Knuckles' Chaotix (カオティクス Kaotikusu?, lit. "Chaotix") is a spin-off platform video game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was developed and published by Sega for the Sega 32X, making it the only Sonic game to ever be released on that system. It was released in April 1995 in North America and Japan, and saw an European release in May of the same year.
Some months after the incident that caused the Floating Island to grace the surface of the ocean, an upheaval occurs in the southern sea, resulting in a mysterious island created by tectonic movement caused by the Master Emerald Pillar's energy to appear. Moreover, the island's appearance rapidly changes constantly due to the Pillar's power, transforming it from a mere rock into a green paradise.
Curious about the island's nature, Knuckles the Echidna, the guardian of the Master Emerald Pillar, ponders if the island has vestiges of an ancient civilization that was wiped away in an instant by a "power stone" in the distant past. Suspecting that something must be amplifying the power of the Master Emerald Pillar, and with a sense of responsibility as a guardian, Knuckles heads to the island.
Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik has already discovered the island. There, he finds a small Ring inscribed with ancient texts, from which he learns that the island was once part of a lost civilization. He later finds a larger Ring that looks like the ones on the Floating Island, which was used by the legendary civilization before it disappeared. With this, he discovers that the Ring can guide him to a "power stone", which he believes to be the Master Emerald. However, this stone has already been moved to the Floating Island by the gods. Not too long after, Robotnik learns that the mysterious space created by the special Ring's power is filled with "Pillar" energy that has been turned into six objects called "Chaos Rings". The doctor then figures out that, if he manages to find out the secrets of the special Ring, not only will he be able to discover the secrets of the Rings used by Sonic's gang, but he will also be able to summon the Master Emerald. Robotnik thus begins converting the island into a resort he dubs Newtrogic High Zone, which serves as his research fortress.
When Knuckles arrives in Newtrogic High Zone, he discovers that he is too late; Robotnik has managed to crystalize the Chaos Rings' power into artificial rings named "Dark Rings". The doctor has also developed a "Ring Power" that can generate a space-time connection between the Rings. With his ambitions being steadily realized, Robotnik proudly gloats that nothing will stop him from conquering the world.
Wasting no time, Knuckles ventures to the nearby Isolated Island where he finds Espio the Chameleon, who is being trapped in the Combi Catcher by Dr. Robotnik. As Knuckles frees Espio, Robotnik escapes thanks to Metal Sonic, who flies away with him. Afterward, the two heroes head toward Newtrogic High Zone in search of the doctor. Along the way, they meet Vector, Charmy, Mighty, Heavy and Bomb, who have come to the island for their own reasons and join them on their adventure. The group travels through the various locations of Newtrogic High Zone, defeating Robotnik's contraptions while hunting for the Chaos Rings.
Eventually, the heroes encounter Metal Sonic, whom they defeat. After that, Robotnik seizes a giant Dark Ring and leaves with Metal Sonic. Soon after, Knuckles and his crew face Metal Sonic Kai, which they defeat. From there, the ending of the game will depend on the player's progress:
- If the player has not managed to collect all six Chaos Rings, the unobtained Chaos Rings will be rotating around a Dark Ring before breaking down. Then, a laughing Robotnik will be briefly shown. The credits will then roll in a burning city with Metal Sonic Kai hovering onimously over it.
- If the player has managed to gather the six Chaos Rings, the Chaos Rings will rotate around a white text saying "COOOOL". The credits will then roll in a background showing the following characters, from left to right, in front of Sonic and Tails in the Tornado: Vector, Knuckles, Espio, Mighty, and Charmy.
|Knuckles the Echidna||Guardian of the Master Emerald "Pillar" on the legendary Floating Island. He feels more than a little responsible for the recent commotion.|
|Espio the Chameleon||A single-minded individual with a very strong sense of justice. He is interested in the legendary civilization and decides to visit the island to investigate its relationship with the floating island. For this reason, he is actually envious of Knuckles.|
|Mighty the Armadillo||A traveler who feels that his purpose in life is journeying around the world. When in a tight spot, he can turn on a dime and show off his amazing abilities, but he doesn't like to be rough and is a calm person. He happens to arrive on this island and gets caught up in the commotion...|
|Vector the Crocodile||He is boundlessly cheerful and quite an optimist. However, he actually has a stronger sense of camaraderie than anyone else, and has the strength and kindness to face up to any challenge. He believes in the existence of God, and came to this island after hearing the news about an island of miracles.|
|Charmy Bee||He was the first insect to cross the speed of sound, so he is very proud and can't keep quiet when he is denied. He is also very moody and mature in his words and actions. He is a self-proclaimed "fastest insect in the world" who flew to a new island in search of new flowers.|
|Heavy the Robot||Heavy works as Robotnik's chief mechanic. He's just as his name says - heavy - and he's slow.|
|Bomb||Bomb works as Robotnik's other mechanic. He's not very quick or strong, and he blows up when things start looking bleak.|
|Dr. Robotnik||He is still the same infamous genius scientist. This time, he has his eyes on an ancient special ring on the island of a lost civilization, and plans to get his hands on the Master Emerald, which he says can be summoned by it. His goal, of course, is to become the ruler of the world.|
|Metal Sonic||A Sonic-shaped robot created by Dr. Robotnik. The main and sub CPUs were recovered from the body that was destroyed in a previous confrontation with Sonic. It was replaced by a spare fuselage, which was reborn with Dark Ring power. The newly installed Plasner allows him to perform a plasma pulse attack from his chest.|
Knuckles' Chaotix is a 2D side-scrolling platform with gameplay similar to that of previous Sonic games. The main mode of the game, Scenario Mode, is split into five main stages, each of which are split into five Levels, with the fifth one ending with a boss fight. Just like in past Sonic games, the goal of the Levels is to beat each of them in less than ten minutes. Knuckles' Chaotix features seven playable characters: Knuckles, Vector, Mighty, Charmy, Espio, Heavy, and Bomb, each one possessing their own unique abilities in gameplay; Knuckles is able to glide and climb on walls; Mighty is the fastest runner in the game and can use the Wall Jump; Espio can walk upright on walls and ceilings and destroy unguarded enemies by running headlong into them at full speed; Vector can perform mid-air dashes and climb on walls; and Charmy can dash through midair without limit. Notably, Heavy and Bomb cannot be selected from the character select screen. Instead, they are always picked up as partners through the Combi Catcher. Neither of the two robots can attack conventionally; Heavy is heavy and slow, but is indestructible and can destroy enemies and monitors by simply walking against them. Conversely; and Bomb is tiny and quick, but explodes when he is hit.
Unlike other Sonic games, the player does not have an established order for the Levels; instead, they will be taken to the World Entrance, where they can see the Levels they will travel to next. They are able to choose a partner to play with with the Combi Catcher. Later, they will enter a room with a giant Bumper which, when hit, will stop a selector. The Level the player will play will depend on what area was highlighted by the selector. The first four Levels of a stage end by spinning a Goal Plate at the end of them. The fifth Levels, on the other hand, end automatically upon defeating the boss.
The main feature of Knuckles' Chaotix is the Ring Power, which links both of the playable characters in a Level with each other at all times on a screen through Bound Rings while neither playable character acts as the dominant force to move the game forward. This allows for some new tricks to be executed with the elastic force of the Ring Power. 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. Should the player use the call-button so that the Ring counter becomes negative 99 or below, the player is immediately sent back to Newtronic High Zone. Also, if the player takes damage while they have no Rings, they will lose their partner. If the characters take damage while they do not have any protection and their partner, they will be immediately sent back to the World Entrance.
|Button formation||Character movement|
|Knuckles the Echidna||Vector the Crocodile||Mighty the Armadillo||Espio the Chameleon||Charmy Bee||Heavy the Robot||Bomb|
|left/right + down||Super Spin||N/A|
|Spin Attack||Axel Spin||Fly||Jump|
|down +||Spin Dash||N/A|
|up/down while on a wall||Climb||N/A|
|Holding while on a wall + Releasing||N/A||Kick off walls||N/A|
|Holding while on a wall + up +||Jump up walls|
|Holding up + Holding while in midair||N/A||Hover||N/A|
|Holding while on a wall + up||N/A||Run up walls||N/A|
|Holding while on a wall + up + Holding while on a ceiling + left/right||Run along ceilings|
|Holding while over the partner + Releasing||Throw partner|
|Holding down + Releasing down||Snap Up|
(1-player mode only)
|Holding + left/right + Releasing||Forward Snap/Reverse Snap|
(1-player mode only)
- 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
- Metal Sonic
- Metal Sonic Kai
- 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.
- To date, Knuckles' Chaotix is the only pre-Dreamcast Sonic platformer to not see a rerelease.
- 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.
- The sound effects from this game were taken directly from Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- 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 the Hedgehog 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.
- 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.
- Not counting World Entrance, all of the Zone names in this game are alliterations.
- ソフトウェア - スーパー32X専用カートリッジ(セガ発売) (Japanese). Sega.jp. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved on 23 December 2021.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 4-5.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 6.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 7.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 8.
- Knuckles' Chaotix (Sega 32X) United States instruction booklet, pg. 9.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 43.
- 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.