Villain Chat! with Team Rocket

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Previously, on the Pokémon Cosmic Quest Official Website

[Blacklight]: I heard that you guys were going to talk about Sonic, and I just had to make sure that you got all your facts straight.

[James]: Trust me, I won’t be wrong.

[Blacklight]: Prove it, blue boy.

[James]: (Taunting) Okay then. Obscure Sonic trivia it is. If you want to hear something really ridiculous, Mr. Iizuka, the head of Sonic Team, claims that Sonic takes place in-

[Blacklight]: (Gritting teeth) I swear, if you try to convince me that there are two different worlds…

[James]: I never said I was going to try to convince you. It’s little more than a ridiculous fan theory from someone who happens to matter.

[Blacklight]: Wait…so…you’re not one of those people who blindly believes everything a developer says just because they can abuse their power?

[James]: Of course not! The idea that Sonic splits his time between a human world and an animal world in different games is just plain silly!

[Blacklight]: Hey guys, wanna be on the show over on my website?

[Meowth]: As… tempting… as that offer sounds, we’re way too busy here for that.

[Blacklight]: Too bad, I need one more interview session. James, you grab Meowth. I’ll grab Jessie.

[James]: (Hesitates) Um… How about you just give me a chance to convince them to come of their own free will?

[Blacklight]: Aww, that’s less fun… But I’m holding you to that!

And now, the continuation…


[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: And here we are again! Welcome back to Villain Chat! Shadow, do you think you can do it right this time?

[Shadow]: I have no idea who these people are.

[Audience]: *booing*

[Blacklight]: Well I guess I’ll do it myself. I hope everyone’s prepared for trouble. Please give a warm welcome to our latest guests, Pokémon’s famous Team Rocket Trio, Jessie, Meowth, and my bro, James!

[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: So how are we all doing tonight?

[Jessie, James, and Meowth]: Who, what, when, where, why!?

[Shadow]: So they’re from Pokémon? No wonder…

[Blacklight]: Oh, come on, everyone knows Pokémon!

[Shadow]: I don’t watch children’s anime.

[Blacklight]: Yes, of course, you only watch the “mature” anime. Like Sonic X.

[Shadow]: That doesn’t count.

[Jessie]: First off, Pokémon is so much more than a kid’s show. Second, where in the world are we!?

[Blacklight]: You guys said you would be on the show, didn’t you? You didn’t lie to me, did you, James?

[James]: (sweating profusely)  … … … …

[Shadow]: We’re being held in a talk show against our will. Just go with it.

[Meowth]: A talk show! I’ll have you know, I’m the talk show host around these parts!

[Blacklight]: Uh, no no. Shadow and I are the only hosts here.

[Eggman]: And me!

[Blacklight and Shadow]: Get out of here, Eggman!

[Meowth]: Do you even know who I am? I’m Meowth, host of the world-famous talk show, Meow we’re Talking!

[Audience]: *booing*

[Jessie]: Hey! Cut that boo-track out! No one boos Team Rocket!

[Blacklight]: You guys are on my show, now. I make the rules. I don’t play the sound clips, though. Talk to the guy behind the camera about that.

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

[James]: Guys… I think we should listen to him…

[Meowth]: Why?

[Blacklight]: You see that broken window over there? That’s what happened the first time Eggman didn’t play by the rules.

[Eggman]: (through window) I highly recommend following orders.

[Jessie and Meowth]: *gulps*

[Blacklight]: So, let’s get this interview started. The show’s called Villain Chat, so we’ll be talking a little bit about evil today. For each of you: what is the most evil thing you have ever done?

[Jessie]: Oh, that’s an easy one. I once robbed a town of all its beauty supplies. They were ugly for weeks.

[Shadow]: Tch.

[Jessie]: Oh, and you’ve done better?

[Blacklight]: Oh, Shadow once tried to crash a Space Colony into the planet, wiping out all life and destroying everything. And he’s the good guy here.

[Meowth]: That’s nothing. I once split a cookie with Jessie and James.

[Blacklight]: …And?

[Meowth] (smiles devilishly) And I took the biggest piece.

[Jessie]: I knew it!

[James]: You truly are an evil, evil Pokémon!

[Blacklight]: And what about you, James? What devilish secrets are you hiding?

[James]: (contemplates) Well… there was that time I stole a bottle cap from the twerps. They were storing it in a trash can for safe keeping.

[Blacklight]: *gasps* You collect bottle caps too!?

[Shadow]: I thought you said you watched their show. Wouldn’t you know that already?

[James]: (leaps up) Yes! They truly are my passion in life!

[Blacklight]: And they’re so shiny!

[James]: What’s your rarest cap?

[Blacklight]: Well, I still have the cap off of the limited edition 2001 10th Anniversary Chao Cola.

[James]: No way! Mine is a 1996 Soda Pop Red and Green Edition.

[Jessie]: (under breath) Oh boy, another nerd…

[Shadow]: (under breath) You have no idea…

[Meowth]: Weren’t we supposed to be talking about evil?

[Blacklight]: Shut up, we’re having a moment.

[Shadow]: Maybe you should just ask the next question.

[Blacklight]: Fine, fine. Next question. If each of you were a Sonic character, what species would you be, and what powers would you have?

[James]: Oh, you want my self-insert OC? I would be Howl the Wolf. As the name implies, I strike terror into my opponents with my hyper howl. Not only am I handsome, I’m one of the world’s most feared and successful thieves.

[Meowth]: Are you sure that’s a self-insert?

[Blacklight]: Do you think you can do better, Meowth?

[Meowth]: Well, obviously I’d be a cat. Not a cat like Big, but like Blaze. I guess that means fire powers and all.

[Blacklight]: Fire? Didn’t see that one coming. Wouldn’t you rather have, like, luck powers or something?

[Meowth]: Sure, I’ll take that too!

[Blacklight]: And that leaves Jessie.

[Jessie]: Um… wouldn’t I just be Jessie the Hedgehog, or something?

[Meowth]: You certainly have the hair for it…

[James]: Come on Jessie, put more effort into it! Be creative! You can do anything you want! Not to mention, a hedgehog is the least creative animal you could pick.

[Blacklight]: Yeah, there are too many hedgehog characters on the internet already!

[Shadow]: …

[Jessie]: *shrugs*

[Blacklight]: Fine, be that way. What about you, Shadow?

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: Tsk, tsk, tsk. Another hedgehog? I expected better of you, Shadow. I suppose that’s all for that, then. And I believe we have time for one more question. So. I hear you guys are making a game. I want in.

[Meowth]: That’s not a question…

[Blacklight]: Yep. It’s a demand.

[James]: Blacklight… buddy… the thing is… we’re not making a game…

[Blacklight]: What!? Of course you are! Did you not take control of Pokémon Sol Version when you took the website?

[James]: Oh yeah… forgot about that… Well… how do I put this…?

[Jessie]: We’re not in the business of making crossovers!

[Blacklight]: Who says it has to be a crossover? I can just be a normal, average, everyday character!

[Meowth]: You? Normal?

[Shadow]: Wouldn’t you rather be in a Sonic game? Where your important backstory can actually matter?

[Blacklight]: I’d love to. Unfortunately, SEGA isn’t hiring OC’s at the moment. Trust me, I checked.

[Shadow]: What about a fan game?

[Blacklight]: Wait…is that a thing?

[James]: Sure it is! Just like there’s Pokémon ones! They can be a little… unsavory at times… but I’m sure you could find one to your liking.

[Blacklight]: Boss…?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) I’m not making you a fan game.

[Blacklight]: You suuuuuuure?

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) *sighs* Let’s just take this one year at a time, please.

[Blacklight]: So, is me being in Sol Version still on the table?

[James]: I’ll tell you what, we’ll name an NPC after you.

[Blacklight]: D’awww, you’d do that for me? You’re a great bro, you know that?

[James]: *extends fist*

[Blacklight]: *fist bumps gleefully* Wait, wait, now I need to do something for you. *reaches back* I want you to have this, bro.

[James]: No way! A Chao Cola bottle cap!? These aren’t even available in my world!

[Shadow]: (on laptop) Hey, did you mean to leave Wobbuffet alone with your Breath of the Wild account?

[Jessie]: What!? No! I don’t want that blue blob getting me more lost than I already am! Wait, how do you know?

[Shadow]: It’s streaming the game on your website. I didn’t know you could do that with a tree branch…

[Meowth]: We better get back and put a stop to this.

[Blacklight]: Well, our time’s just about up, anyways. See you later, bro!

[James]: Wait, how do we-

[Blacklight]: Chaos Control!

[Shadow]: (still on laptop)

[Blacklight]: Care to…sign us off, Shadow?

[Shadow]: Not really.

[Blacklight]: You enjoy taking my fun away, don’t you?

[Shadow]: Not really.

[Blacklight]: Ugh, fine. If you have questions for Team Rocket, or anyone else who’s appeared on the show today, leave them in the comments below!

Villain Chat! with Shadow the Hedgehog

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[Audience]: *applause*

[Blacklight]: Yeah, that’s right, you’re excited. Avid Chaos Project fans may remember that hosting a late-night Villain Chat talk show has always been my dream in life.

[Shadow]: Always? It was only brought up offhandedly in the 50th Episode Special that retconned the premiere, and even that took place almost six months after your chronological introduction to the current events of the story.

[Blacklight]: Nah ah ah. I’m the one asking questions here. We’re kicking off today’s festivities by interviewing the second most popular character in the entire Sonic canon, Shadow the Hedgehog.

[Shadow]: Your show is called Villain Chat. Why would I be your first choice to interview?

[Blacklight]: That brings us to our first question of the night! Shadow, tell me, how does it feel to be branded as a villain by the very people who created you?

[Shadow]: I…don’t follow.

[Blacklight]: I speak of our parent companies, SEGA and Sonic Team, of course.

[Shadow]: I still don’t follow.

[Blacklight]: Well, just look at your presentation in any recent Sonic game. Take Sonic Boom, for instance. In that world, Shadow the Hedgehog exists as nothing more than an obstacle, an angry jerkwad who hates Sonic and hates friendship because…reasons.

[Shadow]: Different world. Why does it matter?

[Blacklight]: Is it really different? Regardless of whether you look at the games or the TV show, Sonic Boom presents its cast of characters as if they’re people with a long history that you should be intimately familiar with. Most of its jokes downright depend on that frame of reference. For example, the often-repeated joke of presenting the fighting between Sonic and Eggman as if it’s an office job is only funny if you assume that it isn’t the norm, and it’s only abnormal if you include the context of the canon games. And that brings us to Shadow. Shadow, like everyone else, is introduced as if you already know exactly who he is and what he should be doing. So naturally, he immediately attempts to destroy Sonic, because that’s totally in-character.

[Shadow]: Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear that the people who made Sonic Boom had very little idea of what Sonic is supposed to be. It’s as if they took one look at the original version of me and said, “Oh, that must be an evil version of Sonic.” That was never really in question. To answer your question, everything about Sonic Boom makes me feel disappointed, and this is no different.

[Blacklight]: Okay, so let’s ignore Sonic Boom, then. Instead, we turn our attention to Sonic Generations, your only significant role in the decade that came between Sonic ’06 and Sonic Forces. In Generations, you attempted to kill Sonic to stop him from acquiring the Chaos Emerald, because…reasons.

[Shadow]: That game depicted me as a rival, not a villain.

[Blacklight]: *clears throat* “I don’t know where we are, nor do I care. This is where I finish you, Sonic.”

[Shadow]: That…doesn’t make me a villain…

[Blacklight]: Right, because you were totally redeemed by that heroic and heartfelt speech you gave at the end of the game. Roll the clip!

[Shadow]: …I blame the game’s poor writing and lack of direction.

[Blacklight]: Yeah, that tends to be a running theme when it comes to Sonic games these days. But wherever you place the blame, it shows just the same that the people making these games seem to have absolutely no idea what Shadow the Hedgehog is supposed to be.

[Shadow]: Well, at least they started getting back on track with Sonic Forces. That game finally gave me a large enough spotlight to prove that I’m still the same person I always was.

[Blacklight]: Did it? Did it really? Sonic Forces has become notorious for its poor handling of villains, and you’re right there in that group. You’re placed on Infinite’s team in the game and all of its promotional material, and yet there’s no greater mystery surrounding that fact than there is about any of the other Replicas. Of all people, Knuckles is the only person who seems to show any legitimate concern over what’s going on. Sonic is upset by it, but it certainly doesn’t seem to surprise him much.

[Shadow]: Sonic wouldn’t be upset by it if he thought it was normal, which means that I’m clearly not thought of as a villain. The running theory they give is that I was being controlled.

[Blacklight]: True. But that isn’t the only issue. We also have Episode Shadow.

[Shadow]: The best thing to happen to the Sonic franchise in twelve years.

[Audience]: *laughter*

[Blacklight]: I wouldn’t be so sure about that. You may have been the protagonist of Episode Shadow, but that doesn’t make you the hero.

[Shadow]: Coordinated attacks against Eggman’s facilities to prevent a war, plus a dramatic escape of Infinite’s most powerful Virtual prison, doesn’t sound heroic enough to you?

[Blacklight]: Well, A for effort, but…uhh…Episode Shadow shows unapologetically that your reckless behavior and total lack of empathy are responsible for instigating a war that resulted in millions of deaths.

[Shadow]: …

[Blacklight]: You don’t have to fight the hero to be a villain. And it’d be one thing if you finished what you started, but no. Instead, you seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth for six months of war, for…reasons. Finally, you return…to deliver a few lines of exposition. That’s it. That’s Shadow the Hedgehog’s role in Sonic Forces. Starting a war, then sitting back and watching while other people fight it. In fact, by the sounds of it, you’re not just a villain. You’re a master manipulator, sewing chaos in the world and never getting blamed for it.

[Shadow]: I’m a monster…

[Blacklight]: It’s okay, buddy. You’re among friends.

[Audience]: *awwww*

[Blacklight]: So, now that we know how you really feel, let’s look back on some happier times with our next question.

[Shadow]: How long is this going to go on for?

[Blacklight]: As long as I feel like it. But trust me, I think you’ll like this question. You…have a LOT of theme songs.

[Shadow]: That’s true.

[Blacklight]: (reading from list) Let’s see here… We have “Throw it All Away” from Sonic Adventure 2, “This Machine” from Sonic Heroes…

[Shadow]: That’s Team Dark’s theme, not just mine.

[Blacklight]: Technically, yes, but it’s sung from your perspective, and repeats the words “Chaos Control” more than a few times.

[Shadow]: True.

[Blacklight]: Anyways, then we have a whopping six songs from the Shadow the Hedgehog game, from “I Am…All of Me” to “Never Turn Back,” and finally a repeat of “All Hail Shadow” for Sonic ’06. You’re already making me jealous here. But there’s also some extra vocal themes associated with you in Sonic Adventure 2, “Rhythm and Balance,” “Supporting Me,” “For True Story,” “Live and Learn” to some degree, and…”The Supernatural?” I don’t even remember that one…

[Shadow]: The theme of the Final Rush level. Lyrics were a bit hard to hear.

[Blacklight]: Yeah, whatever. That’s fourteen songs! Fourteen! How in blazes do you keep track of them all!?

[Shadow]: Categorizing by game and/or level certainly helps.

[Blacklight]: That was a rhetorical question. The real question is…of all these songs, which do you feel most accurately depicts you? Which of these songs is the essence of Shadow the Hedgehog?

[Shadow]: Well…that’s a difficult question to answer. Each song serves its own purpose. Sometimes, I’m a lost soul. Sometimes, I’m fighting for my ideals. Sometimes, I’m simply the coolest.

[Blacklight]: So what, you have a song for each mood? For each day of the week!? Some of us don’t even get one theme song, you privileged little—

[Audience]: *gasps*

[Mr. C]: (offscreen) Language!

[Blacklight]: Sorry…what I meant to say was…even the newest of those songs is fifteen years old now. So which one would you say has still…retained its value, so to speak? Which one has the most staying power, which one aged the best?

[Shadow]: Well…”Live and Learn” is a classic…but it’s not quite personal enough. As fond as I am of “All Hail Shadow,” I suppose I’d have to say that “Never Turn Back” is the one that still works best for the place I’m at right now.

[Blacklight]: Ah, I see. Least favorite?

[Shadow]: You want me to choose a least favorite of my precious children?

[Blacklight]: …

[Mr. C]: …

[Audience]: …

[Blacklight]: Who are you and what have you done with the real Shadow?

[Shadow]: I was trying to be funny…

[Blacklight]: Well you’re terrible at it. Just answer the question.

[Shadow]: Fine. I’d have to go with “Almost Dead,” the theme of the Dark ending in my game. It’s noisy, it’s repetitive, and it has very little meaning beyond “being ambivalent,” which is kind of strange, since you’d think it would be about pure evil. Basically, it’s a standard heavy metal song.

[Blacklight]: Are you saying that you don’t like heavy metal? You certainly seem like the type who would.

[Shadow]: You’re talking about the wrong Shadow. Try asking the one from Sonic Boom. You might get a different answer.

[Blacklight]: Oh, I see. You’re trying to tie this whole piece together by making commentary about the harm of judging a person by appearance without understanding who that person really is.

[Shadow]: No, I just don’t like heavy metal.

[Blacklight]: Ah, to each his own, I suppose. And I’m gonna have to stop you there. Villain Chat! will be right back after a quick word from our sponsors. But before we leave, don’t forget! We’ll be doing a special Q&A session at the end of the day to answer all of your burning questions! What would you have asked Shadow in this interview? Tell us in the comments below, or shoot a message our way! Be right back!

Review: Season 1, Episode 18 (Finale)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Season 1, 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!

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.)