Sonic Team saw Breath of the Wild and went “Let’s do that; But with Grind Rails” Hey, we said this game was open world
Let’s be honest.
Sonic the Hedgehog wasn’t originally designed with in-depth storytelling in mind.
Mainly you’re just running, jumping and But over the years, as Sonic entered the 3D space, that had to change.
Our favorite Blue Blur needed a story, and the results have been… mixed, to say the least.
Some kept it light, others went deep.
Enter Sonic Frontiers, the new open world adventure that went all in with a heaping scoop of lore.
They even hired the former chief writer for the Archie Comics to help make it good.
And what we got was confusing at best and potentially cannon breaking at worst.
So today we’re going to set the record straight.
Does Sonic Frontiers shatter the sonic canon? Or is this game going far deeper than we realize? Hello Internet.
Welcome to Game Theory, the show that’s this close to collecting the four chaos channels.
Once I have them all, I’m going to be able to ascend a super MatPat form.
Something tells me that I’m going to be looking good as a spiky haired blond.
In the meantime, though, let’s instead talk about that spiky quilled blue blur, Sonic.
Last November saw the release of Sonic’s newest game, Sonic Frontiers.
And let’s not kid ourselves.
This game had a difficult hill to climb.
3D Sonic’s don’t exactly have themselves the best reputation.
It also didn’t help that when the initial gameplay teaser dropped, the whole thing looked empty and lifeless.
So much so that Sega had to come out and tell gamers that “you just don’t get it, man.
” But then the game came out and it was still largely empty and lifeless.
Basically, Sonic Team saw Breath of the Wild and went “Let’s do that; But with Grind Rails” Hey, we said this game was open world.
We didn’t say that there was stuff to do in it.
All joking aside, though, I think the game’s pretty solid.
Sure, it’s random in places.
It feels unpolished in chunks of it, and that pinball game is unforgivable.
But it is the most solid 3D Sonic has been in a long time.
That said, one area where this new game wasn’t lacking was the lore.
Now 3D Sonic’s tried to write stories in the past.
Sometimes it works.
And sometimes it’s uber cringe.
Writers have a hard time finding the right tone when they’re making a story that stars talking hedgehogs.
So Sonic Frontiers took a different approach.
They hired the former chief writer for the Sonic Archie Comics, Ian Flynn, to pen their story.
And honestly, it shows in the dialog.
These characters feel really fleshed out.
Knuckles and Sonic feel like rivals again.
Tails gets himself a character arc.
Even Amy has lines where she’s more than just an obsessive fan girl.
So it seems like this whole thing should be a slam dunk, right? Well, not quite.
You see, this game goes well out of its way to prove that all the Sonic games are connected.
We have moments that reference Sonic Forces.
Lines that talk about Sonic Adventure 2.
Even references to more obscure titles like Sonic Riders.
Which means that for the first time, we actually have to take all of Sonic’s lore seriously.
And that’s a pretty dangerous prospect because Sonic lore has gone to some strange places.
Making matters worse, even if you do know your Sonic lore, things presented in Frontiers seem to contradict major plot details from other games.
So does Sonic Frontiers actually make sense or does it break the canon like many have suggested online? For once, let’s slow down.
Let’s take a deep breath and explore the world of chaos energy, mutant aliens and Sonic history.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
At the start of Frontier, Sonic and his friends get sucked into a cyberspace portal, basically a digital world built from memories of Sonic’s past adventures.
This first one recreates Green Hills Zone, but throughout the game, Sonic is forced to revisit places like Chemical Plant and Sky Sanctuary.
And while Sonic manages to escape this first portal, his friends aren’t so lucky.
Ah, yes, a multiverse story.
These are always super clear.
They never go wrong in any way.
Making matters worse, huge parts of the lore are hidden behind Eggman memos.
Memos that you can only get when you *groan* fish with Big the cat.
Why? Why would you make slow fishing a thing in a fast Sonic game? Am I crazy? Why do all games feel the need to shoehorn in fishing? But especially a Sonic game.
That’s my rant at what time is it? 12:25 in the middle of the night.
And this is my rant.
Okay, this is it.
Woo, excuse me.
I did not realize that I had such deep feelings about fishing in video games.
Anyway, back to the theory.
And even when you do get those memos, they don’t actually explain everything, especially if you aren’t familiar with the deep wells of Sonic lore.
It’s kind of ironic when you consider what Eggman says in one of the memos.
Anyway, As Sonic traverses cyberspace to free his friends, he becomes more and more corrupted by the cyber energy.
Because of that, he starts to see weird visions of the past.
It’s through these visions that we start to learn about the ancients.
A race of aliens whose home planet was destroyed by the evil entity called the end.
As the story goes, as their planet was being destroyed, these ancients were drawn to earth by the power of the chaos emeralds.
Now, older Sonic fans will take one look at the ancient race and immediately connect the dots to an old foe that we faced back in 1998.
You see, these ancient aliens look exactly like the main villain Chaos from the game Sonic Adventure.
And that connection isn’t lost on this game either.
It should be called out that this wasn’t an accident.
This was a conscious decision that was made by the writer Ian Flynn.
However, this connection is where the Internet’s run into its biggest problem with regards to the wider Sonic lore.
You see, Chaos wasn’t an alien in Sonic adventure, at least not really.
The Sonic Adventure Navigation Guide tells us that Chaos isn’t an alien, but rather a mutant, thanks to being exposed to a special kind of radiation.
He was originally one of these adorable guys, a Chao.
So apparently one of these cute fairy things mutated to become a water monster.
But that then doesn’t make any sense for what we see in Sonic Frontiers.
The Ancients, as we see them in that game, were always water monsters.
I mean, they have children that look like water monsters and everything.
So if Chaos and the Ancients are indeed one and the same, is it possible for him to still have been a mutant Chao? This is the primary issue that I’ve seen debated online and how this new game seemingly breaks the established lore.
Honestly, the immediate response that I would have is just to say that the old lore got retconned.
But we know for a fact that that isn’t the case.
Ian Flynn came out and confirmed that the original lore is still valid.
So while that’s certainly helpful for clarifying canonicity, it offers us no help in figuring out how these two things can both be canon.
Fortunately, Eggman provides us with a bit more information.
In that same memo where Eggman confirms the connection between Chaos and the ancients, he also says this.
Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Radiation transforming bodies.
It’s just like what the Sonic Adventure Navigation Guide said happened to Chaos,just uno-reversed; instead of cute little Chao transforming into water monsters.
The water monsters have been transformed into Chao.
But what radiation would be able to do this? Well, that one’s easy.
Chaos was originally said to have mutated because of radiation from the master emerald, the giant green jewel that lives at the center of Angel Island.
This thing is basically a deus ex machina in the Sonic world.
It keeps Angel Island floating.
It’s a prison for Chaos.
It can stop the chaos emeralds, but it also powers them up.
Whatever is needed to make the story happen, the master emerald can deliver.
And you don’t have to take my word for it either.
Here’s Knuckles from the obscure series TailsTube uploaded onto the official Sonic YouTube channel.
Neutralize the other emeralds, huh? Interesting.
You see in the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 instruction manual, we’re told the energy that the master emerald emits is identical to that of the chaos emeralds.
Just much, much stronger.
This energy is known, unsurprisingly, as chaos energy or chaos radiation if you’re feeling spicy.
But it turns out the master emerald isn’t the only one with mutation powers.
Chaos emeralds also emit enough chaos radiation to mutate creatures.
In the Archie comics, the energy emitted by the chaos emeralds actually turns someone into a watery monster, just like Chaos.
Now, admittedly, the Archie comics aren’t considered canon.
However, Ian Flynn did used to be the creative writer for them, so it’s not surprising that he might have wanted to borrow some ideas from the things that he himself had worked on in the past.
The Ancients even take the chaos emeralds directly to the Master as a last ditch effort to protect them.
In other words, they literally put the chaos emeralds in a location where their energy would be amplified, exposing themselves to even more radiation.
This one move, I suspect, sped up their mutation process and transformed the ancients into the Chao that we know and love and by all the merch for today.
So that’s how the Ancients became Chao.
But what about how a Chao could mutate back to being an Ancient? In other words, how did chaos go from Alien Water Monster to Chao and then back to Alien Water Monster? That’s what has to have happened for everything to have been canonical like Ian Flynn said.
Well, we know the mutation back was thanks to the Master Emerald’s radiation, but that’s the same radiation that turned the ancients to Chao in the first place.
So what gives? Well, the master emeralds never ending power set seems to explain all.
Listen to this quote from Knuckles again.
Emerald doesn’t just boost the chaos emeralds power.
It can also neutralize it.
We actually see this all over the series.
In Sonic Battle, Sonic attempts to use this technique to stop the antagonist who’s using the chaos emeralds for power.
We also see Knuckles attempt the same thing in Sonic Adventure 2.
When the Space Colony ARK is using the emeralds to force the space station to crash to Earth.
But the first time we see this technique used is during the events of Sonic Adventure.
We learn of the ancient clan of Echidnas that know an ancient prayer used to neutralize the chaos emeralds.
If the ancients were originally mutated into Chao through their exposure to the emeralds, then when the chaos energy was neutralized, the effects would presumably be reversed, allowing a Chao within the vicinity of the master emerald to lose its Chao like form and return to its original state.
This is why Chaos is so protective of the emeralds during Sonic Adventure’s flashbacks.
He wasn’t just a guardian of the emeralds because they were too powerful.
His race literally brought them to this planet.
They were to be used as a force for good.
Chaos just couldn’t risk the power getting into the hands of someone who could abuse it.
Like the Echidnas, like Eggman.
And like Sonic.
So there you have it.
The broken law of Sonic Frontiers is officially unbroken.
I would dare say that it makes perfect sense, provided you were a deep lore expert on the comings and goings of gemology in a fictional landscape by aliens.
Regardless, I’m excited for this new phase of Sonic lore.
Hopefully Ian Flynn gets invited back to write more of these games.
He clearly cares a lot about this franchise and its lore.
Something I very much respect.
Feels so much better when a franchise as big as this finally starts to have some cohesion in its narrative.
And now that we know that the chaos emeralds have the power to mutate aliens, who knows what’s up ahead for Sonic? Maybe all the overreliance on Super Sonic to defeat Eggman over the years will start to have a negative effect on him physically.
Maybe he’ll start to mutate as well.
Maybe not into werehog, but you know .
I mean, the game did give Tails, a story arc about not relying on Sonic for everything.
Could they be setting up the next one where Tails is the main character and has to save Sonic? Or, you know, maybe they’ll just throw away all the fictional sci fi stuff and just start using some real world physics.
Finally we’ll get someone to question if Sonic truly is the fastest thing alive.
But hey, that’s just a theory.
A GAME THEORY! Thanks for watching.
And if you want to learn more about Sonic’s recent adventures, why not head over to Film Theory, where we figured out how many chili dogs he’d have to eat to survive given his running habits.
That video is over there on the left.
Meanwhile, over there on the right, we’ve got a video about who would win in the Olympics: Sonic or Mario.
It is shockingly close.
Also, did you know that architecture is an Olympic event? Yeah, there is a lot of wacky information in that video, that one is to the right.
And as always, my friends.
I’ll see you next week.