From Sonic Retro
Knuckles' Chaotix, known simply as Chaotix (カオティクス) in Japan, is a "Sonic"-related game released for the Sega 32X in early 1995. It gives the newly introduced Knuckles the Echidna the starring role, alongside a new group of characters informally known as the "Chaotix", collectively stopping Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic from havesting the power of the Chaos Rings.
Chaotix had a troubled development history, beginning life as the infamous Sonic Crackers for the Sega Mega Drive before being housed on the 32X, an equally troubled piece of video game hardware. Neither Sonic the Hedgehog nor Miles "Tails" Prower appear in the game (bar an ending cameo), with their places filled by Mighty the Armadillo, Vector the Crocodile, Charmy Bee and Espio the Chameleon. Other characters include Bomb the Mechanic and Heavy the Mechanic which act as booby prize characters. There is strong evidence to suggest that both Sonic and Tails were playable at some point, however they were removed from the game for currently unknown reasons.
Knuckles' Chaotix is the only 32X outing for the Sonic universe (although Sonic X-treme was once tipped for a 32X release) and is widely considered to be a black sheep in the Sonic family. Many of its characters and concepts have not been seen in a Sonic game since, and the game has not been officially re-released since 1995.
According the game's Japanese manual, a mysterious island rose from the sea shortly after the events of Sonic & Knuckles. Doctor Eggman discovered the island, and found a mysterious ring inscribed with descriptions of the Chaos Rings, ancient Rings infused with Chaos Emerald energy. In order to find these Rings, Eggman built his base, the Newtrogic High Zone, on the island. Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee also arrived at the island, and ended up being captured by Eggman and Metal Sonic, and placed in Eggman's Combi Catcher machine. Knuckles, curious about the strange island, goes there as well, and manages to rescue Espio. The two then go on to stop Eggman from getting the Chaos Rings.
The story provided by the Western manual, however, is completely different. In it, Knuckles guards Carnival Island, a large hi-tech amusement park. Dr. Robotnik goes there to steal the power emerald that powers the whole island so he can use it to power his evil devices. Dr. Robotnik traps Vector the Crocodile, Charmy Bee, and Mighty the Armadillo, who were visiting the island, in the Combi Confiner (a machine Robotnik built that freezes them in time) and is about to do the same to Espio the Chameleon until Knuckles chases him away. Knuckles then discovers that he can rescue one friend at a time using ring power, which holds the two partners together like a rubber band. All the characters (plus Heavy the Robot and Bomb the Bomb) then work together to save Carnival Island from Robotnik.
The primary objective of the game remains unchanged from previous Sonic titles; the player must finish each level (called "attactions" in this game") in under ten minutes and defeat Dr. Eggman's badniks along the way. Rings still constitute the player's life energy and can be collected to enter special stages. Extra lives are unobtainable in the game (due to the fact that you don't really have "Lives" to begin with) — once the player is damaged when he has no rings and his partner is absent (if you have no rings, getting hit will temporarily cause you to lose your partner, but he will return eventually) or if you use 'recall' to reduce your ring counter to negative 99 rings or lower, you will automatically be taken back to the world lobby (or back to the title screen, if you are in Isolated Island) and be given a chance to leave/save or to choose a different partner and/or try to choose another attraction to play.
The main game is divided into five attractions, each one consisting of five different levels. The stages are set in different times of day (morning, day, evening, night), which is determined by how long you stay in the previous stage (if there was no change, then next time there will definitely be a change). The time of day effects enemy placements and boss difficulty. At the end of level 5, the player confronts Dr. Eggman in one of his contraptions.
The most fundamental change in Knuckles' Chaotix is the special ring force bond between characters. 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 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 (or the AI, if in single-player mode) 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 'recall' button to reunite (at a cost of ten rings, even going into a negative count if necessary).
Consequently, damage is a bit more complicated. If an AI character is hit, only one ring is lost; if a human player's character is hit, behavior depends on whether or not he has picked up a Combine Ring (blue ring monitor). If the player has a Combine Ring, the lost rings will come out as one big ring, giving him ten seconds to get that ring and reclaim all your rings before it breaks apart. If he doesn't have it, then he loses all his rings.
Due to the game's length, Chaotix was given a battery-backup save feature which allows the player to save their progress either manually (by going past the exit sign) or automatically (your progress is immediately saved after you beat an act/special stage).
On a side note, all of the badniks and almost all of the bosses in the game use gray, power sapped rings to function rather than animals. However, the rings cannot be collected like regular rings, as they dissolve not long after falling out of their badnik/boss machine. This concept was later used for Tails Adventure's and Sonic Advance 3's robots, but the rings appear to be fine when released and can be collected like any other ring.
Knuckles' Chaotix saw one of the most expansive item repertoires in Sonic history, as well as the most one-game items in the series' history.
The history of Knuckles' Chaotix stretches back to Sonic Crackers, in which it was Sonic and Tails connected together attempting to traverse through stages. Originally put forward as a proof of concept, Crackers was given the green light for a 32X release, being developed in conjunction with the system itself. It was not, however, released as a launch title, nor even mentioned in the gaming press until late 1994.
Sonic and Tails were both scrapped (although fragments of their data still exist), with Sonic becoming Mighty and Tails being removed from the game entirely (or rather, becoming the infamous "Wechnia", a glitch-ridden character not accessible through normal play). A number of prototypes have been released onto the internet, the earlier ones giving "Wechnia" a Tails-like flying move. Some (such as 1227) refer to the game as Knuckles' Ring Star. Evidence from these prototypes also suggest Espio was set to be seen as the main character in western regions.
Amy Rose was also discovered in the game's code by ICEknight, not as a playable character, but as part of a sound test cameo (later re-implemented by Esrael). There are also strong connections with Sonic the Hedgehog CD, with many of Chaotix's staff having worked on that game.
Due to the unpopularity of the 32X, Knuckles' Chaotix sold far fewer units in comparison to many of the Mega Drive Sonic games. The 32X hardware has also put it at a disadvantage when it comes to official emulation - it has yet to be brought to any newer systems and so has become one of the more obscure Sonic games.
With the exception of comics and nods to this game's existence, Mighty, Heavy and Bomb have not been seen in any Sonic game since. Espio was included in Sonic the Fighters, but Vector and Charmy were not seen in a video game until 2004's Sonic Heroes, where alongside Espio they formed Team Chaotix (and all three have had cameos since). The concept of a player controlling two characters was recycled for Sonic Advance 3, although the physics behind the ring connection has not been repeated.
Executive Producer: Mamoru Shigeta
Game Designer: Hiroshi Fukutsu (quest), Keisuke Miura, Kenichi Ono
Chief Graphic Designer: Takumi Miyake
Chief Programmer: Hiroshi Okamoto, Toshiaki Yajima
Sound Director: Tatsuya Kouzaki
Original Sound Version Recordings
See Knuckles' Chaotix OSV for a download page.