Sonic Crackers was announced for the Sega 32X soon after Sonic 1 and 2 was released on the Mega Drive. It’s initial WIP title was actually ‘Sonic Stadium’, believe it or not! Crackers featured much of the same action that you can now find in Knuckles Chaotix, which was released in 1995. It was assumed that Sonic Crackers was lost to the world, but a ROM of the prototype has surfaced and we can now tell you the odds and ends of this curious little game.
The first obvious thing this demo reminds you of is Knuckles Chaotix, even though this was meant to be released years beforehand. The first player controls Sonic, who is holding a ring connected – rubber-band style – to Tails. Either the computer or a friend can control Tails, but this BETA is best played with another friend, as the computer is especially dumb here.
Your goal is to reach the end of the level before the time limit hits and kills you. Well, not really kills you – more like crashes your system (don’t worry, resetting will put things back to normal). At least, you might have been able to reach the end within the time limit, if the game actually let you. But as soon as you reach the goal marker (by cheating or otherwise), the game crashes anyway. Lovely.
This game is really only good for sightseeing, not for playing as such. This is emphasised to the point that there are only two potential levels to play through. Yes, the screenshot above and the one before it are the only two level you can really access, and you can only access the second level via the ‘Select’ option on the title screen.
Playing the levels can be a tricky business. Unless you’re playing the second level, of course, then it’s an impossible business. You have to get through the level with teamwork and co-operation. Running in a straight line with your partner is simple enough, but when it comes to disagreements, the springy coil that connects the two rings together will bounce you around like… a lemon being bounced around. You can also grab your friend and throw them up onto ledges, so that they can help you up using the coil.
If you think the computer is being a little bit nobbish – or if you want to look around the level, struggle for survival or cheat to get to the end – just pause the screen and you can re-position your characters anywhere on the level. Of course, it won’t do much good trying to cheat to the end unless you want to crash the game. The time stops as well, so you don’t have to worry about sightseeing one minute and the game crashing the next.
Go to the ‘Select’ screen, and you’ll find that levels are set in Attractions and Fields. Attractions are the main levels, whereas if you select the ‘Field’ option on any world, you’ll be taken to a screen like the one below. There’s no point in it – Sega probably added this in as a level select, moving from level to level like in an RPG.
The ‘Select’ screen looks pretty bland, but option screens don’t make up gameplay do they, so I should shut up about that for a start. There are many worlds to choose from, each with a field, and five Attractions. Only some of the Attractions are actually playable past the title cards: most of them will just crash or screw up in some way. If you do get past the title cards of death, then all you’ll find are the same two levels detailed earlier, but with different colour schemes. Doesn’t seem so interesting now, does it?
If you fancy an unplayable, ring-bouncy (I don’t know -_-) laugh, then check this out.