Knuckles' Chaotix (カオティクス Kaotikusu?, lit. "Chaotix") is a 1995 platform video game developed and published by Sega for the Sega 32X. It is the only Sonic-related game released for the Sega 32X. Unusual for the Sonic series, the game stars Knuckles the Echidna as the main playable character, instead of Sonic the Hedgehog (who only appears in the game's good ending), and features a new "Combi system", which allows the player to use two characters at once, who are joined together by Ring Power.
The game introduces the group later known as Team Chaotix to the Sonic series, composed of Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon and Charmy Bee. It also includes the brief return of Mighty the Armadillo.
The story of Knuckles' Chaotix varies between the Japanese and Western releases of the game, with completely irreconcilable storylines separating the two.
A mysterious island rose from the southern sea a few months after the events of Sonic & Knuckles. Dr. Eggman discovered the island, and found a mysterious little ring inscribed with text dating from a legendary civilization. Soon after, Eggman found another ancient ring resembling one of the Super Rings of the Floating Island, which turned out to be the Special Ring once used by that lost people. The mysterious space the Special Ring created was filled with the Master Emerald Pillar's energy, which crystallized into six Chaos Rings. After this phenomenon, Eggman decided to continue the investigation of the Special Ring in order to uncover the secrets of the rings used by Sonic and friends, as well as to theoretically summon the coveted Master Emerald. Inspired, Eggman quickly converted the island into a resort he dubbed Newtrogic High Zone, serving as his high-tech research fortress. He crystallized energy into artificial Dark Rings for his machines, and began to develop Ring Power, which would create a space-time connection between Rings. Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee all arrived at the island for different reasons, and ended up being captured and placed in the Combi Catcher machine by Eggman and Metal Sonic. Knuckles the Echidna, deducing that something was amplifying the power of the Master Emerald Pillar, also headed to the island and managed to rescue Espio along the way. The two then make their way to the World Entrance where they find the others, and go on to stop Dr. Eggman from succeeding in his plans.
The plot starts out on the day before the opening day of Carnival Island, a huge amusement resort with the latest in high-tech rides and games. As the guardian of the island, Knuckles' job was to make sure nothing went wrong before the grand event.
Behind the scenes, however, Dr. Robotnik was cooking up a new dastardly scheme. To fuel his latest diabolical device, Robotnik went to Carnival Island to find the Power Emerald that supplied electricity to the entire island- a tool which would fit into his plan perfectly. To further ensure that Knuckles and his friends would not interfere with his plans, Robotnik used his Combi Catcher to freeze Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee in time.
When Knuckles returned from patrolling the far end of the island, he found Dr. Robotnik as he was imprisoning Espio the Chameleon in a Combi Catcher, scaring the villain off and rescuing Espio. After that, Knuckles discovered that he could rescue his other friends one at a time by using Ring Power, a power that holds two partners together like a magical rubber band. Never held back for long, Knuckles set out with his team to save Carnival Island from Robotnik before the grand opening.
The primary objective of the game is mostly unchanged from previous Sonic titles. The player must finish each level in under ten minutes and defeat Dr. Robotnik's Badniks along the way. Rings still constitute the player's life energy and can be collected to gain entry into special stages. However, since the player has unlimited lives in Knuckles' Chaotix, collecting 100 or 200 rings won't grant an extra life as it does in other Sonic games.
The levels are divided into five worlds, referred to as "attractions", each consisting of five different Levels. After every two Levels played, the time of day will change (morning, day, sunset, and night). The time of day affects enemy placements and boss difficulty. At the end of Level 5, the player confronts Dr. Robotnik in one of his contraptions.
The most fundamental change in Knuckles' Chaotix involves the special ring force bond between characters dubbed "Ring Power". In earlier Sonic games, two-player mode would consist either of a traditional split screen race or a joint single player effort with Tails as a secondary character. In the latter case, this meant that Tails could move off screen and get lost for a few seconds until he returned to Sonic.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, however, both players are at all times connected on one single screen while neither player acts as the dominant force to move the game forward. Besides the staple of traditional Sonic moves and individual abilities, this means some new tricks can be executed with the elastic force of the ring bond. For example, one player can stay put while the other player runs forward, stretching the bond and abusing its elasticity to gain maximum speed. In the air, the bond can even be used to generate an upward momentum. Additionally, players can toss each other toward platforms or use the call-button to reunite (at a cost of ten rings, which meant that for the first and only time the ring count could dip below zero in a Sonic game). Should the player use the call-button so that ring counter becomes negative 99 or below, the player is immediately sent back to Newtronic High Zone. Similarly, if the player is hit while they have no rings and no shield, they'll lose their partner, or if they don't have their partner, they'll also be immediately sent back to Newtronic High Zone.
Knuckles' Chaotix marks the debut of Team Chaotix. The group has five members: Knuckles the Echidna, Mighty the Armadillo, Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon and Charmy Bee. Each have their own special abilities which help them fill a role in their shared quest: Knuckles is able to glide through the air and climb on walls, just as he did in Sonic & Knuckles; Mighty is the fastest runner in the game, and has the ability to scale walls with his feet and push himself upward; Espio has the ability to walk upright on walls and ceilings, and to destroy unguarded enemies by running headlong into them at full speed; Vector is the largest character and is able to perform mid-air dashes and climb on walls; and Charmy is the smallest character in the game, but makes up for this with his unique and powerful ability to fly without limit.
Aside from Knuckles and co., the game also introduces Heavy and Bomb, two robots who claim to have escaped from Dr. Robotnik's evil clutches and want to help the main player character. Heavy and Bomb cannot be selected from the character select screen, instead being picked up through the Combi Catcher. Neither of the two robots can attack conventionally; Heavy is, appropriately, heavy and slow, yet is indestructible and able to destroy enemies and monitors by simply walking against them. Conversely, Bomb is tiny and quick, but explodes when he is hit. Both of these characters can only be playable directly if the Stage Select is activated through the game's Color Test. They can also be played normally in Special Stages if the player has one of them as their partner and throws them into the Special Stage ring.
- Knuckles the Echidna
- Vector the Crocodile (first appearance)
- Mighty the Armadillo
- Charmy Bee (first appearance)
- Espio the Chameleon (first appearance)
- Heavy the Robot (first appearance)
- Bomb (first appearance)
- Amazing Arena boss
- Amazing Arena sub-boss
- Botanic Base boss
- Marina Madness boss
- Speed Slider boss
- Techno Tower boss
- World Entrance Level 1
- World Entrance Level 2
- Isolated Island: A special isolated area played before the main game to get players acquainted with the game's unique special maneuvers.
- Botanic Base: The island's most natural attraction is this giant greenhouse, filled with oddly geometric trees and a jungle of hostile flora.
- Speed Slider: A roller coaster reminiscent of Casino Night Zone and Carnival Night Zone, Speed Slider is the fastest attraction in Knuckles' Chaotix. The level moves all the way to a confrontation with Dr. Robotnik on his carousel.
- Amazing Arena: At the start of this stage, the player is in the dark, but once the light switch is hit, Amazing Arena turns bright and colorful. If the player fails to locate this switch, the stage starts all over again.
- Techno Tower: A futuristic-styled tower that the player must climb. In Level 5, the player can hop on a drill machine that burrows through solid walls.
- Marina Madness: A cruise-themed attraction with a curious absence of water. The player must jump from ship to ship to complete this level while dodging flying fish and sailing stingrays.
- World Entrance: Between each stage, the player visits the World Entrance. Here, one can choose to end the game, select a new partner, and/or choose a new stage. It is also home to the final boss battles.
- The bonus stage can be accessed by collecting twenty or more rings and jumping through one of the giant rings found hidden throughout a level. In the stage, the character free-falls down a long spiral of rings, power-ups, blocks and exits while the player's rings gradually count down to zero. The stage ends when the ring count reaches zero or when the character hits an exit. Possible bonuses include a slow-down at the attraction roulette screen or a free pick from the Combi Catcher.
In the Special Stages, the player moves their character through a hexagonal, fully rendered 3D course to collect a specified set of blue spheres. Rings are collected as seconds and when the count reaches zero or the player falls from the course, the stage ends. When successfully completed, the player is awarded one of six Chaos Rings. Contrary to earlier games in the series, collecting all Chaos Rings does not award the player with special powers.
Special Stages can only be accessed through a single Giant Ring at the ending of each level, but the player must have collected at least fifty rings for it to appear, similar to the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog CD. After a player wins all six Chaos Rings, the Special Stages start over in a wire-frame mode. This mode also gives the player 50,000 points for completing the stage.
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||7.4/10|
Knuckles' Chaotix received mixed to somewhat positive reviews from critics, but was a commercial failure due largely to its limited availability via the Sega 32X, which itself was an unsuccessful system. These factors caused Knuckles' Chaotix to become one of the most obscure Sonic games in franchise history, although it was the best-selling title released on the 32X platform.
While it was praised for its graphics and music, many criticized the game's bland level design and low difficulty, and believed Knuckles' Chaotix did not push the hardware's power to the top. It was one of the last "classic" 2D-sidescrolling platformers in the franchise before the series moved into 3D with the release of Sonic Adventure, in 1998.
Next Generation felt the bond mechanic was tiring and not truly innovative, finding it frustrating and choppy and calling it Knuckles' Chaotix's biggest flaw. The reviewer also found that the bond complicated gameplay and compared it to being handcuffed. In 2008, GamesRadar wrote that Knuckles' Chaotix was the best game for the 32X and was underrated, though it still considered the game a "wasted opportunity".
On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the game a 25 out of 40. 1up praised the new dimension of gameplay over the Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games, by having a second character, but criticized how this also slowed down gameplay. IGN offered similar sentiments; they admired the attempts to "breathe life into a series that was running out of steam" and to fix the lopsided multiplayer aspect of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, wherein Tails would often get lost off-screen, but disliked the clunky nature of the "rubber band" physics of the game's "buddy system", and the lack of variation between acts of each world. Gamesarefun called it a "love it or hate it" type of game- good for hardcore Sonic fans, but likely to scare off casual ones.
Archie Comics published an adaptation of this game in Archie Knuckles Chaotix. It was only loosely based on the game, however, featuring a new plot integrating the Archie-original characters and replacing Chaos Rings with Power Gems. It featured the first appearances of every Chaotix member from the game, including Heavy and Bomb, whose designs were completely redone for the comic.
- Sonic Crackers
- Prototype 0111
- Prototype 0119
- Prototype 0202
- Prototype 0208
- Prototype 0209
- Prototype 0210
- Prototype 0213
- Prototype 0214
- Prototype 0216
- Prototype 1207
- Prototype 1227
- Prototype 1229
- Sonic's sprites from the Sonic Crackers prototype, an early version of Knuckles' Chaotix, were the basis of Mighty the Armadillo's sprite in the final game.
- This game was originally planned to be included in Sonic Gems Collection, but wasn't due to the difficult nature of emulating the 32X software.
- This is the only game that uses the partial ring system and the second to use centiseconds for the time display. The first was Sonic CD.
- Sonic and Tails have a cameo appearance in the good ending. In this appearance Sonic's legs are miscolored, matching his arms. Amy also appears in the sound test via a cheat code.
- Knuckles' chest mark is colored yellow in the game. This appears on the Main Menu and during levels. However in the box art his chest mark is colored white.
- If the player is idle for a minute, Metal Sonic will appear and use his Plasma Pulse Attack. If the player starts moving when Metal Sonic appears, he will chase the player until they stop moving and he will then use his Plasma Pulse Attack. The concept of something happening if the player is idle for a certain amount of time is similar to Sonic CD, but the player won't lose a life or get a Game Over in Knuckles' Chaotix.
- The stage on the box art for the American and European version is Speed Slider.
- A remix of Isolated Island song Door into Summer can be heard in the Collection Room in Sonic Generations.
- For a brief time while activating the Ring Time Skill, a remix of Tube Panic (Special Stage) can be heard in Sonic Generations, while playing as Classic Sonic.
- The concept of a player controlling two characters is reused for Sonic Advance 3.
- This is the first game where the entire story takes place in a theme park. Later, Sonic Colors would reuse the same concept.
- Both games also feature more than the usual number of acts per zones. Five for Knuckles' Chaotix, six for Sonic Colors (Wii version).
- Unlike Espio, who would appear as a playable character in Sonic the Fighters a year later, Vector and Charmy would not be seen again until Sonic Heroes in 2003, and Mighty would not return until the release of Sonic Mania's Encore DLC in 2018 - over two decades after the release of Knuckles' Chaotix.
- In an interview for Sonic Heroes, Takashi Iizuka stated that Vector, Espio, and Charmy had been "reimagined" and re-introduced as new characters in that game, ignoring their depictions in Knuckles' Chaotix.
- Not counting World Entrance, all of the Zone names in this game are alliterations.
- Knuckles Chaotix". Next Generation. Imagine Media (6): 104. June 1995.
- ProReview: Knuckles Chaotix". GamePro. IDG (81): 62. June 1995.
- Reparaz, Mikel (23 February 2008). The 10 worst consoles ever. Gameradar+. Retrieved on 19 January 2019.
- Rudden, Dave (14 August 2014). 25 reasons we love the Sega Genesis, 25 years later. Gameradar+. Retrieved on 19 January 2019.
- Roberts, David. 11 games that embody the spirit of the '90s. Gameradar+. Retrieved on 19 January 2019.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly (3 February 2004). Afterthoughts: SONIC HEROES - A candid chat with Sonic Team's lord of the rings.. Electronic Gaming Monthly. Archived from the original on 30 March 2004.