AGES is a well-known video game developer and publisher, mainly notable for its Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. This is a series that pretends to be completely fictional, but is actually heavily based on universes other than AGES's home universe of να-τιδ, primarily those where the titular Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends exist. This heavy influence is incorporated into the games to promote a sense of realism in the games without being limited to drawing on events that happened in να-τιδ, as any given game can secretly be based on multiple different dimensions or different dimensions from those found in other games.
In the year 256 SY, the dimension of ρς-φξς—a dimension close to να-τιδ in the multiverse—began experiencing anomalies and weakening the fabric of space-time, both within itself and within nearby dimensions. As such, dimensional travel became more frequent and sporadic, thus leading many people to capitalize on this sudden business opportunity.
One such person was a serval named Naoto Fujiwara, who was the CEO of a then-small software company known as AGES. Fujiwara realized that it would be possible to build a game series based on characters who had gone on adventures that had already transpired in another dimension, thus giving ample material to work with and helping to get characters where the players' reactions would be more or less known already. He then set his team to work on finding a sufficiently good mascot for this series of games. One year later, in 257 SY, the platform-jumping game Sonic the Hedgehog, based on the exploits of the titular protagonist of the same name, was released to critical acclaim, sparking the beginning of a long series of such games.
The Sonic series went along fairly smoothly, even sparking a few spinoffs in 259 SY. However, AGES started having problems in 259 SY when these spinoffs didn't do terribly well, leaving Sonic 3 as AGES's main seller of 259 SY. Additionally, Sonic 3 was initially planned to be bigger but had to be cut when it was realized that certain features planned for the late game—such as cutscenes and having Knuckles as a playable character—would take too long to develop if the game was to maintain its scheduled release date. Fujiwara's solution was that, after Sonic 3 was released, a new game should be made, using the unreleased zones plus some new ones, and utilizing the partially-developed features that had to be cut from Sonic 3, as a full, exciting standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 4 game.
Unfortunately for the fledgling Sonic 4, some of the developers, particularly those who had been brought in for the spinoffs, didn't like the direction that Sonic 4 was going in, largely because Fujiwara and his story team were adding several darker elements to the game that would mark a departure from the previously S-rated series into G-rated territory. Due to this, the AGES team was split in half; one half, dubbed Team 1, continued to work on the higher-budget, darker Sonic 4, along with a side project of releasing a version of Sonic 3 utilizing Sonic 4's new features (entitled Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Remastered), while the other team, dubbed Team 2, worked on the low-budget, cheerful, isometric Sonic 3D Blast.
3D Blast came out in 260 SY to mixed reviews. While critics enjoyed the 3D graphics despite their low quality, the game's slow pace frustrated critics. AGES hoped that this would mean that people would like Sonic 4, but just in case, while Sonic 4—only halfway through development—completed its creation, Team 2 was sent to work on a racing game, Sonic Drift, in the hopes that this would satisfy a sense of speed that Sonic 4 could not.
Then Sonic Drift and Sonic 4 both came out in 261 SY, and, much to AGES's dismay, neither of them were especially liked. Drift was derided due to being clunky and failing to be a properly good racing game, while 4's darker tone bothered longtime series fans and failed to attract new players due to the clash between the heroism of the protagonists and the darkness of the surroundings. Meanwhile, Sonic 3 Remastered, which came out in the same year, was received well, being seen as just as good as, or even better than, Sonic 3.
Fujiwara called in a meeting for AGES to figure out where the series would go next. Weighing the positively received parts of the series (the main series' speed, 3D Blast's 3D graphics, and Sonic 3 Remastered's new high-tech additions) and the negatively received parts of the series (4's darkness without a character to go with it and 3D Blast's slow pace), the team realized that what would be truly useful would be to have a fast-paced 3D platformer with graphics improved from those in 3D Blast and fully utilizing the new, high-end features from Sonic 4 and Sonic 3 Remastered. At the same time, the team realized that AGES hadn't quite lost their market for 2D platformers yet, provided that said platformers were sufficiently cheerful, as seen from Sonic 3 Remastered. So, once again, the team split to create two games. Team 1 embarked on Sonic Adventure, a 3D platformer that had multiple story arcs that could be played asynchronously, most of them cheerful but one of them darker and with a darker protagonist—E-102 Gamma—to match, hoping to satisfy those who wanted a darker game with a darker protagonist and those who wanted a more cheerful game. Meanwhile, Team 2 worked on Sonic 5, a game that hoped to return to Sonic's speedy and cheerful roots.
Team 1 spent three full years on Sonic Adventure, due to having to create a new engine for a speedy 3D platformer, wanting it to be as massive as planned, and only having half a team to build it with. AGES remedied this latter by hiring some more developers, but only after getting enough money a year into development when Team 2 released Sonic 5 to positive reception. By the time that Adventure was released in 264 SY, AGES had already gotten its reputation back due to Sonic 5 and its sequel, Sonic 6, both diligently produced by Team 2. Also, fortunately for AGES, Sonic Adventure did not lose that reputation; as planned, the levels of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles were well received by those who had liked the main series, while Gamma's levels thrilled fans of Sonic 4 who just wanted a darker protagonist. Adventure got some negative feedback for its inclusion of new character Big and for the death of its sole dark protagonist, Gamma, but the other positive feedback mostly outweighed the Big-related negativity. As such, Team 1 went on to produce Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (being careful to resurrect Gamma as a secret character and not to kill off its new dark protagonists) while Team 2 made Sonic 7 and Sonic 8. All of these games, released by 266 SY, were quite popular, with Battle being particularly well received, especially for its inclusion of new antagonist-turned-protagonist Shadow the Hedgehog.
Fueled By Boredom
Despite all of the popularity and money that AGES was getting, Team 2 was getting bored, having churned out four nearly identical games in a row. Meanwhile, Team 1 was looking for the next epic thing to work on, as that's what Team 1 specialized in. Thus, the team looked for new ideas to work with. While a few were interested in making a Shadow-centric game to please the Shadow fans—leading these people to break off and form a Team 3 to make this Shadow the Hedgehog game with—the others eventually settled upon Sonic Loop's failed time travel as a method that could be improved and re-used for a new and cool 2D platformer.
Now, Teams 1 and 2 remembered that they needed to consult an expert chronokinetic, as they would otherwise fail like they did with Sonic Loop's time travel. As a result, they searched for such a chronokinetic, eventually finding ζπ-χιμ's Mephiles the Dark, himself a chronokinetic. This Mephiles was friendly towards the AGES workers and offered to help them with their video game creation. Not only that, but he also relayed to them some backstory from his dimension as game story fuel. The AGES workers, realizing that they had enough to work with both the 2D time-travelling platformer that they'd been interested and another game to boot (possibly a 3D platformer) opted to have the two teams once again make one game each, having Team 1 make a 3D platformer inspired by Mephiles's story and having Team 2 make a chronokinesis-involving 2D platformer. In addition, Mephiles agreed to sign on to temporarily work for AGES and help out with their stories for these games.
The three teams worked diligently for three years: Team 1 on their 3D platformer, Sonic Adventure 3: Divide; Team 2 on their 2D chronokinetic platformer, Sonic Replay; and Team 3 on Shadow the Hedgehog. Naturally, in the three years, a lot of hype built up for the company that had previously released at least one game for year. Although AGES had thought that this would be to their advantage, it became a huge disadvantage when, upon the games' release in 269 SY, the fans didn't especially like any of the three games; Adventure 3 was criticized for cutting down Adventure 2's eight story arcs to three story arcs, Replay was criticized for its chronokinesis system—however inventive and series-rejuvenating—slowing down the game drastically, and all three were criticized for their forcedly darker content than most Sonic games, especially Shadow the Hedgehog, the one Sonic game to ever obtain an A rating. There was some positive feedback on design and story for the games, but the forced darkness of content, game slowing, and choice stripping were major points of concern for reviewers and, consequently, for AGES.
Realizing that they needed to get their priorities straight, the three AGES teams worked together and compiled all of the data about why people liked or didn't like the latest batch of AGES games. Deciding once again to return to what people liked, the Team 3 members were brought back into Teams 1 and 2, Team 1 was sent to create a Sonic Adventure 4 with a sufficiently large number of story arcs, and Team 2 was sent to create a Sonic 9 that was sufficiently speedy and simultaneously innovative. After two years of work, in 271 SY, Sonic 9 finally became ready for release, scheduled to hit shelves in late 271; according to trailers, Sonic 9 should reinvigorate the series by adding Sandopolis-inspired objects and scenery while still mixing in enough of the previous games' scenery and objects to keep things bright and familiar. As to Sonic Adventure 4, which has a 272 SY release date, not much is known about it by the public, not even the subtitle.
List of Sonic games
AGES has made a number of games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. While the specifics of when each game came out can be seen at the Timeline of Wikikinetic's Dimensions, the list of games and other details about them can be seen below:
- Sonic the Hedgehog: A 2D platformer and the first game in the series. Released in 257 SY, this was a smash hit and kicked off the rest of the series. This game introduced Sonic and Dr. Eggman (with the latter unplayable), but with no other cast members.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2: A 2D platformer, also fairly popular, released in 258 SY. This was the point in time at which AGES started looking into making spinoffs to the regular series. Sonic 2 introduced Tails to the series.
- Sonic Loop: A 2D platformer spinoff with time travel elements, released in 259 SY. This game was fairly well received, but the time travel elements gained polarized reviews, tending to be seen positively by most of the press but seen very unfavorably by chronokinetics due to the inaccuracy of the time-travel methods involved. The negative reaction by chronokinetics led AGES to shelf the time travel concept for a while. This game introduced Amy and Metal Sonic to the series, although, like Dr. Eggman, these characters were not playable.
- Sonic Spinball: A pinball spinoff game released in 259 SY. This game received positive reviews, but not positive enough to interest AGES in making a Sonic Spinball 2.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3: A 2D platformer released in 259 SY, receiving very positive reviews. The reviews from this lead AGES to work on Sonic the Hedgehog 4 above all else. This game introduced Knuckles, although not yet as a playable character.
- Sonic 3D Blast: An isometric platformer spinoff game created due to some of AGES's developers not wanting to work on Sonic 4, 3D Blast was released in 260 SY to mixed reviews. Criticism was aimed at the game's loss of sense of speed that the series had had before, while praise was aimed at its 3D graphics (despite their low quality).
- Sonic Drift: A racing game created due to criticisms over 3D Blast's slow pace, Drift, released in 261 SY, was supposed to provide the speed that everyone wanted. However, it failed to be a good racing game, leading to poor reviews.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: A 2D platformer released in 261 SY as a high-budget sequel to Sonic 3, Sonic 4 received disappointingly low reviews due to the clash between its heroes' brightness and its surroundings' darkness, plus the fact that the darkness, in itself, was an unwanted anomaly for the series at that point. This game and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Remastered both introduced Knuckles as a playable character, as well as tying for the first AGES game to have cutscenes or voice acting.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Remastered: A version of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with several new features, such as cutscenes, voice acting, and playable Knuckles, to polish up the game and make it more interesting. The game received good reviews, as people liked it as much as or better than the original Sonic 3. This game and Sonic 4 both introduced Knuckles as a playable character, as well as tying for the first AGES game to have cutscenes or voice acting.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 5: A 2D platformer released in 262 SY as an attempt to knock back the series to what people liked in 1, 2, and 3. The attempt was successful, with the game getting positive reviews and high sales. This game also introduced Amy as a playable character.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 6: A 2D platformer released in 263 SY, bearing strong resemblances to earlier games in the series and gaining positive reviews. This game introduced Cream.
- Sonic Adventure: A 3D platformer released in 264 SY. This game had five asynchronous story arcs (for Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Big, and Gamma, the last of whom was meant to serve as a dark hero so that he could have a dark story like Sonic 4 fans wanted). The game was a success on all points, mostly only getting negative feedback on Big's inclusion. This game introduced Big and Gamma, the former of whom has not appeared in an AGES game since Adventure.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 7: A 2D platformer released in 265 SY. In order to avoid the formula getting tedious, some team-based elements were added, allowing a second character of the player's choice to follow the main character. The complications that these added to gameplay were not well received, although the rest of the game was.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 8: A 2D platformer released in 266 SY. Intended to be as similar as possible to the earlier games in the series, it gained similarly good reviews, although these were diminished somewhat by 8's redundancy with earlier games.
- Sonic Adventure 2: Battle: A 3D platformer released in 266 SY. This game had eight asynchronous story arcs instead of Adventure's five, with these eight split evenly into two groups of four: one for heroes Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Gamma, and the other for villains Shadow, Rouge, Dr. Eggman, and Metal Sonic. Sonic Adventure 2 was very well received. This game introduced Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic as playable characters.
- Sonic Replay: A 2D platformer released in 269 SY. This game focused heavily on chronokinesis, allowing players to go back to obtain collectibles that they'd missed or redo fatal mistakes. This chronokinesis, while considered inventive, was also the main point of criticism for the game, as it slowed down the game's progression tremendously. The game also received criticism for being darker than normal and having no way to avoid such darkness.
- Sonic Adventure 3: Divide: A 3D platformer released in 269 SY. This game focused on having three long and meaningful story arcs instead of the shorter but more profuse story arcs that previous Adventure games had had. Despite the additional plot value, critics found this change in focus to be for the worse, also finding a lot of the same forced darkness problem as in Replay to be annoying.
- Shadow the Hedgehog: A 3D third-person-shooter game released in 269 SY. The game's focus on obtaining firearms and blasting one's way through levels was considered incredibly out-of-place for a Sonic game; that and the game's A rating led this to be the worst rated Sonic game to date, despite Shadow the Hedgehog's somewhat inventive branching choice system.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 9: A 2D platformer set to be released in 271 SY. Like Sonic 8, 6, and 5, this game will try to emulate what people liked in earlier games, while simultaneously changing things around just enough to be interesting without messing up anything major. As the game has not been released yet, critical reception is unknown.
- Sonic Adventure 4: A 3D platformer set to be released in 272 SY. Nothing is known about this game, other than the fact that it is, at least purportedly, the fourth Sonic Adventure game.
AGES has its own rating system of four ratings, each of which uses a different letter of AGES's name. The rating system can be seen below:
|Name||Age||Details||In Sonic Terms…|
|S for Safe||5+||Should be appropriate for all ages. However, AGES does not guarantee that infants and toddlers will not find the content alarming.||All Sonic games by AGES are rated S with the exception of Sonic 4, the Adventure series, Replay, and Shadow the Hedgehog.|
|G for General||9+||Should be appropriate for all ages, but young children may find some content objectionable. G-rated games may include fantasy violence, mild swearing, and/or crude humor.||Sonic 4, the Adventure series, and Replay are all rated G by AGES.|
|A for Adolescent||13+||Pre-teens may find content objectionable. A-rated games may contain mild to moderate realistic violence, small amounts of blood and gore, and heavier swearing.||Shadow the Hedgehog is the one AGES Sonic game rated A, due to all of the criteria above.|
|E for Explicit||17+||E-rated games are advised to only be played by adults, as they have no restrictions on content. Minors may or may not be able to purchase E-rated games depending on the local laws.||AGES has not produced any Sonic games rated E and has no plans to do so, in large part due to the fact that the E rating mostly exists to assure parents that the A rating has limits.|
- Some AGES games map to real games in ways that aren't necessarily obvious:
- Sonic Loop is AGES's version of Sonic CD.
- Sonic 4 could be considered to be AGES's version of Sonic & Knuckles, but with no lock-on features, more zones and mechanics, and a darker tone.
- Sonic 5, 6, and 7 are basically the Advance games.
- Sonic 8 visually resembles Sonic Lost World.
- Sonic Adventure 3: Divide could be considered to be AGES's version of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), but with heavy alterations to the plot and controls.
- Sonic 9 visually resembles Sonic and the Secret Rings, albeit with some more standard, "Classic" Sonic visual styles mixed in.
- This timeline's versions of some games differ from the real ones in the following ways:
- AGES's Sonic 3 uses Flying Battery Zone as its fifth zone in between Casino Night Zone and Ice Cap Zone, as was originally planned for SEGA's Sonic 3.
- AGES's Sonic 3's Angel Island Zone didn't burst into flames; this flaming jungle zone was used instead for Sonic 4's Wildfire Zone.
- AGES's Sonic Adventure omits Amy, as she had only been used before as a "cute" character when Adventure began development.
- AGES's Sonic Adventure 2 does not involve Shadow's death, and includes both Gamma and Metal Sonic (both of whom are responsible for preventing Shadow from dying).
- AGES's in-house band is called Smash 50, a reference to SEGA's in-house band, Crush 40.
- If it wasn't obvious already, AGES is heavily based on the real-life company SEGA.