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Mapping Sonic Earth

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The recent discussion in the headcanon thread made me want to crosspost some of my thoughts on Sonic universe geography from another forum, since it may interest people here.

Edited from a group of posts made on Chao Island in November 2018

It is established in the early Sonic games that the ancient civilization which possessed the Chaos Emeralds was located on West Side Island.
"[The Legend of West Side Island]
They say that a very long time ago, the people of this island used mysterious stones to advance their civilization, and they achieved great prosperity. However, when those people tried to use the stones in the wrong way, their prosperity vanished overnight. After that, they say that the gods sealed the stones away somewhere on the island."- Sonic 2 manual 

As we know, Angel Island was part of the landmass from which this civilization spread, and it was when the island rose into the air that the ancient civilization vanished. 
"Sonic, who had been taking a nap, found a small ring washed up on the shore around that same moment. The ring had what appeared to be ancient letters carved into it. As he held this ring, Sonic remembered an old legend he had heard about an island. A long time ago, when this island had still been a part of the continent, people of a great civilization lived there. This civilization had created a society of peace and abundance with the energy of the "Stone of Power". However, one day a sect of wise men attempting to take the energy of the "Stone of Power" for themselves accidentally let the energy run out of control. The civilization collapsed in an instant, and it disappeared from history altogether. After the incident, the gods, descending from the sky, rebuilt the civilization's land as an island and released the "Stone of Power" into the sky…or so they say." - Sonic 3 manual

Now Sonic Adventure shows that Angel Island was originally located in what is now the Mystic Ruins.  From these facts we can reasonably conclude that the Mystic Ruins are located on West Side Island.  Perhaps they are located near the Mystic Cave Zone?  This is consistent with Tails living on West Side Island in Sonic 2 and in the Mystic Ruins in Sonic Adventure, and his flashback to the first time he met Sonic showing them in the Mystic Ruins: they are the same location.

Now in Sonic Battle Tails is shown living in Emerald Town, a small urban area near the beach, which is depicted as being in easy travel distance from Central City.  Emerald Town sounds a lot like a place that might be found in the Emerald Hill Zone, one of the Zones on West Side Island.  Emerald Coast from Sonic Adventure is another similar area, which we know is within easy travel distance from the Mystic Ruins/West Side Island.  These details suggest that Sonic Battle indeed occurs on West Side Island as well.

According to the Sonic 1 manual and SEGA Technical Institute documents, South Island, the location of the first game, floats around on the surface of the ocean.  As such it cannot be found consistently on a map; it changes location over time.  The Floating Island, of course, does the same thing.  West Side Island however shouldn't have this problem, and since it has been featured as a location multiple times throughout the series, we should have enough details to map it's location in the Sonic universe.

Our first clue is Sonic 3's statement that the island the ancient civilization lived on was once part of the continent.  Our second clue is Sonic Battle's depiction of the island as being close to the United Federation's capital, Central City.  Now the capital first appears in Sonic Adventure 2 on the far left hand side of the game's stage select map:
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Here we see the bridge connecting Central City to another urban area on an adjacent landmass.  The same landmass encompasses the Echidna ruins where Eggman's pyramid base is located.  These pyramids are precisely like the ones in the Sandopolis Zone on Angel Island.  From this we can deduce that SA2 also occurs on West Side Island.  Also note the Green Hill Zone located on the tiny hexagon beside Prison Island, which obviously represents South Island. The urban area connected to Central City is most likely Emerald Town, the desert is part of the Mystic Ruins (in fact it fits as an extension of Sand Hill), and the landmass Central City is on could be the continent the island separated from.

Central City returned in Shadow the Hedgehog.  In this game we see a map of the world in GUN's base as they monitor the Black Arms invasion:
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At first blush we might think that the pair of islands on the east coast of the America looking continent are the islands we're looking for (this excellent fan made map reached a similar conclusion), but not so fast.  The map in SA2 is based on real world US locations, with Central City corresponding to San Francisco, Prison Island corresponding with Alcatraz, our putative West Side Island corresponding with the North Bay area, and Angel Island perhaps having some relationship to Angel Island (...!):
Alcatraz-on-Map-of-San-Francisco-Bay.jpg

That would mean West Side Island is on the West coast of the America-shaped continent (fittingly enough).  There are land forms on the west coast stretching over what appears to be an inland sea which might be peninsula or might be islands, given the low resolution of the Shadow the Hedgehog map.  If they are islands then they're a perfect fit for Central City and West Side Island.

Following this line of reasoning, I think we can place most of the locations in Shadow the Hedgehog on or near West Side Island.  Death Ruins are most likely located near the Mystic Ruins; Westopolis is stated in game to be near Death Ruins so it is also on West Side Island. Iron Jungle would be in the jungle surrounding the Mystic Ruins.  Circus Park could be some where in the proximity of the Casino Night Zone.  Cryptic Castle fits right in with the Pumpkin Hill area.  Other places like Glyphic Canyon or GUN Fortress might be anywhere though.

Sonic Chronicles has a world map featuring the Green Hill Zone, Central City, and the Mystic Ruins as a cluster of islands in the west and Station Square on another island in the east.
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Since this map is only seen by the player as a means of navigating between zones, I don't think it needs to be interpreted as a literal depiction of Sonic's world the way we do the in-story map seen in the cutscene from Shadow the Hedgehog.  It is consistent in depicting Central City's proximity to the Mystic Ruins/West Side Island however.  South Island moves from one location to another so the Green Hill Zone's placement is non-problematic.  Where this game places Station Square is interesting however, as it has it on a separate land mass from the Mystic Ruins, in the Blue Ridge Zone.  This could place it on one of the peninsula/islands east of the two Central City and West Side Island are located on.

There are a couple other maps in the series we can look at.
DUAkt5bXcAY5II4.jpg
Here in Sonic Rush we see Cream's house is located on the same landmass as Tails' workshop.  Since Tails lives on West Side Island, we can conclude Sonic Rush takes place there.  Mirage Road would therefore be located in the Sand Hill desert; Huge Crisis is probably a naval base similar to Prison Island; Night Carnival is another iteration of Casino Night Zone.
levelselect.png
In Sonic Advance 2 we see that Cream and Vanilla live on this island; based on the above we would conclude that the island in Sonic Advance 2 is West Side Island.  We see Eggman's Techno Base on an adjacent landmass; this is probably the Blue Ridge Zone island where Metropolis is located in Sonic Chronicles, and Techno Base and Metropolis are different names for the same location.  Leaf Forest appears to be the place where Cream lives; Leaf Storm, the forest near Cream's house in Sonic Rush, is most likely the same area.
Screen-Shot-2016-01-06-at-19.36.49.png
In the Game Gear version of Sonic 1 we get a decent view of South Island.  In that game the Green Hill Zone leads to a place called the Bridge Zone; in Sonic Advance, Neo Green Hill Zone ends with a bridge that leads to the Secret Base Zone.  Coincidence?  I'd assume that the Secret Base Zone is located somewhere on South Island, like Starlight City.  Casino Paradise could be in Spring Yard- or the action might have moved away from South Island after this point, as the background of Casino Paradise shows a river or an ocean.

From this we can construct a composite map of the locations in Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, SA, SA2, Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, Sonic Battle, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Sonic Rush.  Most of the other early games feature similar locations that we can use to fill in further details.  For example Sonic Triple Trouble features the Robotnik Winter Zone, a base built by Eggman in snowy mountains.  The Blue Ridge Zone is suitably dominated by ice and snow on the one hand and Eggman's city on the other, so the zones in Triple Trouble (Great Turquoise, Sunset Park, etc) might be located on this island.  We could similarly connect the locations seen in Sonic Rivals 2 (Blue Coast, Sunset Forest) with the places we've placed in on Blue Ridge Island.  Familiar reoccurring environments like deserts (such as Flying Carpet from Sonic the Fighters) or mountains or forests can be connected to each other by the same token.

At present, I've completed such a map for West Side Island and it's surroundings.  I'm working on a similar map for locations like Soleanna, Spagonia, Monopole, etc (this is why I've postponed examining maps from 06, Unleashed, Zero Gravity, and Forces, which I hope to dig into at a later date) and may make maps of South Island and Angel Island as well.
cph0lVi.png
Location rundown:
Sonic 2- Emerald Hill, Chemical Plant, Aquatic Ruins, Casino Night, Hill Top, Mystic Cave, Oil Ocean, Metropolis 1
Sonic 4- Splash Hill, Casino Street, Lost Labyrinth, Metropolis/Mad Gear
Sonic The Fighters- Canyon Cruise, Flying Carpet, Dynamite Plant, Aurora Icefield, Casino Night
Sonic Triple Trouble- Great Turquoise, Sunset Park, Meta Jungila, Robotnik Winter, Tidal Plant, Atomic Destroyer
Sonic Adventure- Station Square, Emerald Coast, Tails' Workshop, Windy Valley, Angel Island crashsite, Mystic Ruins, Big's Hut, Lost World, Final Egg, Egg Carrier
Sonic Adventure 2- The Capital City, City Escape, Radical Highway, Chao World, Route 101, Route 280, Aquatic Mine, Pumpkin Hill, Sky Rail, Wild Canyon, Dry Lagoon, Prison Island (associated locations acknowledged), Hidden Base, Sand Ocean
Sonic Advance 2- Leaf Forest, Hot Crater, Music Plant, Ice Paradise, Techno Base
Sonic Battle- Central City, Club Rouge, Night Babylon, Amy's Apartment, Central City Lab, Library, Emerald Town
Shadow the Hedgehog- United Federation mainland, Central City, Westopolis, Lethal Highway, Cryptic Castle, Circus Park, Glyphic Canyon, Prison Island, Death Ruins, Lava Shelter, Iron Jungle
Sonic Rush- Leaf Storm, Mirage Road, Ocean Palace, Night Carnival, that interstate bridge, Huge Crisis, Altitude Limit, Vanilla's Cottage, Tails' Workshop
Sonic Rivals 2- Blue Coast, Sunset Forest, Neon Palace, Frontier Canyon, Mystic Haunt
Sonic Chronicles- Central City, Mystic Ruins, Blue Ridge, Station Square, Metropolis 2, Angel Island crashsite

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Amazing effort!

The only part that bugs me is the distance between the SA locations. I feel like maybe they’re a bit too far apart.

Additional question: maybe I missed something, but why are the Angel Island crash sites labelled as 2015 and 2018? Also, which game was the 2018 crash site in?

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4 hours ago, Forgetful Panda said:

Additional question: maybe I missed something, but why are the Angel Island crash sites labelled as 2015 and 2018? Also, which game was the 2018 crash site in?

I made a Sonic timeline in an earlier post where I placed Chronicles in 2018.  Angel Island crashes into Metropolis about half way through the game.

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"Mapping Mobius" would be a cahier tittle ;-p

Well, I tried something similar last year, but you clearly put more though and focus.  A lot of arguments are flimsy, but I get that we work with what we have

So let's see what I can nitpick

1) Idea that classic islands and modern cities are so close to each other just doesn't mesh well in my brain. I kinda assumed South and West Side were remote locations which is why there are no humans in old games. Green paradise untouched by man before Eggman showed up. But you know, those are, just my preferences. You made some decent arguments in this case.

2) Idea that Angel and WSI used to be one land mass never occurred to me, but it actually has a lot of sense. Even 2 Hidden Palace Zones kinda works (I just assumed more than one civilization abused Emeralds. It's easy to do). Only problem is that Angel Island used to part of the continent, no the island.
( Also if you count Knuckles Chaotix then Isolated Island used part of Echidna Empire, flooded by Chaos. So logically Angel Island belongs in the middle of ocean....then again Mystic Ruins aren't flooded. Hmmm)

3) Emerald Town/Beach/ Hill being connected is kinda stretching it. If you want proof that Emerald Town and Station Square are on same landmass, just consider Holly Summit having echidna ruins, just like Mystic Ruins. (Granted they are kinda far apart, but I guess Knuckles Clan lived in more than 1 city. Heck it could been other echidna clan, just like Nocturne.

4) Trying to group all areas (like every desert being so close to each other) seems to me like a lost cause. For example Water Palace (which you by accident called Ocean Palace) has completely different architecture to Aquatic Ruins. And latter never had dolphins inside.
Also, some Sonic adventures look kinda silly. In "Sonic 2" he goes through stupidly long distance between 2nd and 3rd zone. After Mystic Cave he takes long route to avoid Metropolis, destroys Oil Ocean and then goes to Metropolis.

5) Locations from Sonic Adventure 1 are way to far apart. Remember when Amy gets kidnapped by Zero? It happens in town, yet Sonic chases him till Tails Workshop, which by your map would take some time. Or the fact that Chaos gets 7th Emerald in Mystic Ruins, but rather then destroy whole island, he apparently patiently moves to Station Square before turning Perfect Chaos.

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4 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

 

1) Idea that classic islands and modern cities are so close to each other just doesn't mesh well in my brain. I kinda assumed South and West Side were remote locations which is why there are no humans in old games. Green paradise untouched by man before Eggman showed up. But you know, those are, just my preferences. You made some decent arguments in this case.

Well, wait. What about Star Light Zone on South Island? Or Chemical Plant, Casino Night, etc. on Westside Island? 

Before you say that those modern cities were built by Eggman, remember that the official story in the Sonic 2 manual says that Eggman took over the factories and cities. Meaning these modern industrialized places already existed prior to Eggman coming along. 

And in light of that, I think the map does make sense. Station Square is no more out of place than Star Light or the cityscape in the background of Spring Yard, I'd say. It's perfectly feasible for them to occupy the same landmasses.

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I also can’t help but think the animal-based South and Westside Islands should be more separate from the human locales.

I suppose one could somehow come up with an explanation as to how there are two ancient Chaos Emerald-affiliated groups.

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42 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

"Mapping Mobius" would be a cahier tittle ;-p

Well, I tried something similar last year, but you clearly put more though and focus.  A lot of arguments are flimsy, but I get that we work with what we have

So let's see what I can nitpick

1) Idea that classic islands and modern cities are so close to each other just doesn't mesh well in my brain. I kinda assumed South and West Side were remote locations which is why there are no humans in old games. Green paradise untouched by man before Eggman showed up.

Yet both South Island and West Side Island have thriving cities just like Station Square and Central City, namely Stalight Zone and Chemical Plant Zone.

star-light-zone-background-2.jpg

cmEWNfd.png

42 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Only problem is that Angel Island used to part of the continent, no the island.

I didn't exposit clearly about this in the op, but did talk about this on another forum:

Quote

Originally West Side Island was a peninsula connected to the continent by a narrow isthmus.  After Angel Island rose into the sky the land bridge broke apart into several pieces, two of which became South Island and Isolated Island.  Isolated Island drifted some distance out to sea before sinking beneath the waves, while South Island has continued to float on the surface into modern times.

42 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

3) Emerald Town/Beach/Hill being connected is kinda stretching it. If you want proof that Emerald Town and Station Square are on same landmass, just consider Holly Summit having echidna ruins, just like Mystic Ruins.

My main motive for locating Emerald Town on West Side Island is that Tails lives there.  Locations with "Emerald" in their name being relatively close together is a bonus.

42 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Also, some Sonic adventures look kinda silly. In "Sonic 2" he goes through stupidly long distance between 2nd and 3rd zone. After Mystic Cave he takes long route to avoid Metropolis, destroys Oil Ocean and then goes to Metropolis.

There is precedent for this kind of sudden travel and backtracking in Sonic games though.  For example in SA2 Sonic escapes from Prison Island and makes his way back to Central City, then chases the President on Route 101, after which Hero story skips ahead to when they reach Hidden Base without showing all the traveling they had to do to reach the desert (although we see in the Dark story stage Sky Rail that the heroes indeed traveled through the Pumpkin Hill/Wild Canyon area).  Similarly Sonic Mania has Sonic being catapulted from a desert over the horizon to Oil Ocean.

42 minutes ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

5) Locations from Sonic Adventure 1 are way to far apart. Remember when Amy gets kidnapped by Zero? It happens in town, yet Sonic chases him till Tails Workshop, which by your map would take some time. Or the fact that Chaos gets 7th Emerald in Mystic Ruins, but rather then destroy whole island, he apparently patiently moves to Station Square before turning Perfect Chaos.

I agree that this is problematic and have thought about ways to adjust the map so the Station Square landmass is between Tails' Workshop and the mainland.  Rearranging the Sonic Advance 2 locations to fit this model would be time consuming though. 

37 minutes ago, Forgetful Panda said:

I also can’t help but think the animal-based South and Westside Islands should be more separate from the human locales.

What makes South Island and West Side Island animal based?

It can't be the presence of the small animals Eggman imprisons in robots, because those guys also inhabit the locations Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, and Sonic Rush take place in, which are also human populated (GUN controlled Huge Crisis in Rush's case).

It can't be the presence of Tails on West Side Island since Amy lived alongside humans in Station Square and Central City and there's no reason to suppose Tails wasn't doing the same in Sonic 2.

It can't be Sonic visiting any of these locations since he's no less an outsider than Eggman.

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Anthro animals, to be more specific. The generic small animals can be common to both societies while, with humans and anthros, some places can be more anthro inhabited than humans and vice versa.

Post-Super Genesis Wave Archie Sonic demonstrated that idea nicely. There are both humans and anthros on the planet, but places like South and Westside Island are shown to be almost, if not entirely populated by anthros.

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1 minute ago, Forgetful Panda said:

There are both humans and anthros on the planet, but places like South and Westside Island are shown to be almost, if not entirely populated by anthros.

What evidence is there to support this in the actual games though?  The only inhabitants of West Side Island we see besides Tails are Flickies and other small animals, and Flickies are shown to inhabit the locations games like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Rush take place in as well.

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6 minutes ago, Ivo-goji said:

The only inhabitants of West Side Island we see besides Tails are Flickies and other small animals

Sonic Forces. The game takes place in entirely anthro-inhabited locations on a single landmass, with Green Hill and Chemical Plant being shown to be a part of them.

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15 minutes ago, Forgetful Panda said:

Sonic Forces. The game takes place in entirely anthro-inhabited locations on a single landmass, with Green Hill and Chemical Plant being shown to be a part of them.

Sonic Forces also completely and totally contradicts the idea that Green Hill is located on South Island, and the island Chemical Plant is on has nothing on it except Chemical Plant, which makes it difficult to argue that the location shown in that game is supposed to be West Side Island.

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On 10/3/2019 at 3:11 PM, Forgetful Panda said:

Sonic Forces. The game takes place in entirely anthro-inhabited locations on a single landmass, with Green Hill and Chemical Plant being shown to be a part of them.

How do we know these places are entirely animal-inhabited?

We don't really see too many ordinary citizens; most of the animal characters we do see are members of the resistance, actively fighting Eggman's forces.

I'm just saying, were it not for the "two worlds" decree, it wouldn't be too hard to imagine humans living in some of the buildings and just going unseen due to lack of relevance to the action.

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42 minutes ago, Forgetful Panda said:

So absolutely no humans wanted to join the resistance? Not a single, solitary one? Okay.

Well, did we see the entire resistance? Not necessarily.

Think of it this way: Amy lives, or at least lived at one time, in Station Square - a mostly but not entirely human-populated city.

The inverse being true isn't unbelievable. The odd human here or there in predominately animal-populated communities doesn't seem completely infeasible.

I feel like it'd be more likely for there to be areas that are predominately populated by one or the other, but likely very few places that are 100% only one. Station Square has Amy as a confirmed resident, it has posters of an unnamed animal model, etc. So there's already precedent for "species minorities" living in places predominantly populated by the other group.

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I know it’s always possible that some humans could live in primarily anthro areas. But the way the map up there is set, it gives me the impression that a single landmass like that would be a Much more thorough mix of humans and anthros.

That’s the impression I always got at least.

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Maybe this is kind of pedantic, but Isolated Island is actually separate from Newtrogic High Zone, which is the main island setting for Chaotix that rose from the sea or whatever. You can see it in the background of Isolated Island.

image.png.3f181f42f1bc8ed0957fdc137d5ac6a8.png

I have no idea what a Newtrogic High is, but judging by the trippy look of the place I sure would like to find out!

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6 hours ago, Forgetful Panda said:

So absolutely no humans wanted to join the resistance? Not a single, solitary one? Okay.

There's a real world explanation for that though- all of the Resistance soldiers are generated from the Avatar-maker.

We could also reasonably ask if we were meant to think there were zero reptiles in the entire world-wide Resistance besides Vector and Espio, if we took the pre-generated soldiers as evidence that there were no humans around at the time.

There is one detail that makes me think there were refugee GUN forces among the Resistance: they both use similar squad names (Snake Squad, Fox Squad, etc).

Of course the writers had the opportunity to explicitly include GUN in Episode Shadow, and chose not to, when Rouge receives information from the Intelligence Division.  Intelligence Division of what?  Just the Intelligence Division. If she got intel from the Resistance she would have said "Amy".

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