Sonic R, developed by Traveler Tales, released for the SEGA Saturn in 1997. It was a Sonic spin on the racing genre, where Sonic and friends ran on foot rather than drive via cars. The plot revolves around Sonic and Tails finding out about a grind prix being held, so they decide to join. They as well as Amy and Knuckles find out that this was all a trap by Eggman to distract the heroes from getting the chaos emeralds! Now the four heroes must compete in Dr. Eggman’s races in order to get to the chaos emeralds before he does. While very simple, that is all you need for a racing game plot.
In total, there are five tracks and nine characters. However, you only start with four characters and four tracks. You unlock the final race course by completing all other race tracks in first place. It is when you complete the final race course where you unlock Dr. Eggman. From there, you collect 5 medals in the first four stages to unlock the other playable characters. Also, in each of the four stages lie one to two chaos emeralds, all of which can be collected to unlock Super Sonic. While fun to play as, Super Sonic can feel way to fast or uncontrollable at times. Also, he gives you a guaranteed win.
The controls may seem slippery and uncontrollable at first, but the more you play the more in control you feel. Once you get the hang of drifting it is rather easy to win each race. However, I will be the first to admit that it does take quite a bit of time to get used to. As for the race courses, each feel unique and fun to play through. Accompanying each stage is an original music track. Each vocal track well suits the stage and only help motivate you as you speed by the competition.
The vocals for the music tracks can be turned off, but who would do that? There are also several other options and modes. There is a tag like game, a speed competition, and more featured in a multiplayer mode. As for single player, the only additional mode is time attack where you try to get your best time on each stage. While a bit lacking in modes, those said modes and collectables certainly give the game more replay ability.
However, the game can be 100% completed in only a few short hours. Not only that, but five stages is a very minimal amount. There are definitely a good amount of characters but not enough stages to accompany them. Also, while time attack and two player modes do provide some replay ability, I don’t think they will add hours to your playtime. Finally, slow down is somewhat common in the game but does not ruin the experience. However, I can say that Sonic R provides some of the best looking 3D graphics seen on the Saturn and the game’s art style still hold up.
Overall, Sonic R is a very underrated but lacking racing game. While currently one of my favorite racers, it is very minimal in content compared to the Mario Kart games and the later released Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing games so it is not my current favorite Sonic racing game. I give Sonic R a 7/10. Definitely check it out if you are into Sonic the Hedgehog or racers in general. Sonic R is also available on the Sonic Gems Collection for GameCube and PS2, however the version I played was the Saturn version. Thank you very much for reading, and have a fantastic week!