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Video game oddities #1 - Knuckles Chaotix

In the 1990s, it wasn't often that you saw a spinoff of a video game franchise. 1994 was when Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog was at his peak with the release of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but Sega had been planning an exclusive launch title for their Sega Genesis/Megadrive add-on, the 32X and released as Knuckles Chaotix. Does the game hold up, or is it better left alone? Let's take a look shall we, as I bring you my first volume in a new series I call....

Knuckles Chaotix, in my opinion is like the Super Mario Bros. 2 of the Sonic series. As you would probably guess by the title alone, the game focuses on Knuckles, but Sonic and Tails are nowhere to be found here. Rather, you join Knuckles and a cast of newly introduced characters, Espio the chameleon, Charmy the Bee, Vector the crocodile and a weird Sonic lookalike, Mighty the armadillo.

So what's the plot? Well in this bizarre area called Carnival Island, these six colored rings known as chaos rings have laid dormant there and Dr. Robotnik takes over the island to attempt to collect them all with the help of Metal Sonic, and following that is your first level, where the main gimmick of the game is introduced as you have one of Knuckles' buddies following you.

In an attempt at keeping your buddy with you at all times, there's this new mechanic where the two characters are holding rings and they stick together like glue no matter where you go, and this new feature alone is where the mixed reception kicks in from those who played it (such as myself). Like any Sonic game there are springs and platforms to jump to. The problem is that the physics when getting the two buddies to progress can be wonky at times, especially when going up slopes.

As for its second problem, the level designs just feel out of place for a Sonic related game, most notably the Amazing Arena zones which are like these labyrinth type designs and can take forever to finish if you don't know what you're doing, and if that isn't enough, each zone has five acts now, so if you thought Sonic 3 & Knuckles was a long game, this will take much longer to finish.

Door Into Summer is one of the positives I can give for this game as it's in my opinion, the best track in the game.

So how do the special stages work, you may ask? This time around Sega thought it would be a neat idea to show off what the 32X was capable of and designed them as hexagon-shaped tunnels that Knuckles has to run through while collecting blue spheres as you avoid running into pits, spikes, bumpers and saws while collecting rings in the process, as your ring count slowly counts down during your time in the special stage.

As for endgame, Robotnik actually has the last chaos ring and with it in his possession transforms Metal Sonic into Metal Sonic Mega, this giant red robot revealed to be the final boss. His first phase just requires attacking his two hands when he attempts to swat at you, and when they're both destroyed his second and last phase is a canon that shoots to the side, avoid its laser then attack and repeat 7 times, he's really not as challenging as he sounds, compare it to the extra Kaptain K. Rool battle from Donkey Kong Country 2 and the boss fight in that is much harder.

So, is Knuckles Chaotix still worth playing? well, I'd really only recommend if you seriously have some time you wanna kill, but like I mentioned before it pales in comparison to the freedom of movement you get from the usual Sonic games since the ring tethering gimmick can ruin the experience. The game hasn't seen a rerelease in any compilations, and judging by the mixed reviews it's gotten it's hard to say if we'll see it again in the future. Perhaps another reason why it it didn't do so well was because it was released on an add-on that was doomed to fail, as the 32X lasted a lot shorter than its previous add-on, the Sega CD.

If you've played the game yourself, what are your thoughts? and if you haven't, how does the game sound coming from how I described it? Let me know in the comments and as always, see you next article!
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Benjanime Posted on Jun 01, 2018 at 02:01 AM

Yeah he's pretty OP, I just wish selecting your teammate didn't have to be a matter of roulette.

WhiteDragonAura Posted on May 28, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Great article, brings back a lot of memories. I remember always choosing Charmy Bee as my main since the ring mechanic was a little easier to control with his dash ability. :)

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