Shadow the Hedgehog is a 2005 game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that focuses on the Anti-Hero black hedgehog, Shadow. The game begins with Shadow on the outskirts of Westopolis, just as the sky turns blood red and aliens begin swooping in to invade. Shadow is about to turn away, uncaring, but a strange creature with a terrible voice speaks his name, calling on him to bring the alien leader - by the name of BlackDoom - the Chaos Emeralds. Thus begins Shadow's personal quest of self-discovery, which can take any one of 326 (!!!) paths through the game's 22 levels.While the typical controls of the 3D entries in the Sonic series apply to some extent, it is playable as a third-person shooter, a different direction for the franchise. Its Darker and Edgier tone, Shadow's constant Wangsting, and frequent navel-gazing turned many fans of the franchise away, and the game was disliked by most critics. On another note, this game marks the debut of the 4Kids cast from Sonic X into the video games. Ironically, they started off doing the Sonic game that's the least kid-friendly.
The game provides examples of:
Alignment-Based Endings: The game has a whopping 326 possible ending combinations, with Pure Dark, Pure Neutral, Pure Hero, and True Ending as the main four.
For actual endings, there are 10 alignment-based endings, and 1 "true" ending unlocked for completing all of them. The 326 ending paths are differing names for reaching these endings through completing the stages in various sequences.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The word "damn" is constantly peppered through the dialogue. Shadow says it every time he gets hit or dies.
Awesome but Impractical: The Chaos Control ability is supposed to be the "good" ability, obtained from killing evil characters, and it allows Shadow to skip part of a level. Problem is, because all but a few of the "good" missions are based on finding stuff and not getting to the end, and because many of these things can only be found in out-of-the-way areas, Chaos Control is next to useless on the alignment it's associated with.
In the neutral levels and some of the hero ones, Chaos Control is really effective. If you know what you're doing, its possible to skip through some massive segments of a level with a well timed usage.
Bonus Feature Failure: Each level has keys that you can use to unlock secret doors. Some of the items are useful, including The Last Way teleporter that sends you ahead in the level (past the area where you must Chaos Control to get past). But most are completely useless, including the armored car in Lost Impact...in a cramped space station filled with areas you must spin dash under or use rail cars to get to. Helpful!
The most useful ones are in Sky Troops (REALLY good Chaos Control short cut), Cosmic Fall (great shortcut), and GUN Fortress (short cut).
Book Ends: The Final Boss of this one (the last game dealing with the "Shadow's amnesia" story arc) has some similarities with the final boss of the first game in the aforementioned story arc.
Bowdlerise: The original idea for the game was to be much darker, with GUN soldiers actually dying, Black Arms bleeding red blood, and use of the word "piss" (by Sonic, no less). However, during production, the ESRB announced they were creating an E10+ category, so Sonic Team toned down the game to get an E10+ instead. It still was pretty edgy, as could be witnessed from the frequent use of "damn" and "hell" in the final product, with even Sonic, Espio, and other established characters cursing.
The game did get a T rating before it was edited down to an E10.
Breakable Weapons: This is essentially used in the place of standard ammunition for melee weapons.
Several areas return from Sonic Adventure 2, namely Prison Island, now derelict & overgrown with plant life after it was destroyed in SA2. Numerous levels also take place on the Space Colony ARK, which is breaking apart after the events of SA2, such as Cosmic Fall, Space Gadget (which Sonic states is the remains of the area Sonic & Shadow has the final boss battles in Hero & Dark stories in SA2), The ARK (which follows the same route as Final Chase, Shadow's final level in SA2; both stage themes are quite similar, furthering the connection), The Doom, and Lost Impact (both of which are flashback levels which depict Shadow's life before Maria's death).
Camera Screw: Present throughout the game, but it's especially egregious in Cosmic Fall, where the camera spazzing out makes it very difficult to judge jumps. (And the platforming would be kind of tricky even without the Camera Screw.
Captain Obvious: Due to an attempt to write the script around teaching the game's mechanics to newcomers, it looks like almost every single character in the game is bound to do this.
"Damn, not here!" when he dies. As if there's a good place to die...
Character Development: It's in this game that the loose ends in Shadow's past are dealt with and he declares that he's put his past behind him. Indeed, he would lose pretty much all of his Wangst in the next games he would appear in, even having his share of Crowning Moments in Sonic 2006. In a rare example of this trope, he actually got better after losing a key personality trait.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Two from Sonic Adventure 2 in this game's Last Story. The Chaos Spear, which Shadow only used when you fought him as Sonic, is Super Shadow's method of attacking Devil Doom. The second is the Eclipse Cannon, which was made for the purpose of destroying the Black Comet.
Chekhov's Gun: Those five top secret discs and the data terminals from the Chaotix missions? It's never outright stated, but there's a good possibility that they're actually bits and pieces of the entry in Prof. Gerald's diary that appears in the last story. It's especially likely since it's possible to help out all three Chaotix members in two of the stories.
Collection Sidequest: Most of the non-neutral missions involve some sort of collection. This can range from killing every enemy of a certain type to sucking up twenty small bombs with the vacuum gun.
Cool Bike: All of the trailers for this game shamelessly used the fact that Shadow can drive a motorbike in the game as a selling point. In fact, in some of the trailers, that was all he did. In-game, said bike only appeared in Lethal Highway, handled poorly, and is far slower than Shadow's normal running speed. Made worse when the intro proudly displays Shadow driving full speed into a monster and jumping off at the last second cueing a Hollywood explosion, try this in game... and you quickly learn that the 'jump off' and 'break' buttons are the same... you'll slow to a stop in front of your target, calmly step off the bike, and get slapped in the face for your efforts.
That bike is now Shadow's canon method of driving.
Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Many, many levels, such as the abandoned base with its vast acid lakes, or Eggman's fortress, which will fill with lava if you choose to side with Eggman and protect it.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Inverted. An early cutscene in the game shows that Maria was killed by one gun shot. However, in the two levels where she acts as an assist character, getting hit by bullets doesn't kill her, mostly because assist characters aren't designed to die (or at least respawn if they fall too far into a bottomless pit or stray from the player).
Darker and Edgier: More so than Sonic Adventure 2. In general tone, anyway. For all it's posturing, there really isn't anything in this game as unnervingly morbid as Gerald's diary and execution speech from SA2. Most of the "darkness" is brought about by a darker color pallet, environments and the use of mild cursing and guns. The majority of the darkness within the plot (Black Doom's behavior and To Serve Man plan notwithstanding) was already present in Sonic Adventure 2.
The Day of Reckoning: Invoked by Black Doom: "Shadow... As you can see, the day of reckoning will soon be here. Find the seven Chaos Emeralds and bring them to me as promised."
Engineered Public Confession: Inverted in the ending. Gerald Robotnik made a video at some point between Shadow's creation and GUN's attack on ARK, where he tells Shadow about it being his fault that Black Doom is going to attack Earth, and that he intends for Shadow to save it by destroying the Black Arms, and that the Eclipse Cannon was originally designed to destroy their homeworld, the Black Comet, which, upon Charmy activating the message, was transmitted throughout the world, and especially Black Doom's ship while Black Doom was attempting to break Shadow's will. It's also implied that the reason why Gerald didn't tell them sooner about the reason was because Black Doom would have seen it.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Eggman learns in the final chapter that his grandfather apparently sold out his planet for research, for Black Doom, he was legitimately horrified.
Which is odd, seeing as he'd already gotten the impression that Gerald was a psychopath after what happened in SA2.
Though in SA2, Gerald's evil machinations were implied to only be vengeance based. Not only did Gerald knowingly attempt to end all life on the planet in retaliation for the death of Maria, but also just as knowingly doomed the Earth just For Science!.
Eviler than Thou: The level "Sky Troops" has both Eggman and Black Arms missions. Eggman counts as the "Hero" side.
Omega is considered the Hero side in his missions, which usually involve his desire to kill Eggman. In fact, the main difference between the outcomes of the Hero and Dark "neutral" endings is that Omega appears in the Hero one.
Evil Versus Evil: Some levels contain Eggman's robots and Black Arms aliens as enemies.
Fantastic Racism: Black Doom's general opinion of humans. In some endings, Shadow has a tendency to agree with him.
Freudian Excuse: The GUN Commander, arguably, going by his relationship with Maria.
Friendly Rivalry: Sonic tries to invoke this on Shadow, especially in the Space Gadget stage where he reminisces their rundown aboard the Space Colony ARK in Sonic Adventure 2. Needless to say, Shadow isn't interested in "friendly competition".
He reciprocates in one ending, where he decies that who he is is the Most Powerful Hedgehog In The World
Gory Discretion Shot: Several endings that have the Egg Dealer as the final boss have Shadow kill Eggman. The scene cuts to black just as Shadow karate chops the Doctor's head, as he lets out a Big "NO!".
Gravity Screw: Space Gadget is full of green... blocky things that shift the gravity around. There are several points throughout the stage where Shadow is standing on the ceiling.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Shadow was a bad guy in SA2, but became good at the end. He remained essentially neutral through Sonic Heroes. In this game, for some of the routes you can take, you can switch sides up to six times.
Heel-Face Turn: G.U.N. became much less antagonistic to Shadow after the events of this game, to the point of hiring him as an agent.
Heel Realization: In the true ending, the GUN Commander realizes what a douchebag/Knight Templar he's been and that Shadow wasn't nearly as responsible for the ARK disaster as he thought.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Blue Falcon/Heavy Dog has a number of attached guns. Knock one off, and you can pick up the Bazooka weapon, which also has lock-on capabilities. Once you've done that, you can do serious damage, and knock off more of the bazookas, making this a pretty quick fight. Similarly, while there are guns provided in the arena for the Egg Dealer, it's much quicker to simply home in on its slot-machine style buttons, which can either result in instantly filling your Chaos Blast gauge or turning the robot's Missile Fever or Bomb Fever techniques against it.
The whole endgame is a case of this, with Doom being hoist by Shadow, who's meant to be his tool.
Infinity–1 Sword: Most of the unlockable weapons, acquired by watching certain endings, are like this. If you see both the Hero and Dark endings for a particular endgame level, you can "upgrade" your unlockables to Level 2, where they can become slightly more powerful, but hardly worth the effort.
Difficult, But Awesome: The level 2 Samurai Blade launches a Sword Beam that does as much damage as a regular strike (and the katana is the strongest melee weapon). Well used, it can clear an entire level without needing a reload.
The heal gun is really useful for The Doom (Hero). The Egg Vacuum is the weapon of choice in Central City (Hero) and Circus Park (Hero). Speed runners REALLY love the Omo Chao gun for a combination of good attack power, range, and chain lightning effect. In levels where there are not very many large/elite enemies such as Giants and Mechs, its actually BETTER than the Shadow Rifle.
Ironic Echo: After the fight with Sonic and the GUN Commander's Diablon Mech on the Pure Hero - Dark Ending, Shadow says, "Game over, Sonic!", a direct Call Back to what Sonic said to Shadow after their second battle in Sonic Adventure 2: "Game over, Shadow!"
Jerkass: Doom, Eggman and the GUN Commander. The GUN Commander orders his soldiers to kill Shadow, even when you're doing Doom's missions his aliens shoot at you, and in all of the levels where you can assist Eggman, regardless of the path you take you still end up fighting him as a sub-boss. Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
Levels Take Flight: Air Fleet, where Shadow has the option to either cover the President's escape from the Black Arms (Hero), find the Chaos Emerald (Neutral), or assassinate the big man himself (Dark).
Long Song, Short Scene: The game contains a rather neat remix of E.G.G.M.A.N by Paul Shortino. Unfortunately, the segment used in the game is less than 30 seconds long, only used in one cutscene and is buried in the Sound Test behind the anonymous "Event" title. The full version of the track did eventually appear on the "Lost And Found" soundtrack CD, however.
Mêlée à Trois: Black Arms versus Team Sonic/GUN versus The Eggman Empire.
Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: The 2-player battle mode feels very much like it was tacked on, being a simple deathmatch mode with only three stages, and different-colored Shadows and Shadow Androids to choose from.
The GUN Commander also gives a similar reaction to what he nearly did when Shadow, after hearing about his apparent involvement in the destruction of the ARK and Maria from the Commander, says "if what you say is true, then I will face the consequences", making it very clear that he really cannot remember it.
No Endor Holocaust: Apparently, the Sonic universe has a really efficient system for city evacuation. Central City is evacuated in about a day, and no people are seen in Westopolis. It is, however, said to have suffered "heavy casualties", according to the cutscene after the first level.
No Points for Neutrality: Averted. There's a "neutral" objective in every stage but the last one on any path, which is just "get to the end of the stage" every time. Going True Neutral in the war between the heroes and Black Doom results in Shadow having his own fight with Dr. Eggman. Said war still goes on, but Shadow doesn't affect the outcome of it.
Random Events Plot: Since most of the scenes are designed to fit a variety of moral alignments and plotlines, many of the paths tend to involve Shadow warping around doing arbitrary and frequently contradictory things before having some kind of epiphany at the very end.
With the way the story scenes are set up, continuity can be achieved in some instances. For instance, help Charmy find the Discs in one level and Shadow will be with Espio in the next level. Buddy up with him, and Shadow can find himself with Vector if you go the neutral route for the next level. Also, the Discs have significance in the Last Story.
Ridiculously Hedgehog Robots: In the Iron Jungle and Lava Shelter levels, Eggman Robots that look exactly like Shadow appear as enemies, and Shadow is uncertain if he is a robot too. If you stick around in the fight against Devil Doom long enough, however, Eggman will contact Shadow and explain that he rescued Shadow with his robots and chucked him into a pod while he healed, and Eggman just let him think he was a 'bot to screw with his head. Most people who find out about this tend to treat it as canon, although this very important piece of information has a very good chance of not being heard in-game by many players.
It does explain why, at the start of Sonic Heroes, he was in a tank hidden deep underground, in the same place where Omega was abandoned, while the other Shadow 'bots seemed to come from huge cloning facilities with dozens of tanks side-by-side.
Rival Turned Evil: Shadow becomes this to Sonic if you choose to clear one of the dark missions of G.U.N. Fortress, Black Comet, or Final Haunt.
Rule of Three: Three missions in some levels, three scores, three Final Bosses (Albiet in branching storylines), and of course a three-way war.
Scoring Points: You have three different meters keeping track of your points - your neutral points, your hero points, and your dark points. If you finish a hero mission, your hero points are added to your neutral points, and your dark points are subtracted for your final score; the converse is true for a dark mission. On neutral missions, only the neutral points count. It's a good thing the neutral missions pretty much only involve getting to the end of the level, because your time bonus will probably account for most of your score - neutral points are hard to come by. And, yes, the points matter. You getranked.
Shades of Conflict: Black vs. White vs. Gray - Shadow is very much "gray", and it's up to the player to decide whether to take him down the white path, the black path, or leave him gray.
Shout-Out: Two enemies are called "Blue Falcon" and "Black Bull", the names of two of the racing vehicles in the F-Zero series. It probably helps that Sega developed F-Zero GX.
Occasionally, one of the GUN soldiers will shout out "Mr. Yuji Naka is alright!" in the ARK flashback levels.
The president of the United Federations looks a heck of a lot like Kent Mansley.
Sonic says "I guess that means...welcome to the next level" during a cutscene. Welcome To The Next Level was one of Sega's slogans during the 16 but days.
The Starscream: One of Shadow's endings has him defeating Black Doom only to want to conquer the universe.
Story Branch Favoritism: The game plays this trope straight, where although the game features up to 11 different endings ranging from Evil to Neutral to Good; only the hidden Neutral ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the games Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.
Use the Heal Cannon on a downed/injured GUN soldier. Not only will they attack any enemy of yours and not ever aim at you, but you will get quite a few heartwarming thank yous from the soldiers (who will salute you as you pass by).
Taking either of the Slight or Pure paths also affects how each side's forces react to your presence. Take Slight/Pure Hero, and GUN forces will never attack you from the start if they're on the stage; take Slight/Pure Dark, and the Black Arms will do the same.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Sonic and Shadow's interaction in the hero story path has some shades of this. Sonic treats Shadow as a friend, but Shadow would rather continue in his mission to regain his memories than to put up with his friendly and adventurous nature. This dialogue in one scene before the ARK stages tells the story:
If you side with Black Doom in the last level (Final Haunt), Sonic drops his friendly attitude and proceeds to oppose you along with Diablon. The same goes for the other final stages in the dark path such as G.U.N. Fortress and The Black Comet.
What the Hell, Hero?: If you pick a non-neutral story path, killing your allies or completing incorrect story objectives will earn you a rebuke from your Mission Character.
Which is kind of strange, considering your "allies" attack you.
Wild Card: You can change Shadow's allegiance at any time, even during a mission. Sometimes your allegiance will be changed for you if you accidentally collide with a different Mission Character.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In one ending, specifically the slightly heroic path's hero ending, Shadow will regain his memories after defeating Black Doom, and says in a remorse-filled tone that he was good at nothing more than destruction, and he was better off not being created, despite Vector's attempts at telling him otherwise, indicating that one of his paths would end in this trope.
You Killed My Father: The Commander has a vendetta against Shadow, blaming him for the death of everyone aboard the ARK fifty years ago, especially Maria.