The Chaotix, as they appear in Knuckles' Chaotix (1995)
|Universe||Sonic the Hedgehog|
Mighty the Armadillo, Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon, and Charmy Bee are a fictional group of characters appearing in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series. The group first appeared in the 1995 spin-off Knuckles' Chaotix, which followed their attempt to save a mysterious island from Doctor Eggman and Metal Sonic. After an eight-year absence, the group returned in Sonic Heroes (2003), and have continued to appear in the franchise since. The group is depicted as a detective agency that was formed after Knuckles the Echidna rescued Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee from Eggman.
The Chaotix were added to Knuckles' Chaotix to replace Sonic and Tails after its development transitioned from the Sega Genesis to its 32X add-on. When they were first introduced, the group consisted of Knuckles, Mighty, Espio, Vector, and Charmy. Later incarnations of the characters have only included the latter three; Knuckles since has associated more with the franchise's core characters (such as Sonic and Tails) while Mighty has faded into obscurity until Sonic Mania Plus.
Critical reception to the Chaotix has been mixed. The characters have received praise for their role in Knuckles' Chaotix, with critics noting their abilities and the different gameplay experiences they offered. Criticism of the group has focused on their perceived annoying qualities and unbalanced gameplay, and GamesRadar blamed them for ushering in the Sonic series' extensive cast of characters.
Concept and creation
The Chaotix were created by Sega for use in their 1995 video game Knuckles' Chaotix, a spin-off to their Sonic the Hedgehog franchise starring the supporting character Knuckles the Echidna. The group replaced Sonic and Tails; the two were initially slated to star in the game but were removed when development transitioned from the Sega Genesis to its more powerful 32X add-on.
Vector was originally designed to appear in Sonic the Hedgehog's scrapped sound test option and was a member of the "Sonic the Hedgehog Band" in the game's original planned scenario, while Charmy originally was created for the Sonic the Hedgehog manga. In a retrospective interview, Naoto Ohshima recalled being responsible for repurposing Vector and Charmy. Other than this, Ohshima had no direct involvement in the game's development, having been simply asked to design them.:302 Mighty had been created by graphics designer Manabu Kusunoki for SegaSonic the Hedgehog (1993):309 and was based on early prototype of Sonic. Espio was the only original character and was designed by manga artist Takumi Miyake.:303 His colors change subtly to show off the technical capabilities of the 32X.
After their introduction, the Chaotix did not reappear until 2003, in Sonic Heroes. According to Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Team revived the characters because they thought they were unique and the team had never used them, as Knuckles' Chaotix was not developed by Sonic Team. Iizuka also thought that Heroes' version of the Chaotix is not the same as the original version, claiming to have created new characters by simply using the same designs and characters from Knuckles' Chaotix.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, the Chaotix consisted of five main members: the determined Knuckles the Echidna, the pacifist Mighty the Armadillo, the ninja warrior Espio the Chameleon, the easygoing Vector the Crocodile, and the energetic Charmy Bee. The group also had two additional associates, Heavy the Robot and Bomb, two of Doctor Eggman's robot mechanics who apparently broke free of his control and want to help them. Each character has his own unique abilities and alters the gameplay; for example, Knuckles can glide and climb walls, while Charmy can fly infinitely. When they were re-introduced in Sonic Heroes and in all subsequent appearances, only Espio, Vector, and Charmy remained members of the Chaotix. Knuckles has since associated more with the series' core characters (such as Sonic and Tails), while Mighty has not appeared since and has faded into obscurity. Mighty would later appear in Sonic Mania Plus as a playable character, along with Ray the Flying Squirrel. In Sonic the Comic, the character ‘Fang the Sniper’ was confirmed to have been a former member of the Chaotix, until he later ended up betraying the others when Metal Sonic was about to attack them. This is only canon within the Sonic the Comic universe.
The Chaotix first appeared in Knuckles' Chaotix in 1995, which surrounds their attempts to stop Doctor Eggman from taking over a mysterious island. At the game's start, Eggman and Metal Sonic kidnap Mighty, Vector, and Charmy and are about to kidnap Espio when Knuckles intervenes. Knuckles rescues the group and they set out to stop Eggman and Metal Sonic. After Knuckles' Chaotix, the group did not appear in any more games; the only exception being Espio's appearance as a playable character in Sonic the Fighters (1996).
After an 8-year absence, the Chaotix returned in Sonic Heroes in 2003. Espio, Vector, and Charmy have converted the Chaotix into a detective agency and will do anything for money in the game. They receive a message from an unknown client, who offers them a handsome payment if they stop Eggman's plans to take over the world. They eventually discover that the client is actually Eggman; the Eggman who is trying to take over the world is Metal Sonic, who has rebelled against his master. The Chaotix give two Chaos Emeralds to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, who transform into their super forms and defeat Metal Sonic. Eggman tries to slink away without paying the Chaotix, but the Chaotix give chase. The Chaotix made their next major appearance in Shadow the Hedgehog (2005). They assist Shadow as he tries to remember his past, activating a hidden video of Shadow's creator Gerald Robotnik, giving Shadow the determination he needs to defeat Black Doom, the game's antagonist. The group also appears as supporting characters in the Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors (2010), Sonic Generations (2011), and Sonic Forces (2017).
The Chaotix members have individually appeared in various spin-offs to the Sonic series as well. Espio is a playable character in Sonic Rivals 2 (2007). Vector is playable athlete in the Mario & Sonic series of crossover sports games, while Espio and Charmy make cameos as referees. They are also playable characters in the mobile games Sonic Runners (2015) and Sonic Forces: Speed Battle (2017), and have special abilities that alter gameplay.
Outside the games, the Chaotix were recurring characters in both Fleetway Publications' Sonic the Comic and Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series. In Sonic the Comic, they were created to protect the "Special Zone" after Eggman abandoned it. Nack the Weasel was originally a member of the Chaotix in the series, but later betrayed them. In Archie Comics' series, the Chaotix also includes Mighty's SegaSonic costar Ray the Flying Squirrel, Charmy's girlfriend Saffron, and Knuckles' girlfriend Julie-Su. The Chaotix also appeared in Sonic X; their first appearance in the series was in episode 39 to promote the release of Sonic Heroes. Vector also appeared in "Vector Detector", the 96th episode of the Sonic Boom animated series.
Critical reception to the Chaotix has been mixed. In a retrospective review for Knuckles' Chaotix, IGN noted that they were introduced before fans grew weary of the series' extensive cast of recurring characters and praised them for the depth they provided to the gameplay, calling them "a hoot". Similarly, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and Sega Magazine spoke favorably of the characters; EGM wrote that they, and the game's elastic bond mechanic, added "spice" to the gameplay, and Sega Magazine noted their wide variety of abilities, singling out Knuckles as being the best. In 2015, Game Informer wrote that the Chaotix were among the best characters of the franchise, and felt that they, specifically Espio and Mighty, were underused.
Other critics have been less enthusiastic about the characters. Mean Machines Sega was not as positive about them, praising Knuckles and Espio but criticizing the others, feeling Mighty was a copy of Sonic and thus boring, Vector was "irritating", and Charmy made the game too easy. Xbox World was highly critical of the characters, calling them, Knuckles' Chaotix, and the 32X "rubbish" and "a disaster". Jim Sterling felt that all the Chaotix lacked redeeming qualities, calling Vector "Idiot the Crocodile" and Espio "Generic Brooder the Chameleon". He singled out Charmy for particular ridicule, feeling he was annoying and noting his high-pitched voice. GamesRadar considered the introduction of the Chaotix a declining point for the Sonic franchise, blaming their introduction on "diluting the Sonic-verse by introducing tons of shitty characters", calling Knuckles' Chaotix "a perfectly good game forever tainted by the franchise-crushing precedent it set".
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Chaotix. Originally due to be called Sonic Stadium, it eventually appeared on the 32X looking like this.
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