For Destructoid, I use the Dark Chao as my avatar, for the simple fact that I like the Chao. I used to play the hell out of the Chao Garden in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, to the point where I would replay the Sonic/Shadow levels over and over again solely to get the Chaos drives and animals to power up my little Chao, so that I can take them to the Chao Stadium and watch them get their asses beat by the fucking Chaos Chao, the worthless little pumpkin headed shits! How the hell do you get the Chaos Chao? Over a decade since I've played this game and I still don't know. (p.s., SEGA/Sonic Team, you want money and want to make your goddamn mobile games? Make an iOS game solely on Chao Karate!)
I miss the Chao in the Sonic games because of the lore they provided to the series. Yes, I'm one of those weirdos that actually gets invested in the Sonic stories and characters, because I just simply think they're cool and have a lot of potential. I know there’s the Archie comic book, but I would love for the games to make the same effort of world building, and the Chao are the center of the continued missed opportunities. In Sonic Adventure, it goes that Chao have been around since Knuckles ancestors and that Chaos, the blob monster being control by Eggman, was just a mutated Chao trapped inside the Master Emerald for millennia. I think that adds a more sinister and complex layer to the Chaos emeralds, these seven magical jewels that Sonic and the others just recklessly use on the daily basis. What exactly are they and where do they come from? What are the negative effects of prolonged exposure to Chaos energy; what other mutations are out there in the Sonic world that have been effected by them? What exactly are Chao? Are they from Sonic's home planet or from space? In Colors, we're introduced to the Wisps, which look an awful lot like
the game's equivalent to Lumas in Mario Galaxy one eyed, legless Chao. It adds further to the mythos if SEGA/Sonic Team would allow it.
Remember in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, in the Hidden Palace Zone there was a mural depicting Super Sonic fighting the Death Egg but you didn't know it yet until you reached the final boss and think back to that mural and go "holy sheeeeit!" because it was an epic moment and it added to the mystery of something bigger is going on in the background. Chao, Chaos, and the Chaos emerald are further pieces to a bigger puzzle in the Sonic mythos, if allowed to be brought back. And that's why I like the Chao. Also because they're cute as fuck and want a plushy of a Dark Chao in the Dark Chao Walker. (p.p.s., the idea that, if you go by the Sonic Adventure 2: Battle manual, Eggman himself made the Dark Chao Walker in spite of Tails making the Chao Walker, is adorably hilarious.)
I just like the idea of taking something simple and unassuming like the Chao and giving them more agency in the world they live in. It's one of those neglected efforts in game design that Dark Souls spoke more clearly to me than any other game (maybe the storybook in the first Mario Galaxy more), that there's a story behind everything and connects to what's going on with what the player is going. The characters, levels, and plot are all connected in some way, and I think that's a sign of being meticulous in the craft and art of videogames, which is something I'll always respect.