Operation: EndGame was Dr. Ivo Robotnik's final plan to wipe out Knothole and dispose of the Knothole Freedom Fighters, specifically Sonic the Hedgehog, once and for all. The plan had numerous phases and was nearly carried out to completion, but due to Snively betraying his uncle, the plan fell apart when the Ultimate Annihilator targeted only Robotnik, erasing him from existence.
When Sonic used Dr. Quack's invention, the Dream Watcher, in order to enter King Max's psyche to contact him during his coma, Robotnik managed to track the location of Knothole when he detected the Neutron Chip in Quack's device. While Sonic and the Freedom Fighters were absent from Knothole retrieving the Sword of Acorns, Robotnik sent Snively and a group of SWATbots to apprehend Dr. Quack and King Max, with the latter being replaced by a robotic duplicate. Fearing Sonic would interfere with his plans, Robotnik appealed to former Wolf Pack member Drago Wolf to set up Sonic as a criminal for Sally Acorn's death. Dr. Quack originally refused to work for Robotnik in helping assemble the Ultimate Annihilator, but when Snively brought Dr. Quack's wife and kids and threatened to roboticize them, he complied. (StH: #43, #50, SSS: #1)
The first phase of Operation: EndGame was to have Princess Sally Acorn killed while framing Sonic for her murder. Drago managed to convince Hershey Cat to wear a suit that made her look like Sonic, while the suit's eyes made it so anyone Hershey saw while wearing the suit looked like Snively. During one of their missions in Robotropolis, Sally ended up hanging on to a rope high above the ground. Hershey, believing it to be Snively, cut the rope, causing Sally to fall to what appeared to be her death. With everyone witnessing what they believed was Sonic killing Sally, the Freedom Fighters targeted Sonic as a fugitive. (StH: #47, #49)
Robotnik used the robotic duplicate of King Max to order the Royal Secret Service to track down and apprehend Sonic. While Knothole's main defense was absent, Robotnik's army of SWATbots invaded the village, holding its citizens prisoners. (StH: #48, #49)
Originally, Robotnik planned to fire the Ultimate Annihilator and wipe out the hostages in Knothole. He first tested the weapon on an Overlander who had been captured from Mega Central, which proved the device worked. However, when Dulcy informed the Secret Service and Knuckles the Echidna of Sonic's innocence with regards to Sally's murder, the group returned and liberated Knothole before Robotnik could fire the weapon. Despite this, Robotnik planned to erase Knothole while Sonic went to Robotropolis to avenge Sally's death. Although Robotnik managed to activate his weapon, he was unaware Snively had reprogrammed the weapon to target only Robotnik. After a brief fist fight with Sonic, the Ultimate Annihilator fired, erasing Robotnik from existence. (StH: #50, SSS: #6)
Upon returning to Knothole, Sonic learned that Sally had in fact survived the fall, but was in a coma and in a stasis chamber. No longer a wanted fugitive as Dulcy had cleared his name, Sonic went to visit Sally and woke her from her coma with a kiss. (StH: #50, SSS: #6)
Besides the much-publicized death of Robotnik, many other side effects came about from this story, most notably the arrest of Snively Kintobor and Drago Wolf and their new status as major villains. Another is the void that Robotnik leaves and for which his "sub-bosses" compete as the Freedom Fighters simply try to restore Mobotropolis. Also, Sonic's attitude toward his enemies is greatly altered by this event; losing the person he cares about most, even temporarily, shows him that fighting evil is a duty rather than a game. Finally, Sally's near-death experience left her shaken as a leader and much more susceptible to being swayed by the duties her father gives her, such as disbanding the Freedom Fighters and marrying someone she does not love, both of which she would have strongly objected to without question in the past.
Development and reception
When writing the story, Ken Penders planned that Sally was originally slated to have died in the event, but fan reaction to Sally's death was massive, and Sega of America also wished to keep her alive for promotional purposes. As a result of this, the 40-page story originally planned to run in issue #50 was trimmed down to 27 pages, resulting in a rather rushed conclusion. However, Penders would eventually publish the story as it was meant to be in Sonic Super Special #6, printed in July 1998.
The storyline was met with mixed reactions. Readers with positive reviews expressed it in letters that were published in later issues, but online reviewers left negative reviews, mostly due to the aforementioned cuts made to issue #50, to the point that Daniel Drazen cited the arc as the worst multi-issue story running in Sonic the Hedgehog comics during 1997. By comparison, in his review of it, he stated that the remake in Super Special #6 was "as close [to perfection] as this project is going to get".
- The arc which Operation: EndGame was carried out was also called "End Game".
- It was later referred to by Dr. Eggman as "Project: Endgame" to Drago Wolf.