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  • :: General Info ::
    Title (USA)
       Sonic R
    Title (Europe)
       Sonic R
    Title (Japan)
       Sonic R
    Developer
       Traveller's Tales
    Platform
       Sega Saturn
       Windows PC
    Format
       CD-ROM
    Genre
       Racing
    Rating
       CERO: 全年齢
       ESRB: K-A

    :: Release Info ::
    :: Saturn version ::
    USA
       November 18, 1997
    Europe
       November 21, 1997
    Japan
       December 4, 1997

    :: PC version ::
    USA
       November 11, 1998
    Europe
       November, 1998
    Japan
       November, 1998

    :: Game Credits ::
    :: Saturn version ::
    Project Manager
       Youji Ishii
    Producer
       Yuji Naka
    Director
       Takashi Iizuka
    Designers
       Shiro Mukaide
       Shun Nakamura
    Advisors
       Takao Miyoshi
       Katsuhiro Hasegawa
    Program Design
       Jon Burton
    Head Artist
       James Cunliffe
    Lead Artist
       Dave Burton
    Additional Artwork
       Kazuyuki Hoshino
       Shigeru Okada
    Graphic Advisors
       Naoto Ohshima
       Hiroshi Nishimiya
    Character Designer
       Yuji Uekawa
    Map Design Director
       Hirokazu Yasuhara
    Modelling & Texturing
       Neil Allen
       Dave Burton
       James Cunliffe
    Animation
       Dave Burton
    Model & Animation Conversion
       Andy Holdroyd
    Terrain Programming
       John Hodskinson
    Special Effects Programming
       Jon Burton
    AI Programming
       Stephen Harding
       Gary Vine
    Sound Producer
       Richard Jacques
    Sound Advisor
       Naofumi Hataya
    Sound Programming
       Thomas Szirtes
    Vocals
       T.J. Davis

    :: PC version ::
    Producer
       Tetsuo Shinyu
    Director
       Masamitsu Shiino
    Program Implementation
       John Hodskinson
    Network Programmer
       Jeremy Pardon
    Direct 3D Programmer
       Paul Houbert
    Supervisor
       Yuji Naka

    :: Platforms ::
    Sega Saturn
       Sonic R
    Sony PlayStation 2
       Sonic Gems Collection
    Nintendo GameCube
       Sonic Gems Collection

    Windows PC
       Sonic R


    Sonic R
    Last update: 03/26/07

    Notice: This page is in need of higher quality screenshots. That likely won't happen until Saturn emulation inches a bit further along.

    :: Quick Jump ::
       [Story | Gameplay Info | Comparison | Lost in Translation | Codes | Behind the Screens | Notes | Miscellanea]


    :: Story ::
       While out on an aimless adventure, Sonic and Tails come across a giant electronic billboard advertising the World Grand Prix, a race to determine the fastest person on the planet. Tails becomes giddy over the prospect, eager to see how he stacks up against the world's speediest. Sonic, not being particularly interested in racing, is less receptive until he spots Eggman's name on the list of participants. He immediately dashes off to register, leaving a surprised Tails to catch up.

       News of the World Grand Prix spreads quickly, and when Knuckles hears of Sonic's participation, he signs up himself with the aim of settling their vendetta once and for all. Amy Rose, meanwhile, signs up for yet another chance to seduce her blue beau. The whole sequence of events is monitored by a spy satellite belonging to none other than Dr. Eggman, who is tickled pink that Sonic has fallen right into his latest trap. It seems that the bad Doc has detected the 7 Chaos Emeralds along the route of the World Grand Prix and would just as soon let Sonic and co handle the grunt labor of hunting them out. Once the Emeralds have been located, appropriating them should be a breeze with Eggman's new secret weapons...


    :: Gameplay Info ::
       Sonic R is the azure icon's first full-blown 3D excursion and also the directorial debut of Takashi Iizuka, who would continue to helm the series for the next eight years. Iizuka's debut effort is indicative of his pending reign: despite some creative thinking and a flair for pizazz, the end result is shackled by shallow design and obtuse controls. Sonic and friends handle more like racecars than the platform characters they appear to be, resulting in an altogether disorientating experience.

       Controls are straightforward but slippery. Staying on the track for any length of the time is nigh impossible, but there's fortunately no penalty for running in the grass. Players with the NiGHTS "Marucon" controller will find precision steering easier courtesy of the analog stick. Basic controls are as follows:

    • accelerate -- B button or up on the D-pad
    • steer -- left and right on the D-pad
    • drift -- L and R buttons
    • brake -- L + R simultaneously
    • close-up camera -- X button
    • distant camera -- Z button
    • Special Action -- A, C, Y, or press down on the D-pad
       The goal in Grand Prix mode is to clear all 5 courses by placing first, second, or third on each track. Each track consists of 3 laps around a looping course against 4 other racers. Stage layouts tend to be open and conducive to exploration - wanderers will find they are frequently rewarded with shortcuts and other goodies necessary for a 100% completion ratio. There's no penalty for venturing off the track unless you decide to take a dip in the water, which slows your character down to minimum speed and is not really something you ever want to do. Goodies to be pilfered from the scenery include:

    Ring (リング) -- Rings are used to open Ring Gates and as fuel for Warp System panels. Eggman and his mechanical counterpart need a minimum of 10 Rings to launch their homing missile attacks.
    Item Panel (アイテムパネル) -- The Sonic R equivalent of Item Boxes. Steer into a Panel to spin it open and access the contents:
  • Big 5 Ring (ビッグ5リング) - 5 Rings are added to your total
  • Big 10 Ring (ビッグ10リング) - 10 Rings are added to your total
  • Big 20 Ring (ビッグ20リング) - 20 Rings are added to your total
  • High Speed (ハイスピード) - temporary speed increase
  • Aqua (アクア) - Make like J.C. and walk on water. Dissipates after 1 use.
  • Thunder (サンダー) - Magnetically attracts nearby Rings. Dissipates when submerged.
  • Ring Gate (リングゲート) -- Ring Gates are tucked away in inconspicuous locations and require 20 or 50 Rings to open. 20 Ring gates usually hide Tokens while 50 Ring gates conceal Chaos Emeralds.
    Warp System (ワープシステム) -- Run over a dash panel for an insane burst of speed. The distance you cover depends on how many Rings you're holding.
    Token (トーケン) -- 5 Tokens are hidden like Easter eggs around each of the first 4 courses. Collect all 5 then finish the race in one of the top three positions to be challenged by a hidden character. Beat the secret opponent in a one-on-one race and he becomes playable.
    Chaos Emerald (カオスエメラルド) -- Locating Emeralds requires extensive poking around and occasionally even backtracking. Once you've nabbed a sacred stone, you must finish the race in first place to keep your prize. Collect all 7 to unlock Super Sonic as a playable character.

       Four characters are playable at the outset and six additional characters can be unlocked for a total of 10 racers. Each has a slightly different feel and a unique special move. Since the hidden characters tend to have the advantage over the default roster, your opponents are chosen (when possible) from the same set as your player.

    Sonic the Hedgehog -- Sonic is the fastest of the initial 4 racers and, correspondingly, has the loosest handling. He is playable from the start.
  • double jump: Press button A, C, or Y to jump and again in midair to perform a double jump.
  • Spin: While running, press down on the D-pad or analog stick to roll, then quickly press up to continue rolling.
  • Spin Dash: While standing still, press down on the D-pad and button B.
  • Miles "Tails" Prower -- Tails has a comparatively low max speed, but he accelerates and corners well, making him a good character for beginners. He is playable from the start.
  • Propeller flight: Press button A, C, or Y to jump and again in midair to fly for a short distance.
  • Spin: While running, press down on the D-pad or analog stick to roll, then quickly press up to continue rolling.
  • Spin Dash: While standing still, press down on the D-pad and button B.
  • Knuckles the Echidna -- Knuckles is the most roundly balanced character in the game with no particular strengths or weaknesses. He is playable from the start.
  • glide: Press button A, C, or Y to jump, then press again in midair and hold to glide for a short distance.
  • Spin: While running, press down on the D-pad or analog stick to roll, then quickly press up to continue rolling.
  • Spin Dash: While standing still, press down on the D-pad and button B.
  • Amy Rose -- Amy is the slowest character in the game and has poor attributes all-round. Her buggy's only strengths are good acceleration and the ability to hover over water. She is playable from the start.
  • Turbo Dash: When the tire symbol appears at the top of the screen, press button A, C, or Y to dash forward with a short burst of speed. Once spent, the Turbo Dash can't be used again until the engine recharges.
  • Dr. Eggman -- Eggman has excellent steering and good acceleration, but low max speed and no grip to speak of. His Eggmobile can hover right over water. Place first in the initial 4 courses to unlock him.
  • Homing missile: When the green target appears on screen, press button A, C, or Y to fire a homing missile and sabotage nearby opponents. The lock-on function is extremely weak, however, so more than likely you'll simply shoot air. Each missile costs 10 Rings and there's a brief recharge period between shots.
  • Metal Sonic -- Metal has a high max speed and excellent jumping ability, but suffers from dodgy handling and a total lack of grip. He's a very difficult character to use effectively, but though there's precious small margin for error, his sheer speed can make up for the absence of special moves and give experienced players an edge. Press button A, C, or Y to jump. Although he can't double jump like Sonic, Metal's basic leap is the longest and highest in the game. To unlock him, collect all 5 Tokens in Resort Island then beat him in a one-on-one race.
    Tails Doll -- This bizarre remote-controlled robo plush has a solid top speed and good jumping ability, but suffers from poor handling and a lack of grip. He's got a very light, airy feel and, like Amy and Eggman, can hover right over water. To unlock him, collect all 5 Tokens in Radical City then beat him in a one-on-one race.
  • float: Press button A, C, or Y to jump and continue tapping in midair to float slowly to the ground. If your timing is on, you can stay airborne for a good distance.
  • Eggman Robo -- This peon robot from Sonic & Knuckles is slow, clunky, and rivals Amy for the title of most useless character in the game. To his credit, he does have superior cornering ability. To unlock him, collect all 5 Tokens in Regal Ruin then beat him in a one-on-one race.
  • Homing missile: When the green target appears on screen, press button A, C, or Y to fire a homing missile and sabotage nearby opponents. Each missile costs 10 Rings and there's a brief recharge period between shots.
  • Metal Knuckles -- This razor-edged newcomer easily ranks as one of the all-round best racers in the game. He has a high max speed, good handling, and Knuckles' trademark glide to cover distance quickly. To unlock him, collect all 5 Tokens in Reactive Factory then beat him in a one-on-one race.
  • glide: Press button A, C, or Y to jump, then press again in midair and hold to glide for a short distance.
  • Super Sonic -- The fastest racer of the bunch and the all-round best character in the game if you can manage to unlock him. His high speed tends to make cornering tricky, but smacking into walls is a trifling issue with Super Sonic's top notch acceleration. He only becomes playable after collecting all 7 Chaos Emeralds.
  • jump: Press button A, C, or Y to jump and again in midair to perform a double jump.
  • Spin: While running, press down on the D-pad or analog stick to roll, then quickly press up to continue rolling.
  • Spin Dash: While standing still, press down on the D-pad and button B.
  •    There are a total of 5 courses, though only 4 are playable from the start. The Radiant Emerald course is unlocked after completing the initial 4.

    Resort Island -- This simple seaside course has easy curves for getting acquainted with the game's rather abnormal controls. There's only 1 Chaos Emerald to find and the hidden character is Metal Sonic.

    Radical City -- The aerial highway features long straightaways and wide curves. The whole course loops in a clover shape, connecting at a giant tower in the center of the city. There are 2 Chaos Emeralds to find and the hidden character is Tails Doll.

    Regal Ruin -- The ancient echidna ruins form a labyrinth with copious amounts of tight cornering. Even keeping track of the course (much less staying on it) can be tricky. There are 2 Chaos Emeralds to find and the hidden character is Eggman Robo.

    Reactive Factory -- Eggman's launch facility is a complex mishmash with straightaways, tight corners, bank curves, and every other trick the game has thus far hurled at unsuspecting players. There are 2 Chaos Emeralds to find and the hidden character is Metal Knuckles.

    Radiant Emerald -- The fifth and final course in the Grand Prix, only accessible after the initial 4 have been completed. There are no Chaos Emeralds and no hidden characters, just long straightaways and tight corners along this jeweled track that weaves in and around itself like a giant glittering knot. When playing as Super Sonic, the default BGM changes to Super Sonic Racing, the game's main theme. (Note that the entire course is comprised of transparent polygons, the holy grail of Saturn programming tricks.) Win the race to view the ending and credit roll.

       Up to 3 saves can be stored in the internal memory, but additional slots are available for players with a Power Memory external RAM cartridge. In addition to the Grand Prix, the game features a Time Attack mode and 1P VS 2P mode. Time Attack is a race against the clock in 4 different games. Your best laps are recorded and saved as ghost images which can be observed on subsequent attempts.

    • Normal - 3 laps against the clock
    • Reverse - 3 backwards laps against the clock (this is not a mirror mode, you literally race backwards through the course)
    • Balloons - Tag 5 of the many balloons hidden around the track.
    • Tag Battle - Tag 4 opponents who are dashing maniacally around the course trying to avoid your death touch.

       1P VS 2P is a horizontal split screen race against a human opponent. Choose to race down a normal course, reverse course, or go for the five Balloons challenge.

       Finally, an extensive options menu allows the game to be customized to your slightest whim:

    • Game Level - Toggle the difficulty setting between easy, normal, and hard (normal is default)
    • Ghost - Toggle the Time Attack ghost projections on or off (default is on)
    • Best Times - View the best times for all modes
    • Vocals - Toggle BGM vocals on or off (default is on). Note that the opposite option will play during replays.
    • Sound - Toggle between stereo or mono sound (stereo is default)
    • Music Vol - Adjust the music volume to low, med, or hi (med is default)
    • Music Test - BGM test
    • SFX Test - Sound effects test

    :: Comparison ::
       About a year after the Saturn original, Sega released a spruced up PC version that adds a number of cosmetic enhancements. Here's a bullet list of the new features:
    • The time of day changes between daylight, sunset, and nighttime.
    • Each stage features new rain and snow weather effects. During snow, water freezes over and becomes a solid (albeit slippery) surface. Weather can be controlled in the options menu or set to random.
    • Versus mode now supports up to 4 players.
    • A new camera angle has been added for a total of 3 different views.
    • Radiant Emerald now features psychedelic lighting effects in lieu of transparent polys.
    • Balloons in Time Attack and versus modes now come in an array of colors (as opposed to all blue).
    • New options include the ability to toggle lag boost on or off (default is on), disable the on-screen map, choose either horizontal or vertical for 2P split screen matches (default is horizontal), and even set the draw distance. (Now that's impressive programming.)

    The "press start" message has been moved.
    No moonlit nights in the Saturn version.
    Regal Ruin loses alot if its ambience when the sun's up.
    Rain slightly affects vision, but is mainly just for show.
    When it's cold and snowy, the water freezes over, making a slippery shortcut.
    Radiant Emerald is no longer transparent, but it's much more psychedelic with new disco lighting effects.
    The balloons in 5 Balloons mode now come in five colors: red, yellow, blue, green, and orange.
    It's hard to tell, but this is a new camera angle. Either way, innit a pretty screenshot?

    :: Codes ::
    Same character in VS Mode: At the player select screen in Versus Mode, hold down X on both controllers while highlighting the same character. Player 2 will be a slightly darker version of player 1. In the PC version, all 4 players can control the same character by holding down the change view button and pressing action to select the desired racer.

    Clean Pause: Pause the game and press X+Y+Z to eliminate the pause menu.

    Fun with the title screen: At the title screen, you can move the giant "R" with the D-pad and change its colors with the A, B, X, and Y buttons. For the PC version, use the change view button to alter colors.

    Zooming polygons: (Saturn version) At any one of the selection screens, press the L and R triggers to make the polygon model zoom in and out.


    :: Behind the Screens ::
       Sonic R began life at Traveller's Tales as an F1 racing sim. During the game's development, Sega approached the UK-based studio (who had recently programmed Flickies' Island) and requested a Sonic-themed racing game. Lead programmer Jon Burton decided to use the existing F1 engine and converted it to work with the Sonic motif, a transition that took approximately six months. Though Traveller's Tales worked very closely with Sonic Team during R's development, they had greater freedom and more creative input than with Flickies' Island.

       When the game was unveiled at E3 '97, it featured a vocal theme song (Super Sonic Racing) written by Sega Europe's resident maestro Richard Jacques and performed by British singer T.J. Davis. Yuji Naka was so pleased with it that he asked Jacques to write a complete vocal soundtrack like the E3 promo. The resulting, distinctly disco-esque score remains one of the most notorious soundtracks in videogame history.

       Shortly after the game's Japanese release in December '97, Sega held an online time attack competition with best times sorted by character and course.


    :: Miscellanea ::
    • One of the huts in Resort Island sports a Christian ichthys. Lead programmer Jon Burton, a practicing Christian, has mentioned that he likes to include religious Easter eggs in his games.

    Written content and original graphics copyright 1997-2007 Jared Matte. Hosting and administration thanks to Nathan Tsui. Sonic the Hedgehog characters, logos, and images are trademarks of
    SEGA Corporation. The GHZ is an independent fansite and is not affiliated with SEGA Corporation.