Super Sonic: Hog vs Water
With a 1 hour run time, this story is basically just cutscenes and one final boss. No action stages, no long adventure, just point A to B until the end. While it does not have as much content as the others, this ending is satisfactory and ties up loose ends that make the whole story solid.
As it turns out, despite Knuckles beating Chaos 6 and presumably turning into a frozen carcass, the God of Destruction lived on. Taking out Eggman and Knuckles, thus thrusting Angel Island back into the sea, Chaos now pursues the last Emerald to regain the perfect form it once used to destroy the world.It’s a race against 3 minutes as Sonic must stop Chaos, while witnessing the event in the past that spurred the creature into the destructive path it took.
Perfect Chaos, from the first moment you see it on the mural to the cutscene of city destruction, is one of the best pay-offs in the game and a truly menacing final antagonist. During the story, we don’t get to see any form of Chaos until the boom happens. Rather, we get short glances of his puddle form in the present, creating a suspenseful tone that makes you wonder what Perfect Chaos looks like. As Tikal recovers from the attack, all we hear is the menacing roar of Perfect Chaos instead of its form. Seeing the whole body flood Station Square and it finally popping out from the skyscraper is awestrucking. When it roars, its terrifying.
Something that I notice in Sonic media is how everything focuses on his cool-kid attitude, but the story mode here shows a lot more character. His willingness to save Chaos from himself instead of just sealing him again speaks volume. He may be a rad dude, but deep inside is a hedgehog hero who cares about people/animals/Gods around him.
Once you get through all the cutscenes and witness the arrival of Super Sonic (which may or may not be a separate entity), you get a final boss that’s pretty easy. Like the Genesis games, Super Sonic relies on rings to stay in-form. The gimmick of this fight is that SS needs to travel at high speeds to reach Chaos’ brain. Swim towards it 6 times and you win.
The challenge is to not get hit, but for different reasons. SS cannot take damage from any of Chaos’ attack, but the point of the attacks is to slow you down rather than cause damage. From the weird Shin Godzilla back lasers, to the signature mouth laser that destroyed the 2nd Egg Carrier earlier, and the tornados it summons, each causes SS to halt in place. If you aren’t fast enough, you can’t reach the brain and, if you don’t hit it enough, you’ll run out of rings and “die.” It’s pretty challenging and fun if you don’t know what to do, but knowing makes it really easy. The time it take for me usually clocks around less than 15 minutes.
However, the point isn’t to have a hard final boss (and really, every boss in this game is pretty freakin easy. Especially Chaos 4). Instead this fight is meant to be cathartic. You’ve been fighting this water Chao the whole time, and now two Super beings are fighting for the fate of the world. Combine that with “Open Your Heart,” one of the best rock pieces in the game, and a villain with a top-notch entrance, and you’ll get a final battle that leaves an impression. As much as I wish it was a little bit more challenging, the pacing for this fight is just right. It goes fast, but you won’t forget the ride.
The Ending: All the tears made an ocean
Character arcs and stories resolve by the time SS beats Perfect Chaos. Sonic finally stops Chaos while freeing his enemy from his own rage. Tails, while not referencing his change, gets to help Sonic as a stronger man than a partner. Knuckles helps end the conflict that had destroyed his ancestors years ago, proving himself once more as the rightful guardian of the Emerald. Amy gets to meet Gamma again in the form of the pink bird, unknowingly keeping her promise to him that they’ll meet again. And, finally, Big gets to have a whole ocean to fish, because he’s just that much of a stupid side story.
After being freed from Super Sonic, Chaos gets to see the Chao and Tikal for the first time in centuries. Tikal tells Chaos that Chao and People live in peace now, and they float somewhere in the light while thanking our heroes. This ending scene is emotional thanks to the track “Goodbye.” It played during the end for Amy’s story, but it comes into full effect here. It’s a bittersweet track that makes you sad that the journey is over but happy that you got to experience it. Best thing to understand it is to listen it on Youtube. Ever feel like crying in the shower, listen to it and let the tears fall.
Some of these might come off as nitpicks, but they are things I’ve noticed for years. One, this story really is just cutscenes. Fun fact, all Action Stages for Sonic are playable in this mode. If you go off the beaten path, you can talk to the people in Station Square to know the epilogues to their stories and subtle foreshadowing to the destruction of the city. However, none of this is necessary or required in this mode. Because of that, it does lack content compared to the other story modes. It’s just a hour of talking and fighting a giant serpent God.
During the first cutscene, they reuse the same sequence of animations and sound. First its a black screen, then a splash effect, then a bunch of flashes from scene to black, then a gem glimmering sound. Its supposed to represent each time it’s used, but its really messy. Chaos doesn’t get the emerald in the beginning, but it plays as if Chaos got it? Eggman and Knuckles makes sense for the first momemnts, but why does it play the gem part? I could tell they cut that part earlier than the first part, but its so sloppily done that you can tell reused it 3 times. It’s not a good first impression of the story.
This is more in line with the DX version but Perfect Chaos looks like a$$ in this version. I wouldn’t be writing about it unless I didn’t see the Dreamcast version earlier this month. The Dreamcast version isn’t too close to the cutscene look, but the model lighting and textures allows it to come close. The DX version looks nothing like the cutscene beauty. The body looks like pure water, which should work. However, the head has coloring close to the original and the cutscene version seems to have solid matter representing the scales of a snake. The inconsistency of the DX version is obvious and terrible looking, especially since its the first thing after the city’s destruction.
Despite those negatives, I do believe Super Sonic’s story ends the tale very well. The story arcs come to a satisfying close. I never found anything disappointing story wise, just a few questions like the history of the Knuckles Tribe and world-building stuff. But that’s more in the lines of “questions meant for the audience to ponder in mystery” than “large story arcs left to rot.” At the end of the day, its a great ending to a great game.
Chaos, Tikal, and the Knuckles Tribe
One of the reasons that this took a long time was something of an experiment: Deeper Research. Now, I do not claim to be an expert into the Mesoamerican culture, and what I am presented is basic and not very in-depth. I suggest that you do your own research to earn more in-depth of the culture. It is a very interesting topic and, if I had more time, I would love to try to really improve my research skills and learn from this culture.
It’s obvious by this point, but the Knuckles Tribe aspect of the game was inspired by Mesoamerican culture such as the Incas and the Mayans. As noted by the Sonic Fandom, the Sonic Team went on a trip to South America and Central America. According to Jordan H.J, who made a video on the development of Sonic Adventure, they went to bring a more realistic setting for the game. They went to places such as Tikal (obviously what Tikal was named after) and Machu Picchu. The team straight up went into the jungles of South America for research. That’s pretty admirable considering they dealt with snakes and sickness. To learn more about the Sonic Adventure development, really check out Jordan’s videos on it.
The architecture of the Mystic Ruin and the depictions of serpents, which resembles Chaos’ final form, is based directly off of major temples and buildings among the Mesoamerican cultures. As Sonic Fandom notes, Chichen Itza and Tikal would inspire the main temple, while Cuzco inspired the Master Emerald Shrine. Serpents, as I noticed in my research, was a major aesthetic. Cancun may have derived from the Mayan Word Kaan Kun, which means “pits of snakes.” Many of the gods like Quetzalcoatl and Itzamma had snakes incorporated into their designs, the former known for being a literal flying snake.
Speaking of Gods, Chaos’ entire concept fits well with the “fluidness” of the Gods, at least from my understanding. The Gods of the Mesoamerican culture, unlike the Gods of Greek, were not so easy to categorize. Many, as in apparently 200+ freakin Gods, had different personas. Sometimes Quatzacoatl was the God of Air, but could have been a creator God as well. Because of this, categorization is difficult because stating this God does one thing would invalidate the other 10 thousand things they do.
Now, past my thesis mode, learning about this and connecting this to the concept of Chaos was really cool. The creators of the game really just made Chaos just to show off the water graphics, meaning they caused literal genocide in-universe just to show off, but it ended up fitting its background with what its based on. Each form of Chaos, while having a similar look, still appear differently. And, for some reason, they decided to name Chaos after a Greek God…I somehow question how for their research went besides graphics.
Despite Chaos being the main antagonist, Eggman is the one who’s caused everything to happen in the present and is a good villain in his own right. He retains the goofiness of the series but, through his voice actor Deem Bristow, is cunning and intimidating. I don’t know much of later incarnations, but his incarnation in the Sonic Movie reminds me heavily of this Eggman.
What I love is how much of a threat he really is, retaining his organization and scale from previous entries. He’s always one step ahead and clear on his goals: managing to take the Chaos Emeralds from Sonic and Tail throughout their run, creating the amazing Egg Carrier, having E-Series robots everywhere in each stage, and having a backup plan when it all goes to hell, such as the missle at the end of Tail’s run and the second Egg Carrier incase Chaos turned on him. Everything is to destroy Station Square and put his own city in his own image.
Despite this being a colorful game about anthropomorphic animals in a kids game, the team still managed to portray Eggman as cold and heartless. He’s not afraid to get small animals and put them in pods and that translates to how little he cares about hurting them too, as he’s rough in his execution to get the little bird Amy cares about and the frog Big cares about. When fighting Tails, when put in a corner when all goes wrong, he actually says to Tails, “Run, before I make mincemeat out of you.” The darker tone in Deem’s voice is terrifying, portraying a subtle but menacing aggression that contrasts Eggman’s round shape and cartoonish design.
This cold heart translates to his own creations, which was one of the main causes for Gamma’s redemption story. He pits Gamma and his brother to fight each other minutes after they were born, and after Gamma wins he lets Beta on just for “spare parts.” Like, dude, they’re standing right there! When the other E-100 series fail, Eggman just dismisses them away out of the ship without a second thought. Then, of course, the scene where Gamma stubbles upon Beta’s redesign, forcing the bird through who knows what when Eggman decided on it. Thinking back on it, this Eggman contrasts the movie one. Jim Carry’s respected his robots to the point where he looked down on mankind, while Adventure’s showed no respect to his own creations when they failed.
Though, there is one thing I never understood. If you have a huge army of robots and a Death Star the size of a helicarrier, why need Chaos? Sure, the argument could be that Sonic has a record for breaking his stuff, and Chaos is a different beast all together, but if you have a laser beam then why not use it? I get that, maybe, using everything at once instead of one by one in case one fails is the standard typical “villain plot,” and part of me loves those kind of plans, but dude you have a whole battlefleet and a laser cannon! But, I guess if a giant water serpent who destroyed the world once was accessible, I’d use it too.
Despite not being the actual main antagonist, Eggman was still a threatening and competent villain that made going through Sonic Adventure tense but fun. Despite losing his real name to a goody insult, this Egg can hatch any plan and push himself to make it work, whether the world likes it or not.
Gameplay: Adventure Stages
Sonic Adventure isn’t the first game to introduce overworlds, but it is one of my favorites. The attention-to-detail is incredible, showing that the Sonic Team worked really hard to bring a realistic world that still captures the color of Sonic. Like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time, this Hub World houses each Action Stage that you find throughout your adventure. Like the temples and dungeons of LOZ, the Action Stages are part of the world rather than separate worlds accessed through portals in 64. However, the Action Stages actually expand upon the world that couldn’t be captured in the Hub World due to limitations, allowing us to see what the world should look like.
Some of it requires suspension of belief, such as how the courtyard at the end of Speed Highway is the same as the smaller one in Station Square. But, because characters share Action Stages, it gives the game and its world a flow and continuity that shows us that this is one world. Rather than come off as lazy, it portrays a creativity that the team had under their small Dreamcast development time.
To give an example, one of my favorite games is Majora’s Mask and one of the reasons I like it is its NPCs. I like NPCs because they give the world necessary fluff to make it real, but the best thing about the NPCs in MM is how important their individual stories were. They’re detailed and spanning and, with the help of the time mechanic, they felt like real people. I cared about their stories in this dying world because it was affecting their lives in terrible ways, and you got to help them through it and find peace. They were sidequests that mattered.
Now, Sonic Adventure doesn’t have that level of detail in their NPCs, but they were still given small stories that grew as the main campaign went on. All of them are optional and easily missed, but taking the time out to talk to them reveals much more substance that was needed. There’s the little girl in front of the station that’s waiting for her father, the explorers party of the Mystic Ruins searching for the easily seen temple, and the burger shop girl finding love in the worker. Each story between the characters shows different view points and moments of each NPC story, keeping them engaging and interesting. One such example is during the missile crisis. If you leave the last stage of Tail’s story, you find out the NPCs react in fear, scared for their lives that the missile will kill them. This helps ground the NPCs into the story, rather than having something terrible happen and noone reacts to it.
NPCs also contribute to events of the story. Sometime, the train station is unusable in many points in the story in order to keep you on track. The writers added a reason for this happening in form of the workers. If you talk to the workers throughout, they talk about how the station treats them poorly, such as long hours and little pay. It gets to the point where the workers cause a strike that shuts down all services. People in Station Square react to this in positive, such as an office worker taking this for a vacation, and negatively, such as the newspaper lady not being able to go home. When playing as Gamma, the Wind Stone put in the pedestal was removed despite Sonic putting it in earlier. This is because one of the explorers didn’t like the wind from it, so he removed it. These cute reasons give an in-universe reasons for what are just “video game obstacles that happen cause programming is difficult.”
My favorite have to be the Explorers in the Mystic Ruins. Each of them just love archaeology and finding the discovery of a lifetime. The one in front of the Angel Island entrance is so bored he decides to do his OWN exploration and discovery of the island instead, while another in front of Tail’s workshops wants to use the Wind and Ice stone as his treasure back home. The latter actually states that Angel Island is a part of the Mystic Ruins due to having similar soil, so he gives interesting lore details. Some do talk about their lives, such as one deep in the forest who hopes to bring something back for his wife. The interesting thing that’s barely explored is the first party. One of them in the earlies portions of the story mentions how the first party is taking forever. Later on, they send in a second party (who I presume are the people you speak to in the Jungle) right when you gain access to the jungle.
It’s never answered what happens to that second party since the whole exploration is called off by the end, so they either died or some how got lost. I find it interesting because I believe they into the background. Farthest to the north is a PNG background depicting rivers and more jungles. This is where Final Egg is located. I love backgrounds, no matter how important or unnecessary that are, because they give enough detail to allow the player to imagine what its like. I always believed they somehow got to this unexplored region, never returning in the franchise. Let me know in the comments, for those who continued the franchise, what you think or if this area is explored. I know Sonic Chronicles continues the story, but I’ve never played it.
Overall, the NPCs are a great addition to the game, becoming the good kind of fluff that expands upon the world and adds more substance to the game.