Double Take: Knuckles Chaotix

Ahhhh, the fabled Knuckles Chaotix for the Genesis 32X, a gem of a game lost amidst a crappy era of crappy systems, never to be re-released (or at least, not yet). It’s ironic that the entire cast (save Knuckles) of the game is pretty obscure in the Sonic universe as well; it’s kind of fitting for the game today. I don’t remember how I found out about Knuckles Chaotix, but it was one of the reasons I bought a 32X. I then decided to purchase one from someone on the Digital Press forums along with seven other games for $35. Once I hooked up my 32X (what a mess of cables!), popped in that Knuckles Chaotix cart, I never looked back. Well, at least not back to Sonic & Knuckles.

I love everything about Knuckles Chaotix. It’s a great game, combining new gameplay, fantastic music, and the best graphics in a 2D Sonic game into one game, and it doesn’t even include Sonic! But there’s one thing that makes Knuckles Chaotix unique. It takes the core Sonic gameplay that we all know and love, and adds a big twist. You control your character through these wonderful landscapes of exotic colors and shapes and sizes all while you are connected to a partner in a sort of bungee-cord fashion.

Click to see some of the stages!

This gives the game more speed than the first four Sonic games combined; sometimes it feels as if each level goes as fast as Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic 2. You can have your partner pull the cord and let you go like a pinball launcher, or you can throw your partner and catapult his weight to send you flying. In each level, you go up, down, and all around, literally. And if that wasn’t enough to keep you hooked, each character is different, with their own speeds and super-power(s). You’ll never see Sonic go as fast in any of his games as Knuckles and his Chaotix go. It’s just amazing.

The whole environment of this game is very interesting as well, and really uses the 32X hardware as well. Levels look like candy at times, the use of so many different pastel colors and shades make you want to reach into the TV screen and take a bite. And what better to eat junk food than at a carnival – this game’s premise? Levels are chosen by roulette and partners chosen by that infernal claw machine (and it’s just as tough to grab something good as the real thing!). The game can get really random, and each time you play through it, things will be different. It’s ingenious!

Click to see some of the bosses!

One of my favorite parts of the game is the music. It’s just plain fantastic; there’s no other way to describe it. When I first heard that main menu music, I was instantly hooked. Each song describes its environment perfectly. A soft, calming tune as you go across ships docked in the marina or a fast-paced tune as you run through a speed-oriented carnival of lights and loops.

All in all, Knuckles Chaotix is a VERY good game, and one of my favorite 32X (and for that matter, Genesis) games. It holds my number 1 spot for all the 2D Sonic games, for me nothing can really compare to the game that is Knuckles Chaotix. Its experience is a unique one, and I doubt we shall ever see another game anything like it again.


Boss images 1 and 3 courtesy of Sonic Retro.

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