Preview: Season 1, Episode 8

Well, as much as I’d love to do an animated preview for every episode, that last one took almost as long to make as the episode itself, and that was supposed to be an easy one! If I kept making those, I wouldn’t have any time left to actually write the stories they’re trying to tell! So, for now, it’s back to the old, boring, block-of-text previews. That certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll never do another animation again, it just might be a while. We’ll have to wait and see. And so, without further delay, I give you the preview for the very first Mid-Season Finale, coming one week from today!

The Eggman Empire Day Festival — Empire City

Down on the streets, citizens of many races and species are gathered in great lines down the sidewalks, staring up silently as confetti rains down from the sky. Speakers loudly blare a familiar yet strangely upbeat tune celebrating the Eggman Empire, and the sound of cheering can be heard as the first balloon float approaches between the skyscrapers, depicting a more classic appearance of Eggman, even blown up in a familiar pose. Despite the odd cheering, there don’t seem to be many happy faces in the crowd. Large digital screens hung up on the walls of buildings show zoomed images of what appears to be the same crowd, though that digital crowd seems unusually excited. Several of the real people in the back rows give an occasional nervous glance back at the guard robots stationed periodically behind the groups of people, weapons raised raised up to their chests as if prepared to fire on a moment’s notice.

One robot is suddenly drawn back into the shadows in a blur, and the sound of crunching metal can be heard. No one seems to notice. A few moments later, another disappears in the same way. This time, just a few people manage to see. Whispers quickly begin to spread through the crowd. The guard robots start to scan around on high alert, but still they disappear one by one, some hit with weapons, others by more direct attacks. By the time the second float approaches, depicting the Egg Mobile carrying a large checkered ball on a chain, there’s a clear excitement and confusion amongst the crowd. And that’s when Sonic appears on top of it.

He wears a large earpiece with a microphone that extends most of the way down to his mouth. When he speaks, his voice is greatly amplified, booming through the streets of the city. “Citizens of Empire City! As most of you probably know, my name is Sonic the Hedgehog!” All of the screens on the walls that had been showing the floats are now pointed directly at him, so the entire city can see. “No matter what Eggman’s been trying to tell you, I’m still alive, and I’m still fighting!”

The members of the Rebellion, now spread throughout the crowd, start to cheer. The rest of the crowd quickly joins in.

“Eggman wants us to give up! To accept his rule, to celebrate it! But we’re doing no such thing! The Rebellion will keep fighting until this world is ours again! And if you care about this world, if you’re tired of Eggman’s tyranny, then you can–”

“You can scatter like insects to avoid a far worse fate.” Infinite’s voice projects through the streets just as loudly as Sonic’s. “Because your little blue savior won’t be saving anyone today.” Infinite descends down to stand on the float across from Sonic, caught on the cameras for the whole city to see.

Sonic doesn’t lose his confidence. “Well, look who’s back from the dead. The masked clown. I almost can’t believe you’ve been hiding from me all this time. It’s been years, hasn’t it? Guess I must’ve left a pretty big impression.”

Infinite lets out a booming laugh as he adjusts the mask on his face. “How amusing it is that you think I fear you, filthy little sewer rat. It may have been years for you, but it wasn’t so long ago that I held your life in my hands. You are the only one who has something to fear.”

“I wasn’t afraid of you before, and I’ve only gotten stronger since then.”

“You could never defeat me alone.”

“I never said I was alone.”

On the streets below, the members of the Rebellion step forwards amidst their crowds, cheered along by the citizens around them.

Infinite pushes his mask up once again. “True. But then, neither did I.”

Heavy King slams down onto the street in front of Knuckles and Hero. Citizens immediately begin to scatter, screaming in terror with the new danger so close to them. But he is also not alone. Heavy Rider zooms through the streets, skidding to a stop in front of Amy and Tails. Heavy Gunner jets through the air, drifting down with weapon pointed at Shadow and Omega. Heavy Shinobi leaps in to cut off the escape route of Vector and Espio.

“So, you’re working with Eggman again? Guess some things never change.”

Infinite answers as he lifts back into the air, “We’ve been expecting you. Are you afraid yet?”

“Hmph.” Sonic wipes across the bottom of his nose, and takes off at a run, leaping from the float in a Spin Attack.

Rouge watches all these battles unfold nervously, slowly stepping back into the shadows of an alleyway. Until she is stopped by the muzzle of a gun pointed at her head. Fang gives a smirk behind her. “Rouge. Fancy meeting you here.”

The Battle of Empire City has begun. But something far more sinister lurks behind. What is the Anti-Rebellion planning? And where’s Heavy Magician?

Advertisements

Review: Season 1, Episode 7

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

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

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

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

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

S1 E7: The Bigger They Come

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

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

Review: 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: Chapter 11

Wow, this one came down to the wire. As an anniversary special, this one needed to be published on a particular date. And I left myself over a month from beginning to end to meet that date. I finished it three days before the deadline. I’m not entirely sure why it took so long. Perhaps it was mostly due to summertime distractions. But also, this episode required an immense amount of research, part of which included replaying the original Sonic Chronicles game (even though I already did about 8 months ago, I felt like doing it again). But enough of all that boring stuff. Let’s talk about why this episode exists in the first place.

So let’s think back. I first purchased Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood just over a week after it came out, so almost exactly ten years ago today. And…I hated it. The little child version of me couldn’t figure out how to use the touch screen prompts during battle, which meant no POW moves, which meant no chance at beating the first boss. So I gave up, put the game down for…probably six months, though it might’ve been as much as a year, and when I came back to it, I decided to start over from scratch, and pay closer attention to the tutorial. It payed off. I became practically obsessed with the game, playing it with any spare time I had. When my DS’s touch screen broke around the time I was entering Metropolis (mostly due to previous experience with Pokémon Ranger, if you played it you probably understand), I didn’t give up. I discovered that, by unscrewing the DS and temporarily removing the battery, resetting the system would cause the touch screen to function properly again for a few hours at a time. So I kept going like that, taking out the battery over and over again every few hours of play, because I so desperately wanted to finish. And when I finally did, that still wasn’t enough. Using the New Game+ feature, I proceeded to replay the game another four times over. Then I was finally done. For two or three years. Then I went back and beat it another three times (by this time, the touch screen had magically fixed itself, don’t ask me how). And then I was legitimately done. Or so I thought. Just over a year ago, after I was neck-deep in writing for the Chaos Project, the thought occurred to me, “I can write whatever I want. So what can I do with that?” It wasn’t long at all before I realized that Sonic Chronicles, the game I had beaten more times than any other in my life, the game that I had long since given up on hoping for a sequel for, had been sitting on an unfulfilled cliffhanger for nine-ish years. As a writer who strives to expand on unfulfilled plot points in the Sonic franchise, I couldn’t let that stand. Immediately, I began pondering on how I could do that. I quickly rejected the idea of simply telling a sequel story, as that would have far too many difficult canon implications, such as the presence of Shade. But the world they all arrived in at the end of that cliffhanger…looked shockingly similar to the world I was planning on building for war of The Chaos Project. So what if it actually was? What if, by mistake, the crew of the Cyclone ended up in a different world, the world of my story, instead of the one they were intending to reach? I know it’s a stretch, it’s pretty obvious that writers were actually going for their own world transformed due to the difference in the way time passes in the Twilight Cage. They were supposed to be in the future. But why couldn’t I stretch that, just a bit? Thus, this episode was born. Of course, at that point, I had no idea when I would place this episode, and in fact I figured it would be quite a bit later. But I decided to do another playthrough of the game, just so I could plan it better. Out of curiosity, once I was finished, I looked into the original release date, since I had no idea how long it had actually been. Surprise! The game’s 10th anniversary was coming in less than a year! There would be absolutely no more appropriate time to write this episode than on that date. I wasn’t totally convinced that making such an unusual episode would be a good idea so early on in the series. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And so, when the time came a month ago, I decided to enjoy a celebratory tenth playthrough of the game, partly to make sure that I got a bunch of the more minor details correct. And I wrote. And you’ve read the results. That’s the whole story, beginning to end.

So, why did I love the game so much? Looking back on my most recent playthrough, without the obscuring goggles of nostalgia, I found that…it was enjoyable, but riddled with many, many problems. Why didn’t I notice them before? Well, the reason I got the game in the first place is because I was told it would be like Pokémon, but with Sonic characters. (Pokémon was one of the only RPGs I had been exposed to at the time.) And on that front, it delivered. I think they did an excellent job taking the usual formula for a slow, turn-based RPG, and turning it into something that feels very frantic and fast-paced, very good for a Sonic game, without losing the RPG appeal. Of course, movement in the overworld was very sluggish, but the use of abilities of different characters, including Sonic’s speed, to traverse certain areas of the map, made it feel like it all worked just fine. And of course, there’s the memorable storyline, heartwarming character moments, and all-around well-written dialogue. I’ve seen lots of complaints about Sonic being written like a total out-of-character jerk (which I actually addressed in the episode), but those were only some of the branching dialogue options, and as Sonic, you could choose to be as nice or as jerkish as you want. I didn’t feel that any of the options, taken alone, were too far outside the extremes of Sonic’s natural character. Then again, almost anything will feel more like Sonic’s natural character than his modern Roger Craig Smith writing.

But moving on…this game inspired me in so many ways. I once stated that I fell in love with the Sonic series more for the world and characters than for any one particular game. And I think this game is quite possibly the biggest reason for that. More than any other game in the franchise, Chronicles gets you a look deep into the psyche of almost every character, and really gets you thinking about Sonic’s world as a place with unified lore. Maybe the writing isn’t perfect, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best in the entire Sonic series. Sonic taking up a leadership role, showing a serious dedication to the mission with the occasional lighthearted snark, that precisely describes the way I write my Sonic now, and that’s no coincidence. If it weren’t for this game, Sonic probably wouldn’t be the leader of the Rebellion now. Then again, if it weren’t for this game, I probably wouldn’t be writing at all. A well kept secret that I’ve never told before is that I was actually writing a Sonic story long before I ever joined fanficiton.net. And that story…was Sonic Chronicles 2. It’s on the Sonic Fanon Wiki. No I won’t tell you which one it is, because there are many. And no, I don’t ever intend to finish it (I think I only got to the beginning of Chpater 3 out of an assumed ten). But if I hadn’t already started that when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to start writing The Chaos Project all those years later. And you know, that’s assuming that I’d be a Sonic fan at all anymore. I think it’s pretty hard to be a Sonic fan right now, and if I had one less Sonic game to look back on with intensely fond memories, I might have given up by now. So thank you, Sonic Chronicles, for inspiring me to do something that I love.

So I guess it’s on to the episode itself, though I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say in that area. The idea for this episode ended up being that, in the end, nothing really changes. If the real Sonic Chronicles 2 were somehow to be announced tomorrow, it could begin with them arriving in the ruined future of their world, just as was certainly planned, and this episode still wouldn’t interfere with that. But then, some things did change. Shadow gained a greater respect for Sonic. Shade learned to trust her friends a little more. That’s what this whole episode came down to. Chronicles ended on a ten years’ old cliffhanger. And no, I didn’t build the bridge to the other side. But I laid down the first plank. I explored character arcs and plot points that have been lost for ten long years.

Alright, let’s think about…references. Lots and lots of Chronicles quotes, obviously. The location of Cyber City AKA Genocide City is a reference to a zone that was scrapped from Sonic 2, supposedly turned into the third act of Metropolis. Genocide City was the beta name programmed into the game, but that was apparently a mistake made by designers who wanted something that sounded cool and edgy, but didn’t have a total understanding of English, and chose something that would be a bit too violent for the little ones. It was supposedly going to be renamed into Cyber City, but was instead scrapped entirely. And of course, the fact that it’s Metropolis, but also not Metropolis, was intentionally done for the Chronicles reference. And it helps that this whole season is taking place on the island setting of Sonic 2. And…so as to not stay here for hours, I think I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m still hard at work on the next Chaos Project episode, but in the meantime, I’ll finally be able to update Shadow of Time again! Be on the lookout!

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

S1 E6: Chapter 11: Lost Chronicles

A celebratory new episode of The Chaos Project is coming at you! Read it right here!

Years ago, the crew of the Blue Cyclone escaped from the Twilight Cage, only to be shot down from the sky upon their return. What happened to them? How did they survive? Now, ten years later, it is finally time to learn of their fate.

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 4

Well, this one took a lot longer than I was hoping, but it’s finally done! There was a lot that went into this episode, so I’m trying to think of where to start. I knew from the moment I learned that the Jackal Squad weren’t featured in Forces that I would want to dedicate an episode to them at some point. At the time, I didn’t imagine it would be quite this soon. And a hitch came in the plan when I realized that the general consensus was that Shadow had killed them all. I mean, sure, “destroyed the entire squad” certainly could imply that, but Shadow’s no mass-murderer…right? And I’d already written into Forces of Chaos that Infinite knew they were alive, but didn’t care about them. (That was totally meant to lead into this episode, by the way.) I got around this problem by suggesting that Infinite did think they were dead at the time, but learned the next day that they weren’t. And you know, there were more than just the three Jackals in the squad besides Infinite. They’re nowhere to be seen in this episode. Perhaps Shadow really did kill the rest of them? I intentionally left it very unclear, and it could simply be that Seth, Colm, and Tana were the only ones willing to go back to the squad after Shadow’s attack, and all the rest just ran away. Whichever makes you feel better, I guess.

Let’s move on to the members of the squad, I suppose. None of them were given names…or personalities…when they originally appeared in the prequel comic. But these three are the same three who appeared most prominently in that comic, and most of Seth’s monologue was dedicated to explaining that fact. It was kind of fun, taking these nameless nobodies and turning them into real characters. I’ve seen it done by others before, and it’s interesting to see how our interpretations differ. And anyways, Seth was the closest to getting something along those lines, as he was featured right alongside Infinite in that comic, and even had a single spoken line. Based on his more eager, energetic facial expressions, and the similar inflection I interpreted from his single line, I came to the conclusion that he’s maybe a bit younger than the rest of them, but his closeness to Infinite showed that he was still most likely his second in command. I built the character based around those two observations. The result was a surprisingly optimistic personality, an interesting contrast to Infinite himself, belonging to someone who considers Infinite to be his closest friend. Perhaps they even had a sort of darker, more twisted version of the brotherly bond shared by Sonic and Tails. Maybe I’ll dig into that a little in a future episode.

Something you, in all likelihood, probably didn’t notice, is that there was a pattern to the names I chose for these three members of the Jackal Squad. They all share their names with playable characters from a game called Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. They don’t have very much else in common with these characters, just the names. Part of the reason I did this has to do with a scrapped idea I had for Infinite. When contemplating what his name should have been before he became Infinite, one of the most prominent ideas that came to me was “Innes,” which means “small, secluded island,” and of course, begins with “In” just like Infinite does. Innes also happens to be the name of a Sacred Stones character. There’s also another reason I was considering Innes, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Anyways, I liked that name, but I liked Finn even better, where “Fin” literally means “end,” the opposite of Infinite, and is also derived from the “fin” in “InFINite.” So, that was going to be it, and this episode was going to have nothing to do with Fire Emblem. But I still needed a name for Seth and the other Jackals. And that brings me to my next point.

This episode was strongly, yet loosely, inspired by Egyptian mythology. The connection was sort of already there for me. Jackals are important figures in Egyptian lore, strongly associated with death due to the real life problem of jackals digging up graves. And Infinite’s very earliest appearance involved him raiding a pyramid, which are well-known to be used as the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. In other words, Infinite was doing exactly what inspired those Egyptian myths. They even gave him a middle-eastern style curved blade. Throw in the Phantom Ruby, and you have a clear connection to the jackal-headed Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis. That was the angle from which I decided to work this episode. Having it take place in a pyramid was an obvious choice from there, and I figured the pyramid from SA2 would simply be a more creative choice. Anyways, one of the reasons I liked “Innes” as a potential name was due to the fact that it has a similar sound to “Anubis,” driving in that connection further. But I liked Finn too much to let it go. And then there’s Seth. Seth is an alternate pronunciation for Set, another Egyptian god. Set did a lot of…interesting things in Egyptian lore, but one of the more important things he did was teaming up with Ra, God of the Sun, to slay Apophis, the Serpent of Chaos. (Now that sounds like something that can be tied back into Sonic. So who in the Sonic universe made a Sun, who could team up with Seth? And who would that make Apophis? You may have to wait until Season 5 to find out.) Point is, much like the rest of this episode, Seth is inspired by that mythology. But wait, didn’t I say Seth was a Fire Emblem character? That I did, yes. Between the coincidental near-use of Innes and the definite use of Seth, I decided to roll with that reference, and name Tana and Colm after those characters as well. Lyon, the ex-member of the Jackal Squad who died, was also named similarly, and he even shares a bit in common with his namesake…in the fact that he’s dead. Spoiler alert!

I think it’s finally time to move on to other things. Before the Jackal Squad was ever involved, this episode was planned to be a team-up with Shadow and Hero, since Hero didn’t get a proper spotlight in his introduction episode, and Shadow, the second main character of the series, has been lurking in the background this entire season so far. And I realize that with so much focus on Seth, that got a little bit lost. I realized that with a third character in the mix, Hero, being mute, would be hard-pressed to get enough screen time, since Shadow and Seth would be able to keep talking to each other. With that in mind, I made sure to kick the episode off with a sweet little character moment with him and Bruno, so that he didn’t just seem like a flat, pointless character the entire time. This is probably the first time I can say that Bruno was pretty much totally useless, but now that I’ve written him in, I’ve got to stick with him. Anyways, Hero and Infinite are supposed to have a thing going, that was emphasized well enough back during Forces of Chaos, but once again, with so much focus on Seth, that got lost this time around. At least he made friends with Shadow, even if that was kind of forced in at the end.

So…there are three Phantom Rubies. And Shadow may or may not have promised to help Infinite find them. So why are there three? Well, why are there seven Emeralds? Why are there twelve Temporal Sapphires? Perhaps this is related somehow. We never did learn why Chaos and Ruby energy interact the way they do. Or what the Phantom Ruby really is. But now, we’re doing alright, and we’re on our way.

-So until next time, remember to face every moment, day by day!

Preview: Season 1, Episode 4

It’s that time again! Time to get a sneak peek at the next episode of The Chaos Project!

Shadow’s been acting strange recently. And Sonic has finally come to confront him about it. But it seems Sonic is the last person Shadow wants to hear from.

Sonic looks down in sadness from what Shadow says. “Shadow…”

Shadow suddenly stands, and walks past Sonic without a word.

“And where are you going?”

Shadow stops just long enough to answer, “For a walk. You wanted me to get out, didn’t you?” Then he continues his way out. Sonic doesn’t stop him.

Shadow marches along past the row of tents that mark the Rebellion camp, following along with the stream that runs through the center of the canyon. The camp seems to be pretty quiet, apparently mostly empty. He continues to walk in silence for quite some time. Eventually, he reaches a large, thick tree right in the canyon’s center, with an Emerald-shaped carving in its bark. The memorial for Chaos. He stops to stare at it for a while. His eyes shut as he clenches a fist at his side. Then he walks on past.

The area he proceeds into has quite a few more trees, almost like a small forest contained within the widening walls of the canyon. After a few moments, another pair of footsteps fall in line beside his. Shadow finally looks up and around his shoulder. Hero gives him a smile and a wave as he continues to walk alongside him.

“What do you want?”

Hero gives a shrug, and waves a hand past Shadow out to the forest.

“I don’t want your company. We may have worked together before, but that doesn’t make us friends.”

Beside Hero, Bruno lets out an angry squeak as he shakes a balled up tentacle at Shadow. Hero gasps at whatever it is he hears in the alien language, and starts waving his hands to get him to calm down.

Shadow rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Do what you want.” They continue their walk together for a while longer. Suddenly, Shadow stops in place again as one of his ears twitches. “Did you hear that?”

Hero glances around for a moment, but eventually gives another shrug.

A blur of motion passes behind Shadow. He turns sharply look at it, but he’s too slow to see anything. He tenses up as he advises quietly, “Be on guard. We’re being followed.”

Hero pulls his Wispon close, while Bruno moves around to watch his back. But everything is silent.

A dark-furred figure stands with his back pressed against the shadowed side of a tree, trying as hard as he can to glance around it without being seen. In his hand, the headband-wearing Jackal holds a weapon, a long dagger with a green hilt and a wavy blade.

Who could this bladed assailant be? What could he want? And what’s wrong with Shadow? Find out, on the next episode of The Chaos Project!