Sonic R

Sonic R
Game Name: Sonic R
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): Traveller's Tales / Sonic Team (Sega AM8)
Genre(s): Racing
Release Date: 1997
Serial Number: MK81800-50
Region: PAL

Sonic R ScreenshotSonic R marks Sonic the Hedgehog’s first real 3D iteration on the Sega Saturn.
While the racing formula is a little unorthodox in R it is a welcome departure from the influx of Kart racers that followed in the wake of Mario Kart on the SNES.
The game also happens to debut Amy Rose as a playable character.
Basically Sonic and co. come across a sign while adventuring one day that proclaims of a ‘World Grand Prix’ Sonic spots something on the sign and races away to enlist to participate.
This ‘World Grand Prix’ however is simply a scheme devised by Robotnik to obtain the Chaos Emeralds once and for all. Not a particularly unique set up but you don’t really play these games for the story do you?

Sonic R ScreenshotWhen I say Sonic R is unorthodox as a racer I refer to the fact that most of the characters don’t drive, they run.
Obviously running down a track like a complete maniac would be quite unsporting to anyone who doesn’t choose Sonic as a playable character and as such Travellers Tales has balanced the characters according to one particular strength.

For instance behind Sonic, Knuckles is the fastest character. Sonic however has a very slippery control style that is suited well to individuals who like to drift.

Now when I say the characters run I literally mean the characters run. There is no rigidity in the level design that forces you to drive on the track.
Basically if you can see something (that obviously constitutes part of the landscape) you can go there.
However there are only 5 areas in total.

Sonic R Screen ShotWhat makes up for the apparent lack of game play at a superficial glance, is that in Time Trial mode you can play any of these tracks mirrored as well as perform a balloon hunt and play tag with the other characters.

These different modes really work, as although Sonic R is really a racer there is also a firm emphasis on exploration.

There are a lot of unlockables in Sonic R and to get them all you really do need to explore the landscapes. There are also platform elements in the game that are perfectly blended with the racing and exploring.

Two player the game works fine, there are no clipping problems or frame rate hitches and the game plays, split screen, like it does in single player.

Sonic R Screenshot

Graphically Sonic R isn’t the best looking Saturn game, Sonic and Co. are definitely sporting some really low poly models.

Environments however look great with really smooth texture work and some amazing water effects.
The water in Sonic R isn’t a flat texture it’s a rippling, reflective mass that looks positively beautiful.

Sound wise the soundtrack was worked on by Richard Jacques, who was also behind Sonic 3D’s awesome soundtrack. His work on Sonic R constitutes some very sweet toothed pop with lively vocals which can be switched off if you simply want to play the game with a regular soundtrack. The inclusion of vocals is a nice touch, it gives the game a personable, quirky quality.

Replay value exists if you have the conviction to look for it. After you have finished the standard Grand Prix mode with all of the characters you can then work your way through time trail mode, balloon hunt and character tag. Then after all of that you could get the remaining locked characters and then play Sonic R with a friend for several days. So while at first glance Sonic R looks like a rather short, mediocre game there are rewards for those willing to look for them.

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