Everybody’s super sonic racing
Try to keep your feet right on the ground
When you’re super sonic racing
There’s no time to look around
Traveller’s Tales (collaborating with Sonic Team a bit) released two Sonic games in the mid-90s. One was Sonic 3D Blast, and the other… was this strange racing game. Sonic R isn’t the first racing game for the Sonic franchise (there were two kart racers released on the Game Gear), but it can be considered the first fully 3D Sonic game, and the only Sonic game released specifically for the Saturn. (It did get a PC port a year later though–interestingly, Sega was into releasing many of their games for PC at this time.) Unlike Sonic Drift or the later racing-themed games (Sonic Riders, Sonic All-Stars Racing), Sonic R features Sonic and friends simply running around on the tracks rather than utilizing some kind of vehicle.
Sonic R is famous for two things:
- Being really terrible
- Having incredibly catchy/awful/amazing/strange songs
I might as well talk about the music first. The songs are a sort of dance… Euro pop that’s really upbeat and has simple, easy-to-hear lyrics. Some people love the Sonic R soundtrack. Many people can’t stand it. And the rest of us just don’t know what to make of it, since it’s so different from the music found in any other Sonic game. Give it a listen, if you want. Maybe it will make you happy? Or maybe it will make you want to claw your ears off. I don’t care for any of it, but I have a sort of soft spot for the main theme (“Super Sonic Racing”) since it’s so delightfully cheesy. But at any rate, the game is nice enough to include the option to play instrumental versions of the songs, if you really can’t stand the vocals.
Now, on to the game itself? Well, here goes nothing. Let’s try to get through this quickly, like we’re doing a time attack for one of the tracks! Sonic R features…
- awful controls
- only five courses
- characters that are very obviously much better than others
- graphics that were good for 1997, but are terrible now
- only four characters to start out with
- confusing system for unlocking things
But hey, at least running through these tracks doesn’t look like I’m being gravitationally pulled face-first into the vomit-themed Windows 95 screensaver that is Mario Kart 64? The game that had incredibly annoying A.I. computers and introduced the blue shell, the worst kart race item of all time? (Audience: “BOOOOO!!! BOOO!!! BOOOOOO!!! Reset Tears, you hack!!! Unsubscribing from Sharkberg FOREVER!!!”)
Ah, ha ha, haaa, it was a joke of course. Anyways! Sonic R. There was a time I was kind of okay with the game, in a sort of “well, it’s not that bad” sort of way. But it is rather bad, and you’ll be better off avoiding it entirely, unless you’re a Sonic completionist or have lots of free time and feel like dinking around in a dated, awkward kart racer that has no karts.
Here’s a cool tip for those of you who do give the game a try. Don’t pick Sonic–try to play as Tails or Knuckles instead. Their top speed is lower, so it’s slightly more manageable to control them. They can also fly or glide across water, which is a huge deal for most tracks. (If you fall in the water, you travel at a snail’s pace.) And don’t bother with Amy (in a car) or Robotnik (in a hoverpod), as their on-land speed is snail’s pace to begin with.
Something to end this review on a positive note? Well, there is a variety of things to collect (tokens to unlock more characters, Chaos Emeralds, etc), so there is a bit of replay value. And hey, the two-player mode actually manages to run pretty smoothly. You can even do a game of tag or “find the balloons” type mode as well, if you want a break from all that racing.
Or you can just play Daytona USA or Sega Rally on your Saturn instead! Or if it must be a Sonic racing game, then go for Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed on your PS3, 360, WiiU, Steam, 3DS, or Vita.