NOTE: To play the prototype in Kega Fusion v3.6 and up, the "Fast 32X Timing" option in the 32X configuration tab must be enabled. For older versions of Kega Fusion, a special release, which can play the prototype, was made available here(info) (268 kB).
The ROM header says "Knuckles' Ringstar." The level title card also says this.
The SEGA screen has the picture of Carnival Island from the manual.
The title screen menu is wildly different from all other Chaotix versions.
There is a empty space in the character selection menu following Mighty, who originally was Sonic. This space is believed to originally be reserved for Tails, given palette data found in the ROM.
Cheat menus are accessible by Highlighting OPTION, then Pressing + for Color Test, Pressing + for Sound Test (with preliminary graphics), Pressing + for Jam Out mode, which acts similar to Toejam & Earl. In Jam out mode press , , , or to play the many different DAC samples. , , , or can be held to change between sound banks. + + + will Exit the Jamout menu.
Graphics for a Sonic and Tails 1-up monitor/character select icons were found within the ROM. There are also graphics for a monitor and monitor contents, in Sonic 1/2 style. They are also loaded during the "Character Select" screen that plays Walkin' from Sonic Crackers. This proves Sonic and Tails were indeed planned for Chaotix.
Only Mighty, Knuckles, and Charmy have their abilities implemented. Vector's running animation is faster. Presumably, ********/Wechnia/Tails has his abilities implemented as evidenced from proto 1227.
Wechnia's palette in this proto is very different. It consists of mostly orange/yellow/red colors, implying that he was Tails at one point. In fact, some colors match perfectly or near-perfectly with Tails' palette from Crackers. In this proto, the palette is used. In later protos, the palette exists but Wechnia's palette pointer points to Mighty's palette instead. Presently, Wechnia is unplayable due to crashing issues.
Graphics for a water splash are located in the ROM. Identical to Sonic 1's splash graphics.
There's an odd skull graphic found in the ROM with some Japanese text underneath it that reads "tobu" (which is usually used in Japanese in reference to tobacco).
Graphics for animals that pop out of badniks (Flickies, seals, rabbits, etc.) were found.
The Level Title card reads Knuckles Ringstar and also refers to Heavy as Heaby.
The backgrounds have scrolling issues, sometimes half the background lags behind, sometimes it doesn't.
Knuckles features different climbing sprites in this build. Also worth noting that the control is sightly different. You have to keep B pressed to climb, otherwise Knuckles falls off.
All the 32x art is uncompressed, in final most of the static art uses the C42 compression. Everything that uses the 32x VDP is viewable using this version.
The text "SonicCrackersS32X" can be found in Time Attack's attraction screen. The S32x stands for Super 32X. This confirms that Sonic Crackers was in fact a Knuckles Chaotix prototype.
Background for the Data Select screen isn't in yet. Controls are also reversed - moves down and moves up. Needlessly annoying.
The title screen track has percussion thrown in, as well as most other tracks. There is also beep sounds every ten seconds or so, in different variations depending on the track. Sometimes, those beeps seem like missing bits of sound that should be there, this is especially noticeable in Amazing Arena. However, the beeps are not missing bits of sound at all, just a result of a bug in the PWM driver.
Sound Test is a very basic screen. Its a black background with white text. The songs are there but scratchy and beepy and even feature songs that aren't featured anywhere reachable.
Some songs are pretty different from the final, like 000D. Some even have different percussion than the ones in the other Chaotix betas, like the almost unhearable 000F. 0011 is a slower mix of the main theme, 0018 sounds like something out of a Megaman game, and 0025 sounds like a bad ending of sorts. 0015 is a different mix of a track in the final, and so are 0017, 0019, 001B, 001C, and 0021. 0026-0028 are empty, and afterwards begin the sound effects, which are basically the same throughout Chaotix's development. There are exceptions like 0047 or 004B, however. After 0069 there's nothing. The entire game's soundtrack may of been composed before actually making most of the levels. All the musical differences are based on the regular, keyboard notes, not the percussion that was later removed. Strangely, most of the songs that aren't really featured in the levels don't have the beep caused by PWM bugs.
On the NPC select menu from Time Attack, the music is DIRECTLY from sonic crackers; no difference whatsoever.
When clearing a level "Mechanical Dance" song plays instead of "From Party to Party".
Debug mode is always enabled. (Pause to move around.)
Time Attack actually works better than normal mode, and uses the same player selection method as the later protos. And by "works better", I mean it holds out without going bonkers for 10 more seconds.
When Mighty uses the wall kick, it is different and it's "automatic". It uses an unused sprite found in the final, and of course, matches with the adjacent unused sprite for Sonic in Sonic Crackers. Another thing to note is that the sound effect when he clings to a wall is different. (It's Vector/Espio/Knuckles' sound when they cling to a wall).
The cutscenes before the bosses are fully implemented in this proto, although the boss music starts directly in the cutscenes instead of playing "Have Some Fun" song.
Time can't go up.
There is a difference on which act you pick, but in Speed Slider all 5 are the same, and in Amazing Arena all acts after the second don't work. Also, the only way to select Speed Slider is through Stage select, since selecting "AMUSEMENT PARK" doesn't let you access it. Amazing Zone can't be accessed either, but the two remaining Zones can. So, essentially, they're taken out of world entrance because they aren't complete yet.
As with the final, the backgrounds undergo color changes depending on the time of day selected, except Amazing Arena, which just changes a window's colour.
This version of Chaotix has an interesting intro stage. During the meeting with Metal Sonic in the stage Espio will just fall out of the sky and Metal Sonic will be in the far foreground afterwards staring at you, and after a few seconds, he will charge at Espio.
The Bonus Stage does not use the special stage sprites like in the final. It just shows the current character's "hurt" animation.
The "500 pts" block only gives you 5 points.
The bounceback from hitting a block is significantly reduced.
There are no sparkles after collecting a ring in the Bonus Stage.
The blocks that hurt you have no effect, you just pass through them.
The Special Stage has transparent checkerboard floors that while flickering become yellow again (as in, half the squares are transparent when you do find the checkerboards), and at one point, the junction from the tube to the "outside" part, there's a huge hole. There's no limits nor rings; it's all empty. There's issues with the way the tube bits (3D models) are connected, and you can sometimes see a black line, especially when it goes diagonally down. The level just repeats itself until you fall, you can't run out of rings.
No get blue spheres message, no objects, no end, no nothing. Basically, the empty track keeps looping itself. (Only checked the first special stage, but it may be the same for the rest).
Training level shows Botanic Base title screen and plays the same music (Door Into Summer) that is found in the title screen.
Introduction level in stage select is vastly different from Introduction in "main" mode and plays the same track that the final does, however, in this beeping, percussion state.
Training 0 stage may have been used as an Engine Test level because its design is very different from the other training stages. This level features a closed place with platforms, loops and slopes. In the final game it is replaced by a copy of Training 1 although the boundaries fit the proto version.
Selecting World Entrance 1 brings you to an almost exact copy of the World Entrance - everything's identical except for the music, which plays the Combi Select BGM, and the layer priorities on doorways, which don't overlap Knuckles and co. in the copy. Neither the copy nor the World Entrance have the "EXIT" or "PLAY" signs, and you can't walk off to the left to exit to the title screen.
World entrance shows no screen, has no collection minigame, no slider. It is empty and just leads to the NPC SELECT screen, in this case only including Heavy, Bomb, Vector, Charmy and a bunch of unselectable question marks. Afterwards is a level select screen with vastly different names, the only one without a picture is "Amusement Park" or Speed Slider. All these weird zone select names are false, however, since the title cards keep the final names. Also, notice how "Atraction" is mispelled with only one T.
In World Entrance, right before you doing the World entering, there's a Speed Monitor underground.
Speed Slider appears to be based roughly off the rocket stage in Sonic Crackers. It has been edited since then; so, nothing matches exactly; however, there are noticeable similarities.
The palette change in Speed Slider between the lower and upper background occurs too high, with the result that some of the tents appear green instead of red until a certain height.
Lots of loops in this Zone. None of them work correctly though. It's only possible to get three-quarters of the way around and just fall off. Climbing on the 'solid' side of the loop isn't possible either. Knuckles just spazzes out before falling to the ground.
The Zone has no end-sign - it's just simply a flat section and then a wall. On the other side is a small piece of land, and then blank void.
The boss is not implemented.
Marina Madness is unplayable, and gameplay crashes upon touching the ground.
Marina Madness' Act 4 boat doesn't move, nor does Act 5's.
Collision in Marina Madness is sorta screwed when dealing with the boats that bob up and down. The non-bobbing boats don't seem to glitch out, however.
The clouds and some other background details don't appear until after the title card has cleared.
The invincibility stars are very different - there's less of them (only two at a time, it seems), and they're small, gold, five-pointed stars. The stars also only surround the first player, unlike in the final when both players are surrounded. Also of note is that icons for your current powerup don't display at the bottom of the screen yet as in the final. Finally, in the final, this area contains a Speed Shoes in addition to the Invincibility.
The boss is fully implemented.
The background deformation is entirely different from the final and also incomplete.
A portrait graphic for Isolated Island exists but is not used.
What's interesting is that this builds Amazing Arena actually has a light switch at least on the first level, near the first clock (just hold when you start the level to hit it). The hologram Eggman is also functional and can hit you with his fists. The next build with a switch near that first clock is the Jan 19 build, and even then its hologram's fists don't cause damage and instead just flail around for humorous effect.
In Amazing Arena 5, the cutscene for the boss entrance is in and is fully functional. However, the boss itself never appears, leaving the level unbeatable.
The boss is not implemented.
The boss is fully implemented.
The boss of this level is implemented, but it completely stops music. This may have been caused by an emulation error, although sounds are perfectly played during the boss.