| Fast Facts on Sonic: The Fated Hour
Latest Version: SAGE:2008
Latest Release Date: 08/17/08
Engine: Sonic Worlds
Sonic: The Fated Hour (often abbreviated simply to TFH) is a long-running, often-delayed fan game project by BlazeHedgehog. In its current incarnation, the game is a psuedo free-roaming game broken from the Metroid/Castlevania mold. In it, the player explores one of three islands (South Island, Westside Island, and Angel Island) while discovering new skills in order to access new areas. It is built using a heavily modified, early alpha version of Sonic Worlds, making it incompatible with most of the gimmicks adapted for more recent versions of the engine.
The game is most famous for its "dramatic" storyline in which Sonic spends most of the game uncovering the mystery as to who murdered Tails in the opening scene, and its use of hand drawn artwork during its simplistic animated cinematics.
- Late 1999: The concept is born, mini-site is opened in order to build hype. The game's primary aim is to bring an in-depth story to Sonic fan games (of which many were lacking). Gameplay is stated to be a secondary priority.
- November 18th, 1999: A cinematic-only demo is released, showcasing the game's opening scene. Angry over the inadvertant damage caused by Sonic and Eggman's repeated battles, a shadowed figure (originally just Void from Sonic Shuffle) with red glowing eyes murders Tails, thinking it instead to be Sonic. Though no blood is ever shown, Sonic awakens to find his friend dead and swears revenge on Eggman.
- Mid 2000: Work on the engine begins. The gameplay is initially conceptualized as a standard, linear Sonic game. A huge, maze-like test level with Chemical Plant tiles is created. DM Ashura, a friend of Blaze's at the time, suggests a concept that becomes one of the first known usages of sensors in a Multimedia Fusion engine at SFGHQ.
- Late 2000: Plagued with collision detection bugs, the Chemical Plant Test engine is eventually scrapped and reconstructed to be cleaner and more efficient. It is here the game shifts from a linear Sonic game to a "Metroidvania" adventure game.
- July 28th, 2001: Gameplay demo is released. An RPG-esque level-up system is in place, forcing you to hit enemies multiple times in order to kill them (pre-dating Sonic Heroes by roughly two years). The game features a remade introduction sequence with better artwork. The gameplay tries to mimic that of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by having smaller rooms represent a larger area that the player must then move between.
- Late 2001: Data corruption, a big hurdle in early Multimedia Fusion game development, claims The Fated Hour's second engine. Blaze has no choice but to restart from scratch yet again. Further improvements are made to The Fated Hour's gameplay; a customized Sonic sprite is crafted for the project, and grinding from Sonic Adventure 2 is implemented. The level up system from the July 2001 demo is removed, as it complicated things and slowed down the flow of the gameplay.
- September 17th, 2002: Second gameplay demo is released. The storyline is revised to remove Void's involvement in the plot, instead opting for a completely different character. Upon reaching Eggman's base, Sonic discovers that Eggman was also murdered. Before he can react, power is cut to the base and Sonic is taunted by the shadowed figure, who asks that he come to Marble Garden on Angel Island. When emergency power is restored to the base, Sonic finds himself alone. As he attempts to leave the base and collect his thoughts, he is attacked by a giant, mutated venus fly trap, looming outside of the base. Before Sonic can attack it, however, the demo ends with "To Be Continued".
- March 23rd, 2003: An updated demo is released. With a number of small bug fixes in tow, the biggest change is that now Sonic can fight the giant mutated venus fly trap boss. The monster is so big that Sonic fights it from within its own mouth. Upon defeating it, the monster oozes a thick, black substance that evaporates upon contact with the ground. Exhausted from his encounter, and with more questions than answers, Sonic collapses on the ground, ending once again on "To Be Continued".
- Late 2003: Engine template finally complete, Blaze, unsatisfied with the quality of his messy code, once again scraps everything and restarts a fourth time. Developmental momentum lost, progress on The Fated Hour becomes very slow as Blaze begins other projects on the side.
- 2004: As fan games begin to evolve and approach the features of their Sega Genesis originals, Blaze makes an attempt at implementing proper loop/slopes physics in to The Fated Hour in order to make the gameplay remain relevant to the standards of the SFGHQ community. In an attempt to follow the example set by Sonic Heroes, a simplified level up system is re-implemented, allowing Sonic to level up to a maximum of Level 3 by collecting rings and defeating enemies. Enemies themselves are ranked. Rank 3 enemies will take 3 hits to defeat at Level 1, 2 hits to defeat at level 2, and 1 hit to defeat at Level 3. Rank 1 enemies can be defeated in 1 hit at any level.
- 2005: Jealous of one of the first versions of Sonic Worlds coded for Mutlimedia Fusion 1.5, Blaze secretly restarts work on The Fated Hour a fifth time without telling anybody. Being years since the last publically playable demo, nobody notices the difference. Blaze tries another method for implementing loops and slopes in The Fated Hour, but quickly becomes frustrated with his inelegant methods for implementing them. The project falls in to obscurity among the SFGHQ community.
- Late 2006: Swallowing his pride and realizing he's fallen behind the curve as far as fan gaming is concerned, Blaze downloads a bare bones alpha for Sonic Worlds made in Multimedia Fusion 2 and begins importing The Fated Hour assets in to it. Once again, Sonic's sprite is remade. Though Sonic Worlds takes care of the largest obstacles in regards to The Fated Hour's development, work remains sluggish.
- Mid 2007: Throughout all the coding mishaps in the project's development history, the storyline had remained largely unchanged for years and years. In an effort to clean things up and make The Fated Hour seem less like the immature Sonic fanfiction it was (and distance it from the "mature" storylines of Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006), the storyline is re-written from the ground up. Though the core of the plot remains the same, the tone is changed in order to lighten things up a bit.
- Christmas 2007: For the first time in roughly 4 years, a gameplay demo for Sonic: The Fated Hour is released to the public. Constructed at the last minute in only five days from a Work-In-Progress build of the game's engine, the level is relatively small and featureless.
- August 17th, 2008: A SAGE-exclusive demo level is released. It is based on the Africa level seen in Sonic Unleashed promotional videos and is named "Dry Savannah". A limited version of Sonic's equip system is present, taking the form of "Load Outs", skill sets selectable at a menu before the game starts. Three of these are unlocked by default, but the others must be unlocked by collecting Sonic Emblems in the level.
- April, 2009: Up to this point, Sonic had a shoe/gem equip system similar to Sonic and the Secret Rings. The idea would be that Sonic would buy shoes and gems from Amy Rose's shop. Shoes would have a certain number of slots, and gems could be inserted in to these slots. Gems contained abilities that would augment Sonic's movement by increasing his acceleration, top speed, jumping ability, as well as add new skills like the homing attack, double jump, and more. On top of that, each of the seven chaos emeralds would grant Sonic a permanent new ability once found. This system was deemed too complicated for an action game like Sonic and was removed in favor of something much more simple: though Amy's shop remains, the only items Sonic can buy are power-ups, using rings as currency.
- The Future (2009 and onwards): Work continues towards the "Final Demo" release of Sonic: The Fated Hour. The current plan is that it will feature three levels and one boss. ETA is currently unknown.