This is the Sonic the Hedgehog video game that wasn't a Sonic the Hedgehog video game. This is considered to be the best game for the Sega 32X console (and that ain't sayin' much!). The game starred Knuckles the Echidna and his friends Vector the Crocodile, Charmy Bee, Mighty the Armadillo, and Espy the Chameleon (but notice not Sonic the Hedgehog or Tails).

What made this game unique was that two characters (one of your choosing, one randomly chosen for you) were joined together by a tether-type system of rings. Essentially, you and your CPU-controlled partner (or Player 2) were stuck together. The object was to maneuver through levels to the goal marker while collecting rings and avoiding baddies. What makes the game so damn frustrating is this tether system. Quite frankly, it's impossible to get Knuckles and his friends to do what you want them to do. Because of the tether chances are your partner will go in a different direction than you want to, which drags you along for the ride. Characters can also get stuck on different platforms, making it near impossible to move because the tether is stretched to the limit. The tether can be charged up which allows both characters to run at a quick sprint of speed, but the CPU usually decides to go in some random direction, bringing the run to a halt. So much for that.

Each of the characters has a special skill. Knuckles has his wall-climb, Espy has a tornado jump, Vector can double jump, and Charmy can fly short distances. There's also two other characters you may see from time to time, Heavy and Bomb, who only seem to exist to slow you down and behave even more stubbornly than the other characters.

It must also be noted that the sprites in this game scale all over the place. At any given moment a character or boss will get really big or really small, looking horribly pixelated in the process. Imagine the bosses in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, only much less impressive and much more blocky and you'll know what I'm talking about. It's that bad. The special stages in the game look like a good idea gone bad. If you finish a level with at least 50 rings one of your two characters is sent to the bonus stage. It's in 3D and spins 360 degrees based on your movements. This means that at times the ceiling becomes and floor and vice-versa. The object is to collect rings and blue spheres before your rings run out. Collect enough spheres and earn one of the Chaos Rings. Collecting them all results in the best ending at the end of the game.

There are some parts of the game that are beautiful, strangely enough. The characters have some great animations to them and move in a much more fluid manner than Sonic and friends did on the Sega Genesis. The animations seem to be the thing Sega got right about this title.

In closing, I have to mention that it looks like Sega finally found something to do with the tether system from the Sonic Crackers beta that had been floating around Sega for several years before Chaotix appeared. Ironically enough, that beta demo actually plays better than this horrid finished product. Godspeed, Knuckles. Hopefully the next time we see you topline a game, it'll be one worthy of your talents.

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