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Overview

 Left to right: Vector, Knuckles, Espio, Mighty, Charmy
Knuckles' Chaotix (known in Japan simply as Chaotix) is a side-scrolling action platformer developed and published by Sega for the Sega 32X on April 20, 1995. It is the only game from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise to be released on the short-lived add-on for the Sega Genesis, pushing the limits of the console while introducing new characters and gameplay mechanics.
 
Knuckles' Chaotix is the first game in the franchise to not feature either Sonic the Hedgehog or Miles "Tails" Prower as playable characters. Instead, player one can pick from five playable characters (including Knuckles the Echidna, who was previously playable in Sonic & Knuckles, and Mighty the Armadillo, who was previously playable in SegaSonic the Hedgehog) while player two (either human or computer-controlled) is chosen in a "crane game" fashion (including spots for the two "booby trap" characters).
 
The game introduces the Chaotix, a three-man dysfunctional team of animals who help Knuckles and Mighty save Carnival Island from the evil Dr. Robotnik (and his robot lackey, Metal Sonic). The game also introduces Heavy and Bomb, two of Dr. Robotnik's former 'badniks' who also assist the protagonists. Each character has their own unique traits and abilities:
 
  • Knuckles the Echidna - Like his appearance in Sonic & Knuckles, Knuckles has the ability to glide through the air (by holding down the Jump button) and freely climb walls.
  • Mighty the Armadillo - Mighty is the fastest character in the game and has the ability to wall jump (by tapping the Jump button at the wall, then tapping it again).
  • Espio the Chameleon - Espio can walk upright on walls and ceilings (by holding down the Jump button while approaching a wall) and can destroy most enemies by charging at them.
  • Charmy Bee - The shortest character of the group, Charmy is unable to attack enemies, but can fly indefinitely while being able to carry the other player with him (by holding down a direction and pressing the Jump button in mid-air).
  • Vector the Crocodile - The tallest character of the group, Vector can perform a dash attack (by pressing the Jump button in mid-air) and can climb up walls (like Knuckles, only it's required to hold down the Jump button).
  • Heavy - Although Heavy is invincible to all attacks (and can destroy enemies by colliding with them), he has low jumping ability and is extremely hard to pull around by other players.
  • Bomb - Although lightweight, Bomb explodes (and then regenerates) when it collides with an enemy, causing damage to all nearby objects (both enemies and the other player).

Gameplay

The 'Hold' mechanism

Whilst Knuckles Chaotix is similar to previous 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games in terms of working through a 2D platform level with elements of speed, collecting rings a long the way, Knuckles' Chaotix introduced a buddy system where two characters are connected at all times by a ring. This connection can be stretched like an elastic band, and so can be used to propel characters along the levels either horizontally or vertically, and is also used to open doors and complete some small puzzles when one character stands still and 'holds' the ring whilst the other character runs in a direction to stretch the link between them. This system is used for multiplayer cooperative play between two players that operate on the same screen, or can be controlled by the computer within single player.

Stages

Similar to how characters can be chosen using the 'Combi-Catcher' between stages, the stages themselves are also chosen at random using a similar device. There are up to five 'acts' and each are chosen randomly, rather than completed in turn, with a boss at the end of each stage. When a stage is complete, it cannot be selected anymore. The stages are:

Speed Slider
Botanic Base

A lush green area of the island within a greenhouse that holds beautiful plants and deadly badniks.

Speed Slider

Based on past Sonic levels such as Casino Night, Speed Slider is a speedy rollercoaster-based level with dips and slides and a merry-go-round, and a section within the middle of the stage that dips up and down.

Amazing Arena

At the start of this stage, the area is grey with full music. You must find the light switch to 'switch on' the stage into a colourful musical stage. This stage is maze-like with many different teleporters and platforms.

Marina Madness

A stage based on a cruise, the 'ship' moves up and down the stage, revealing different platforming areas.

Techno Tower

A futuristic tower, where you must climb all the way to the very top!

Bonus and Special Stage

The Special Stage

By finding large hidden rings, you can access the Bonus Stage if you have 20 rings. The bonus stage is a vertical free falling mini-game where you navigate past blocks to pick up power ups, extra rings, lives and other bonuses, such as the ability to move the 'Combi-Catcher' freely when selecting a character. You lose rings as you float down the bonus stage, which ends when you either touch a 'End' block or run out of rings.

The Special Stage is accessed by a large ring at the end of each stage act if you have 50 rings. Here, you move your character along a hexagon-shaped tube collecting blue spheres whilst avoiding pitfalls, spikebombs and other traps. Similar to the Bonus Stage, your rings are your timer and count down, ending the stage when you run out. By collecting all of the 'Chaos Rings', you can unlock a better ending.

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