Adventures with Chaotix

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. Woah! I adore Chaotix, with it being 1 of 3 32X games I own, and I have never ever seen that Missile Launcher Badnik. Excellent find as usual Black Squirrel!
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Went on a depleted ring hunt. It turns out Chaotix didn't finish quite a few of its enemies:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    All of these just explode. That might be expected behaviour of the weird Isolated Island badnik, but it's not a good showing for Botanic Base, and Motorspike is the most common enemy in Amazing Arena. These represent about a quarter of the different types of badniks in game.

    So the wiki is wrong here, but we're even more wrong with Spiketower:

    [​IMG]

    This badnik is invincible. I'm not sure if it's meant to be, but it is.
     
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  3. Blastfrog

    Blastfrog

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    I swear, for every question answered, a dozen more are raised. Why would they call it a secret bonus when it's actually based around how many active powerups there are? There are plenty of powerups out in the open, not exactly "secret". Strange.

    I figured as much, but this game is no stranger to strange decisions and haphazard solutions. It would've been unlikely though, I admit.
     
  4. Robjoe

    Robjoe

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    I can't believe how I've taken this game's obviously-incomplete badniks for granted. Especially that Techno Tower guy - I'd always assumed he'd rev up and charge at you if you stop and let him, but no, he just spins his wheels like a moron. Hilarious.

    Anyway! At this point I think I'll just sift through all the art indexes in the game, because I've found a few more sprites I don't think I've ever seen mentioned anywhere. 0x1659B0 is an index containing all of Amazing Arena's scenery and other such objects, like its crumbling platforms (or exploding platforms in this game), buttons for the clocks, etc. And it's got several unused bits!

    AAZ-ElectroPlatform.png
    AAZ-ElectroPlatform_Ani.gif

    An electrified platform of some sort. No idea if they were going to be part of some machine, or just stand on their own. They likely wouldn't have worked before you turn the power on, but I included animations of the two unlit palettes anyway because they still look fine, and we can't know for sure without seeing them functional.

    AAZ_TubeEndHorizontal-Morning.png AAZ-TubeEndHorizontal.png

    A horizontal ending for the tubes that suck you in. All the ones in the level always bend and deposit you downward, which is a shame, because these look a bit more detailed and interesting than those. These would also likely give you some horizontal momentum, so they wouldn't feel like a totally pointless time-waster sequence.

    AAZ-SunMoon.png

    A little block with a sun and moon on it. Perhaps in addition to the clocks, they wanted some sort of sundial object to show the passage of time? Perhaps, even, this was supposed to be the object that advances time, but being in a hurry, they just reused the clock for that function. Interesting.

    AAZ-Clouds.png AAZ_Stars.png

    Clouds, in addition to a layer of stars for nighttime! There does appear to be a window in the background, so perhaps they were planning to let you actually get a glimpse of the outside. There are also multiple patterns of single-color little dots, perhaps for flickering stars. Didn't rip these because they're not much to look at, and I wasn't sure what precise color they're supposed to use anyway.

    I believe the window in question is using the palette's transparent color, so perhaps they would've looked roughly like this?

    AAZBGWindowClouds.png

    Also, a small observation on the level's palette. This is technically already documented on the wiki in the form of the hacking information page's palette pointer table, but levels 1 and 2 have two different unlit palettes, a brighter one for Morning and Day, and a darker one for Sunset and Night, seen in those sprite sheets up there. The later levels access different unlit palettes however, and whoever did them didn't make darker versions for the later times of day! A very minor detail that probably no one notices, but it's always kind of irked me, as you can clearly see that there's supposed to be a bit of sunlight coming in, likely through the aforementioned incomplete windows in the background.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
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  5. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Yes I spent a while looking for some of those a few days ago. Because there's an oddity to Amazing Arena's background:

    [​IMG]

    There are these black rectangular holes which look as if they should have something in them. It would ruin the level design if they were, but we have tiles doing double duty as both platforms and parts of the background, and that seems... odd.
     
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  6. Azookara

    Azookara

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    Man, Amazing Arena is an eyesore.

    Every other stage is gorgeous in some way or another, but AA is not only garish and hard to tell the foreground from the background, but it has like three different aesthetics going on at once (part theater, part clock covered clownland, part Eggman-ish base?). I would've cut it out of the game if I didn't know they were already a bit lacking in the zone department, lol.
     
  7. Pobert-Eii

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    Holy jesus.

    When I went into this thread, I was usually just expecting a ton of the "usual", unused sprites, maybe a lost sound effect, the kinds of things when I was in the Sonic 1 prototype hype back in January.
    Now, after reading it all? WHAT. THE. FUCK. This isn't just an adventure with Chaotix, this is a full on digital archeological expedition.
    I knew that Chaotix had a few screws loose when I played it some times during 2019. That much I can agree with.

    But this thread... This is truly some arcane knowledge being known. Not only are there new discoveries in just the game itself, incredible information, and tons of work being done to document these prototypes, but this is bordering to the point of becoming something even bigger. I can imagine that a few years from now, following arduous work the 32X will get proper emulation support a la BlastEm's emulation of Overdrive 2 along with usage in the demoscene as a crude platform, and the seeds can be traced all the way back to a thread in Sonic Retro during a pandemic, solving a mystery of one of Sonic's strangest games.

    What a absolute ride. Keep up the good work tomorrow, guys! Godspeed.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Ammendment to the unused Speed Slider badnik in 0119. I said it was surrounded by springs, and it is... sometimes.

    [​IMG]

    But one I hadn't spotted in level 5 loads different (incorrect) objects. I guess it's based on whatever is in memory, to the point where it'll even take objects intended for other stages. Wander off screen and then come back, and it might have different objects surrounding it (like this fully functional swap monitor!)

    Amazing Arena curiosity #43284932

    [​IMG]

    Because the level designers weren't particularly imaginative, every level in Amazing Arena has a horizontal tube at the top of the stage. Enter from the left, be pushed right and fall out of the bottom. There are walls stopping you from getting on top of the tube, so the area above is inaccessible through normal play.

    [​IMG]

    And yet, until the 0202 build, they put badniks up there anyway. It's a purely aesthetic thing - each of the five levels have some, but they can't hit you, and you can't hit them (unless you cheat your way up there). And given badniks weren't introduced in this stage until 1227, they're not leftovers from previous map designs.

    Later builds trim the edges off Chaotix for the sake of performance, and I'm guessing "badniks you couldn't kill" fell into that category, but who knows. Sonic 1 has a couple of enemies placed out of bounds but I can't think of any enemies in the Mega Drive titles that were just placed to make the level look more interesting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2021
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  9. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    So here's a thing:
    [​IMG]

    Techno Tower at night uses similar graphics. As in, really similar.

    But not identical. The "big" cloud has a few pixels difference here and there. It's almost as if it were a lazy copy-paste job (surely not!).
     
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  10. rata

    rata

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    Oh God, the fucking Lock on! missiles... worse part is no matter how far you go, they never lose you. And I never actually saw the badnik itself, so the motherfucker just kept me shooting. That's what you have a teammate for, to use as shield for that little bastard.
     
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  11. z.man II

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    The clouds in Techno Tower are directly based off of those from Sonic 1's special stage. I guess they couldn't be bothered to come up with yet another unique cloud design.
     
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  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Oh, Sega Retro was turned on:

    Chaotix/Magazine articles

    Went digging during the break, and while I wasn't able to come back with much new information, you can roughly work out which build made it to Winter CES 1995.

    My current favourite is EGM:
    https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:EGM_US_068.pdf&page=120
    Because it takes a special kind of magazine to print an image of Amazing Arena where the lifts have palette errors, they're playing as Bomb and... the Mega Drive side has crapped out and all it's rendering is blue. You couldn't make it up.
     
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  13. Asagoth

    Asagoth

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    wiki stuff... and a beer... or two... or more...
    Good news :) ... I was about to hang myself ... and you all out there having fun, you selfish people (I'm just kidding :)...)
     
  14. Robjoe

    Robjoe

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    There are a lot of questionable shots of Chaotix in magazines, like pressing the "call" button and pausing when the partner character's pixelated sprite covers the whole screen (were the writers that excited about sprite scaling, or what?), but wow, that one might be a hall of famer. Perhaps whoever was playing it thought it was funny that the game glitched/crashed and took a shot to share around the office, which then got mixed in with everything given to the person building the pages, who just haphazardly shoved it on there without thinking or caring. The mind boggles.

    Now then, I had a bit more time to go through the 32X art this evening and found something very peculiar. The index at 0x2071D8 is filled with all these sprites, and nothing else:

    UnknownEnemy.png

    I want to say he's a new unused enemy, and he's certainly not listed among the enemies on the wiki, but I could swear I've seen this guy somewhere before. The wind-up key makes me think of Amazing Arena, but I can't seem to fit him to any of its palettes. His main body and wind-up key come in four rotational varieties, and he also seems to have a sprite for a big ring with an odd checkerboard pattern, as well as a sprite that looks something like a shine. Does anyone recognize this dude?

    Being that I don't know where he's from, this is most likely not his intended palette, but was the only serviceable one that I could find to show him off with. And going through palettes is unfortunately not easy with the art viewer, as I've learned that despite claiming to support all levels at all times of day, many of them are inaccurate. Lots of things seem to load up Amazing Arena's unlit palette, many levels' are completely inaccessible (such as Marina Madness), and the times of day are often scrambled. I've managed to work around this for now by making savestates, ripping the 32X CRAM out of them, and stuffing it in empty space in the Chaotix ROM, but this is obviously a cumbersome workaround. In the sheet up above, he's using what the program claims to be Botanic Base 5 in the daytime, base color 95 (which does not match the Botanic Base enemies, so who knows what it really is).

    Also, in less interesting news, unused rotational sprites for Speed Slider's Gotcha and Marina Madness' Poptank:

    SSZ-Gotcha_Rotations.png MMZ-Poptank_Rotations.png

    In Gotcha's case, he's supposed to have three frames to show his legs spinning, but these rotations don't. Perhaps instead of sitting straight above you no matter how faster you're moving, he was supposed to fall further and further off to the side as you speed up, tilting toward you like he's having a hard time keeping up?

    Poptank's are mildly interesting as well, as he has two slanted variations, neither of them being a standard 45-degree angle. The less-steep one is an almost-match for the more gentle inclines in the level, but the steeper one wouldn't fit anywhere that I can see. Marina Madness doesn't have hills that are that sharp.
     
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  15. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Those Gotcha sprites are used - you need to be "captured" then go up a quarter pipe:
    [​IMG]
    It's not elegant.

    Only from this sheet.

    My gut feeling was Techno Tower rather than Amazing Arena because it looked... lawnmower-esque. But maybe the colour scheme fits better with Botanic Base.

    I bet there's a fully coded object in one of these prototypes that makes use of these graphics.
     
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  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Botanic Base levels 3, 4 and 5 have indoor corridor things. They're not used very effectively - it's just empty space with a few monitors, but makes for a change of scenery. There are two indoor corridors per map, but...

    [​IMG]

    As far as I can tell, this one in Botanic Base 3 is completely inaccessible through normal play.

    https://info.sonicretro.org/File:BBZ3Map.png

    [​IMG]
    It still has door objects though. The game will happily let you run through the empty corridor to one of two empty rooms. It's neither accessible nor used for anything in any of our prototypes - it's just wasted space.
     
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  17. GerbilSoft

    GerbilSoft

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    https://plutiedev.com/controllers#6-button

    Compare the Mode/X/Y/Z bit positions in the 7th cycle to the UDLR bit positions in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th cycles. They match exactly.
     
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  18. BSonirachi

    BSonirachi

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    It has been known for the longest time that the "World 1" level in Sonic Crackers loops back to the beginning when you reach the end of it. Just like in other Sonic games like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the level's loopback is shifted one chunk higher than normal. If you go to the bottom of the level upon reaching the loopback, you'll find garbage data being interpreted as level chunks that line the bottom. The interesting thing about this is that some of the chunks found in this garbage data are some of the unused ones! While unused in the level itself, they appear here!

    upload_2021-2-19_19-12-25.png

    I have found chunks 38, 39, 3A, 3C, 3D, 3F, 42, 43 and 63 in this garbage data. Chunk 63 (the left quarterpipe that Sonic and Tails are standing on in the screenshot above) is the most commonly occuring unused chunk as it seems to appear every two chunks down there.

    On top of this, while the wiki states that the level loops indefinitely, it's only a half-truth. Once you reach the end of the second lap through the level, you'll come across what appears to be the end of the level boundary:

    upload_2021-2-19_19-20-30.png

    However, things start getting screwy if you go off the right edge of the screen. The camera suddenly wraps around to the very beginning of the level, but Sonic and Tails will continue to interact with a third lap of the level, except it's invisible, and so are they, with only the Combi-ring band being visible. In this third lap, the camera will only scroll vertically, leading to the band wrapping around the screen constantly. In conclusion, the level does loop indefinitely, except that things break after the second loop.

    upload_2021-2-19_19-25-11.png
     
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  19. Quickman

    Quickman

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    Some crosscultural interaction may help here - what the Sonic community (I assume following Orkal's Sonic 3 Glitches and Oversights videos) calls "loopback" and "sewers" are what the Pokemon community (as in this video by TheZZAZZGlitch, for example) calls "phantom towns" and "glitch city", and they're just consequences of scrolling out of bounds on a 2D map being drawn line by line. The "garbage data" at the bottom of the screen is unrelated data being read as level layout information, so don't read too much into it.

    It's not particularly surprising given Sonic Crackers' status as some sort of tech demo, but World 1's level layout dimensions differ from its camera bounds. When you cross the rightmost camera boundary the world position of the Sonic and Tails objects doesn't wrap around, but the position of the camera and the chain between the two rings does.
     
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  20. evilhamwizard

    evilhamwizard

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    Small bump but just wanted to let you guys know that a new open source multi-system emulator called ares recently added support for 32x emulation. The emulator is from the same developer as bsnes/higan so the emulator is aiming for accuracy.

    https://ares.dev/

    Reason why I bring this up is that we now officially have another emulator that isn't Kega Fusion that can actually play the problematic Chaotix prototypes as of v119r2. There might be some bugs still, but you can at least play them. As a bonus, the emulator has a memory viewer so you can finally tinker around with RAM.

    [​IMG]

    The emulator, like bsnes, requires a pretty beefy computer. 32x is one of the most resource intensive systems at the moment, but I was able to run it comfortably with a 2500k as long as I wasn't doing anything else. There might be something wrong with the PWM channel emulation as I wasn't able to get that to work for me.
     
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