Sonic Crackers, also known in the ROM header as Sonic Studium (the misspelling of Sonic Stadium), is an early prototype of a Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Sega Mega Drive. It is believed to have been an engine test, containing essentially multiple different game engines, swapped out in real time using code written into RAM. The game is viewed as a prototype of Knuckles' Chaotix.
Sonic Crackers has Sonic and Tails joined together by a band of Rings. This would later become the idea for Knuckles' Chaotix. The game includes an interface that displays seven "Worlds", each featuring five levels of "Attractions" and one "Field" stage. Only two of these Worlds are playable, with five total Attractions and two Fields split between them.
Attractions are identical in concept to their title-sharing counterpart in Knuckles' Chaotix, being side-scrolling levels in which the player must use momentum to reach platforms. Field levels, on the other hand, feature an isometric perspective where Sonic and Tails are free from the Rings that tether them. These levels are very early in development, as there is no collision set or items to interact with.
The physics in Sonic Crackers is quite absurd, allowing the player to run on walls, ceilings, and even stop half-way up certain loops.
- Bound Rings (unnamed)
Gimmicks and obstacles
The Select menu of Sonic Crackers features seven Worlds, each with five Attractions and one Field level. The Attractions are labelled as "Attraction Lv. X," where 'X' is a number between one and five. World two features the most complete Attractions list, showcasing the same layouts with different palettes and backgrounds. This is reminiscent of the time mechanic present in Knuckles' Chaotix, suggesting the Worlds themselves are the counterpart the Zones, rather than each Attraction serving as an independent stage. Also, on this Select screen are two "Premium" options, each holding one Attraction and one Field. The "Special" option at the end of the select menu features the Special Stage, though the game will infinitely loop upon selecting it.
The game only has two playable Worlds:
- World 1: All five of the Attraction options in Sonic Crackers' first World take the player to the same stage, this being a carnival-like stage reminiscent of Knuckles' Chaotix's Speed Slider. After one minute has elapsed in game, the stage ends and the World's Field level begins. Here, the characters are controlled on a pink and yellow checkerboard plain.
- World 2: This option features four playable Attractions, as the first and fifth are the same, though they all have the same layout just with different palettes. The first/fifth Attractions have a dark blue background with minty green color scheme, appearing to be set at night. The second Attraction's palette has swapped to royal blues and copper tones over a magenta backdrop. Bright green, industrial-type panels are layered over the pink sky. Attraction Lv. 3 showcases blue and green platforms over a yellow background. The final Attraction is mostly filled with grays and pale purples, with a large building and a city scape taking up the background. All four of these Attractions are highly reminiscent of Techno Tower from Knuckles' Chaotix, with the objective being to make it to the top of the screen. If the player reaches the top, or if three full minutes has elapsed, the original Sonic the Hedgehog game over music plays and the player is brought to the World's Field level, featuring a clouded background and a waterfall.
From the title screen menu of Sonic Crackers, four modes are accessible:
- 1P Start: Starts the standard game, or at least what is playable in this prototype. The player is loaded into World 2's Attraction Lv. 4, then proceeds to World 2's Field stage, then World 1's only Attraction, into that World's Field stage from which a World 2 Attraction is randomly selected and the whole process loops. This goes on indefinitely.
- 2P Start: The multiplayer option in Sonic Crackers works the same as the single-player mode, just with the second controller having full control of Tails.
- Options: This takes the player to a simple Sound Test, where the tracks are displayed as four character hexadecimal codes.
- Select: Brings up the World select menu, and the Attraction select screen upon scrolling through said Worlds. The end of the list, just past World 7, features two "Premium" options and a "Special" option, the latter allowing access to the unplayable Special Stage.
Pressing Start on the controller will activate the game's debug mode, allowing the player to freely move Sonic and Tails around.
Though Sonic and Tails are missing from the final version of Knuckles' Chaotix, there is evidence that suggests they were once part of the game. One of the biggest pointer would be the fact that Sonic Crackers refers to its Zones as Attractions, something that is not seen in any Sonic games other than Knuckles' Chaotix. Along with this, the background tracks in the game are early versions of "Walkin'", "Hyper-Hyper", "Evening Star", "Moonrise", and "Electoria" from Knuckles' Chaotix.
The Level Select cheat code in Knuckles' Chaotix allows the player to manually select what character's are played as. In the lineup, Mighty the Armadillo is listed in the first slot, typically where one would find Sonic in the Sonic Mega Drive games. It is already well known known that Mighty was put in Sonic's place, proven by their sprites being almost exact copies of each other. Second in the character list is a character named **********, dubbed "Wechnia" by fans. This character can be selected and played in-game, featuring a scrambled version of Knuckles' tile set overtop of Mighty's palette and behaving like Tails.
- The graphics of one of the adventure levels seems to be reused in Egg Gauntlet Zone in the 2013 remaster of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- The June prototype of fighting game Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyou Toitsusen contains leftover data from various games, including sprites for Tails from Sonic Crackers.
- The numbers "19940401" being present on the title screen lead many to believe the game in its entirety was a hoax, as it reads 1 April 1994 if converted to a date.
- Multiple physical copies of the game's ROM exist, all being the exact same build date.
- Upon hitting spikes, a multitude of Rings will scatter from the playable character, even though no Rings are present in the game.
- Whatever Happened To: Sonic Crackers. Retro Gamer (19 April 2018).
- McGovern, Oisin (5 May 2010). Sonic crackers proto arrived! \o/. Bords.ie.
- Robivy64 (29 October 2007). So i'm getting an original Sonic Crackers cart.... Sega-16.
- Kosaka, Michael (17 May 1994). Sonic Mars: Game Script 1.1. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019.
- Sonic Crackers. Epic Gaming. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.
- Sonic Crackers - Sega Genesis / Mega Drive. Sonic HQ. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007.
- at Secrets of Sonic Team
- at Sonic Research Zone