Review: Season 2, Episode 3

I’m trying to figure out exactly how the planning process for this episode went. I want to say it was among the earliest episode ideas I’ve ever had, but then I’m not sure this even resembles that original idea anymore. I don’t even fully remember what that original idea was. Here’s what I do know. Just as I did back with “In Too Deep,” I have once again taken two entirely disparate episode ideas, slapped them together, and called it a day. I’m beginning to have second thoughts about my “A-plot, B-plot” plans. An episode in which Sonic and Amy check up on the Little Planet and watch over it until it disappears was definitely an early idea as well, but it never had anything to with Tails and Charmy’s mission. The plan was for the missing space in the Little Planet plot to filled by flashbacks to Sonic CD, where I would just straight up retell the story of the game, only with actual dialogue added in. In a way, I was kind of excited about doing something like that. I was thinking about making an entire “Unspoken” subseries in that vein, retelling the classic stories as if they were modern. But when I got to thinking about what that would entail…I just couldn’t do it. Of all the classic games, CD is probably the one that is most…thorough about its visual storytelling. It isn’t intensely visual in the way that 3&K is with its storytelling, there’s just a bit less of a story to tell, so it gets it all done. I realized that, in the case of CD, there just isn’t really anything significant that dialogue could add, so I’d be wasting everyone’s time by adding it. But I still felt like the regular appearance of the Little Planet was something that needed to be addressed, so I was left with only half of a functional episode. I decided that using it as a B-plot for another episode was my best bet. I chose the Charmy and Tails plot to stick it to, not necessarily because they meshed well or because it needed that extra content. I really just did it because it was the only way I could get it to fit. Both of these plots needed to happen this season. The CD plot needed to happen on the last day of December, and this Tails-focused episode needed to happen early on so that it wouldn’t be closely condensed with other Tails episodes this season. Thankfully, I had Metal Sonic to tie the two together. The general idea was that you were supposed to expect Metal Sonic to show up in the Sonic and Amy plot, so it would be an even bigger surprise when he shows up for Tails instead. I’m not sure that I managed to pull that off quite right, though. I spent so much more time on the Tails plot, it probably would’ve seemed odd if it was the other one that became important in the end. The general pacing was also really off for similar reasons. If the Tails and Charmy episode had stood on its own, they probably would’ve spent quite a bit more time in the other Rebel camp, and perhaps the rock slide would’ve even happened while they were there instead of before, adding an extra bit of action/drama in the right place. Instead, that ended up being the easiest place to trim the fat, so to speak, so the important part where they meet these other Rebels ended up happening awkwardly more than halfway through the episode, even more awkwardly suddenly interrupting the standard back-and-forth between the two plots that had been going. Oh well.

On that note, let’s talk about those other Rebels. They won’t be becoming main characters, but they will be appearing again in the future. Now that our Rebellion has been fighting on their own for a year, I thought this would be the ideal time to show that they aren’t really alone in the world. When it comes to seeking a better world, no one is really alone. The individual characters, of course, also served individual functions. I wanted Captain Fox to be someone you can imagine Tails easily looking up to, maybe like an older, more mature, Fox version of Sonic. I even considered giving him a little Hedgehog sidekick, but that didn’t seem very relevant. Anyways, I wanted you to be a bit surprised when they came close to bumping heads. The reasons why will be explored in the future. And then, of course, there’s Katherine and Charmy. I suppose I have to back up a bit to Charmy, first. For the same reason that I made Amy into the official counselor of the Rebellion, I spent a long time thinking about how I can give Charmy something important to do. Technically speaking, I can see why it may not seem necessary. The Chaotix work very well when treated collectively as one character, so it almost seems silly to break them apart and analyze them individually. But delving deep into character growth is one of the primary reasons that this story exists. So I could’ve left Charmy as a static, unchanging joke of a character, or I could show him growing up just like everybody else. The choice seemed obvious to me.

The leap from detective to doctor might not be so obvious. But…what do we really know about Charmy’s personality? I mean, he’s loud, he’s hyperactive, he’s childlike…so basically, he’s a child. But he’s not 6 anymore, it’s been 5 years, so he’s 11. He’s getting to the point where most children would start putting some more serious thought into what they want to do with their lives. And there is one other thing we know about him. He loves flowers. He loves nature. He loves living things. Seems like a prime candidate for a healer to me. (Also he’s a healer in SEGA Heroes, RIP.) More importantly…I kind of needed a doctor. I have been keenly aware of the fact that every new medical feat pulled off by Tails, a thirteen year old mechanic, has been more unbelievable than the last. I certainly could’ve introduced an OC to do the job, but…the way I see it, the canon cast always takes precedence, and I saw this as an opportunity to really build on Charmy’s character in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I needed him to be able to accomplish something as a character that no one else could do, and this seemed like the most viable option. So this is what I decided on. (Still working on something to do for Cream, though. She’s officially taken the spot of most useless character.)

So anyways, I needed a doctor, I decided on Charmy, and for reasons I can’t talk about yet, I need him to have embraced that role full-force by the end of the season. So I needed to construct an episode that would push him hard into that decision. The mildly traumatic experience of patching up Tails, so closely followed by validation from an authority figure in the form of Katherine, was intended to do just that in the most reasonable way I could think of. And that’s that.

Back to the topic I originally started with, the other Rebels were all named in theme, just as Jackal Squad was previously. This time, the characters were named after…drum roll please…Star Trek characters! We have Captain James (Kirk) and Leonard (McCoy) of the original USS Enterprise, and then we have Katherine (Janeway) and Harry (Kim) of Voyager. Why did I choose Star Trek names? Entirely arbitrary! Sort of. Just like last time. I was debating the name of Captain James the Fox right up until the moment I introduced him. I knew that I wanted to refer to him as Captain Fox, but the first name was up for grabs. Even though the names ended up being inspired by Star Trek, the designs definitely weren’t. That honor goes to Nintendo’s Star Fox series. Captain Fox was loosely inspired by the titular Fox McCloud, and Katherine was similarly based on a character named Krystal. I was originally thinking about playing off of that and calling them Kloud the Fox and Christa the Wolf or something like that, but after the weirdness that ended up happening with Sly, I decided I’d be better off distancing myself a bit with the names. James McCloud is also a Star Fox character, and while I would like to call that a coincidence, it probably was that fact that got me thinking about the possibility of my character being Captain James and referencing Star Trek.

Once that was set in stone, it was intended to be a one-time deal, but then when I got around to naming Katherine, I decided I wanted them to have standard nicknames for each other, and I also wanted to keep the “K” sound, which led me pretty quickly to Katie as a nickname. I could’ve gone for something different as the real name, like Katelyn or something, but the connection from Katherine to Star Trek was too good to pass up as a running theme. Then I needed a couple of throwaway names, and Harry the Rabbit (Hare) and Leonard (Leo) the Lion came pretty naturally.

These kinds of standard “human” names aren’t generally common for Sonic characters, so why did I put so much thought into them for this? Well, it ties back into a theme for the episode as a whole. After all the crazy fantasy weirdness of the last three episodes, with spirits descending from the heavens, space stations falling out of the sky, and some of the most complicated time travel I’ve ever experienced, I really wanted to dial this one back to a very “human” level. This is an episode about people. People getting into arguments, talking about their feelings and their interests, getting hurt because of their own mistakes and moving on because it’s all they can do. The other Rebels were meant to be a reflection of that. While our Rebellion is practically a band of superheroes who typically have superhero problems, the other Rebels are just a bunch of regular guys who happen to be fighting for a cause. This contrast will continue to be explored in the future.

Speaking of the future, what has Metal Sonic done with Tails!? To learn that, you’ll just have to stay tuned…

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

S2 E3: Miles to Go

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

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

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

Review: Season 1, Episode 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!

 

S1 E18: Doomsday Part 2

No preview this time! I wanted to get this episode out as soon as possible, so you can read it right now, right here!

Eggman has obtained all seven Chaos Emeralds. Rouge is dying. And the Death Egg is ready to launch. It’s a race against time as the Rebellion makes one last desperate struggle against a cataclysmic disaster.

Oh, and apparently it’s the website’s anniversary again today. That was totally unplanned, but it’s pretty fitting, I suppose.

Preview: Season 1, Episode 17

It’s not a normal posting day, bu this news is too exciting not to share! The first part of the Season 1 finale is finally finished! And it’s coming soon! Real soon, like, this Saturday soon, I promise! In the meantime, please enjoy this preview!

“Retreat! Everyone, get out of here!” Sonic shouts his order from the rooftops of the Station Square Casino District.

On the streets below, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy fight their way out through a swarm of robots. Knuckles shouts up, “We’re pinned down! There’s too many of them!”

“Don’t worry, I’m coming!” Sonic prepares to leap down from the building. But he is stopped as a rock suddenly strikes the side of his head. “Ah! What the–!?” He looks down in the direction the projectile came from.

A small mob of human citizens has gathered. The one in front, presumably the same who threw the rock, shouts through cupped hands, “Get out of here, Rebels!” Another voice agrees, “Yeah, we don’t need your kind of help!” “Let us live in peace!” “Take your war somewhere else!” The shouts quickly meld into a frenzy.

Another rock flies past Sonic’s head as he ducks just in time. He takes his hand away from the spot he was hit before, showing a clear wound left behind. He looks down to the crowd with worry, with fear, ready to shout some sort of objection.

“Sonic!”

Remembering what’s important, he turns his back on the mob and leaps down onto the battlefield on the other side, planting a foot into the robot he lands on. A few quick spinning attacks take out what remains between him and his friends. He grabs an arm each of Knuckles and Amy, and nods his head for Tails to follow. He takes off, pulling them with him at high speed. The only opening in sight is a flight up stairs. They take it without hesitation.

The stairs open into the train station. More robots are at the ready on the upper level, and open fire at the appearance of the Rebels. They never slow down, opting instead to crash through the barred glass front doors into the street outside. They round the first corner in the road.

No matter how many turns they take, there are robots waiting on every corner. A few brave citizens even jeer at them through open windows above.

But one voice is different from the others. “Hey, in here!” A man stands holding open a door down the street, beckoning to them furiously. “Quickly, before they see you!”

Not having much other choice, Sonic and the others follow him in, and he shuts the door firmly behind them.

This is only the beginning. The beginning of Doomsday.

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

Preview: Season 1, Episode 9

On Empire Day, a great battle was lost, and Rouge fled from the Rebellion to work for their enemies. But years ago, on the day that Infinite attacked, something similar once happened.

Rouge watches as a black-painted Death Egg Robot collapses into the sand of the Lost Valley under the onslaught of the GUN airships that fire from above. A buzz comes in her communicator. “Rouge, this is Shadow. What’s going on?”

“Finally back from your top-secret mission, are you? Did you find Eggman’s weapon?”

“No. Now tell me what’s happening.”

“Well, there’s this big battle in Green Hill. Eggman’s trying to take back the city. But we pretty much have it wrapped up.”

“Rouge, are you telling me the truth?”

“What’s the point of lying about it? Eggman got word that Sonic is nearby and mounted a massive assault. I mean, sure, A for effort, but it’s nothing to worry about. We’ve got the advantage now. Sonic is on his way too, so I don’t think it’s a big enough deal for you to head out.”

Shadow lets out a grunt of discontent, as if thinking deeply about something. “I can’t imagine the Doctor would do something like that without…” He trails off.

But Rouge hardly notices. Out of the central Eggman airship, the largest in the fleet, a point of pulsating crimson light slowly descends. Rouge lets out a gasp. “Shadow! This is not good! Hurry, get over here!”

Infinite’s voice booms loudly over the sandy plains, bringing an eerie silence to the battle. “Attention, insects of the military. You have been chosen as the first to witness the full extent of the power that will conquer this earth. Enjoy your final moments of life.”

Shadow’s voice can faintly be heard through the crackling static of the comm. “W––t –s i–, Ro–g–? W––– h––pe––d?” The voice is completely lost.

Infinite spreads his arms wide, and a massive wave of negative energy sweeps over the entire battlefield. Soldiers are lifted from the ground, tumbling uncontrollably through the air, and flying mechs seem no longer able to keep control, plummeting towards the ground. All of the airships aim their fire directly at Infinite. He chuckles softly as the vast majority of the fire passes him by completely. He points up an outstretched hand, and fires off a thin crimson laser beam of his own. Though the beam is thin, it wreaks massive destruction as it carves through the entire fleet one ship at a time, sending them all diving down into the negative space.

Infinite lets both of his arms drop down to his sides. In the air around him, countless hundreds of cubes are generated, each floating independently. He stretches back, then crosses his arms in front of him. One by one, in rapid succession, the cubes are launched away from him at immense speed. Each one seems to target a person or a machine. And each time one comes in contact, it appears to erase its target from existence in an instant.

From a perch high atop a cliff, away from the chaos, Rouge watches in horror as hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers appear to be annihilated before her eyes. Even the falling airships are removed.

Suddenly, the bubble of negative space contracts. There are no more cubes. And no more sign that GUN was ever there. Save for the wrecks of the Death Egg Robots, and the Egg Pawns quickly taking up defensive positions throughout the lost valley, there is no sign of any battle at all. The rest of the Eggman’s forces surge onwards towards the city.

—–—

Later…

Infinite bends down to pick something up from the streets of the city. “I’m sure we can find…some use for this…thing.”

Rouge’s voice sounds behind him, “I might be able to help with that.” Infinite doesn’t bother turning at the sound. “The name’s Rouge. I’m something of a treasure hunter. A jewel expert, you might say. And I want in.”

 

Review: Season 0, Episode 8

And it’s done! The mid-season finale of The Chaos Project Season 1! Yes, that means this season’s going to be quite a bit shorter than the last, but Season 0 was always supposed to be a special case. And actually, I’m really liking this 16-episode format so far, it gives the perfect amount of focus on the episodes that matter, while leaving just enough room for the occasional fun filler episode. But, on to the episode itself.

Obviously, I’ve been waiting to do this one for a long time, it being a turning point for the season and all. But that really only applies to the second half of the episode, as the event that would lead up to Rouge leaving was always left vague in my plans. It was by a series of coincidences that I ended up going with the 4th of July date. During early planning for this Season, this episode was actually going to be in early June, but about four episodes in, I decided to accelerate my plans for Sonic’s Birthday episode so that I could get Big in a bit earlier, which meant this one had to be at the end of June or later. I decided early July would leave a good amount of time between this episode and the last, and the 4th, obviously, was the first early July number that came to mind. Before I discarded the date for that reason, it occurred to me that I could have some irony, having the Rebellion take such a big loss on a day of independence. It was around that time, on an entirely separate train of thought, that the timeline of Sonic Forces came to mind. Six months Sonic was out of commission, plus three days for Eggman to execute his big Sun plan, applied to the start date of this new war, January 1st, makes July 4th. It was too perfect. So I went all-out with the Empire Day thing from there. Even so, the details of the big fight weren’t set until well after I had written this episode’s opening scene. Which means, Sonic’s fight with Infinite on top of the balloon floats was actually inspired by my own showcase of a balloon float on the news report at the beginning. I had only done that for something that makes sense to see, I was only planning fireworks at first, but you obviously wouldn’t be able to see those before the actual event. Of course, I was also inspired by a Spider-Man movie, which had a similar balloon float fight scene that I always thought was really cool as a kid. I think I captured that kind of action really well, even for the relatively short fight sequence.

I should, of course, mention the fact that I’m perfectly aware 4th of July is a specifically American holiday. There’s not much reason for anyone else in the world to celebrate it, and there’s even less reason for it to be celebrated in the Sonic universe. That’s why I had to be very careful in the way I phrased things. It was never stated in any way that the date had any significance beyond what Eggman had given it. But if you should happen to celebrate the holiday, then you’re very likely to agree with Sonic’s sentiment of it making you sick, just for considerably different reasons.

And…I guess that’s all I really have to say. Surprisingly short for such a long and important episode. From here, I may be going on a brief holiday/mid-season break, but then again, there’s a certain date I’m trying to make for a special episode coming soon, so episodes may actually be coming out even more rapidly than usual. We’ll have to wait and see.

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

Review: Chapter 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Season 1, Episode 4

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

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

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

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

“And where are you going?”

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

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

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

“What do you want?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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