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The Enigma That Is Knuckles' Chaotix's Development

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by The Joebro64, Aug 22, 2022.

  1. Gryson

    Gryson

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    About Nishimura (Mazin):

    He did work on Chaotix (32X). He said here that he wasn't officially involved with it (after having worked on Sonic Crackers), but he unofficially helped with pixel art and special stage design.

    Right now, Nishimura is the only known developer involved with the game that we have a quote from, and he rejected the idea that it was ever on the Saturn. Not only that, but he unequivocally rejected it. A more literal translation of his words is "There is no truth to it."

    Would he have been in a position to know? Most likely. He has provided a wealth of other information on the game. He was working directly with the developers in the same division. They would have been familiar with each other's projects through their monthly progress meetings attended by Sega president Nakayama.

    About drx's source:

    He was not a developer, but instead an employee at SOA, meaning he was involved with localization and production.

    Chaotix was a game intended for the North American market, so he would have been more involved in the design process. That means it's entirely possible he drew up a detailed proposal for a Saturn Sonic game, sent it to Japan, and then the project got shifted to the 32X when SOA decided to focus its efforts on the 32X. In that case, the original Saturn version may have never begun development, which explains why no one knows about it.

    Is it possible that there were two separate projects, one for the Saturn and one for the 32X? I don't think that's likely, and it doesn't match what anyone has said (neither Nishimura nor drx's source).

    I also think it's very important to emphasize what a few others have said: switching a game from the Mega Drive to the 32X is not necessarily a monumental task, since they share some of the same hardware. However, switching a game from a Mega Drive game to a Saturn game and then to a 32X game is massive, especially at the time. It just seems far-fetched to think it could have happened in the span of a few months.
     
  2. Laura

    Laura

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    Yeah to be honest, I don't see any convincing evidence that it was going to be on Saturn. If we get more interview evidence from people who worked on the game supporting it then I'm open minded to it but otherwise I don't see any reason to believe it.

    Also, would they have made the first Saturn Sonic game 2D? Doesn't seem to fit the culture of the time. That's speculation though.
     
  3. Pengi

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    This is only tangentially related, but Ryo Kudo (an artist who worked on Chaotix) talked a little bit about the state of things at Sega here: https://twitter.com/rin_kotou/status/1108623371862867968

    It doesn't appear to be anything earth shattering, just that Sega weren't developing enough games for Saturn, too many teams were making games for systems with no future, like the 32X.
     
  4. drx

    drx

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    :rolleyes:
    I found more from a conversation from 2010 that I missed the first time:

    "Keep in mind that I only became involved with the game once it was decided to release it in North America as a 32X title. So on the early development history of the game, my knowledge is limited.

    I believe that the game was originally planned for release on the genesis and the megadrive. However, the dev team ran into some performance issues which compromised the playability of the game's rubber band mechanic on the 1 bit consoles. This prompted SOJ to target the nextgen 32 bit platform (Saturn). But at some point the senior management in Japan decided that the rubber band mechanic was too difficult to master and therefore was too risky to be released as a Sonic title, so they removed Sonic from the game. They were so concerned about the mechanics that they seriously considering canceling the project altogether. It came very close to never seeing the light of day. But when SOA decided to release 32X in the US, and with so little time to develop any launch titles, SOJ and SOA decided that rather than canceling Chaotix, they would convert it to 32X and release it with Knuckles as the main character. We pushed pretty hard to keep Sonic in the game, but because SOJ didn't have confidence that the game or the 32X platform would be successful, they wouldn't allow us to keep Sonic in the game. I did fight for and succeed in including metal Sonic in the game, but SOJ only allowed us to use Metal Sonic as long as he was only a secondary character. The thing is, Sonic was Sega. And with Sonic being such a huge icon they were extremely protective of the characters image. They didn't have confidence that the game would be received well, and worried that the game might damage the public's image of Sonic.

    As far as the name goes, I don't recall if Crackers was considered as a release title or if it was just a working title. The same with Stadium and Ringstar. But I can tell you this much, if there were art assets in those older versions of the game which had Crackers or the other titles in them, then you can conclude that it was intended to be a release title. We never created or put art into the game using a working title. I can say that Cassablanca was only a working title.

    You are correct, Naka did not work in the game. At least not during the time that I worked on it. I don't know for sure why he wasn't involved. But more importantly in my mind, was why Team 1 or Naka's main development team wasn't involved. Essentially Sega had 2 premier or elite teams for developing console games. It was the second team that worked on this project. My guess (I can't remember for sure), is that team 1 was working on a Sonic Launch title for Saturn at the time."

    and

    "I didn't start working on the project until some of the key decisions had already been made, such as changing it from being a Saturn Launch title to a 32X title."

    ---

    It's entirely possible the Saturn version only existed as a concept.
     
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  5. Gryson

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    Awesome. I think that clears up a lot. Thank you.
     
  6. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I guess that clears up that, then. Except one thing: if Chaotix was never on Saturn, then what was that prototype?
     
  7. HEDGESMFG

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    1995 Sega: We care about the quality of Sonic's image.

    Also 1995 Sega: Here's Sonic Labyrinth.

    (Not that I don't believe drx's source, rather I think this perfectly explains why Sonic and Tails aren't in the game until the hard to reach good ending.)
     
  8. Gryson

    Gryson

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    This is a really cool find. Thank you for posting it. (I added it to my 32X thread.)

    He also says in a follow-up tweet that he was pissed off because he only got one day off for the New Year's holiday and had to return to Tokyo on Jan 1 to continue working on art for (presumably) Chaotix.

    This is relevant to the thread because it, together with Hoshino's quote from MD Collected Works, shows that the developers didn't fully believe in the 32X and weren't necessarily happy to be working on it. As Hoshino said, they wanted to be working on the Saturn.
     
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  9. Azookara

    Azookara

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    That even ties into the SOA staff member himself, and how he lamented that making something for the 32X was "the kiss of death".

    ....Man, everyone thought this thing was terrible. Why did they do it, again?
     
  10. HEDGESMFG

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    While a random youtube video isn't exactly the best source...



    It was more or less SOA and SOJ disagreeing about how to enter the 32bit era, until SOJ pretty much threw their weight around and forced the Saturn to be the next big thing by announcing it for a holiday 94 release, putting a quick kibosh on the 32X as a whole.
     
  11. Gryson

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    Read my thread if you want the Japanese perspective on the 32X. I've translated a bunch of quotes and articles there. Apologies in advance that it's long and unorganized...

    https://www.sega-16.com/forum/showt...as-allowed-to-resign-w-o-taking-blame-for-32X

    Also check out my last few articles here: https://mdshock.com/

    TLRD: The 16-bit market was in decline and SOA did not believe in the Saturn due to the high cost. SOA proposed the 32X and Japan consented. The original intention was for SOA to only focus on the 32X and Japan on the Saturn. When the 32X bombed due to no developer support or user faith, the Saturn was rushed to market.

    To change the subject: Here is some speculation on Sonic Crackers.

    I believe Sonic Crackers (Genesis) was intended to be SOA's mainline Sonic game for the 1994 holiday season.

    SOA had a big problem in 1993 when Sonic 3 was not ready for the holiday season. This is what led to the rushed development of Sonic Spinball.

    With Sonic 3 coming out in February 1994, it was likely initially believed that the "A Team" at STI would not have another title ready for holiday 1994, so the "B Team" was called on.

    Yuji Naka has said that the decision to do the lock-on cartridge with Sonic & Knuckles was only approved after Sonic 3 was released (even though the developers planned for it in advance).

    From SOA's perspective, they wanted to ensure they had a mainline Sonic game ready for holiday 1994. There was probably nothing more important. When it was decided in early 1994 to release Sonic & Knuckles, there was no longer a need for Sonic Crackers... until the 32X. This would explain why Nishimura said Sonic Crackers was shelved due to circumstances at SOA and then revived for the 32X.
     
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  12. Overlord

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    The sad thing is the entire 32X escapade wouldn't have happened if SoA hadn't thought it was better than everywhere else: 32X's performance showed exactly the results of that.
     
  13. Azookara

    Azookara

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    I always remembered it being because of SOA feeling like they knew better for the industry, but I didn't know for sure if I was letting my bias against them get in the way. Seems I was on the right track lol. Thanks for clarifying, guys.
     
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  14. Gryson

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    SOA had this big fear that the Saturn would be impossible to market due to its price - that it would be another 3DO. I mean, it wasn't unfounded...

    But the worst thing in hindsight is that the Saturn's price ended up not being as big a factor as originally thought. The PlayStation also cost over $500 to manufacture initially. Sony sold the hardware at a big loss and Sega followed suit, with the Saturn generally price matching the PlayStation. But by that point, it was too late.
     
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  15. Ted618

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    That simply echoes the development structure described earlier here - again, during 1994 and Chaotix's production, Sega had six different departments creating console titles in Japan (CS1-5, and another just for RPGs).

    That's the most they've ever specifically had just for that purpose over there, to the best of my knowledge. And yet of that six, only CS1 + 2 were supposed to be focused on Saturn games. On the other hand, 3 + 4 were seemingly a resentful potpourri of just as many people having to keep supporting the Mega Drive, Mega CD, and now 32X to boot. CS5 (a Game Gear team) and the RPG unit, meanwhile, do at least seem to have been much smaller and specialised.

    By April 1996, Sega had reorganised again, and CS4 + 5 were gone. This left three core CS departments now all working on Saturn, as well as a new one dedicated to PC ports. But the damage was already done, and Ryo Kudo's post probably channels a fair bit of the frustration that was felt by numerous developers at Sega around that time.
     
  16. saxman

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    Given Crackers is mostly new code compared to the previous Sonic titles, what would stop them from starting from scratch on the Saturn, especially if it occurred early in the development cycle? If they decided to move it to the 32X from Saturn, what that could have meant was going back to the Genesis version and doing a retro-fit of sorts in terms of assets and things. I mean the engine was basically there, it just needed the additional characters, levels, and other small things to cap it off.

    Well my gosh, with 1 bit, it's no wonder! :V
     
  17. Gryson

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    Well, the quote in question said the switch from Saturn to 32X occurred towards the end of development. Presumably they would have to port (i.e. rewrite) the Saturn code to the 32X rather than just dump it and start from scratch. Going back to the early MD code at that point seems like a huge time sink. I agree that if they didn't lose much time on the Saturn version then they could have just trashed it and gone back to the MD version.

    As I understand it, Chaotix is almost entirely running on the MD's 68000 with a bit of scaling support from the 32X (source).

    My point was really that it would have been very unexpected if they were able to switch the project between three consoles in the span of less than a year, with two of those consoles being new and unfamiliar. MD to 32X, on the other hand, is more reasonable (especially given it's barely using the 32X).
     
  18. LockOnTommy11

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    If the game was ported to Saturn, I it makes me wonder if the porting of Sonic games as part of Sonic Jam is something that gained traction from that experience. It sounds like they wanted a 2D game integrated with some 3D modes / levels, and that’s exactly what Sonic Jam is, just with the 3D sections separate to the 2D games themselves.
     
  19. The KKM

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    Side note and random thought- with the mention that if a title was mentioned in the assets themselves it was meant for release, and everyone always mentioning "Crackers", not "Clackers", but clackers making the most sense for the name- what's the odds they intended Clackers, accidentally named it Crackers, and in pure 90s notions of what cool is, everyone else agreed that sounded good and pushed with it anyway?
     
  20. Black Squirrel

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    It's wiki time. There's no need to be afraid.
    There is no evidence at all that it was ever meant to be called "Sonic Clackers". It was just a theory invented on this board because as you said, it seems to make sense. But "what seems to make sense" =/= "what it's actually called".

    From a wiki perspective (spoilers: add all this stuff to the wiki) we would always use "Crackers" unless we got some really hard evidence to the contrary. Currently it has to go up against a Sonic Crackers prototype and some leftover text in the 1207 Chaotix build.