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Sonic Burst RPG concept: Episode One (part two of two)


Lorekitten

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This article contains MASSIVE spoilers for the fan fiction Sonic Burst: Rise of Ashura. It is highly recommended that you read Episode One of Sonic Burst before reading this article. It is also recommended that you read part one before reading this part.

Spoiler

Where we last saw our heroes, the Freedom Fighters (sans Antoine) and Amy Rose were en route to the Miracle Planet via the Freedom Stormer when a pair of roboticized dragons chased them down. Accompanying these dragons was Metal Sonic, who had an... 'altercation' with the real Sonic and wound up capturing him. But as Sonic distracted his metal copy, Amy and the other Freedom Fighters managed to escape through use of warp rings that Amy was wearing as bangle bracelets. Having reached the Castle of Light, what fate will befall the Freedom Fighters?

 

-- The Castle of Light (branching plot event cutscene)

This sequence was glossed over in the story version of Sonic Burst, with Amy only telling Antoine about it in retrospect, but in-game, how it plays out varies depending on how the player handled previous situations with Amy. If Amy is still tied up, all proceeds the same way as it does in the story, with Captain Skulk Blackfoot (a female black-footed ferret and the captain of Queen Elena's guard) assuming the worst of the Freedom Fighters and locking them in prison, also negatively affecting the Esteem levels between the parties involved. However, if Amy is not tied up, Skulk lets them into the Castle of Light without further incident. Either way, Amy still leaves the Castle of Light on her own after hearing from Skulk that Tiara B. has left for Mobius to look for Amy herself and hasn't come back yet. If the Freedom Fighters have not been locked up, Amy briefly considers asking them to help her, but considering what just happened to Sonic, Amy's pretty sure they don't want to help her with anything else, so she goes alone.

...wow, just writing this has made me painfully aware of several plot holes in my original version of this chapter. How does Amy even know that Sonic's survived his drop of doom? Why doesn't Amy just use her warp rings to bust the Freedom Fighters out of prison? None of this makes sense anymore...

 

-- Knothole Village Zone (again)

The plot now takes us to the Lake of Rings, where Antoine is standing guard until Amy arrives from a Warp Ring to tell him that Sonic's in trouble and they need to help him. Regardless of whatever traumas Amy may or may not have inflicted on him back in the first boss battle (the dialogue options available change depending on those actions' effects on the characters' Esteem for each other), Antoine recognizes a chance to redeem himself when he sees one, and after pocketing the Power Ring from the Lake of Rings, decides to do the one thing he'd sworn he'd never do: re-activate Rotor's 'old project,' none other than a refurbished Ro-Becca. This leads them to the storehouse where Rotor's projects are kept, where a bit of exploring can net the heroes some more items and equipment before reactivating the most accursed abomination of the SatAM series.

This is the first time in the game where the player has multiple characters to explore with, and while traversing the overworld, the player can switch back and forth between active party members with a key press. Different party members have different skill sets that can open up new exploration paths that wouldn't have been possible with other characters, but (usually) everyone shares the same inventory because it would be awkward otherwise.

 

-- Character Profile: Amy Rose

Sporting her classic look, Amy is a speedy physical attacker with a few tricks up her sleeves, or should I say -- her rings? Given Sega's current push towards emphasizing her magical abilities (no, I'm not putting the Tarot cards into this concept, ever), and the fact that I needed to explain how she travels between Mobius and the Miracle Planet to begin with, I made her bangle bracelets into Warp Rings because it just made so much sense. Amy isn't nearly as skilled with warp magic as certain other characters in the series (one of which you'll be meeting shortly), but she can use them to attempt to block/redirect attacks towards foes. And of course she has her trusty Piko Piko Hammer, which deals massive damage and can also smash obstacles in the overworld into collectible resources. She does suffer from Glass Cannon Syndrome, though, being an eight-year-old girl that's in over her head, and she's more vulnerable to Talk commands from the enemy. Being on the same team as Sonic will boost her morale, but if a specific foe knocks Sonic's HP into the red, she will become fixated on fighting that foe specifically until it's fully defeated.

 

-- Character Profile: Antoine

While SatAM Antoine bore no weapon, Sonic Burst Antoine has been gifted the sword he had in the Archie comics, which is labeled "Guardsman's Sword" in his equipment list. This sword is used both in attacks and in a couple of unlockable field moves as the story progresses, with Antoine learning to use his blade to pogo-jump (yes, really) and to dig into vertical walls and launch himself high in midair (yes, also really). He'll also get a new field move called "Para-Suit" where he uses his royal guard uniform as a parachute to slow his fall, and all of these field moves will come with a corresponding in-battle skill to make tracking them down more worthwhile. Naturally, these will all have to be discovered as the game progresses, because if Antoine had already known them beforehand he wouldn't have been... well, the butt of everyone's jokes for the entire twenty-six episode series.

Antoine is pretty frail defensively (of course he is) but specializes as a speedy physical attacker who's got plenty of experience in dodging attacks. While Antoine has trouble committing to a battle when the going gets tough and is prone to panicking mid-battle and refusing to follow orders, pairing him with characters he has high Esteem for -- or that have high Esteem for him -- can help him power through his weaknesses and synergize with his teammates' battle strategy. His language disability adds an interesting wrinkle to his interactions with the Talk system, as he won't always understand what others say to him, often limiting the effectiveness of teammates' cheers and foes' taunts as well as affecting his ability to use Talk commands himself, sometimes with unexpected and/or hilarious results.

Antoine has high Esteem for most of the Knothole Freedom Fighters (particularly Sally), but his Esteem level for Sonic is abysmal. And it's absolutely mutual. As rivals, if Sonic and Antoine are in the same party, if one of them gets a critical hit on an attack, the other will immediately get a free automatic attack in on the same foe to try to one-up the other. In all likelihood, this can and will be abused in certain builds; however, it will also negatively affect the pair's Esteem levels towards each other, so it has its downsides.

 

-- Character Profile: Ro-Becca 2.0

The most hated SatAM character of all time is now sporting a new look to make her fit the Sonic art style better and seem more around the age range of the core Freedom Fighter group. (I'm still debating whether it would be in extremely poor taste to make her species 'cougar;' sure Antoine was of legal age in the Archie comics but I don't know if I want to carry that over into Sonic Burst and besides everything about how she expressed her crush on him was still messed up.) This version of Ro-Becca thankfully seems to have no memory of her previous personality, though as a recently created artificial intelligence she's still not the most self-aware or perceptive of the Freedom Fighters. She does however pack a punch with the ability to use a myriad (and upgradable) assortment of power tools built into her limbs to interact with objects in the overworld to open up new paths, and while her rocket feet have a cooldown phase so as not to be overpowered (the length of time she can use them increases with upgrades), they're still pretty useful.

As a robot, Ro-Becca is understandably weak to Fire, Lightning, and Water attacks; however, she's immune to Poison. She has a high Attack and Defense due to how she's built, but lower Speed due to her bulk. I was tempted to give her a status move where she tries to infatuate her opponent(s), but let's be fair -- she's terrible at that, and I don't think anyone really needs the level of PTSD that would give Antoine (and the fanbase). But it's part of her character (okay, actually, it's kind of the only part of her character in her official appearance), so I guess I'll give her the ability to only infatuate other robots, though this doesn't have an 100% success rate.

While Ro-Becca starts out with high Esteem for Antoine despite memory loss from her reprogramming, he definitely does not reciprocate. She will sometimes encourage Antoine in battle to try to boost his effectiveness, but how Antoine reacts will depend on his Esteem for her -- when they first start out, he might actually lose effectiveness in battle if she pays him too much attention, becoming distracted or skittish.

 

-- Dumpster Drive Zone

Ro-Becca takes Antoine and Amy into a junkyard where they must scavenge for supplies to build robot disguises to break into Robotropolis. Ro-Becca's ability to interact with and repair broken technology and Amy's ability to smash obstacles into resources will both come in handy navigating the junkyard. This Zone is expanded from its role in the story version in that it's inhabited by badniks that must be fought and culminates with a battle against a multi-headed amalgamation of various badnik parts that has grown semi-sentient and seeks to destroy the intruders that have 'robbed' its domain. (No, it's not actually the Krudzu Hybrid Hydra, largely because I have plans for the Krudzu and it wouldn't make sense for it to appear in this form at this point in the storyline.) It's also a prime dumping ground for visual references to various bits and pieces of tech seen all throughout the series, including the robots that Sonic's destroyed over the course of the SatAM series.

This Zone is also where Amy makes a passing mention of the Ring of Acorns, but when Antoine presses further she tells him to 'forget I said anything.'

 

-- Boss Battle: Titan Scrapnik

The Titan Scrapnik battle is difficult in that it has three different heads, all with varying attacks, and the player must read its tells to determine which head is readying an attack and attack that head before it can fire anything. (I haven't decided what badniks specifically the Titan Scrapnik is based around, other than one of them is Coconuts and Antoine eventually wears its head as a mask, which ties into subsequent plot events.) While there is always the option to attempt to use a Talk command with the Titan Scrapnik, attempts to calm it down will show that it is not a thing that can be reasoned with. However, turning its multiple heads against each other through words or through baiting one head into misfiring on another in battle will make this boss easier. (Perhaps Ro-Becca flirts with the Titan Scrapnik and its heads start fighting over her?) While it's possible to brute-force the battle, turning the Titan Scrapnik's heads against each other will lead to an extra dialogue sequence at the end with Amy musing on how the infighting between the heads was its undoing, which gives Antoine some food for thought as to his attitudes towards his more aggravating teammates. As such, getting this ending slightly increases Antoine's Esteem towards Sonic, Amy, and Ro-Becca.

The three heads of the Titan Scrapnik are crafted into the badnik masks that Amy, Antoine, and Ro-Becca wear as part of their disguises. In addition, certain parts from the Titan Scrapnik can be crafted into the Scrapnik Sword for Antoine, the Scrapnik Drill for Ro-Becca, and the Scrapnik Hammer for Amy. However, you won't get enough materials from Dumpster Drive Zone to craft all three of them just yet, forcing the player to choose how to spend their current resources. Clearing out all the resources in Dumpster Drive Zone provides enough materials to craft any one of the Scrapnik equips, while if you cleared out all the resources in Rotor's storeroom as well as in Dumpster Drive Zone, you'll have enough resources to build two Scrapnik equips. Eventually the player can obtain enough material to craft all three of the Scrapnik equips, although it should be noted that not all branching choices in-game will have this level of flexibility.

In addition, now is as good a time as any to say that the equipment you get early on will be upgradable at certain points in the game if you have the resources to do it, so you don't have to worry as much about your favorite equipment falling off the ladder due to power creep... but there's no guarantee you'll be able to find enough resources to max out every single equip in the game by the time the credits roll. Economies are built on limited resources, after all, and this is a war zone we're talking about.

Once you've crafted and equipped all of the badnik disguises, it's time to move on with the stealth mission.

 

-- Robotropolis Zone (Act One)

While the story version just has Amy pulling out her Warp Ring and transporting the trio into Snively's workroom, that doesn't really open up much room for exploration, so Robotropolis Zone is a full-on infiltration mission. With the badnik disguises, most of Snively's mooks (badniks and SWATbots) won't bat a metal eyelash at you, but it's still possible to engage in combat for experience points if you so desire... but getting into too many fights will alert the other badniks that you're not on the level and make them aggressive towards you, so don't think you're above consequences for your actions.

Robotropolis Zone contains a fair number of technological devices that Ro-Becca can interact with to unlock more paths and secret areas.

 

-- Workroom of Doom Zone

Robotropolis Zone Act One ends with Amy, Antoine, and Ro-Becca reaching Snively's workroom and searching it, discovering (among other materials, including enough resources to craft the final Scrapnik equip assuming you've made the other two) Amy's other warp ring and Tiara's Shifter Scepter. This tips Amy off that her bestie's been kidnapped, and she uses the Shifter Scepter to warp to the Robotropolis prison cells to find her. Unfortunately, this wave of magical energy sets off the alarms in the workroom, triggering an encounter with Scratch and Grounder for Antoine and Ro-Becca.

Depending on whether you blew your cover in Robotropolis Zone Act One, Scratch and Grounder may mistake the Freedom Fighters for actual badniks and send Antoine (disguised as Coconuts) to clean out the Robotropolis toilets (which is what happens canonically in the fanfic), or they may recognize the 'badnik impersonators' that have been wreaking havoc on their kind and engage in battle. Perhaps the disguised Antoine must try to keep his cover up with a series of questions Scratch and Grounder throw at him as to why 'Coconuts' isn't doing his job, and failing this questionnaire triggers the boss battle. (To be fair, any bot with an ounce of sense would immediately recognize Antoine's horrific mangling of the English language as suspicious, but these are Scratch and Grounder we're talking about, so there is in fact a nonzero chance of them buying it.)

 

-- Boss Battle: Search and Smash Squad (Antoine Route)

 

(No, I am NOT going through the trouble of listing their full title from AoStH. We all know who they are.)

Scratch and Grounder are tougher customers than you might think from their official depictions as joke villains, especially with Amy the heavy-hitter absent from the party. Defeating them through sheer force alone is possible, but won't be easy, especially as they will mercilessly taunt and bully Antoine and Ro-Becca throughout the battle, inflicting statuses and debuffs if successful. However, the Talk command can be used to turn their words against each other, as they will each try to one-up the other in battle and exploiting this can lead to distracting them or even turning them against each other rather than the heroes. If Ro-Becca manages to successfully flirt with them, she can even make them fight each other over her. Defeating them will get some unique resource drops that can be crafted into special equips, including Scratch and Grounder disguises for the pair and a new "Drill Blade" for Antoine made from Grounder's drills that inflicts Earth damage.

 

-- Robotropolis Zone (Act Two)

If Antoine and Ro-Becca fight and defeat Scratch and Grounder, they both head through Robotropolis Zone Act Two as a team in their new disguises. If their cover is not blown, then Antoine gets sent through Robotropolis Zone Act Two on his own in his Coconuts disguise, and as such certain pathways and secrets will be unavailable due to not having Ro-Becca to interact with things. As such, there's a benefit to intentionally blowing your cover to trigger the Antoine Route, although there's a significant difficulty spike compared to the Amy Route (detailed later on below).

The endpoint of Act Two is the latrines, where Antoine manages to find Robotnik's old PDA, a Nicole-like pocket computer that's going to be important later on in the adventure.

 

-- Prison Cell Zone

Amy must explore the Robotropolis prison cells in search of Sonic and Tiara, smashing open prison cells with her hammer along the way to free captured Mobians. (One of these may be Fang the Hunter, who doesn't stick around to thank Amy and just rushes off, picking her pocket in the process and making off with a sizable amount of her rings.) There are also prison cells with badniks locked in them, which Amy can talk to through the bars, learning that not all of the badniks are pleased with how Snively's running the place. Freeing the badniks may or may not have unintended consequences, as some of them will attack Amy if she's also freed Snively's prisoners or if she's smashed any other badniks, but others will give Amy gifts of resources or rings in gratitude before running off before she can smash them. (Yes, I know some players would be tempted.)

When Amy reaches Sonic and Tiara, Tiara scolds Amy for messing with her Shifter Scepter and for using her warp rings to sneak off to Mobius to begin with, triggering a conversation where the player gets to choose whether Amy tries to defend her actions or tries to move the plot back to where (she thinks) Antoine and Ro-Becca are. Either way, Amy eventually takes them back to the Workroom of Doom Zone, where either Antoine and Ro-Becca have already left Scratch and Grounder in pieces, or Scratch and Grounder are having a somewhat unnerving conversation with Ro-Becca, whom they still think is a badnik and quite frankly they're kind of... put off by her attempts to sound enthusiastic about working for Snively. (She may have lost her stalker instincts but she is still entirely tone-deaf with overbearing tendencies.)

 

-- Boss Battle: Search and Smash Squad (Amy Route)

So this is why Scratch and Grounder are tougher to fight as Antoine and Ro-Becca: they're actually balanced for a four-character party of Sonic, Amy, Tiara, and Ro-Becca. The trick of turning them against each other still applies here, and they're significantly easier to best with the party of four, but you're still gonna have a time against them. It should be noted that Sonic fights at a significant disadvantage, having been starved of food and water in Snively's prison cells, so he's not gonna be running at full capacity for this battle. In his current mental state, he may insist on charging in anyway (refusing to acknowledge the player's commands), and the girls may have to use Talk commands to convince him not to be too reckless...

This is as good a time as any to state that healing items come in the form of chili dogs, and that many stages (including Robotropolis Zone) contain vending machines where the player can buy various types of chili dogs and status healing items. Also, one-ups look like computer monitors because while it makes no reasonable sense in-universe, I wanted to call back to the one-ups in the classic Sonic series and you can't stop me.

Defeating Scratch and Grounder still nets you the same loot drops as the Path One fight, but since Antoine isn't present, you can't exactly give him the Drill Blade because he's not around at the moment. Not to mention that regardless of whether you fight Scratch and Grounder here, the scene still ends with Metal Sonic showing up with an army of too many badniks to fight, promptly re-arresting everybody and sending them back to the cells again. Yes, there are a surprising amount of plot rails for a game centered around choice, but there's an upper limit as to how many branching timelines I can keep track of here, especially at the beginning.

 

-- Character Profile: Tiara B.

Tiara's overworld ability comes from her first and only (canceled) game, Sonic X-Treme, where in at least one version she was to wield a scepter that would allow her to warp between foreground and background layers. She won't be the only character who possesses warping abilities, but thus far the other one(s?) I have planned won't show up until the endgame, and since Sonic Burst is planned to have twenty-six episodes, it's gonna be a while before we get there.

Tiara herself has pretty unremarkable stats, but her real power is in her Shifter Scepter's warp magic. The scepter can not only allow Tiara's attacks to hit through foes' protection, but it can redirect any successfully blocked attack aimed at Tiara to hit the foe who launched it. The effectiveness of these deflections varies based on the foe and their attack type, taking stats and the elemental system into account, but like Tiara's own attacks, deflected attacks will hit through any protection the foes may have, possibly including armor but I'm not sure how I want armor to work in this game. As the story progresses, Tiara eventually gets an upgrade that allows her to use warp magic to slam two foes into each other, causing variable damage to both depending on the sizes of the foes involved.

 

-- Snively's Throne Room (conversation/cutscene)

Metal Sonic takes the captured Sonic (wearing an inhibitor ring on his head; think the rings on top of the captured Mobians in Blast to the Past pt. 2) to Snively to face interrogation. Snively, being Snively, takes great pleasure in using a plate of delicious-looking chili dogs to try to tempt the starving Sonic into breaking. Sonic, of course, will never break for the likes of Snively, but we see the first signs of Sonic's eventual descent into Dark Sonic form in this scene. Once Snively realizes that his attempts are worthless, he declares that he's going to roboticize Sonic instead, and Metal Sonic leads him off to his presumed demise.

...of course, you know that's not going to happen in Episode One, but Sonic doesn't.

 

-- Roboticization Chamber

When Metal Sonic brings Sonic into the Roboticization Chamber, depending on the player's choices earlier in the game, either Antoine comes to save Sonic alone, or Ro-Becca comes alongside Antoine. If Antoine comes alone, he's captured pretty quickly and put in the roboticization chamber alongside Sonic, but if he comes with Ro-Becca, they have enough combined power (mainly Ro-Becca's, obviously) to break Sonic free of his restraints and have the three of them challenge Metal Sonic together. This doesn't mean that Antoine coming alone forfeits the win condition, though, as Antoine will manage to free Sonic from his restraints and give him the Power Ring even if he's locked in the roboticization chamber, and Sonic will escape the chamber by spin-dashing through the top of the machine, destroying the roboticizer in the process.

 

-- Boss Battle: Metal Sonic

This battle will be harder or easier depending on if you fight it with Sonic, Antoine, and Ro-Becca, or only with Sonic. However, this is the first battle to reveal the Burst mechanic, which is activated by a Burst Gauge meter that increases as you take certain actions and gives the user a new temporary 'super form' (not necessarily a Super form, if you get my meaning) for the rest of the battle.

Sonic's Burst form is Dark Sonic, and his Burst Gauge is filled through blocking hits, taking damage, taunting enemies, and even throwing shade at his own companions in battle (which has the trade-off of dropping their Esteem for him). Most of Dark Sonic's attacks take on the Dark element, and while his power levels increase dramatically, he can be difficult for the player to control and will sometimes ignore commands, especially if a certain foe has pissed him off. However, in Sonic's weakened state, he's more vulnerable to attacks, and he may need Antoine and Ro-Becca to distract Metal Sonic from attacking him.

Notably, actually defeating Metal Sonic isn't necessary if you're only fighting him with Sonic, as the events of the Sonic Burst story will play out canonically with Antoine using Robotnik's PDA to trick Metal Sonic into the roboticization chamber and trap it in Sonic's own restraints; however, this scene does not play out if both Antoine and Ro-Becca are present, and having all three Freedom Fighters on the scene makes it necessary to defeat Metal Sonic the old-fashioned way.

Regardless of how Metal Sonic is defeated, Dark Sonic will collapse from exhaustion, the remaining teammates will arrive on the scene (having escaped the prison cells on their own), and the group of five will all escape through use of Tiara's Shifter Scepter. The group also learns that oh, by the way, Amy's assumption that the Freedom Fighters' Time Stones were the same Time Stones stolen from the Miracle Planet? The whole thing was a complete misunderstanding. Ouch.

 

-- Knothole Village Zone (epilogue)

Sonic is checked into the Knothole Infirmary, where the resident medical expert (a pink female polar bear named Nursa because I absolutely refuse to use Dr. Quack) diagnoses him with dehydration and heat sickness and declares that he needs rest and rehydration for the next few days. Sonic is not thrilled about this, of course, but it is what it is.

Antoine, meanwhile, is off on his own, having a conversation with Robotnik's PDA. Turns out the thing has pretty much the same level of sentience as Nicole, isn't happy about its programming forcing it to help Robotnik do all these terrible things, and wants to take advantage of a loophole in its programming not giving Snively the same privileges by helping the Freedom Fighters take down the little man with the big nose. It also introduces itself as Aster X, hinting that it was given to Robotnik by a not-at-all-nice associate of Robotnik's that Antoine should hope he never meets.

This completes Episode One, but the player does get some optional sidequests they can run before starting Episode Two, such as searching out medicinal herbs in Great Forest Zone for Nursa to treat her patients, or searching Dumpster Drive Zone for parts to upgrade Ro-Becca. Which character you play as during these sidequests is up to you, although of the five characters introduced in Episode One, Sonic is not available to play as at this point, as he is currently recovering. Which character does which quest will also affect Esteem levels, and some quests might have branched paths with different endings depending on the player's choices.

Sneak preview of an upcoming blog article:

Spoiler

So one of the weirder things about my psyche is that when dealing with a creative effort that requires multiple pieces, I try to gather as many different pieces as possible, then practically keel over with decision paralysis immediately afterwards because I now have way too much stuff to choose from. That was one of my main reasons for restarting my Animal Crossing: New Horizons save file completely from scratch, because I wanted to try to build a new island from the ground up starting with the limited resources the game gave me initially instead of spending the literal millions of Bells I'd accrued from months', possibly years' worth of obsessive-compulsive hot item grinding while watching YouTube videos on my laptop. (I may not be as repentant on the subject as I'd prefer to be. Riches are fleeting and so are we, and nowhere is this made more clear than having your entire save file deleted.)

Going in to my new island, I had an idea in my mind as to what theme I wanted to run with, something that played to my personal tastes and fully embraced the anthro aspect of the game's villagers. Furry fantasy is my jam (so long as it's, well, not... look, we all know that kind of furry subculture is rampant and the less we speak of it the better), and the concept I eventually decided on was 'Redwall-core.' Stories like Redwall, Mistmantle, The Green Ember, medieval-era fantasies played out by furry actors. To quote S.D. Smith, 'rabbits with swords.'

Unfortunately, once I got onto my island and realized my village fruit was oranges, I realized that maybe the game was trying to tell me to aim for something a little more tropical in vibe.

 

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