Friday, May 14, 2010

Characters: Espio the Chameleon

Wow. It's only been six days since my last post here, but it feels like its been a lot longer. A lot longer. Anyway, after last weeks brief discussion of the visuals (which really surprised me in that there were no comments for or against the new art direction outlined)  I'm returning this week to characters, starting with a lesser known fan favorite: Espio of the Chaotix. So get ready to see how his unique style fits into the game. But first, I would like to throw out an alert. Sterling Verses, a Sonic-themed podcast, has hinted that SatLoA might come up during it's second season. If you've never heard of Sterling, give it a listen and a bit of leeway. It starts a little rough, but you can see that the crew is committed to making it work, and the show gets better and better as the season goes on. By the time they reach the first season finale, you can tell that they're getting used to the way things work and the order of the show. If you're a Sonic fan (and since you're here, I'm assuming you may be) give it a listen. Now, on with the design...

Espio the Chameleon: The Ninja Spy

Personality and History: Like the rest of his clan, no outsider is really sure of where Espio comes from. His entire clan has existed in secret for hundreds of years, guarding it's lair so well that not even their closest rivals and allies know the true location of their base. They are prized for their many abilities, including espionage, assassinations, intelligence and protection from the same. Although the actual number is not known, most presume the clan to be quite small.

Espio was not born into the ruling members of the clan, but he quickly rose through the ranks and proved to be an impressive, if monosyllabic, ninja. His record was so impressive that Espio was cleared to take official clan missions a full four years before the official age. Since then, he has continued to serve his clan loyally and has completed almost every mission placed before him, earning him high regards and admiration from the rest of the clan.

This admiration is not without some hesitancy however. Espio's skills are so developed that often even the clan itself cannot find him if he does not want them to. This has lead some of the clan leaders to distrust him despite his known loyalty, as Espio maintains a section of his life that is private, so private in fact that any of the clan sent to spy on him have been unable to determine what he does or where he goes.

When on a mission, Espio is usually silent and determined, speaking little and showing very little of his emotion. Off mission or on the rare chance that he opens up on mission, Espio is a smiling, intelligent individual. Often cheerful and contemplative, Espio is very knowledgeable about the world due to some of his favorite hobbies, which include reading, science, calligraphy, painting and much of the arts. As a matter of fact, the only thing the clan has legitimacy to complain about is his tendency to make detours after successful missions to purchase new literature, painting supplies, scientific tools or any other number of pursuits. Although he never spends more then his payment from the mission, clan leaders have often frowned on these "unscheduled deviations".

Unknown to the clan (despite attempts to the contrary), that "one unknown portion" of Epsio's life is nothing as grand as a clan take-over, it is merely a romantic involvement with another clan member, a low ranked female ninja who captured Espio's heart not through her abilities as a ninja, but with her voice. One of her most prized possessions is a portrait of her and Espio that they both collaborated on. Both have kept the relationship secret due to clan custom and her low status as a ninja (most clan leaders keep attempting to hook him up with their daughters) but has plans of furthering the relationship as soon as he can.

Espio is skilled in many areas, be it hand to hand combat, weapons based combat, or any myriad number of ninja skills, such as his stealth and disguise ability.

Espio's current mission was one that requested him personally and no other. His clan was hired by a league of merchants tired of the stranglehold Atlantis has held over shipping due to their control of the gateway network. Only one group has been successful in circumventing the Atlantian gate laws and controls, one based in Atlantis that calls itself the Babylon Rouges. Espio was assigned to infiltrate Atlantis (no easy task), and one way or another learn the secret of smuggling objects through the gateway network, or better yet, a way to circumvent the gateway security magic altogether.

Espio set out and within a few weeks had managed to find a way through the gates by disguising himself as a member of a diplomatic envoy (the member in question was left at the port, bound and gagged in a closet), a move which gave him a diplomatic security clearance: he would not be closely inspected. Unfortunately, the envoy he had chosen was none other then Prince Shadows, and the entire envoy was ambushed at the docks before Espio had a chance to slip away. Escaping from the melee, Espio none-the-less found himself hunted by the Chancellor, who assumed that Espio was one of the Princes assistants. With the Chancellor on the watch for him and an entire city to comb for information, Espio's work is cut out for him.

Game Plot: Espio's main objective is to gather information on both the Atlantian gateway network and the Babylon Rouges, whom he soon meets up with. Along the way he'll also get caught up in the Chancellors plot and begin feeding info to Silver, Sonic and the rest of the characters on the sly in order to assist in saving Atlantis. He is the one who first learns that the Chancellor is playing Sonic and Silver to do his own work, but is waylaid by the Babylon Rouges before he can get the news to them.

Play Style and Movement: Espio's versions of the levels are different in that they often have several objective located at various points in the level. Where Sonic and similar characters are tasked with going from point A to point B, Espio is tasked with going from A to B to C quite often, sometimes with bonus objectives along the way. Additionally, Espio is one of two characters who has stealth based gameplay, in which Espio must use his sneaking skills to eavesdrop or acquire information. While most of the time if he alerts anyone he will simply need to fight his way out, there are several sections in which he must be silent and stealthy. Espio can enter his "Stealth Mode" by either camouflaging himself as an NPC through a disguise or using his own abilities to become invisible. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but from either mode Espio will be able to launch into a variety of special attacks for combat that cannot be executed on an aware opponent. Some keep stealth, some do not.

Movement-wise, Espio makes hold of two different types of jumps. When in Slow Movement, Espio has a jump that is just a tad higher then Knuckles, but has more 'float' to cover vertical distance. His attack range is also increased as he spins vertically (Drill jump) rather then tucking into a ball and he bounces off of enemies with much more force then any other character as a result. When in High Speed mode, Espio's jumps are longer ranged but still have the same height. Rather then use a drill jump, Espio's jump in this mode is a normal forward flip, but with a special ability. Espio can kick off of any thing that he comes into contact with into another jump, allowing him to jump off of enemies, tree branches, anything in his path to leap over entire areas. What's more, if he contacts a wall during one of these jumps, he will run several steps up the wall (straight up or alongside), allowing him to jump again in an angular direction of the impact or flip and jump off of the walls peak. Espio does not have a spin dash, instead he has a "Drill Dash".

Combat-wise: Espio fights with Kunai knives and hand to hand combat, but is a weaker character then any other when attacking directly. Espio's dash has shorter range then most characters as he uses his Drill Dash. Espio's special attacks consist mainly of counters (requiring the player to react with the right move at the right time) or are designed to be performed from behind (or from stealth). Espio does have a few ranged attacks (throwing stars and the like) but is also the weakest against aerial enemies, being able to only hop from enemy to enemy with minimal damage or execute a powerful grounding kick.

Physical Description: Espio looks fairly similar to his current look, but there should be some period differences. He should also have two small side packs on his back that contain disguise equipment and other gear as well as two sheaths, one on each leg for his knives. His wrist gauntlets should contain his throwing stars.

Comments welcomed!

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