Review: Season 1, Episode 10

I could’ve sworn that I pre-wrote this one as usual. But I couldn’t seem to find it. So I guess I’ll have to see what I can remember now.

So since last episode was the “Episode Shadow based introduction,” that would make this one the rest of Forces from a different perspective. With this one, I was finally able to give an answer to that question that was bugging me so much in the last review. That being, “WHERE THE HECK WAS SHADOW OVER THE FOLLOWING SIX MONTHS!!??”  In essence, that was the main reason I bothered with this episode in the first place. I hated that no answer to that question was ever given in the game, so I knew I had to answer for myself at some point. The other major reason had to do with the original “After the Fight” Forces special episode, in which I had Rouge state that she had to steal her Chaos Emerald off of the Death Egg. I figured I had to put a story to that, as I intend to do for most of the other Emeralds shown in that scene as well. But in general, there are a lot of questions regarding Rouge that I felt the need to answer as well. The first hint of her existence in the original game was when Knuckles stated that “his spies” found Sonic on the “orbiting prison.” I was really, really hoping when I first saw that that he was talking about Rouge, and as it turns out, I was right. At least…I’m pretty sure about that. It was all left a bit vague. When Rouge finally made her first real appearance, everyone was weirdly acting as if they hadn’t ever discussed the Death Egg before, even though Knuckles and the others were already on their way there to get Sonic. I mean, did they think that “Orbiting Prison” meant something else? Anyways, Rouge continues to make appearances just like that for about two thirds of the game, dropping in to leave some vital bit of information over the radio, but throughout all of that time, she never made a physical appearance. At first, I believed that she only finally appeared on screen at the final Eggman Empire Fortress battle, which would be ridiculous. Turns out, I had missed the fact that she was standing there silently in the background while the Death Egg was being destroyed. That was her first appearance. A silent role, standing there, watching something. You’d think, if they spend two thirds of the game suggesting that she’s off doing something important, that would be building up for something, right? Well this is Forces we’re talking about, so no.

So anyways, the main question was, “Why does Rouge spend so much of the game apart from the rest of the Resistance, only to reappear at a seemingly random time?” I felt like there was only one reasonable answer. A deep-cover mission. Rouge was acting as a double-agent in the enemy camp, gathering vital information to pass along to the Resistance, culminating in their destruction of the Death Egg. That was the basis for this episode’s plot. But wait a minute…there’s something else about that scene of the Death Egg’s destruction that’s been nagging at me… Oh, yeah! WHAT THE HECK ARE KNUCKLES AND VECTOR DOING IN THERE!? When you’re playing as Classic Sonic in that level, it is very, very strongly implied that Knuckles and Vector are right in there with you. But then, cut to Resistance HQ, and Knuckles and Vector are there too! And yet, almost as if they cared about continuity, Classic Sonic is not there. I guess they just ditched him early and left him to die in the Death Egg’s explosion. And here I thought this was a children’s game. So the only reasonable answer that I can come up with is Chaos Control, as you saw in the episode. Except, Shadow wasn’t there. So, the best I could do was have him hang out with Classic Sonic in the back of the room, just behind the camera. It’s a lame solution, but I didn’t exactly have much to work with.

There was one other major problem I encountered in writing this episode. Remember when Sonic and Shadow finally met after Sunset Heights? Once Shadow finally started explaining what was going on, he practically started with “According to Rouge…” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up a minute there. Rouge has been in steady contact with the Resistance for the entire game up until now. And the Resistance has been having some serious problems with fake Shadows rampaging through cities and tearing down their forces. Are you telling me that Rouge not only knew that these Shadows were fake, not only knew that the real Shadow was out there alive, not only has been in direct contact with him, but also has been sharing extremely important Phantom Ruby information with him, and didn’t bother to tell ONE WORD OF IT to the Resistance!?!? No! Just no! This is one of the most pathetic plot holes I’ve ever seen, not just in a Sonic game, but ever! There is no sane excuse for this! Often times when I encounter a problem like this, I look to the original Japanese script for help. But there was no help to found there, this was one of the more literal translations in the game! So here’s my answer. If you want to take what Shadow is saying at face value, there’s no way to make it work. But if he were lying, we’d be good. So I’ve determined that when Shadow said “According to Rouge,” what he wanted to say was “According to that Replica I destroyed,” but he figured that the Resistance wouldn’t want to trust intel from the mouth of the enemy, so he lied and pretended that Rouge said it. That’s the best I’ve got, take it or leave it.

What else can I say here? A lot that I’m forgetting, I’m sure. This episode marks the first instance in The Chaos Project of a Sonic character being able to breath in the vacuum of space. The Chaotix were on the outside of the ARK, but you could make an argument for some kind of…atmosphere bubble or something. This time, it was clearly a vacuum. It’s pretty much a canon fact that Sonic characters can do this, but it’s not exactly scientific. In other news, the appearance of “Splash Fortress” at the beginning of this episode was a reference to some unused Forces concept art, of a very similar-looking fortress in Green Hill. It was a very interesting aesthetic that I wish they’d used, and I was glad to find a place for it. Why move it to Splash Hill? Because Green Hill is severely oversaturated in Forces, and I figured I might as well take the opportunity to make my first ever Sonic 4 reference.

I think that’s all I’ve got for now!

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

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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!

Preview: Season 1, Episode 5

 

Four years ago

If we wanted any chance of getting up to the ARK in time, I had to call in a favor from an old colleague of mine.

The Chaotix walk through the metallic halls of a military base, this one plastered with the familiar ‘G’ emblem of the Guardian Units of Nations. Espio voices quietly, “Are you sure we should be in here, Vector? Isn’t this a restricted area?”

“Relax, Espio! Trust me, this guy’s an old pal of mine, we worked together on a case way back. I’m sure they have an extra space shuttle or something lying around we can borrow. Besides, look around. Do you see anyone trying to stop us?”

Charmy questions, “Wouldn’t they be a little bit busy trying to, you know, fight off the alien invasion and all that? Maybe they don’t even know we’re here.”

They arrive at a metal door plastered in the white, full-decorated version of the GUN insignia. “Don’t worry guys, we’ll be on our way up to the ARK in no time.”

The door automatically rises open in front of them, opening the way to the GUN central command room, filled with lit screens of world maps and red blips, as well as other horrifying images of the war, managed by almost two dozen workers collecting and relaying information from them. On an elevated platform in the center of it all sits a man with silvery white hair in a decorated uniform, his back turned to the door. But at the sound of the door opening, he turns to see. “Now what’s going on!?” The man’s mismatched pair of red and blue eyes clearly identify him as the High Commander.

Vector greets, “Commander! So good to see you again! Sorry to bother you when I’m sure you’re so busy, but I’ve got a favor to ask, and it’s very important.”

“What!? Who are you, how did you get in here!?”

Charmy is quick to answer, “That’s an easy one! We’re the Chaotix, and the door was open!”

Espio questions quietly, “‘Old pal’, you said?”

“Well…really we were more like associates. He…might’ve questioned me about a case…once…” Espio groans and shakes his head.

The Commander rises to his feet, appearing furious. But before he can say anything more, the door opens once again, and a soldier steps in, throwing a salute. “Commander…the invaders! They seem to be in retreat!”

“What!?”

“Estimated over 1000 black aliens turned tail left their active battlefields, returning to wherever they came from. Alien ships tracked leaving the surface all seem to be converging at the Space Colony ARK.” Vector and Espio glance at each other for a moment.

The Commander pounds his fist onto the side of the chair as he shouts, “The Eclipse Cannon! This isn’t a retreat, soldier! It’s an attack plan!” He presses down on a button on the chair’s arm, channeling his voice through the base’s PA system. “Attention all units! Mobilize all mech battle sections! We must stop the aliens from infiltrating the ARK at any cost!” He takes his hand back. “And somebody get these clowns out of my command room!”

The messenger soldier holds up his weapon threateningly at the Chaotix. They all raise their hands at once in surrender. He motions for them to proceed out the door. “You heard the Commander, get moving!” They slowly file out.

That was when I first started getting suspicious. Everything seemed to center around that ARK. There was something that connected the Professor to those aliens, and whatever it was, my employer seemed to know about it. I didn’t know what the answer was yet. But I knew the only way to figure it out was to get to the ARK and see for myself. And I wasn’t going to let such a minor setback keep me from finding the truth.

 

Review: Shadow of Time Parts 4 and 5

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

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

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

In the Shadow of Time: Part 4: Destruction and Scorn

It’s now a week later than I promised, but the next part of the Shadow of Time story is finally here! Read it right here!

“Finally…justice is served,” the ex-resident of the ARK shouted. Nothing but destruction and scorn awaits Shadow aboard the Space Colony ARK, the space gadget that was once his own home. A cosmic fall is imminent. And then the Black Arms can finally rule.

Preview: Shadow of Time, Part 4

I figured, “Eh, why not?” So here’s a little preview of what I’m posting next week.

Shadow opens fire on the strange green mechanism that serves as the ARK’s floating defense unit with his heavy machine gun. In seconds, it is destroyed. “The Eclipse Cannon is ours.”

Doom’s Eye approaches from behind. “Well done, Shadow. Meet me in the cannon’s control room.” It flies off just as quickly as it arrived.

With no ammo remaining, Shadow discards the weapon, as heavy footsteps across the glass floor can be heard from behind him. “It’s been a long time…Shadow.” Shadow turns to look into the achromatic eyes of the GUN Commander, who points his pistol directly at Shadow’s head.

Shadow turns to face him calmly. “Who are you supposed to be? Another one claiming to know who I am?”

The Commander continues to step forward, never lowering the weapon. “I know you…Shadow the Hedgehog.” He stops a few feet short of Shadow. “You killed everyone I loved. My family. Maria!” He jabs the gun forward for emphasis, as Shadow lets out the slightest gasp at the name. “I’ve been waiting all my life for this day!”

Shadow closes his eyes, and clenches a fist tightly. “You’re wrong. I didn’t kill anyone, not on that day.” He opens his eyes again, and looks directly into the face of his opponent. “Even though Maria didn’t know who I really am, even though she would have been terrified of me if she did, I still tried to save her, because I thought she was a good person. But there are no good people.”

“How dare you!? Maria was like a sister to me! She meant more to me than anyone else! And because of you…she was killed!” The Commander closes his eyes as he thinks back. “I witnessed it all…the Professor and that black alien planning to create a horrifying, evil creature!”

Shadow is once again struck with surprise. “You’re saying that…I was created by Black Doom?”

“And that insane Professor who unleashed it all!”

Shadow has to take a step back as he clutches at his head. “That explains…why…” His eyes dart back and forth as he starts to connect everything, the promises, the demands, the memories, the alien soldiers.

The Commander snaps him out of it with a loud shout. “You don’t fool me! It’s not just about Maria! Thanks to you, everyone I knew and loved was killed aboard the ARK. Finally…justice is served!” He suddenly pulls the trigger, and the gunshot sounds violently through the otherwise silent space. But no one is standing in front him. He only has a moment to realize that he missed before he is struck in the back of the head by Shadow’s kick. He collapses onto the floor as his dropped weapon slides a fair distance away.

Shadow looks down on the white-haired man with scorn. “You’ve wasted enough of my time.” He turns to leave. “I have work to do.”

The Commander tries to contain his rage by pressing his fingers into the solid glass floor. He mutters quietly, “I’ve waited too long to let you get away that easily.” Too far from his gun, he draws a knife that he had concealed. “You’ll regret turning your back on me!” He quickly stands and charges at his foe with the sharp weapon.

Untitled

Well, things seem to be turning out a bit differently this time. Shadow physically attacks the Commander? The Commander has a knife? Could this be the end for either of them? Find out, next week on “In the Shadow of Time.”

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

Review: Shadow of Time Part 3

I write reviews ahead of time for Chaos Project episodes, but not for this. So I sort of forgot. So, I’ll see what I can remember now. This was definitely an important one. Probably the most important part was the reveal of Shadow’s aversion to Sonic. He seems almost afraid, in his own way, of having to face him. But now that Sonic has been seen for the first time (both with bandages “like sports tape” and with unkempt spikes) you can be sure he’ll play an important role for the duration of the story. In case it wasn’t already clear, the level location for the next chapter will be The ARK. Or is it Space Gadget? Maybe Cosmic Fall? The answer to all of the above is yes. Plot points are being integrated. But I can promise that the ARK is not where it all ends.

And now, as last time, a chronicle of specific changes from the original:
1. Shadow tries to get rid of Tails, but eventually meets up with him again.
2. While Shadow tries to destroy the President’s escape pod, Tails tries to stop him. Shadow threatens Tails’ life, and Tails flees before the level ends.
3. It is clearly identified that the pod Shadow destroyed was a decoy, and explained why it was the decoy that was pursued (it was the one with the Emerald).
4. Instead of attempting to infiltrate the GUN Base, Shadow and the Black Arms leave the surface and head for the ARK instead. In a scene that did not exist before, the President and the Commander debate the merits of personally going after Shadow.
5. In a scene that did not exist before, Sonic, his appearance still changing, informs Tails about Knuckles’ injuries. Tails dons a pair of goggles and a shoulder-supported toolbelt. Sonic has a flashback to what happened after he tried to save Shadow.

So, have you figured out the secret yet? There will be one more hint next time around, but nothing major. If you haven’t figured it out by now, you should probably just wait and see.

-Before I say goodbye to you, one more last fist bump!
(Yes, I’m still in Forces mode.)

Review: Shadow of Time Parts 1 and 2

So I’ve been talking a lot about how the purpose of this story is to explain what would have happened if Shadow had stuck to the dark path. I’ve also mentioned a surprise twist, which is another big part of the inspiration. But there’s something else that I haven’t really talked about. I suppose it’s less inspiration and more opportunity, but one of my goals with this story is to tie everything together. People complain about the story of Shadow the Hedgehog being disjointed and confusing, and yet each individual part is missing far too much information. Even though this isn’t the canon story of Shadow, the idea is to take concepts from all of the different stories and beyond, to create one fluid tale of the path to darkness. This required me to break the traditional level order, and have Central City come after the dark mission of The Doom. This story will be a full tour of all of the most evil things Shadow had a chance to do, so this isn’t the first time you’ll be seeing broken level order. But this is about more than levels. It’s even about more than creating a seamless story between the levels. There’s also the characters. Part of the problem with the original Shadow the Hedgehog is that you were often introduced to “important” characters who you never end up seeing again. I don’t want that to be the case here. If you meet a character, you can be assured that that character will get a full resolution. For many characters, this means writing entire scenes that did not exist in the original. Just wait until you see what happens to the President…

And now, a chronicle of changes between this story and the original.
1. Shadow has a flashback to Sonic Adventure 2 during The Doom, which inspires him to protect Maria at all costs, and causing him to complete the dark mission. As a result, the Maria of Shadow’s memories becomes afraid of him, and flees.
2. Back in Sonic Adventure 2, the first real change happened. Instead of letting Shadow fall, Sonic attempted to rescue him. This memory becomes the catalyst for all of Shadow’s future actions.
3. Change in level order, The Doom dark mission leads to Central City.
4. Additional scene in which Shadow is introduced to his own personal army by Black Doom.
5. Shadow must “ensure that the bombs detonate” rather than “detonate the bombs.” We don’t really want Shadow to be standing in the middle of the city next to a “City Annihilator Bomb” when it goes off. That would be bad.
6. Knuckles is critically injured by one of the bombs.
7. The Commander shatters the President’s photograph. (This is a big one, one of many powerfully symbolic events that are used to tie the story together.) In said photograph, Sonic’s arms are wrapped in white bandages. Now why would that be?
8. The executive office is destroyed by the bombs; Shadow is standing somewhere else when ordered to go to the Air Fleet. He uses Chaos Control by his own will to get there.

I suppose I forgot to mention those symbols. Generally, they didn’t exist in the original, but they’re so perfect, and the existing story makes them so easy, that I just keep finding more and more. The story is full of lots other literary techniques as well, with a focus on symbolism and irony, if you know how to look for them. As a whole, I feel like it’s been making this story feel a lot more enriching, and, to a certain degree, professional. So please, enjoy the deep complexities that this story has to offer. By the way, have you figure out the surprise twist yet? Some serious hints were dropped in part 2, and by part 3 you’ll have everything you need to know.

-So, until next time…live and learn every day!
(I wanted to do an “Almost Dead” pun, but I wasn’t really feeling it.)

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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Deleted Scene I: The Commander

This is a scene I had planned since pretty much the very first conceptualization of the Birth of Blacklight arc. I’ve mentioned before that part of the idea with this arc was to fill in the empty space between when Shadow was launched from the arc and when he was found on Prison Island. This scene was supposed to be a big part of that. In the story I’ve directly told, there was no clear explanation of how Shadow’s pod ended up in the hands of GUN, only an inference made in Alfred’s final note to Shadow. Writing that note was actually a little awkward, because I originally planned it to be built off of this scene. The reason I didn’t end up placing this scene in the original story is because, as I was getting up to the point where it would have been in the story, I decided that I needed to have a moment where Alfred realizes his mistakes before the alleged final battle, so that he could be there to help before real final battle started. So, I wrote the second major scene of that episode, where Alfred tries to tackle Shadow before being told that Blacklight holds Maria captive. theoretically, this deleted scene would have come chronologically right after that. But, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that this scene has a lot of similar themes and ideas as that one, so it would have been almost like showing the same scene twice in a row, distracting from the battle at hand. So, I deleted it. But, after it was all said and done, I realized, as I wrote in the episode review, that the overarching theme of humanity betraying Shadow got a little bit lost. This scene was supposed to be the beginning of a resolution to that theme, but I deleted it! So, I decided to write the scene anyways, and post it here as bonus content for you. Enjoy!

March 21st, 42 B.E.

Somewhere East of Research Facility EDEN

Approximate Placement: Season 0, Episode 18

“Hold it right there!” Shadow stops as he hears the unmistakable shout of a soldier, and the clatter of a raising gun. Slowly, he turns to look at the soldier. “I-I said freeze! Don’t move! I know what you are!”

Shadow freezes again as he hears the words and lays eyes on the soldier. His uniform closely resembles that of the GUN soldiers once seen aboard the ARK, with a lighter brown coloring. A few locks of silver hair hang out from his helmet, covering parts of his otherwise boyish face, revealing him to be no older than 18. Most surprisingly, his right eye is a dark maroon-red, while his left is a bright cyan-green. He points a rifle directly at Shadow. Shadow answers slowly, “I know who you are as well, Commander…” Shadow looks more closely at the few decorations that the soldier wears, which he is clearly able to read. “…or should I say, Lieutenant?”

The soon-to-be Commander, now Lieutenant, doesn’t seem to hear or care about what Shadow says. “When I heard the call, I knew it had to be you! I knew you would have to turn up eventually!” Shadow tries to take a slow step towards him, but he jabs the rifle forwards to keep him back. An odd rattling sound can be heard. “You’re Project: Shadow. You’re the one who killed everyone on the ARK! You’re the one who killed Maria! But I survived! And I’ve been preparing for this moment for ten years!” The rattling grows louder.

Shadow stares at the rifle emitting the sound, held in the Lieutenant’s trembling hands. Shadow shakes his head. “I don’t have time for this.” He starts rapidly marching towards the soldier.

The Lieutenant jabs the weapon forwards again. “Stay back, o-or I’ll shoot!”

Shadow doesn’t relent. “One day, a long time from now, you will get the guts to pull that trigger. But not today.” Shadow grabs the muzzle of the gun, rips it from the soldier’s hands, and flings it aside. The Lieutenant starts to step back in fear, now trembling all over. Shadow keeps pace with him. “Blacklight was right. Humans have a hard time dealing with things they don’t understand in any way other than violence. They have a hard time learning. But you will learn. And so will they, no matter how long it takes.” He stops walking. “Don’t worry. You will see me again.” He turns and starts to walk away, as the Lieutenant drops to his hands and knees.

Even overcome by fear, staring at the floor, the soldier shouts, “Come back here, Shadow! I’m not finished with you yet!”

Shadow stops one last time. “I didn’t kill Maria. I couldn’t save her, maybe that was my fault. But I didn’t kill her.” He thinks for another moment. “You’ll find me unconscious in a stasis pod, in the basement of a research facility not far from here. It’s password protected, so you won’t be able to open it. Make sure you’re the one who finds it, or you won’t be let in on the secret, no matter how high in the ranks you go.” With that business settled, Shadow continues with his exit, off towards the place where Blacklight waits with Maria, prepared for their final confrontation.

I hope what I said up there makes a little more sense now. The same essential idea of Shadow confronting someone who doesn’t like him, but leaving for lack of time, trying to convince them of their error as he goes exists in both scene. The other scene was more important for immediate plot resolution, but this one was important for resolution of the overarching themes of the story. It’s this encounter that puts the idea in Shadow’s head that humans, even if slow to learn, can learn, which is what convinces him in the end that Blacklight is wrong.

In other news, I would like to apologize for the lack of activity recently. I simply haven’t had as much time to type as I would have wanted, and the Dawn of Chaos arc is giving me a lot of trouble on top of that. Over the next few weeks, look out for a new page on the site, as well as the review for the first epsiode of Dawn of Chaos, the anniversary special. (Wow, it’s been over a month since I published that.) Hopefully, it shouldn’t be long after that that the next episode is published.

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