Sonic R is a 3D racing game for the Sega Saturn that was developed by Sonic Team and Traveller's Tales, and is the third Sonic racing game to be created in the franchise, the first two being Sonic Drift and Sonic Drift 2 for the Sega Game Gear. Other racing games based on the Sonic franchise include Sonic Rivals, Sonic Rivals 2, Sonic Riders, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, Sonic Free Riders and more recently Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
Sonic R was also released on the PC and within the game compilation Sonic Gems Collection for the Gamecube and PS2 (Japan only).
Unlike Sonic Drift, the main characters of Sonic R, with the exception of Amy Rose and Dr. Robotnik, do not drive a car, but instead run through the stages. The stages themselves are more expansive than traditional racing courses and offer many different routes through each level, leading to hidden short cuts and areas which can be explored. These hidden areas also contain collectable items, such as finding special emblems and Chaos Emeralds which unlock extra characters and stages.
As in most Sonic games, rings are an important element of Sonic R. As well as offering protection, rings are used to open up gates that lead to hidden areas and Chaos Emeralds, and are also used on speed boosts to increase the player's speed. Power ups are also a key feature of Sonic R, such as the lightning shield and water shield from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
There are multiple game modes within Sonic R. Most notably is the Grand Prix, where all four stages can be played in order. There is also a Time Attack mode and a host of multiplayer options including a standard versus race, a tag style race where player's must chase after each other and capture them, and a balloon game, where the player must find and pop five balloons before their opponent.
There are four playable characters available at the start of Sonic R, with five more that can be unlocked. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, such as increased speed or the ability to run or glide over water. The playable characters are:
Sonic is the fastest of the characters available at the beginning, with quick acceleration at the expense of handling. He has the ability to perform a double jump.
Tails has fairly good speed and acceleration and also retains his trademark ability of flight, enabling him to reach areas other characters may not.
Knuckles is an all round character with decent speed and acceleration. He also retains his trademark ability of gliding, allowing him to create his own short cuts.
Amy is one of the characters that uses a car to race, which can float over water. Her car is quite slow but has the ability to boost.
Dr Robotnik is the other character that uses a car to race, which is slow with poor acceleration but can float over water. He has the ability of shooting missiles. He is one of the unlockable characters.
The Metal Sonic is a robotic version of Sonic that can jump higher than other characters. He is one of the unlockable characters.
The Tails Doll is a robotic version of Tails that can float over water without slowing down. He is one of the unlockable characters.
The EggRobo is a robotic version of Dr Robotnik with similar abilities and speed. He is one of the unlockable characters.
The Mecha Knuckles is a robotic version of Knuckles which is slightly faster than Knuckles. He is one of the unlockable characters.
Super Sonic is arguably the best character of the game and also the hardest to obtain, as he requires all of the Chaos Emeralds. Super Sonic is the fastest of all the characters and can run across water. He is one of the unlockable characters.
There are four initial stages within Sonic R to choose from, whilst the final stage is unlocked when all four stages are completed in first place. Those stages are:
A traditional tropical stage based around the beach and mountains with a waterfall at the beginning of the stage.
A city at night based around old Sonic leves such as Casino Night. Within the middle of the stage is a pinball-style area.
A ruined Egyptian themed stage at sunset, which contains imagery similar to Angel Island from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
A futuristic factory, similar to the fortresses of Dr Robotnik's lairs of previous Sonic games.
A beautiful stage set in space with a transparent ground, this is the longest of the stages and must be unlocked.
The music in Sonic R was composed by Richard Jacques and features pop-heavy songs performed by the British singer, TJ Davis. Those songs include:
Can You Feel the Sunshine?
- For Resort Island.
Living in the City
- For Radical City
Back in Time
- For Regal Ruin
Work it Out -
For Reactive Factory
Diamond in the Sky
- For Radiant Emerald
Super Sonic Racing
- The Sonic R main theme and course track for Radiant Emerald if playing as Super Sonic
- The Sonic R Ending Theme and Credits
Plus two extra bonus tracks:
Super Sonic Racing - X-Tra Club Mix
Work it Out - Red Raw Mix
Each stage also has an instrumental version which can be switched on and off within the game options menu.
The Tails Doll Legacy
Tails Doll, one of the unlockable characters in Sonic R, evolved into an internet meme shortly after the release of Sonic Gem Collection, as the collection was the first to introduce many players to Sonic R. If players select Tails Doll in Sonic R the track "Can You Feel The Sunshine" plays regardless of the track selected. At all times Tails Doll floats lifelessly, eyes wide with a face void of any expression. These factors contribute to Tails Doll becoming an internet icon of evil and the perpetual myth that Tails Doll has the ability to curse players.
Putting the game disk into a standard CD player would play the in game soundtrack. This is possible because the in game music was stored as standard CD audio tracks on the game disk.
- Executive Producer - Shoichiro Irimajiri
- Product Manager - Youji Ishii
- Producer - Yuji Naka
- Game Design Directer - Takashi Iizuka
- Head Artist - James Cunliffe
- Lead Artist - Dave Burton
- Graphic Advisor - Naoto Ohshima
- Lead Programmer - Jon Burton
- Character Designer - Yuji Uekawa
- Music & Sound Producer - Richard Jacques
- Music Vocals - T.J. Davis
- Map Design Director - Hirokazu Yasuhara
- Additional Artwork - Shigeru Okada
- Additional Artwork - Sean Naden
- Artwork - Bev Bush
- Terrain System Programming - John Hodskinson