go together. Which is why I’ve written it such that they don’t. Shadow experiences events which are very similar to the Semi-Hero-Hero ending, but never actually fights Black Doom, never obtains the seventh Emerald, and ends up leaving for the Black Comet, exactly where he needs to be. This is not a skew, but the true sequence of events leading up to the Last Story. At least, as far as I’m concerned.

There’s a few other events that I’ve determined are necessary for the canon sequence of events. Sonic ends up on the Black Comet in the Last Story, and realistically, there is only one motivation for him to go up into space. The Black Arms attempting to infiltrate the ARK. “We’re heading to the ARK, so I guess that means we’re going too!” Hence, Sonic cameos in his unexplained spaceship during this episode, just to demonstrate that that part is canon. Now, what isn’t necessarily clear is whether or not Sonic invites Shadow to come with him. When the ship passed by in the episode, I never said that Shadow was in it. I would say that he probably is, but there’s nothing to prove it, so I left it ambiguous. Something similar can be said about Charmy’s mission. I intentionally left it unclear whether or not Shadow was there to help Charmy find the disks, since there’s nothing that requires him to do so. In general, I’d like to say that almost every event seen in Shadow the Hedgehog pretty much happened to some extent, though Shadow may not necessarily have been involved, but there are a few obvious exceptions. Like the Black Arms firing the Eclipse Cannon at the White House. As far as this canon is concerned, the aliens may have attempted that, but were successfully driven off by GUN, thanks in part to the Chaotix.

One other event I decided must have happened as we saw it was the opening to Mad Matrix, since Charmy learned from Shadow how to karate-chop the computer. And that’s what started to get me thinking about the plot for this episode. Because if Espio’s mission is canon, and Vector’s mission is canon, and they play such a large role in the Last Story, they must have a pretty big story of their own happening behind-the-scenes. And I thought it would be a fun idea to tell that story. And boy was I right. The obvious first step was to figure out exactly what it was they were doing. Did they stumble on the truth by accident? Were they looking for something on their own accord? Were they hired? To answer this, I asked how their missions were related. Charmy’s looking for data disks, Espio’s searching for data in Eggman’s computer, and Vector’s looking for the computer room. All very computer-centric. And as Espio made clear, they aren’t exactly computer experts. Which means this definitely wouldn’t be happening by accident, and they probably wouldn’t be attempting it of their own accord. That means they were most likely hired. They are detectives, after all. But hired by whom? Well, what were they doing? It’s impossible to say what data Espio and Charmy were looking for, but Vector was almost certainly seeking exactly what they found: the message from Prof. Gerald. And if we want to assume that Espio and Charmy’s missions were related, that means that someone, somewhere, wanted them to go to pretty great lengths to find this message. Someone who clearly has a motive for wanting Gerald to be seen as an innocent man. Someone who would have to know that that information was there on the ARK, or at least somewhere to be found. One answer that might come to mind is Eggman. But…they kind of had to steal from Eggman to complete the mission, and he sort of tried to kill Espio for doing it. So Eggman’s probably out…unless we’re doing another Neo Metal Sonic thing, but I really didn’t want to overcomplicate this, nor did I really want it to seem like I was just doing the Sonic Heroes story over again (though I didn’t mind calling back to it heavily in the opening). But I had another idea. And this idea is the third reason why I love this episode so much. Back in the Birth of Blacklight arc, Season 0, I invented the character of Lt. Alfred Robotnik, and while he did get some good character resolution, we never actually learned his final fate. I realized that, aging him up another 40 years, he could still very well be alive in the modern day, though he would be quite old. In small part, I believe I was inspired by the appearance of modern-day Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seeing Captain America for the first time after he had been frozen in ice for decades, while she had aged into an old woman, I thought it was very meaningful for his character. But anyways, back on topic, I realized that Alfred had the means and the motivation to clear his father’s name and help Shadow in the process, but would obviously be too old to handle it himself, a perfect reason to hire the Chaotix. And the episode was born.

And to clear up any confusion, yes, he did die at the end. He was very old, and his character accomplished everything it needed to. Plus, I thought it would add an extra touch of sadness, when you think about the fact that Shadow had a friend from the past out there who he hypothetically could’ve met, but who died before he could. But of course, the cycle lives on. Shadow will eventually go back in time to befriend Alfred, who will grow old and eventually save Shadow before they ever meet. And yes, that would make this episode post-time-travel. So how would the story work without time-travel? I figure that even if Blacklight is dead and Alfred still hates Shadow, he still has the motivation to clear his father’s name. Or, you know, maybe he wasn’t involved at all, and the Chaotix solved the mystery on their own. Who knows? Either way, the time-travel happened, so now Alfred does want to help Shadow.

Okay, I think that covers most of the things I wanted to talk about, but there’s still a bit left. The space fight sequence was an interesting one, which has practically nothing to do with any particular event in Shadow the Hedgehog. The primary reason for it was simply that the Chaotix needed a means to get up into space, and they obviously don’t have a spaceship of their own. I knew that I’d be writing this part of the episode back in Forces of Chaos, when the Commander mentioned Vector’s “little joyride to the ARK” that he would have to pay for. That was meant to be direct foreshadowing/callback to this episode. Once I actually got to writing here, I took advantage of the situation to add a little bit of much-needed action to this episode, which also served the purpose of easing my conscience on having them steal the mech from the only organization that was protecting humanity from the alien threat. I didn’t want anyone to think that the Chaotix were endangering humanity with their sheer greed, so I made sure that they did more than their fair share in the war effort.

Of course, one of the other big reveals of this episode was the answer to the question of whether or not Gerald was innocent. Because, sure, Shadow the Hedgehog showed him at his best, before he went mad, but they gave no reason to believe that he didn’t go mad and try to blow up the Earth in Adventure 2. And yet, everyone talked as if they had him all wrong, as if he was a hero all along. He’s not a hero if he tried to freaking kill the Earth! My problem isn’t that they tried to go back on what SA2 established, I just wish they chose a side more properly. I don’t love the answer that I ended up needing to give in those regards. I ended up saying that Gerald almost tried to kill the Earth, set up the program as if he was going to, but never set it to actually do so. The implication was possibly that it was only a moment’s hesitation that made him run out of time. He was still totally nuts, but the point is that he never pressed the final “kill the Earth” button, and therefore was technically innocent. There’s definitely some questionable grey ground there, but I’d call it grey enough that who he was before he went mad was officially enough to redeem him properly.

And that’s all for this episode! Coming soon, on a special date September 30th, we’ll be celebrating a very special anniversary with a very special episode!

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

Review: Season 1, Episode 1

I finally did it! My first ever standalone episode! Obviously, since this is the premiere of Season 1, this episode has been in development for longer than almost any other. Over three years ago, I actually drafted this episode on about a page and a half of lined paper. But I never got that paper back, so unfortunately, it is lost to time. There are a few things I remember about it. There was no package, it skipped straight from Sonic finding Omega to them taking a rest in the forest. Omega’s thoughts weren’t seen internally, there was just a brief paragraph explaining how overwhelming the noise of the forest was. And it ended with Omega agreeing to reboot.

I suppose I should start with that package. The inspiration came when I finally beat Sonic Heroes for the first time last summer. Not counting the end sequence with Team Sonic alone, the entire story ended on the note of Omega picking up the broken form of Metal Sonic, and sharing a look with Shadow. I instantly knew that I would have to expand on that moment. I decided that the package would be a great way to expand the depth of this particular story, while giving a sense of direct continuation from Heroes. The identification number, SH-123003 refers to 12/30/03, the original Japanese release date of Sonic Heroes. It’s my hope that someone, somewhere, was able to guess it was Metal Sonic based on that information alone. I suppose that I should mention, while this is absolutely not the last you’ll see of Metal Sonic, it is going to be a little while. This isn’t a cliffhanger for the next episode, it’s a lead-in to the next Season.

That scene with Omega’s internal thoughts is also worth mentioning. Why did I do it? That’s a good question. As a whole, I really wanted this episode to be exemplary of the entire rest of the series. That’s why I selected this particular plot for the premiere, it’s a simple pair-up of two maybe slightly unexpected characters, who go on a little adventure, and bond a little in the process. Expect that to be one of the most common plots moving forward. But anyways, if this episode is an example, that means I need to set forward a few things. Among them, the possibility of writing things in unusual styles or from odd perspectives, just for the sake of creativity and because I can. I don’t want something else similar in the future to seem like a surprise. But also, part of it is because I didn’t like that scene I wrote in the original draft. It made Omega seem kind of useless, like he couldn’t ever handle being in a noisy place for any reason. This way, I made it seem a little more like Sonic’s fault, giving Omega faulty instructions, then specifically demonstrating how it goes wrong internally. Even so, I’m still worried that I didn’t quite capture that properly, like maybe it still kind of feels like Omega’s fault. I’m also worried that that scene was just a total bore to read, I really have no idea.

The use of Heavy Gunner in this episode was also a difficult choice. Hypothetically, this would be the time to reintroduce Heavy King as the leader of the Heavies, since this is the premiere and all. But like I said earlier, I want this episode to serve as an example for all the rest, which means not necessarily starting off with a bang. The whole reason I brought the Heavies into this story in the first place was to serve exactly this role, someone for the heroes to fight each episode that isn’t Eggman every single time. I chose Gunner partly for his rivalry with Omega, and partly for his presence as an officer of the law, since Sonic was getting arrested. Given those, I thought it would be a bit silly to choose anyone else. I did consider Rider just to change things up, but I feel like I should probably establish things before I go and change them. But already after this episode, I’m starting to worry that the Heavies will start seeming pretty pathetic if I have them losing every single time. I guess I’d better start thinking about having them win in the near future.

The last thing to talk about is Sonic and his role as leader. Obviously, this is something I’ve been leading up to since the very beginning. I think it was S0 E4 when Zero told Sonic “You couldn’t lead your way out of a paper bag.” And back then, it was totally true. Back in the early conceptual phases of this story, I thought about Sonic and his personality in Black Knight, and I thought that guy could make a great leader if he wanted to. I think he could’ve made a good King Arthur. And for this story, I knew I wanted Sonic to fill exactly that role. For one thing, I thought that having Sonic as the actual leader would help me to stand out a little bit from the comics. But also, I just thought it made sense. Sonic is the main character, and now the chosen one as well. Why shouldn’t he be a leader? But then I looked to Colors, and especially Lost World, and I thought, that guy would make a terrible leader. Like, it would be hard to get worse. So I knew I had to do something about that. That’s the entire reason why I put Sonic through his whole Season 0 character development arc. If I hadn’t thought about it that way, I would’ve never given a thought to Sonic’s current personality in the games, I would’ve just slapped on his personality from earlier and ignored the rest in a very pathetic way. So, I had Sonic build his way up, not just to being more heroic, but to becoming a better leader. And now, here he is. A related topic is that speech he gave. I was originally planning the speech to be a separate scene from the ritualistic handout of Emerald shards, but I combined them partly for effect, and partly just to save time. But I put a lot of thought into that speech, I stayed up until 1 in the morning to make sure I could write it all at once. I wanted to make something that, if said by a famous person at an important time, could totally go down in history. So I thought very carefully about dramatic structure and parallel wording, the kind of thing that makes a historical speech so memorable. And certainly, since Tails had the bright idea to record it, the “I know” speech will go down in this world’s history.

Now, I know this season has only just begun, but I’m afraid I may be going on a brief summer hiatus. It’s been difficult to write this past month, so the next episode isn’t even halfway done yet, and I usually like to write ahead. Hopefully, things should return in full force this autumn. I’m very excited to share what the future of this season holds, and I even have a Special episode planned for September. In the meantime, I have lots of edits I still need to make around the site for Season 1, as well as a new Opinionated Review planned (this’ll be a fun one).

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

Review: Season 0, Episode 22

What was it that I said about the last episode? That I got stuck, not knowing what to write? Well, this episode took almost as long, and for an essentially opposite reason. Because I had such trouble figuring out what to write in the last episode, I thought it would be a good idea to set up an entire plot for this one. Have Sonic captured, make a sub-plot about Tails and Knuckles rescuing him. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but I felt like I spent almost this entire episode writing myself out of that hole I dug. Rather than having no idea where to go, I knew I exactly where I was going, but struggled to fill what comes in between with interesting content. It was definitely worth it, or else I would have no idea how to manage an entire 4-5 episodes for the arc. But it was troublesome.

Tails and Knuckles were an interesting development that I wasn’t really planning on originally. Even though Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles seem like a practically inseparable trio, I propose that not all is as it seems in that relationship. The only time we’ve ever seen Tails and Knuckles together without Sonic, as far as I can remember, is the opening scene for Team Sonic from Sonic Heroes, and that only lasted for a few seconds before Sonic entered the picture. We have no idea how they might have been interacting before the scene started, and so, I was able to invent my own dynamic. The idea is that Tails and Knuckles, two people with very different personalities and outlooks, actually clash strongly…when Sonic isn’t around. The three as a whole work very well together, because both consider themselves to be best friends with Sonic. But without Sonic, the two share very little in common, and so they shouldn’t get along too well. Sonic is like the glue of the relationship, holding the other two together when they otherwise wouldn’t stick. For this dynamic…I’ve actually drawn inspiration from my own personal experiences. I was once the Sonic in a relationship like this one. Once upon a time, back in Middle School, my friends and I made a successful Yu-Gi-Oh group. Every lunch period, we would stay in the cafeteria and play cards together. Anyone who would look at our trio from the outside would think that we were all very close friends. But if I ever left the room for any reason, I would always come back to find them arguing. One day, one of those arguments nearly came to blows, and it might have if I hadn’t gotten there in time. The group completely fell apart, and I haven’t heard more than a few words from those two ever since. But with the power of the pen, I was able to write a happier ending for this story.

After that…came the big robot battle royale. I’d like to confirm that “Blue Bomber” is neither a Worlds Collide comic reference, nor a Mega Man reference in general. That entire sequence was actually more of a reference to Sonic Chronicles: the Dark Brotherhood (to this day one of my favorite handheld video games of all time. Seriously, I beat that game like 8 times over). For those who aren’t aware, Sonic Chronicles was an RPG style game for the Nintendo DS, loosely inspired by, though not necessarily related to, the comics. Anyways, one component of that game’s battle system was POW moves, in which you would have to follow a correct sequence on the touchscreen in order to deal extra damage or some additional effect. Some POW move are done individually, while others require multiple characters to be on the same team. One POW move, requiring Sonic and Tails, was titled “Blue Bomber,” which behaved exactly as described in the story. Similarly, one requiring Sonic and Amy was called “Fastball.” “Spike Me” is not a POW move, as Sonic and Knuckles had no such POW move. The closest would be “Knuckles Sandwich,” which requires Amy as well as Sonic and Knuckles. At first I was just going to have Sonic shouting specific commands to everyone in addition to “spike me,” but I wanted to demonstrate the high degree of teamwork by having everyone understand what he’s saying based on no more than two words. I was just going to make up these brief 1-2 word commands, but then remembered the POW moves, and thought, “Why make it up when this is already here?”

So, what’s left? The thing I had going on with Eggman and Cubot probably seemed a little random, but that was actually me making fun of myself. I’ve noticed that, even though I have Cubot as a character, Eggman only ever calls on Orbot when something actually needs to get done. Since I don’t like to use Orbot and Cubot too much without making some kind of joke, I thought it would be fun to subvert that usual tendency by implying that Cubot screwed something up and deactivated Orbot. It’s part of the joke that you don’t really need to know what happened.

Anything else? Just as with Janice, I do wonder how much of a mystery was really left with the identities of Chaos and Lumis. Obviously, it was spoiled by Crisis of Chaos, but this whole arc has been written with the intention of forcing the reader to forget that fact and look at what’s going on for what it is. I just don’t know whether or not that was successful. I suppose that’s all for what did happen in the episode, but there’s also what didn’t. Very, very few of my original plans for this arc actually ended up surviving the writing process. Some of those original plans included Chaos having a fight with Shadow, and Eggman tricking Chaos into thinking that he himself is the Controller instead of Sonic, thereby swaying him to his side. I decided to include Amy instead of Shadow, mostly as an experiment to see how well I could perform by using only classic characters, as well as just for the sake of having Amy play some kind of important role before the season ends. As for that part about Eggman, that was mostly leftover from the original plans for the story before I had invented Lumis for Crisis of Chaos. I would have done that story if Lumis weren’t in the picture, but I decided that making Chaos an antagonist in addition to Eggman would draw too much importance away from Lumis in the end. I essentially had two different scenes planned for Chaos finally getting his wits about him: one in Eggman’s lab, and one in Tails’. I decided on the latter. And I suppose that’s all.

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

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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Review: Season 0, Episode 14

So to start with, I decided to go with a highly unusual writing style for this episode, having a story be told “vocally” as the same story can be seen progressing. I’m not going to lie, it was probably more effort than it was worth. It was incredibly difficult to find the right balance of the story to the scene, and I know that I ended up with far too much emphasis on the story. The way I had it, it would have a theoretical watcher looking at one character doing nothing for a long period of time while the story is being told, perhaps minutes on end. And where I had an important scene playing out at the same time as the story, I had to make sure that the scene would be described at the appropriate moment in the story, without interrupting the story’s flow too much. Most importantly, the way I have this episode would NEVER work out if this were a real game, seeing as this would potentially make for a 20+ minute opening scene with absolutely no gameplay. And it’s not even done yet. If this were to somehow be converted into a game, the first bit of help would be splitting the thing into part before the title screen, and part after you create your save file. Then, most of the story would probably be cut out to keep the thing as brief as possible, perhaps with the full version available to be read in the instruction manual or something. But there was something else, perhaps less noticeable, that I attempted with this episode. In the past, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on what’s being done and what’s being said. For the Black Cloak arc, I tried to shift over a little bit and put a heavier emphasis on the setting instead. And while that wasn’t ignored this time around, I tried out a new style of emphasis, this time on the more abstract thoughts and feelings of the characters, things that they wouldn’t be thinking about in words. I’d say I was inspired to do this by writing the epilogue section of Cast by the Light, the part from Sonic Heroes. What I realized while writing that was, despite all I’ve complained about its lack story-progressing cutscenes, that the cutscenes it had were detailed in the extreme. All the characters on screen at any given time show so much individualized facial expression and body language that its almost as if you can read their minds, even when they don’t say a word. When I was writing that epilogue, I had a hard time fitting the description of that detail in right in the middle of a long piece of dialogue. I tried to emulate that a little bit with this episode (and hopefully the rest of this arc), describing the feelings and emotions which you would theoretically be able to read on the characters faces, were you able to see them.

Now the interesting thing about writing this episode is that it required me to introduce a character who…we technically already know. And it made it all the stranger that we already know how he’ll be renamed in the future. But I was able to use that to my advantage a little bit, by giving Sunlight/Blacklight an odd sort of obsession over names. It already helps to show his madness, but it’s even more meaningful under consideration of the future. Anyways, it was definitely enjoyable to write for my favorite of my OCs again. But I did go for something a little different this time. Back in Crisis of Chaos, I essentially tried to make Blacklight seem criminally insane. But, in part by inspiration from one of my readers (if you’re out there, thanks Eba-Chan), I tried to make Sunlight seem crazy in a more childish, sort of endearing way. For one thing I wanted to justify Alfred’s conclusion that Sunlight was only a child and didn’t know what he was doing. But, more importantly, I wanted to put into question how much of a villain he could really be, and make it a truly emotional event when he inevitably becomes completely evil. The goal was to make you, as readers, want to root for Sunlight to be saved by Shadow and become good, even if you know that it isn’t possible.

Oh, and that reminds me. Lt. Alfred is named after the geneticist Alfred Day Hershey, known for proving that DNA contained the genetic code of life, rather than simple proteins. Not quite as well-known of a name as Gregor Mendel, the namesake of Dr. Gregor Robotnik, but I believe that the name fits quite well. As for the whole Lieutenant part…I suppose I was just trying to make fun of Dr. Eggman and Prof. Gerald by having another abbreviated title in the family. But, just to be clear, it is absolutely true that doctors in the real-life military do typically hold the title of Lieutenant. So I used that fact to make my joke seem more story-important. And that’s all for now.

– Until next time, remember to live and learn every day!