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Video Game / Knuckles' Chaotix

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Featuring Knuckles the Echidna.
Welcome to the next level
in 32X world.

Knuckles' Chaotix (called just Chaotix in Japanese and the title screen) is a Gaiden Game in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise released for the Sega 32X in 1995. It's the only Sonic game to appear on that system. Though mostly forgotten, the soundtrack has endured even amongst non-fans of the series, most notably the "Door Into Summer" track. If you're a connoisseur of retro game OSTs, you've probably been linked to that theme at least once. Sonic Generations uses a rearrangement of the song for one of its menus.

There are two completely different storylines depending on the instruction manual.

In English: Knuckles is enlisted as a bouncer at Carnival Island, a high-tech amusement park and resort. Dr. Robotnik has designs on the island's Emerald Pillar, which houses the Power Emerald which supplies the island's power. Robotnik has trapped four of Knuckles' friends in the Combi Confiner, so it's up to Knuckles to rescue them (using the real ring power of teamwork!) and kick out Robotnik before the grand opening.

In Japanese: Dr. Eggman discovers a mysterious island containing artifacts known as Chaos Rings, regular rings infused with Chaos Emerald energy. He's built his base, dubbed the Newtrogic High Zone, on the island. Mighty the Armadillonote , Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee, and Vector the Crocodile all arrive at around the same time for their own reasons, but are captured by Eggman and placed in his "Combi Catcher" machine to prevent them from meddling in his plans. Knuckles, curious about the island, ventures there to find out more about the Chaos Rings and their connection to the Floating Island.

The player controls two characters who are joined together by an elastic ring, with the 'cord' shown as a trail of sparkles. Before each stage, you use the Combi Catcher to randomly select your partner, then select a stage (also at random; how fast the stage select indicator moves depends on what day cycle you're currently on). Knuckles and co. plod through the game in the usual Sonic fashion: Beat Eggman's robots and reach the end of the stage. Cooperation is required to make it through the game, as you have to make use of the properties of the rings you and your partner hold in order to zoom and slingshot your way around obstacles. Eggman is fought numerous times in the game, and his Sonic CD henchman Metal Sonic (known as Metal Sonic Kai in the Japanese manual) shows up in the finale to put an end to your heroic career.

Tropes used in Knuckles' Chaotix:

  • 1-Up: One of the very rare instances in the series which a Sonic game does not use 1-ups or continues. If your character gets hit without a partner, you'll just get sent back to the hub level.
  • Advertised Extra: Metal Sonic appears alongside the main cast on the European boxart despite not being a playable character.
  • All There in the Manual: The Japanese and Western storylines neither of which really have much to do with the game itselfnote , and the names of some enemies. The 2021 Sonic the Hedgehog Encyclo-speed-ia names more enemies that the manual missed.
  • Alliterative Name: The levels: Isolated Island, Botanic Base, Speed Slider, Amazing Arena, Marina Madness and Techno Tower.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The manuals question whether Joke Characters Heavy and Bomb really are minions who defected to help the heroes and are just bad at it, or are actually The Mole sent by Eggman to intentionally slow them down.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The entire game except for the Isolated Island levels is set on one.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If your partner gets stuck, you can use the "Call" button to summon him back to you, at the price of ten rings. Curiously, the game allows you to even go into negative rings if you abuse this (but sends you back to the hub if you reach -99 rings). Amusingly, the game will actually subtract points from your score if you clear a level with negative rings.
    • If your partner gets hit by an enemy and you have rings, he'll only lose one ring so that you don't unfairly lose all of your rings. Your partner also doubles as an extra hit point, since getting hit will just cause you to lose him for a few seconds and then return.
    • The Combine Ring monitor allows all of your rings to be combined into one ring that falls out if you get hit, and you have a few seconds to grab it and get all of your rings back.
  • Artificial Stupidity: One of the biggest sources of difficulty, besides the unrefined nature of the teamwork mechanic, is that your partners are so dumb, that they'll more often than not get you stuck or weigh you down instead of helping you. The dev team probably anticipated this and added the "Call" button (which summons your partner back to you at the cost of 10 rings) to the game as a result.
  • Background Boss: The second phase of the final boss.
  • Bottomless Pits: Averted during the normal stages. Since there are almost always two characters on the field at one time, stages are deliberately designed to keep this from happening. The Special Stages, however, are prone to this.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Partners can be used for this purpose, as they only lose one ring when hit instead of all of them (unless your partner is Bomb, who explodes when hit, hurting you if you're within its blast radius). Your partner also doubles as an extra hit point, since getting hit will just cause you to lose him for a few seconds and then return.
  • Canon Immigrant: Vector was supposed to have first appeared in the Sound Test from Sonic The Hedgehog, as part of Sonic's band. While the idea was discarded, he got to make a cameo in the very first Sonic manga in 1991. As for Charmy Bee, he first appeared in another Sonic manga at around 1992.
  • Cap:
    • The game has a cap of 255 rings instead of 999. Any rings collected afterwards are turned into points.
    • There is a cap the other way as well. Calling your partner too much can give you negative rings, and the lower cap for this is -99 rings. Anything below that and you are sent back to the attractions screen.
    • Also, you can only take 200 rings into a Special Stage. Anything above that is simply lost. Likely because rings are used as the timer for the special stages, and being able to take more than 200 in would make them too easy.
  • Circus of Fear: The "Speed Slider" level. It's more like a cheery roller coaster, but Creepy Circus Music plays during the merry-go-round boss battle.
  • Color Contrast: Avoided; the game really tried hard to show off the 32,000+ colors of the 32x, and the result is a garish game with all the colors of the rainbow spread out and cranked up to neon brightness, although it does fit in with the carnival theme.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The game received loose adaptations in both the Archie comic (as a 48-page special) and Sonic the Comic (as a six-part serial). The characters became regulars for a long while, by contrast to the many years before their next appearance in the games.
  • Continuity Nod: The Japanese manual makes direct mention of the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, revealing that the landmass that would become Newtrogic High Zone was unearthed due to the power of the Master Emerald's "pillar". The game's emphasis on rings is also a nod to the S3&K manuals implication that the ancient civilization and the Chaos Emeralds were connected to the rings note  which would get dropped when Sonic Adventure released.
  • Credits Medley: The only non-mainline Sonic game with one.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The boss theme for Speed Slider Zone has a whimsical but demented-sounding calliope song, accompanying a merry-go-round with spiked "horses" and Eggman at the controls.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Each zone has 5 acts instead of the usual 2 or 3 and they're rather lacking in setpieces, interesting gadgets, and hazards to play around with, so it often becomes clear each zone follows a rigid and rather repetitive level design template.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not as a whole, but the final boss has a far more threatening character design than you would expect in a classic Sonic game. And if you fail to collect all the Chaos Rings, the Bad Ending shows him floating above a city in flames, implying he just burned the whole place down.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The sole time Knuckles has ever been given solo billing in a game title. The Japanese title (also shown in-game on the title screen) doesn't even give him that; it's Chaotix featuring Knuckles the Echidna. This was only done to prevent tainting the Sonic brand name on a platform that wasn't given high hopes internally (also the reason Mighty simply co-opts Sonic's moves; he is a redrawn Sonic sprite).
  • Bombardier Mook: Bombbearers make their debut in this game, where they only drop their containers containing bombs if Knuckles and his friends kill them.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In the off chance that you get hit without having rings or a partner handy, the only penalty is just getting sent back to the level select. There's no lives system, so there's no Game Over at all.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sonic himself does not appear at all in the main game, being replaced by Mighty; he and Tails only get a cameo in the game's good ending. According to a former Sega staffer, Sega of Japan felt the 32X and the game would be a flop, and were afraid that having Sonic as the game's star would hurt the series' brand image, so they made Knuckles the main character instead of cancelling the game altogether.
  • Downer Ending: The game's "Bad Ending" is perhaps one of the darkest moments in the series. The powered-up Metal Sonic survives and proceeds to set the island ablaze, presumably with everyone on it.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Despite being renamed Carnival Island in the US and the plot being centered on rescuing it on the day before opening day, the hub and introduction to each level still refers to the world as Newtrogic High Zone, and the day and night cycle changes go on for as long as you play and no time limit is imposed on the player to beat the game. In addition, the whole deal with Knuckles being the guardian of Carnival Island contradicts his role as the guardian of Floating/Angel Island in the other games. The Chaos Rings are also unexplained in the Western story. Lastly, Knuckles' bio in the US manual mentions the "Emerald Pillar" from the Japanese manual's storyline.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In this game, Vector, Espio, and Charmy weren't part of a detective team and are described as having different personalities than how they're reimagined as of Sonic Heroes; Espio lacks his ninja aesthetic, Vector is apparently religious, and Charmy is described as mature and moody. "Chaotix" doesn't refer to them specifically, but is instead a Pun-Based Title for the game as a whole.
  • Easter Egg: Amy in the Sound Test menu.
  • Eternal Engine: The "Techno Tower" level.
  • Excuse Plot: While there are large discrepancies between the English and Japanese plots, they're both centered on the same problem — the Doctor is invading the island using Ring Power for an evil purpose, and it's up to Knuckles and company to stop him!
  • Flight: Charmy can't Spin Dash or jump, but he can fly around without limits (unlike Tails in other games, who has to rest after flying for a short time).
  • Fake Difficulty: Between the wonkiness of the teamwork mechanic and the braindead A.I. of your partners, trying to keep control of your characters is one of the few challenges the game offers.
  • Game Mod: A romhack exists that replaces Mighty the Armadillo with Sonic.
  • Gimmick Level: The game is rather lacking in gimmicks to give each stage their own identity, but Amazing Arena is a fairly interesting one. It begins with the lights turned off, creepy music playing, and a radar pointing out the location of a clock. If you go out of your way to avoid the clock and then clear the level, it counts as a failure. This zone also contains a mini-boss fight at a certain path of each act.
  • Golden Ending: Accessible only if you've collected all of the Chaos Rings. However, it's also a case of A Winner Is You since it's just the title screen with Sonic and Tails added.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Isolated Island stages, which are played through before reaching the Newtrogic High Zone for the first time. Oddly for a Sonic game, they are devoid of enemies.
  • Hub Level: The Newtrogic High Zone where each character appears after exiting a stage. The next stage played is selected off of a roulette style game.
  • Idle Animation: Every character has one...and if you leave them idle for a minute, Metal Sonic shows up and shoots at you.
  • Insistent Terminology: The game's levels are referred to as "Attractions" as opposed to "Zones".
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game has a Day and Night system that changes as you enter and leave each level. This mechanic does affect certain properties of the levels, such as doors changing position or getting locked, bosses changing attack patterns, and the mini-boss on Amazing Arena being able to take more or less hits.
  • Joke Character: Heavy and Bomb. Heavy is extremely slow and heavy, and Bomb will blow up on the player if he takes a hit.
  • Jungle Japes: Botanic Base, which is also the most natural setting in the game.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Upon taking a hit at zero rings, you will first lose your partner for a while instead of dying.
  • Lazy Artist: Mighty's jumping animation in special stages reuse Sonic's animations from Sonic CD. Because of this, some frames of the animation makes it look like Mighty has quills.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Heavy is completely indestructible. In fact, he can open monitors and destroy enemies just by walking into them. You could pretty much pick him up and run around with reckless abandon while holding him in front of you, barely suffering any damage. Taken into better effect if you break a monitor that's showing him, or — more permanently — select him as your player character through the debug menu.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The ending scene music, Tribute. The scene it plays along (which just shows how many Chaos Rings you have) runs no longer than fifteen seconds at best, but the track is a minute long. Really a shame, too, as it's a very nice track and would have been very appropriate... had there been an actual ending...
  • Market-Based Title: The game was simply titled Chaotix in Japanese. The localizations added Knuckles to the title but left the title screen untouched.
  • Mighty Glacier: Heavy is incredibly slow, but he's invincible, and can destroy monitors and enemies just by walking into them.
  • Missile Lock-On: One of the Badniks in the game, Blitz, appears in Techno Tower and will, appropriately, fire 6 bursts of homing missiles at Knuckles, Vector, Charmy, Espio, and Mighty when they're in range, even going through solid walls.
  • Missing Secret: The screenshot shown in the manual depicting the island as a peaceful paradise is nowhere to be found in the game.
  • The Mole: Heavy and Bomb are implied to be Robotnik's spies, intentionally being hard to use to slow down the Chaotix (albeit only in the English manual).
  • Nerf: The Spin Dash move is available for everyone except Charmy, Heavy, and Bomb, but it's heavily watered down to encourage the player to use the teamwork mechanic to gain speed.
  • Noob Cave: The "Isolated Island" level. There are no enemies or traps, and it's basically you and your partner running wild until you reach the goal.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Despite what their later appearances would lead you to believe, the title of Chaotix is a Pun-Based Title and does not refer to Vector, Espio, and Charmy as a team like in later games. They all have their own separate agendas in this game and are only banding together to fight off Robotnik.
    • "Mighty" the Armadillo focuses more on speed and agility than any strength-based abilities. This, however, is due to the fact that his sprite is simply a redrawn version of the Sonic sprite used in a prototype for this project codenamed "Sonic Crackers". His name would be done more justice for his next appearance in Sonic Mania Plus.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: The playable characters do not die in any sense when you're hit with no rings and no partner. You just lose control as they're warped back to the main hub.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Another Sonic tradition is turned on its head in this game. Besides the abundance of shields and rings, your own partner counts as an extra hit point for you if you get hit and neither of them have rings. Your partner will take the fall for you (literally, they fall off screen), but will quickly return to you in several seconds.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final boss is a gigantic snarling red demonic version of Metal Sonic, officially named "Metal Sonic Kai".
  • Player Nudge: Even if you skip the tutorial stage, in order to encourage players to learn about the benefits of the teamwork mechanic (such as the slingshot boosting, which is crucial since the Spin Dash has been severely nerfed here), Isolated Island forces the player to solve a few switch puzzles that involve planting Espio in place while Knuckles reaches another; pressing both switches and then letting Espio go will immediately snap both characters ahead quickly.
  • Poison Mushroom: The Shrink monitor, which makes its user very tiny and heavily impedes their jump.
  • Power Up Letdown: The Grow monitor. While it lets you jump higher, it makes you a very easy target for enemies and the cramped level design can make it harder to move around with it.
  • Press X to Die: There is a ring drain effect for calling your partner. Doing this at -99 rings will trigger the "death" state and quit the level.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • The second part of the title is meant to be a play on the word "Chaotics", hence why it's possessively called Knuckles' Chaotix — it's referring to the frantic escapades of Knuckles and the gang, not the Chaotix as a team like they became years later. The X is also a play on the fact that it's released on the 32X.
    • The game's earliest known prototype is called Sonic Crackers. It's likely a "R" and "L" mixup, as the clacker toy fits the game's main mechanic neatly. The internal data also identifies the game as Sonic Studium, likely intended to be Sonic Stadium.
  • Retcon: The Metal Sonic in this game was originally supposed to be a rebuilt model named Metal Sonic Kai (kai means "altered" or "modified" in this context), due to the previous Metal Sonic's destruction in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Once Sonic Team decided to consolidate all appearances of Metal Sonic as the same character, Metal Sonic Kai was retconned into just Metal Sonic, with the name instead going to his monstrous red form at the end of the game.
  • Scenery Porn: Fittingly enough for a game that takes place in a big amusement park, it has easily the most colorful levels in the classic games, if not the franchise as a whole.
  • Scoring Points: While the game doesn't provide a high score table, it has incentives towards score runs. Collecting rings while already having 255 awards the player with bonus points, as does beating the wireframe versions of the special stages after earning all the Chaos Rings.
  • Sound Test: A notably extensive one is accessible right from the options menu, with official titles for all of the songs, a sound visualizer (which can be replaced with an Easter Egg cameo from Amy), and a keyboard roll for each sound channel as the music plays. You can even adjust the speed at which the music plays. Like other aspects of the game, it's likely meant to showcase the 32X's expanded capabilities compared to the base Genesis.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: If you fail to collect all the Chaos Rings before defeating the Final Boss, then you'll be treated to the big demonic version of Metal Sonic hovering over a city wreathed in fire while creepy techno music plays. It comes out of nowhere and makes a stark contrast with the game's fun carnival theme.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment:
    • The above-mentioned Sudden Downer Ending is darker than anything else in the game, or anything in a Sonic game for that matter, since it ends with the implication of a genocide of apocalyptic proportions if not The End of the World as We Know It.
    • The final boss himself, having the most threatening character design seen in a classic Sonic game.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • The Chaos Rings are a stand-in for the Chaos Emeralds in the Special Stages, and while they don't grant super forms, they serve a similar purpose — allowing you to see the best ending. The Japanese manual even mentions that the Chaos Rings got their power directly from the Chaos Emeralds' energy. The English manual also mentions a Power Emerald, but it never appears in-game.
    • Mighty is essentially a Head Swap of Sonic and plays similarly to him, even being the fastest character in the game. Which is unsurprising, given that early in development, Sonic was used in his stead. When the decision to remove him from the game was made, Sonic was re-skinned into Mighty.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • At Marina Madness, Robotnik has a crystal-shaped barrier surrounding his whole ship, but after a while he reduces it to orbiting shards instead.
    • Instead of personally fighting the heroes, Metal Sonic acts as a battery to the former level select machine that now deploys hazards on them. It just happens that one of the machine's functions is to self-destruct.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: The whole elastic-ring thing.
  • Tornado Move: Espio's equivalent to the Spin Attack, Axel Spin, lets him spin around like a tornado.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Needlenoses from Sonic CD can dive bomb the ground once again, but leave projectiles in their wake.
  • Underground Monkey: The game introduces the Catalurcher, an inchworm variant of the Caterkillers.
  • Video-Game Lives: The game has no lives system and no checkpoints. Getting hit at zero rings and with no partner will kick you back to the entrance level, but the chances of anything except a boss killing anyone are next to zero. The game is that easy.
  • Video Game Tutorial: The game's cord mechanics are fairly complex, so the game tries its best to show you the ropes. It begins with a short prologue that introduces the cord concept and then follows with a long tutorial where you must follow the CPU's instructions. Chances are you will skip it, though, so the game then sets you on a zone without any enemies or hazards. Furthermore, the game has a Training Mode with 5 more of the same Isolated Island tutorial levels.
  • Wall Jump: Mighty and Espio can cling to and jump off of walls.
  • A Winner Is You: If you collect all of the Chaos Rings, you avoid the bad ending... but instead get only a modified version of the title screen with Sonic and Tails added. At least Metal Sonic doesn't blow up the island.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The title Chaotix, an odd play on the word Chaotics and the fact that the game is a Sega 32X exclusive title. The name ended up becoming the name of the Chaotix team (featuring three of the characters in the game, Espio, Vector, and Charmy) in Sonic Heroes years later.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The Pata-Batas from Sonic the Hedgehog CD retain most of their design in the game, but have a gray bottom and 2 rotary engines, while being named Hoverby Mk II, despite sharing the same Japanese name. Sonic IDW would eventually retcon it to Hoverby, which could also apply to the Badnik as a whole.

Alternative Title(s): Chaotix