Knuckles' Chaotix (カオティクス Kaotikusu?, lit. "Chaotix") is a 1995 release for the Sega 32X. It is the only Sonic-related game released for Sega 32X. The game features a new combi system, which allows the player to use two characters at once, who are joined together with an elastic ring (also referred to as the ring leash). The game introduces the group later known as the 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.
A mysterious island rose from the southern sea a few months after the events of Sonic & Knuckles. Dr. Robotnik discovers the island, and found a mysterious little ring inscribed with text dating from a legendary civilization. Robotnik soon after 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 chaos energy in the dimensional rift generated between the Special Ring and the Floating Island's Pillar crystallized into six similar objects called Chaos Rings. After this phenomenon, Robotnik 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 theoretically summon the coveted Master Emerald. Inspired, Robotnik quickly converted the island into a resort he dubbed Newtrogic High Zone, serving as his high-tech research fortress. He synthesized ring energy into artificial Dark Rings for his Badniks, and was well on his way to fully realizing the spacetime properties of Ring Power. 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 Robotnik and Metal Sonic. Knuckles the Echidna, sensing a connection to the Master Emerald, also headed to the island and managed to rescue Espio along the way. They make their way to the World Entrance to meet the others, and they go on to stop Dr. Robotnik 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 for his latest diabolical device, Robotnik went to Carnival Island to find the Power Emerald that supplies electricity to the entire island 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, and chased him away, saving 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 tomorrow's grand opening.
Knuckles Chaotix marks the debut of the Chaotix. The group has five members: Knuckles the Echidna, Mighty the Armadillo (who also featured in the arcade game SegaSonic the Hedgehog two years earlier in 1993), Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon and Charmy Bee. This latter trio did not return (with the exception of Espio, who appears as one of the playable characters in Sonic the Fighters a year later) until Sonic Heroes in 2004.
Each character in Knuckles Chaotix has his own special abilities. Knuckles still glides and climbs as he did in Sonic & Knuckles. Espio has the ability to walk upright on walls and ceilings, and instead of curling up into a ball when performing the spin dash, he twists into a tornado, and can destroy unguarded enemies by running headlong into them at full speed. Mighty is the fastest runner in the game and has the ability to scale walls with his feet and push himself upward. Vector is the largest member of Chaotix. His moves include a mid-air dash and the ability to climb on walls. Charmy is the smallest character in the game but his ability to fly gives him a definite edge over the other characters. Contrary to Tails in the earlier Genesis games, Charmy will never tire of flying (possibly because he is a bee, and in more recent Sonic games it is very rare for Charmy to not be seen flying).
Aside from Knuckles and his friends, 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 & Bomb cannot be selected from the character select screen, but instead are picked up through the Combi Catcher. Neither of the two robots can attack. Just as his name says, Heavy is heavy and slow, yet he is indestructible and has the ability to destroy enemies and monitors by simply walking against them. Bomb on the other hand is tiny and quick, but he 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 as normally in Special Stages if the player has one of them as their partner and throws them into the Special Stage ring.
Heavy and Bomb were likely intended as booby prizes: when selecting a partner character, the player has to act quickly, as the characters shuffle around. Poor timing can result in selecting a different character than intended. Heavy and Bomb are generally considered to be nearly useless in action, making them the worst possible selections.
- Knuckles the Echidna
- Vector the Crocodile
- Mighty the Armadillo
- Charmy Bee
- Espio the Chameleon
- Heavy the Robot*
* Only available as Combi characters outside of secret Stage Select.
! Only available in the secret Stage Select mode.
The primary objective of the game remains 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 lives or enter special stages.
The levels are divided into five worlds (called "attractions" in the game), each one consisting of five different levels in which every two stages/acts played, change to a specific time of the day (morning, day, sunset, and night). The time of day effects 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 (and what eventually became one of the most criticized features of the game) involves the special ring force bond between characters dubbed the "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, player 1 can hold his position while player 2 runs forward and stretches the bond to gain maximum speed. In mid-air the bond can 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.
Recently, some elements of the game have received new life with Espio, Vector and Charmy returning to the series as of Sonic Heroes. Also, the concept of a player controlling two characters is reused for Sonic Advance 3.
- 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
- Isolated Island: A special isolated area played before the main game to get players acquainted with the special unique maneuvers introduced into the game.
- 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 it, 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, curiously, no 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 large 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 large ring at the ending of each level, but the player must have collected at least fifty rings for it to appear. 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.
Knuckles' Chaotix received mixed reception. On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the 32X version of the game a 25 out of 40. 1up praised the new dimension of gameplay over the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games, by having a second character, but criticized how this also slowed down gameplay. IGN offered similar sentiments, admiring the attempt to both "breathe life into a series that was running out of steam" and fix the lopsided multiplayer aspect of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 where Tails would always 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 game, that would be fun for hardcore Sonic fans, but would likely 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 and Tails have a cameo appearance in the best ending. Amy also appears in the sound test via a cheat code.
- 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.
- This is the first Sonic game that has each level play through a day/night timeframe (i.e.: Act 1 in the day, Act 2 in the night, etc., though not exactly like that). The second game to do so was Sonic Unleashed.
- It is believed that sprites from Sonic's role in the unreleased Sonic Crackers were the basis of Mighty's in Knuckles' Chaotix, as their sprite sheets are mainly identical.
- The main playable characters all have a way of ascension: Knuckles and Vector can climb walls, Espio can stick to walls and the ceiling, Charmy can fly, and Mighty can wall kick. Heavy and Bomb have no way of ascending on their own.
- This game was originally planned to be included in Sonic Gems Collection, but wasn't for unknown reasons.
- The stage on the box art for the American and European version is Speed Slider.
- If the player is idle for a minute, Metal Sonic will appear and shoot a laser at the character. If the player starts moving when Metal Sonic appears, he will chase the player until they stop moving and he will then shoot a laser. The concept of something happening if the player is idle for a certain amount of time is similar to Sonic CD as both games are apparently made by much of the same staff, but the player won't lose a life or get a Game Over in Knuckles' Chaotix.
- 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.
- This is the first game where the entire story takes place in a theme park. Later, Sonic Colors reuses the same concept.
- Both games also feature more than the usual number of acts per zones. Five for Knuckles' Chaotix, six for Sonic Colors.
- This is the first game believed to have Metal Sonic as the penultimate and final boss of the game, although this is unconfirmed. The second game to do so is Sonic Heroes, as Metal Madness and Metal Overlord. Metal Sonic later returns as the final boss for Sonic Free Riders.
- The Enerbeam mechanic from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric/Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is based on the Ring Power in this game.
- 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 the events of Knuckles' Chaotix.
- If not all the Chaos Rings are collected, the ending will depict Metal Sonic burning down a city during the credits.