S2 E3: Miles to Go

For the first time in a year, a chronologically new episode of The Chaos Project has arrived! It’s finally time to learn what happened after Metal Sonic was released. Read the episode right here!

With Metal Sonic on the loose, the world is a more dangerous place than ever. But for this world, the Rebellion must keep on fighting. What is Metal Sonic’s true plan? Can he be stopped?

Please note that, with the slight reorganization of episodes now that Green Light Riders has been moved up to its correct chronological position, links on the website may be slightly inaccurate for a while until I get around to fixing all of them.

Review: Season 1, Episode 17

Man, where do I even begin here? I suppose it should be with another apology about the delay. I didn’t mean for this episode to take significantly longer than any other. But then I got Fire Em–…uh, I mean, generic-dudes-with-swords-fantasy-tactical-RPG-in-which-you-choose-between-three-different-houses game. I put something like 150 hours into that game without ever typing once. I’m sorry, it’s a good game, okay? The fact that it encourages 3+ full playthroughs doesn’t help either…but I’m still a Sonic fan, okay!? I’m not giving up on this!

*ahem* Seriously, sorry about that. But let’s talk about this episode! I wrote two-thirds of it about three months ago, and the rest in the last three days. Hope it didn’t feel too disjointed because of that, but…when you’re writing an episode that’s just one giant fight scene, it’s kind of hard to be disjointed.

In a lot of ways, this was meant to be a sort of Sonic Adventure celebration part 2. If all had gone well, it actually would’ve come out around the time of the American 20th anniversary…but, you know…whatever. But anyways, when I first planned to make that first Adventure special, it came inherently with this episode as a conclusion. Before I came up with that first episode, this one would likely not have been a two-parter. It would’ve just been a disjointed Rouge returns story in the first half (with much less drama) followed by the conclusion of the Death Egg story in the second half. It actually would’ve been a lot like the mid-season finale in that way. I didn’t much care for how the mid-season finale turned out. Or wait, maybe I didn’t even have the Death Egg in mind by that point… Yeah, looking over my old notes, the story of fake Big as resolved in the Adventure special was originally planned to be part of the Rouge-returning finale. Man, that would’ve been a boring finale. So everything works out!

I think I was in the middle of saying before…oh, that’s right. This as a second part to the special. My preliminary idea for the Adventure special was little more than “let’s find a way to bring back Chaos 0”. When that idea gave way to the Discord idea, I still had the thought of bringing back the real Chaos bouncing around in the back of my mind. What I was thinking at first was that Discord would, in the end, join Chaos in the Master Emerald (as Knuckles was trying to make happen) so that neither Chaos nor Discord would be alone in the universe. That was the original intended meaning of Tikal’s vague “Chaos…alone…you…”. But, as usual, it was my good brother Yuni Oha who recommended the possibility that Discord be somehow cured, so the Chao could become a sort of mascot for the Rebellion. I loved the idea of giving this episode a real lasting impact for the rest of the series, so I made it work. Of course, Yuni also highly recommended the use of Perfect Chaos and/or Discord, and I had to disappoint on that front. But who knows? It may happen someday. *wink wink*

I keep meaning to go here and getting sidetracked. Chaos himself. I loved the way that scene turned out. He was on-screen for all of five minutes, didn’t say a word, and yet had one of the most compelling character moments I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing in this show. Not gonna lie, I teared up a little bit when I wrote about him stroking the Chao’s head. Is it weird to cry about something you wrote? Anyways, my only real complaint about that scene is that, after all the buildup Discord got, it was completely upstaged by Chaos. Then again, Discord is staying on as a permanent character, and Chaos isn’t, so I had to treat Chaos right for his brief cameo.

That was most recent on my mind, but I suppose there is much else to talk about. Rouge, for example. Every last scene of hers was extremely complicated to write. I had to approach some very dark and mature concepts in a PG (K+) format. How do you talk about someone getting stabbed in a way that makes sense when you’re not allowed to show blood coming out of a person? (I don’t know if that’s actually the rule, but it’s the rule I’ve taken to. There can be blood, it just can’t be seen actively coming out of a body.) And that’s after she got tied to a chair and beaten, after Shadow tried to blow her up, after Infinite and Fang seemingly murdered one another (something obviously went wrong there). So is she dead now? I’d have to say, “probably”. But we’ll all have to wait and see. I suppose I should say the same about Sly.

This episode set up A LOT of future character arcs. Sonic, Tails, Shadow, Knuckles, and Cream all come to mind immediately. I guess that’s the point of a good finale, isn’t it? My point is, I guess…pay attention? I don’t know, I always worry that the hints of foreshadowing I drop go completely unnoticed if I don’t make them super duper obvious, like “hey, this is something that might happen later!”. At least this time, you’ve already had hints of the future character dynamics between Sonic, Shadow, and Tails through the Green Light Riders Season 2 preview. (Man, I published that in May! Now it’s December! I was supposed to be caught up by now!)

Finally think I’m running out of things to say. One interesting note is that this is actually one of the first planned two-parters that didn’t get split from one or need to get split into three. I planned on the separation between this episode and the next from the beginning. Trouble with that is that I knew I would be forcing myself to write an episode-long fight scene, which, as I’ve said in the past, is a major weakness of mine. The discouragement of making one fight last so long might be part of the reason I wasn’t more adamant about balancing my writing with my video game life. I could already tell by the time I stopped writing that this one foe with a very specific skillset was making for a very stagnant fight. Having to juggle so many different allies for the fight did keep things a little bit less predictable on one hand, but also added its own challenge on the other.

Although, quite possibly the hardest part of the episode was managing the logic behind Knuckles, Shadow, Amy, and how they would interact with Rouge, how and why they would leave the fight with Discord, and how it could make sense that they react in just the ways they needed to. It’s what I spent a vast majority of my break time thinking about. And even now, I think it all came out a little forced. Knuckles and Rouge really needed a proper reunion to demonstrate that Knuckles was able to trust her, but that simply didn’t fit. It didn’t make a lot of sense that Amy felt right about leaving the fight with Discord to check on Shadow, and even less that she didn’t say a word when she passed Knuckles. Sonic calmly accepting Knuckles’ plan didn’t make sense either, especially considering his reaction when Tikal voiced the same intent back in the finale of Sonic Adventure. But Discord needed to be close by for Knuckles’ plan to go through, and if Sonic were there with the intent to stop Knuckles, he easily could have. I had no sound justification for getting rid of Sonic in that moment, so having him accept the plan was the only option. I think it was all just a bit of a mess. A mess that did its job wonderfully, mind you. These conclusions for Rouge and Discord’s stories worked out just as I always pictured them, which is a rare accomplishment for me.

And I think I’ve been ranting on for long enough, so I suppose I’ll have to leave you until we meet again for part 2, the finale of season 1! (It’s been a long time coming.)

Review: Season 2 Preview – Team Sonic Racing Special

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 50th Episode Special

As if it weren’t obvious, this episode was not exactly normal. I’ve mentioned multiple times before, both here and in the author’s notes of the actual story, that I had in mind the possibility of rewriting Crisis of Chaos, the four premiere episodes of the series. Besides just being generally poor in quality compared to my current standards of writing, those episodes had simply grown out of date as the series continued to grow. Being designed to come before the prequel, I of course did everything in my power to make sure that everything I would write thereafter would fit in correctly, but some inevitable contradictions and oddities popped up, especially in regards to Sonic Forces, which hadn’t even been announced at the time of those episodes being published. Eventually, I wanted to fix those problems, to address those conspicuously missing elements. But I’ve been focusing so hard on moving forwards that it always just seemed like a low priority. Then suddenly, I looked up from writing the Sonic Adventure Special, and realized that my next episode would be my 50th. Meanwhile, there were some unexpected delays in the episode that I had been planning on coming next. The secret Ninja Episode.

So, I realized that there would be no better time to go back to where it all began than for such a great milestone as a 50th episode. I figured that writing a new episode, rather than editing the old ones, would give me a lot more freedom to include things that would be considered spoilers if they’d been placed in those original episodes. Things like Fang, or even Infinite. It would also give me freedom in general, to write scenes which would have made for a very odd story flow if they’d been added before. I also figured that making a separate episode would attract a little more attention, and ensure that the new content would be read by people who already read the old episodes. So, with effectively no restrictions, I wrote.

This episode was dedicated to tying. Tying loose ends together, but also tying together the series as a whole. There are so many little things with considerable impacts that it would be hard to list them all. Probably the most important part, as mentioned above, was reconciling this story with the aspects that were introduced along with Forces (and Mania. I forget sometimes that that’s where the HBH’s come from.) It was addressing the questions of where Hero, Infinite, and of course, the Hard Boiled Heavies, were during this big war. I tried to write Hero’s introduction episode in this Season such that it didn’t matter too much, but still it left just a few questions hanging, which I hope have been answered. Infinite, on the other hand, benefited greatly from his one short scene in this episode. Where he was left at the end of Season 0, he had been given this odd sort of relationship with Blacklight which was left extremely vague, and next time we see him, Blacklight’s been dead for months and Infinite doesn’t say a word about him. I originally planned for him to at least say something at that point, but it just didn’t work with the episode. So finally, with this one, I was really able to show exactly what was going on between them. Infinite…had a friend…sort of. And that has a pretty significant degree of meaning for both of their characters.

The HBH’s are a little bit different. Technically speaking, there was nothing that really mandated their appearance in Crisis of Chaos, it would be very reasonable to say that, since they weren’t part of the big plan, they were just out fighting all the various offscreen battles. And technically that was true, though this episode actually retconned Heavy King into the ending scene of the original. But, just like Hero, it was nice to simply prove that they were there, and that they weren’t just sitting around and doing nothing.

Then, there were other things to reconcile. Things that, technically speaking, I could have planned for, but wasn’t able to anticipate, things that I would write of my own accord, knowing that they ran a bit against what the original Crisis seemed to suggest. One of the big ones there was Lumis. At the end of the Dawn of Chaos arc, Lumis was redeemed and welcomed back into the Realm of Chaos. But in the original Crisis, he was treated, both by myself the narrator, and by Chaos, as a villain, simply because all I had planned for Lumis at the time of Crisis was that he would be the future villain, with no details about how that story would end. That was reconciled in this episode by showing that Chaos was simply holding an unfounded grudge, with the added benefit of serious character development on both sides with the realization of similarities between them, and the fact that even the so-called-gods cannot be perfect.

And of course, there are the things I added simply to improve the depth of the story and characters, without any necessity otherwise. Little bits showing the relationships between Chaos, Sonic, and Shadow I found to be important because that dynamic was never really touched on outside of the original Crisis. And probably the part that added the most meat to this episode, the Commander subplot. At the time of the original Crisis, I had no idea how important the Commander would become in the grand scheme of the story. I knew I’d use him eventually, I just didn’t realize to what extent it would be. Naturally, I had to tell his missing story here after how much focus he got in Season 0, and even in the flashbacks of this season. Him combined with Hero was a fantastic way to show this war’s effect on the common man, something that was completely overlooked in the big robo-kaiju battle focus of the original Crisis.

And let’s not forgot the straight-up plotholes of the original that I had to fill here. Things that were pointed out me long after the original was published, such as “Why couldn’t the Hedgehogs just escape with Chaos Control?” and “Did Chaos die, or did he just go back to the Realm of Chaos?” and “Where did Tails get GUN technology from?” all got at least one dedicated scene to explaining. In regards to that last one, that “technology exchange” brought up for the first proper time in this episode was actually something I had planned on being discussed in a very, very similar scene in the original, and I’m not sure if I simply forgot to write it at the time, or if I actively decided to address it in what would become Forces of Chaos, and forgot once that came around. Either way, it never got addressed, so I had to fill it in here.

I’ll try not to drag this one out too much longer. I want to mention how I was randomly inspired to use the GUN Truck while watching a Sonic the Hedgehog Official Livestream a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very glad that I was. An action movie car chase scene just felt so right to use as the way that the Commander and Hero connect. To a certain extent, I was also inspired by a scene from the movie Captain America: Winter Soldier, in which Nick Fury, leader of the acronymed military organization SHIELD (I’ve drawn comparisons with the Commander before), was seemingly killed in a big, explosive car chase sequence. So what does that mean for the Commander? Is it possible that he’s still alive after being trapped in a sinking truck like that? Well, no one knows for certain. And eventually, that will become perhaps the single most relevant takeaway from this episode.

On a related note, this episode featured the second appearance of the mysterious “J. Naka”. Eventually, we will get to meet him in the present. But for now, his backstory just keeps getting built up little by little.

So what’s next after this big special episode? Normally, I’d say we’re going back to right where we left off in the main story of this season. But the specials aren’t over yet! Something important is happening in the next few days! The release of Team Sonic Racing! You didn’t think I’d let that slip by, did you? (Apparently I’ve never mentioned it on this site before. Wow, I really need to step up my game.) So does that mean we’re getting a Team Sonic Racing special episode? Actually…even better! This isn’t just any special episode. This is a very special preview at a full-length episode vital to Season 2, which celebrates all things Sonic Racing, and then some! Green Light Riders is coming very soon!

-And there’s no better feeling than to be here with you! Look out!

Review: Season 0 Finale (Episode 32)

Oh, man. It’s hard to believe it’s over. I mean, The Chaos Project still has a long way to go, but Season 0, the backbone of the whole story, is actually over. It’s been two years. Two whole years! Ten percent of my life, I’ve spent on this season alone, and now it’s over! Two years ago, if you had told me I would end the season on a cliffhanger battle between Blacklight and Infinite, I would’ve…well, first I would’ve asked who Infinite is, because Forces wasn’t announced yet, but then I would’ve called you crazy. Certainly, I would’ve been on, like, Season 2 at least. And certainly, if it had somehow taken me that long to end Season 0, there’s no way I would’ve dedicated such an important episode to concepts from some bland Modern Sonic game that no one likes. After all, the stories of Modern Sonic games are specifically what I’m writing this story to combat. And yet, here we are. I guess you just never know what life’s gonna throw at you. But hey, make your move, work it out, that’s what life is all about. It’s an adventure. And somehow, through it all, it still leads into Crisis of Chaos in exactly the ways I wanted it to. I suppose I should probably explain that ending scene itself. The idea didn’t occur to me until some time during the writing of this episode, but I thought that, given the way this whole arc started, and the innate similarities between Infinite and Blacklight that have been drastically strengthened by the Ruby connection, their relationship needed better resolution than the climax offered.

Man, where do I even go from here, talking about this episode? SO. MUCH. ACTION. This was really testing the limits of my action-writing skills. I suppose that explains how this ended up being far and away the longest episode of this season, likely of the entire story. 14,000 words, where 5,000 is where I like to be, and 11,000 was the record set just one episode earlier. Dialogue is very efficient, one word of dialogue translates fairly well to one second of screen time. But for an action sequence, two or three sentences, long ones, could be necessary to describe just a quick few seconds of equivalent on-screen motion.

Anyways, I suppose I should start with the actual episode content now. I already mentioned in last episode’s review that that episode was like the “character finale,” while this is the “action and plot finale,” and that ended up holding pretty true. But what I didn’t say was that, while last episode was specifically for Shadow and his little group, this episode was for everyone. Usually I like to identify who the main characters for each episode are, and by my normal evaluation method, that would include pretty much the entire Sonic cast this time (the exceptions being Silver, Blaze, Classic Sonic, Zero, and arguably Sonic himself, plus spin-off characters like the Babylons). For such an important episode, I think that’s pretty fair.

Since it actually took up a pretty fair percentage of this episode, I suppose I should talk about Cream’s little character arc. I promised it would happen, and I think I delivered. In the end, she didn’t really “handle herself” as well as I’d hoped, but I also wanted to make sure to keep things within her established character. Fun fact; I was originally planning on having her actually accept the gun from the Commander, or maybe end up being forced to use his, but in the end, I realized that was kind of…wrong, to put a gun in the hands of a seven-year-old. Hence why I had to talk about the safeties in the gun to have the Commander offer the weapon in the first place without seeming like a terrible, terrible person in the process. The culprit, I think, for making me think it was okay before I came to my senses, is Ender’s Game, a sci-fi novel about a child sent to wage war against an alien race. You might remember it for the terrible movie it had a few years back, but the books are great. Anyways, the idea of a kid with a gun didn’t seem so crazy to me in light of that, but I realized that not everyone would agree with that assessment. But anyways, those scenes were also nice because I got to give the Commander a proper character arc, even if only a small one. I’ve been painting him as such a jerk throughout this series, but I do really like him as a character, so it was very nice to show his more caring, protective side. Not to mention his skills as a soldier, since he’s usually on the sidelines. Before our next topic, I’d like to confirm that Heavy Shinobi is not dead. I just wanted to prove a point about Infinite’s brutality, which I think went quite well.

Since I just mentioned soldiers, I guess I’ll move on to Hero next. I knew right from the beginning that I didn’t want to pull another fake Super Form with him like I did in After the Fight, but I also knew that he was much too important to this episode arc to be relegated to lesser fights. So, recalling the fact that Titanic Monarch was a Zone before it was a final boss, I thought that having Hero traverse that Zone in the middle of Shadow’s Super fight would be a great way to show off the sheer scale of the Monarch, while also giving him a great opportunity for a final interaction with Infinite. Of course, this planning was all before I was even done with After the Fight, so their entire thing they had going back then was all for the purpose of leading up to “I don’t want to see you burn.” Essentially, that was Infinite’s way of saying “I care about you,” which is insane for him, but that’s why I had them spend so much time together over the course of this arc. And then of course, Hero said his first words! Sort of. “Nuh-uh” aren’t exactly words. I originally planned on a more resolute “No,” but I was advised against such a drastic move at this time. Doesn’t mean he won’t say more in the future, but as his very first semblance of speech, something a little more like how he usually expresses himself seemed a little more appropriate. And of course, we have his resolution, becoming a proper GUN soldier. I mentioned this before, and I know that it felt rushed, almost out of the blue, but I couldn’t have him talk about it! The best I could do is hint that he’d be without a purpose after the war, and show that he has a respect for the Commander. Honestly, I think it’s a pretty reasonable step for him to take, given his character arc in Forces alone, but since it’s technically your custom character, I can see why anyone might disagree with that.

I guess I’ll talk about my shames of this episode now. Probably the biggest was how much Tails was shoved off to the side, considering that he was technically the first main character of this arc. Before Forces ever came along, this arc was intended to form a pretty important bond between Shadow and Tails, and I’ll admit that that part got completely dropped halfway through. I’ll just have to move the building of that relationship off into next season (or maybe the one after), which is fine by me. I can still use the early episodes of this arc as a foundation. But anyways, it’s actually pretty sad that Cream got more of a focus in this episode than Tails did, but in the grand scheme of things, he really just wasn’t that important, and I didn’t want to force anything. Next up is the Super fight. It was meant to be…a lot more exciting. But as you could probably tell, I gave up on actually describing most of it halfway through, and instead just implied that stuff was happening while they were talking. The problem is that the Monarch itself had a giant, blaring, fragile weak point, one hit and it’s over, which made it a lot harder to keep interesting. Not to mention the fact that the episode was intended to be much shorter, so one battle spread throughout all of it wouldn’t have seemed so dragged out that way. There’s one last disappointment, and it’s a small one. Considering that Bruno the Wisp is technically the only original character I introduced in this arc, I would’ve like for him to be…at least a little bit more important. I mean, he served his purpose, he gave Hero a way to communicate with others, he armed the Wispon when necessary, and he showed off character from Hero in that he’s less secure without him. And of course, he had a few entertaining interactions with Infinite. But he himself didn’t gain much in the way of character. Oh, well. And…that’s really all for disappointments. I’m quite fond of this episode over all.

I could probably keep talking here for hours, as seems to be becoming the norm. But I think I’ve covered all the most important parts. There are quite a few things I sort of intended to talk about, like more about those three ending scenes, but I think I wrote them in a way that each speaks for itself. So I guess this is where I’ll stop. So now is the time for another big announcement. I can now confirm that I will publish the premiere episode of Season 1 on June 23rd, the second anniversary of the story, and Sonic’s 27th. That’s next week! No need for a long seasonal break! (Though there may be a summer hiatus thereafter.) So keep an eye out!

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