This run aims to beat the game as fast as possible, through any means possible within the game. This also improves upthorn's run ( https://tasvideos.org/1057S ) by 3:29.42.
- Complete the game as fast as possible
- Optimize for In-Game Time (IGT)
This run has a lot of stuff going on in it, so I'm going to give a very brief explanation of some game mechanics.
Information about Knuckles' Chaotix
Knuckles' Chaotix is a very unique game, mostly due to the infamous "rubber-band" physics, and the lack of Sonic and Tails in gameplay (aside from a teaser in the good ending). The game has five playable characters: Mighty the Armadillo, Knuckles the Echidna, Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy the Bee. The primary character is also tethered to a partner, which can include the previous five characters, along with two others: Heavy, and Bomb. For this run, I chose Knuckles for the main character and Mighty as the partner.
The way the game works is after completing the introduction level, you are sent to a character select screen. After selecting a main character, you are then taken to the hub world. This hub world has two important things here:
- A claw machine, with which you have to choose your partner. You can also change your partner with the "Combi Catcher" again if you want to.
- A roulette, which you have to use to play the many stages the game has to offer.
The game has 5 total attractions, which each have 5 levels, totaling to 25 levels that need to be completed, excluding the introduction level Isolated Island. Levels 1-4 are normal levels that end with a signpost. At the end of level 5, a cutscene of Robotnik showing up will play, and a boss fight will ensue. After completing all 25 levels, Metal Sonic will show up at the roulette, and the first phase of the final boss will begin.
All of the characters have their own unique traits, which range from different abilities to different weights. Knuckles has the ability to glide and climb, Espio can run up walls and ceilings, Vector can perform an air dash and climb walls, Mighty can wall jump, and Charmy can fly through the levels, making the game a cakewalk to complete. The other two partners, Heavy and Bomb, are not particularly partners you would want. Bomb is... well, a bomb. He explodes whenever he takes damage, and he can even hurt the main character if he enters the bomb hitbox. Heavy is just a giant heavy hunk of junk, and he slows the game down considerably.
The rubber band physics are very... interesting. It's a simple concept:
- Holding B will make your partner stand in place and scream "HOLD" at you. You can run either left or right away from your partner to build up speed, then let go and go super fast in the other direction.
- Alternatively, you can come up to your partner, and press and hold B. This will make your character pick up your partner, and by holding a direction (i.e. up and right, or just left) and letting go of B, your character will throw your partner in the appropriate direction. This is useful, as letting go of directional input and holding B after throwing your partner up into the air can allow you to get a lot of height and a ton of speed.
- There's a certain mechanic to the rubber band physics that I like to call the "leader system." Basically, if you're holding B, your partner will become the leader, and you will go wherever your partner goes, regardless if you try going to the right or going down, etc. If you're holding a directional input while in the air, your main character will become the leader, and your partner will behave the same way. Going completely neutral (not holding B or any d-pad input) will make neither of you the leader, and you will both fly around like crazy, but you won't actually go anywhere. The same principle applies to if you hold B and a d-pad direction. It will make both of you the leader, and you will both stay as far away as possible from each other until you let go of either B or the d-pad. Understanding the way the rubber band physics work is key to abusing it to fly around the levels at insane speeds.
- If you press A, your partner can be called back to you, which is helpful if your partner gets stuck somewhere. The downside is this action costs 10 rings to use, and this opens up the ability to go into having "negative rings" if you have less than 10 rings on you.
Now that I've cleared up some of the game mechanics, let's talk about the glitches and tricks I abuse in the run.
The main glitch that I abuse in the run is what's commonly called a "zip." A zip usually refers to being ejected in a certain direction out of a wall if a player somehow managed to get inside one. You've most likely seen this in other classic Sonic runs, like Sonic 2, or Sonic 3 & Knuckles. You clip into a wall, and hold a direction opposite to where you want to go horizontally. So say, you were inside of a wall and wanted to go left. You would have to hold right since the wall is trying to eject you backwards out of the wall. However, in Knuckles' Chaotix, the zip mechanics are very different. In this game, if you clip into a wall far enough, the game will automatically drag the player up and to the right through the wall. Otherwise the game will know to push you up and left out of the wall and you'll get nowhere. In a speedrun, runners will usually use Knuckles' glide ability to clip into walls, which is done by starting a glide one frame before you would hit a wall, but then letting go of C to cancel the glide, which will make Knuckles stand inside the wall and be shot either up and left out of the wall, or up and right through to the other side. In some cases, this can be a frame perfect, one frame C press, and in some cases you have a little leeway to hold it for longer. This is also commonly done by clipping into the top right corner of a wall, but it also can be done with straight walls and even slopes, although it is much more difficult.
Negative Ring Trick
There is also another glitch I do in the run, called the Negative Ring Trick. Basically, if you have negative rings when the score tally shows up (meaning you have time to call back your partner after hitting the signpost to reach negative rings without losing time), then the score tally will tick once, giving you 0 points and effectively skipping it altogether. However, this trick only works if you don't get any score from your Secret Bonus, which you get for finding secret monitors, finding the Bonus Game big rings scattered throughout the levels, or for finishing the level with 00 milliseconds on the timer. I made sure to go out of my way to ensure I did not get the secret bonus to avoid waiting out the score tally. Normally, it ticks down by 100 points for each statistic every frame until they all hit 0, then the next stage (or in this case, the cutscene of going to the hub) will begin. Since I mostly get 50,000 point bonuses for finishing the levels in under 30 seconds, I want to skip every single one of those score tallies, otherwise I would have to wait 500 frames (a little over 8 seconds) for the timer bonus to finish counting down each time.
Throw Cancel & Call Cancel
Two other tricks I do are what are called "throw cancels" and "call cancels." Throw cancels are performed by throwing your partner, and jumping during the throwing animation. This allows you to regrab your partner immediately, in case you tried to throw him at a bad angle or something like that. Call cancels are done by pressing A to call your partner on the same frame that you throw him. This will not play the long animation of your partner flying towards the camera and back, but it will still take 10 rings from your ring counter. This is useful, especially if you are setting up for the Negative Ring Trick after hitting the signpost. I mostly do these at the end of levels after hitting the signpost just as a showoff, but they can have a practical application in normal gameplay as well.
Amazing Arena is a unique level, in that you cannot just simply make your way to the signpost and beat the stage. You also have to find a switch in the level to turn the lights on, otherwise the level will be marked as "Failed," and you will have to restart the level. There is also a miniboss in every level (except for stage 5) that you normally have to kill to finish the level. However, realtime runners will usually use the partner to fly over the trigger and skip the boss. I opt for a more... indirect approach. You see, there's something that I didn't mention about zips until now. Zips can be temporarily canceled with a jump, glide, or spindash, until you come to a standstill. I abuse this to be able to go left inside of a wall by doing the following:
- Depending on the situation, either use my partner to move left by holding B while he is on solid ground, or try to grab him as I clip into a wall, which is frame perfect.
- Hold left and jump on the first possible frame every single time until I'm in the desired position, or until I'm out of the wall. Depending on how big the wall is, I may have to do over 15 frame perfect jumps to get out of the wall, which is extremely difficult for a human to do, even with pause buffering.
In Amazing Arena 1, 2, and 4, after hitting the switch to turn the lights on, I zip my way through to the wall on the far right of the stage. Once there, I clip into the wall, and at a specific point, I press A to call my partner back. Now normally, if you clipped into the very far right wall, you would be stuck, since you fly too far away from your partner to be able to grab him. But there is a way to save it, and there are two methods of doing it:
- You can grab your partner within a 2 frame window, start performing the frame perfect jumps to the left at the correct point, and throw your partner towards the signpost.
- You can also call your partner at a specific point in the wall before you start getting dragged down, and perform the same frame perfect jumps as before. This method is faster than grabbing your partner, but unfortunately it's only really worth it in AA4, since you can't quite make it out of the wall on the same frame your partner comes back into play in the other stages, and grabbing him while he's zipping is difficult, if not impossible. But be careful! If you mistime a jump when your partner comes back, the game has a chance of crashing when you exit the wall.
Botanic Base 5
You may have noticed I delayed my final two throws at the roulette by a couple frames, and did Marina Madness 5 and Speed Slider 5 before BB5. Now why is that?
It's actually surprisingly simple. Knuckles' Chaotix has a sort of "day/night" cycle that is running throughout the game. These times of day are: Morning, Day, Sunset, and Evening. Everytime you beat a stage, the clock will advance by 3 hours, and once you've beaten two stages, it will switch over to the next time of day, and will loop after 24 hours have advanced. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Anyways, this is not just to show off some cool color palettes. The time of day ALSO affects level object layouts, badnik placement, and boss difficulty. In this case, the "object layout" is what's important. Botanic Base 5 has a collapsing floor object on the main path at Sunset and Evening, so I had to delay entering until Morning, which has an object layout that doesn't have the collapsing floor in the way! Gotta save that in-game time!
In-Game Completion Times (this is for anyone who wants to compare for any reason)
Isolated Island: 0'51"93
- Stage 1: 0'09"35
- Stage 2: 0'06"77
- Stage 3: 0'10"85
- Stage 4: 0'10"83
- Stage 5: 0'40"10
- Total Time: 1'17"90
- Stage 1: 0'06"60
- Stage 2: 0'06"10
- Stage 3: 0'16"73
- Stage 4: 0'10"38
- Stage 5: 0'56"33
- Total Time: 1'36"14
- Stage 1: 0'07"95
- Stage 2: 0'09"08
- Stage 3: 0'07"80
- Stage 4: 0'09"22
- Stage 5: 0'42"60
- Total Time: 1'16"65
- Stage 1: 0'06"58
- Stage 2: 0'06"51
- Stage 3: 0'06"05
- Stage 4: 0'06"55
- Stage 5: 1'05"20
- Total Time: 1'30"89
- Stage 1: 0'08"99
- Stage 2: 0'09"55
- Stage 3: 0'09"40
- Stage 4: 0'06"80
- Stage 5: 0'44"35
- Total Time: 1'19"09
Final Boss: 0'59"43
Total Time: 8'52"03
I want to thank Hagenburg (the real-time world record holder as of me writing this) for the absolutely insane run that I used as a reference, and upthorn for his tool-assisted speedrun of this category that was also used as reference material.
All of the inputs for all of the levels in this run (save for Isolated Island) were redone from scratch to accommodate for Mighty and his different characteristics.
My initial theory in my previous submission was proven correct, and I now believe that Mighty is indeed faster than Espio. I am unsure of any other major improvements to this run, besides general optimization in the hub and levels and potentially different routing throughout the levels.
- BizHawk 2.8
- SHA1: 0c2fff7bc79ed26507c08ac47464c3af19f7ced7
- 32X M68000 (USA).bin (CRC32: 5C12EAE8)
- Sega 32X BIOS (1994)(Sega)(Master SH2).bin (CRC32: DD9C46B8)
- Sega 32X BIOS (1994)(Sega)(Slave SH2).bin (CRC32: BFDA1FE5)
Samsara: Claiming for judging.
Samsara: I was hoping this improvement would come around after your good ending submission, and I'm happy to see it here. This is a fantastic run! It combines all of the silliness of the usual Sonic zipping without the several minutes of watching the screen scroll without even a single Sonic on it... Okay, granted, there isn't a single Sonic in this run, so I could have worded that better, but I think you get the gist. Levels are extremely fast-paced with lots of on-screen action, and it all looks highly optimized. Excellent work overall, and thank you for modernizing the published run!
Accepting as an improvement over  32X Knuckles' Chaotix by upthorn in 35:07.70!