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Adventures with Chaotix

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

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    [​IMG]

    This badnik appears in Amazing Arena. It has no name, and I don't think it even turns up in the first level. It wanders back and forth and is usually pretty dull.

    [​IMG]

    Yeah it's not so dull anymore.

    1227. Every Badnik I've seen in these early prototypes (although obviously I'll be searching for more now) just explodes (they wouldn't don't drop those dark rings yet). Not this one - this one releases Ricky. Ricky goes bouncing along left or right, not really paying attention to what's below him (unlike the Mega Drive games), and yeah. Guess the graphics aren't unused after all!

    This is easiest to see in Amazing Arena 2 - you just need to go right through the first wall.

    Ricky's fate is strange.

    [​IMG]

    In the 0111 prototype, Ricky has become a bouncing switch. Same behaviour, but wrong graphics.

    [​IMG]

    0119 has the correct dark ring, but this is the only enemy that releases one. This enemy was special enough to use as a guinea pig, but not special enough to actually be given a name in a manual. Maybe we should call it "Bianca".
     
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  2. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    I'll check if these prototypes work in OpenEmu later this week and see if I can scrape up any notable differences - and if I can get Wechnia working. I think OpenEmu's 32X core is from Genesis Plus GX.
     
  3. Overlord

    Overlord

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    >Bianca

    That's atrocious and you should be ashamed =P

    (Enjoying the thread!)
     
  4. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    In other "this isn't unused" news:

    [​IMG]

    We really don't like playing Chaotix. This pod is marked as being unused but... they're everywhere across the 1207, 1227, 1229 and 0111 prototypes. Thing is, they're used exclusively in Techno Tower levels 3 and 4, which I guess if you were having a quick glance for changes, aren't levels you'd typically visit (it's taken me 13 years!). And no they don't do much - get close and they open, and that's about it.

    (although it's embarrassing we missed this - there's an unavoidable one in Techno Tower 4 metres away from the starting point)


    I'm not really sure what the plan here was, but having become reacquainted with Chaotix in recent days, Techno Tower's levels strike me as the weirdest in the game. As it's very similar to the stages in Sonic Crackers, it's probably the oldest concept, but even there the design is about getting Sonic and Tails to ascend to the top of the level. Every signpost in Techno Tower is at the top of... the tower, and yet every level has a fairly elaborate basement section that doesn't seem to serve any purpose.

    In fact, you have to make a conscious effort in some cases to get yourself down there, so you can find the big machine that... reverses the direction of the conveyor platforms. The ones too weak to really affect progress (unlike say, Quartz Quadrant in Sonic CD (or Hidden Palace in Sonic Mania)). My guess is that once upon a time, much like Amazing Arena, you were meant to be doing more in Techno Tower than "go up", and perhaps these "pod" objects were envisioned as a form of transport, but it's really not clear.


    As to why these only appear in levels 3 and 4, I can't say, although Chaotix is a bit more clever than you might think. While to the untrained eye, every level of Techno Tower looks the same (and to be fair, broadly it is), there's been an effort to make each one distinct, both with the naturally changing time of day, but also subtly different artwork and slightly different selection of badniks. I don't think they went far enough because the vast majority of players won't notice, but it's plausible to me that they may have considered changing up the gameplay subtly too.
     
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  5. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Slight ammendment on this - "the only one in Amazing Arena".

    0119 introduces the "drop the depleted ring" behaviour, but doesn't apply it universally. Ringleader arrived in this build and has it, and others like Bombbearer have been updated, but some enemies like Motorspike are unchanged from 0111.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
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  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    While I can't rule it out, it's unlikely there are more animals hiding in obscure badniks during normal play. In the 1227 and 1229 builds where Ricky occurs, most of the badniks live in Amazing Arena and Marina Madness, and they're easily checked. Botanic Base and Techno Tower are missing some, and Speed Slider has no badniks at all, and while 0119 rectified most of it, as explained, the game was using depleted rings at this point. The only chance left are with enemies that may exist in code but not in levels, and I'm not planning on learning how to hack these prototypes wide open to find out/


    But for what it's worth, I did find a frightening creature:

    [​IMG]

    Speed Slider 4, 0119 build. This is a brand new (old) enemy that has never been documented before. It has three springs, left, right and on top, and while it starts off static, after a while it hovers a little bit off the ground and starts chasing you. It's similar to the Crawl enemy in Sonic 2, just bigger - you can beat it by either attacking diagonally or from underneath.

    It's clearly experimental, only appearing in this one build of the game. While its middle section has graphics (it looks at you!), the "springs" are being pulled from whatever graphics are in memory (including unused art!). The static screenshot doesn't do it justice - the graphics change a bit, but it's a bit difficult to test because the game can crash horribly if you collide with it in certain ways.

    There were adjustments to the level layout at some point, so the area above is smaller in the final game - too small to house this creature comfortably. It's not there in the next prototype we have, 0202, and it wasn't here in 0111, meaning it lived a short life in January 1995 before being axed. This actually pre-dates some of the enemies which did make it into the level, such as Dribbler which is also "bouncy".
     
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  7. kyasarintsu

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    I love this thread. This isn't exactly a game I care too much about but it's great to see someone with the initiative to dive into all this stuff when seemingly no one else would.
     
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  8. Interesting. I was looking into these protos recently myself but it looks like there's a good bit I missed. I'll still be doing my own checks, though.
     
  9. Dark Sonic

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    Wow I always knew Chaotix was a fever dream but damn. It REALLY was a fever dream. From conception to development just a very strange game lol
     
  10. Robjoe

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    Nice finds, again! Seeing the animal pop out of that camera badnik really blew me away: I thought for sure we'd never see a functional animal in Chaotix unless a later-developed Crackers build was unearthed, if they were ever functional at all. Looking at their sprites on the wiki, I wonder if the color palette had anything to do with their removal. Chaotix's global MARS palette used throughout the game is practically identical to Sonic and Tails' Crackers palette (though Tails has his own unique palette in 1207 regardless, oddly) which means there are only two shades of grey, which the chicken, rabbit, and seal depend on (I guess the penguin's shading was simple enough that he works fine with only two greys). Seems whoever adapted them decided that the blues and yellow/oranges were the best they could do, resulting in the animals all looking very same-y. Obviously the depleted rings fit in better with the game's theming (ring-band, Chaos Rings, etc.), but I do wonder if this had a hand in them trying something else....

    [EDIT: Just checked again, there is actually a third grey in Chaotix, it's just very dark. Still not a ton of color variety in the global palette, however.]

    Techno Tower's pod is something I noticed myself a while ago, and I think I had a similar idea that it would have been a transporter. But you make an interesting point about the level's concept perhaps being incomplete. I guess I take obscure, pointless diversions for granted in Chaotix, since its levels are so big and repetitive, but you're right that Techno Tower is probably the most bizarre. Hell, in Act 3, the first one to have a basement beneath the starting area, said basement is an absolute dead end. I guess it has rings and a bonus stage. And character swap and invincibility monitors that'll be almost entirely worn off by the time you backtrack and rejoin the actual level route. Might've made more sense with an important object hidden away down there.

    Also, an observation based on the short-lived Speed Slider enemy: Seeing that this guy was added and dropped in such a short span of time, along with many other enemies seemingly being added very quickly, I wonder if enemy concepts were drafted almost on-the-spot in the mad rush to get the game out the door in time. Might explain why so many enemies have no names or 3D models or anything to go with them. They were just random things added haphazardly to fill space in the broad, empty landscapes.

    ... And then while checking that bumper enemy out for myself, I ran into another seemingly-unknown object! Same build and level (0119, Speed Slider 4):

    FlyingCarpet1.png

    A flying carpet! Not solid at all on the sides, but you can jump on it. When both characters get on...

    FlyingCarpet2.png

    You're locked in place and can freely fly around with the D-pad. None of the buttons work while riding, either, but you're not quite trapped: When you touch a solid surface, the carpet suddenly vanishes and reappears at its spawn point. This particular one is at X05700 x Y00330 (in decimal because Chaotix's debug readout is dumb). Nothing earth-shattering, but it's kinda neat. A slightly odd choice for the theme of the level, but I guess it's not like there's an Arabian Nights level they could've used it in. I'll be checking for more, and seeing if it's in any other builds.

    EDIT: Checked the other Acts: There's one more in Act 5 in the very top-left corner of the layout, and none that I saw in the first three Acts. Also, it doesn't seem to be in the two neighboring builds at all. The Act 4 location in 0111 is empty and actually triggers the end-of-level screen lock, and in 0202 the layout has changed, with the area in question being smaller and empty. Seems that, like the Crawl-esque badnik, this gimmick lasted for about a week in late January before being axed. Likely because it's kind of pointless. Even if Speed Slider had stuff to find with it, it's not like moving vertically is difficult in this game when you abuse the rubber band mechanics, hahaha. Or pick Charmy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    That'll take some beating - nice find!

    [​IMG]
    (1227)

    Speed Slider had a go trying to implement loops, but levels 4 and 5 also have a go at Sonic-style tunnels, with corners. The collision is garbage, they never fixed it, and the final replaces these sections with standard quarter pipes. Only the vertical sections remain, and there's fewer of them.
     
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  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    "Why isn't Chaotix more like a normal Sonic game"


    Well you know how you can stand and walk on ceilings in Sonic Crackers?

    [​IMG]

    A fix didn't come in for that until the 0210 prototype. Just over 10 months later, when it was too late to make sweeping changes to the game.

    I was surprised I hadn't seen this, but when you look at the maps:

    https://info.sonicretro.org/File:IIsq2Map.png

    ... almost every half pipe in Chaotix is disconnected from the ceiling. The above (from Botanic Base 2) is an exception, not the rule (and it looks like there might be one in Techno Tower 5 too). The computer doesn't like this situation much either, either trying to walk to the end or jump off to resume normal play (though given Espio can walk on ceilings you'd think it would cope a little better).

    It's a bug presumably so serious that the level design had to accommodate for it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    The workflow really is unlike any other Sonic game. There are tons of cases of the developers putting something in, finding it doesn't work, taking it out, and then reimplementing it later. It's why you end up having to check half a dozen different builds to get a full story.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Techno Tower level 5 has a drill machine. You hop in, it moves to the right, breaks a few walls and then explodes. Part of the "why would you ever go to the basement" question mentioned earlier.


    [​IMG]

    And its here in our oldest Chaotix prototype, 1207. It soft-locks the game because it doesn't move yet, but there's a wall, and the intentions were obvious.

    Same in 1227, but in 1229... they took it out:

    [​IMG]

    In any other Sonic prototype, this would be a sign that the idea had been scrapped. It's not there in the 0111 build either.

    [​IMG]
    But it returns (almost) fully functional in 0119.

    [​IMG]
    And then they do a bit more with it in 0202. And then it's finalised and left in the final product.


    And you can see the evolution of the background here too. This background is only used in Techno Tower 5 - it would have taken ages to make, but I bet 90% of players didn't even realise it was different to 1/2 or 3/4.
     
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  14. Mr. Ksoft

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    Interestingly, the graphics for the carpet have been found before (they're even in the final) but never identified correctly before-- they're always called "cape or flag graphics". This finally confirms that they were, in fact, neither! I'm guessing either nobody thought to apply the right palette, or the correct palette is missing in the final. Not sure.

    What a weird game. I've always found it interesting and wanted to research the protos more, but I find that I don't even know what all is in the final.
     
  15. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I can post a few weird things that are very easily missed:

    [​IMG]

    Speed Slider has big lifts in the centre of every level... but they're big, slow and there's only one platform, so you can easily miss the opportunity to go up. But because that platform is rendered with polygons, it might be one of the most complex things in the stage.

    There are also big bells that take you down a level or two... but these hiding at the back end of level 5 and again, easily missed.

    [​IMG]

    There's some flying girders in Techno Tower 5. One moves horizontally, one moves vertically... and I think they're the only two in the whole game. And you stand inside them instead of on top.

    There's also some indoor sections to Botanic Base 3, 4 and 5. These are on the main path so you can't miss them, but every last one leads to a tunnel with nothing in it but some monitors (and it's an empty corridor in some of these prototypes). It's the only time you go "inside" something, and they've got fancy screen effects for it and everything, but it's an entirely pointless diversion in terms of gameplay.



    Another fun fact about Chaotix: you can't spin to the left. You can point your spindash left, but the resulting rolling animation will point right and animate clockwise, which means characters must be doing backwards rolls.

    I'd have said that should have come out in testing but I only noticed it today, so
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    For whatever reason, you can only fight the final boss in the morning. I presume the time of day changes to morning after beating regular Metal Sonic, so you'd never notice normally.

    But there's nothing stopping you from using the stage select to fight the final boss at a different time of day, and doing so puts Knuckles and friends up against the mysterious yellow hand... before the game breaks and crashes.

    [​IMG]

    It was so dumb I wasn't even going to post this, until I noticed it prints out palette entries at the top of the screen. If those are leftover blues, this is as close as Sonic gets to being playable in the game, which is to say, not remotely close at all.

    [​IMG]

    In the 0119 prototype you get an extra hand. It's broken in other ways, and this was clearly never intended behaviour, but at least it's on record now.
     
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  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Add to the list of pointless objects:

    [​IMG]

    If both characters get on these platforms in level 5, it will take them past walls. This one was actually algined better in earlier builds, being equidistant from the wall on both sides, as opposed to being rammed partly into it. I think there's maybe two in the whole game.

    I was going to trace this back - see if they ever had a more sensible use, but something caught my eye:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    1227 left, final game right

    Speed Slider 3, 4 and 5 were the last levels to be put in the game so you would expect it to see the most activity, but it's curious to see such wide-ranging graphical changes at a fairly late point in development.
     
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  18. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    ...

    WHAT IS THIS GAME?
     
  19. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    A miserable little pile of secrets and wasted potential.
    Now that a Sonic 1 proto is checked off the list hopefully we can all hold hands and manifest some Genesis/Saturn Chaotix protos out of the blue. It's been at the top of my "most wanted" ever since drx posted the Kalinske interview. Seeing these unearthed fragments is tantalizing enough as it is.
     
  20. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    How am I still finding things.


    Chaotix likes its particle effects, but the 32X seemingly has some hard limits to how many can be shown on-screen. It's best witnessed with collapsing platforms - the engine seems to cap at two or three particle emitters, so you'll find that only half of the object explodes. You can also see this if you break more than one monitor in quick succession - only the last one will have the disintegrating icon. This is assuming it's not an emulation issue.

    Up until the 0119 prototype, you can see a demonstration of this effect on a loop:

    [​IMG]

    This platform in Botanic Base 3, which doesn't exist in the final game as far as I know, has no practical purpose other than to show off this effect. It repeatedly explodes and reappears, while also emitting a couple of streams of blue particles on the right hand side. Particles seem to operate independently from the game engine - you can pause while it's emitting and it won't stop until you unpause.

    As you might guess, when there are loads of particles on screen, it causes slowdown, but the performance hit isn't as severe as classic examples, such as characters losing tons of rings. Still, I don't think it's a good fit for objects this big - you'd need a few thousand particles for the effect to be convincing, and the 32X just isn't up to the task.
     
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