This is going to be difficult, I like it because it’s short and when you know where you’re going and where to collect you can beat it 100% (yes, this is the first game I beat 100% that I remember), I also hate it for everything else.
Sonic R (ソニックR Sonikku Āru), developed by Traveller’s Tales and Sonic Team and published by Sega, this was a racing game released for the failure that was the Sega Saturn in 1997 and was eventually released on PC in 1998 but I’m going to take a look at the version on Sonic Gems Collection.
This was the only Sega console not to have a proper Sonic game, we had Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island but was mostly a remake of the Mega Drive original and we had Sonic Jam, but that was a compilation of the original Sonic games released for the Mega Drive.
We nearly got Sonic X-Treme, which is kind of an early version of Super Mario Galaxy. But all we got was a racing game that has split Sonic fans down the middle.
Sonic & Tails decide to take a vacation when Tails finds an advert for a World Grand Prix, Sonic only gets interested in it when Dr. Robotnik is also taking part, so they both take part too. The Grand Prix is actually a hoax set up by Dr. Robotnik since he has found the locations of the Chaos Emeralds. The duo, along with Knuckles and Amy Rose must win the races and find the Emeralds otherwise Dr. Robotnik will rule the world with them.
There are four characters you can play as first, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy Rose. The aim of the game is to win races but also collect Chaos Emeralds in 5 tracks, you also collect Sonic coins but it takes time searching for them. Collecting all Sonic Coins in each race enables you to race against boss characters and you unlock them when you win adding up to 10 characters. You can unlock Dr. Robotnik, Metal Sonic, Tails Doll, EggRobo and Metal Knuckles. Collecting all the Emeralds will enable you to unlock Super Saiyan Sonic.
There is Grand Prix, the single player mode, multiplayer (and good luck finding friends to play this), Time Attack and the time trial mode. There are 5 tracks and they can be from pretty good to quite messy at times. The graphics and game design is quite vibrant even for a game released in 1997, though it has dated a bit, the Saturn original is a lot worse. The art style is based on the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games like Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone.
The 3D models of the characters are really dated; you can count the polygons of each character. You can even change the weather like clear, rain and snow and depending on how many times you play a stage it can turn to daytime, afternoon and night. I do appreciate the attention to detail, but the rain effects are just awkward.
Before the main event, the music; it was composed by British composer Richard Jacques of Sega Europe, he previously worked on the soundtrack of the Sega Saturn and PC versions of Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island. He visited Yuji Naka to talk about the how the music should be approached. And for some reason, who decided to use 90’s vocals to date the song even more.
TJ Davis (Teresa Jane Davis), a British singer, provided her vocals for the soundtrack. She was a backing vocalist for other singers like Gary Numan (too young to know what he did), D:Ream (Also too young and not Irish enough to know who they are, but Brian Cox was a keyboard player and if you’re British, you might know him now as being a professor of physics and a TV presenter (Wonders of the Solar System anyone?) and Blur (Oh, I know them…I think). TJ then became a full-fledged singer with none of her songs being memorable.
All except for the music she provided in Sonic R because while they’re poorly dated even for the 90’s, they’re so catchy and get stuck in your head to the point where you lose all of your dignity and start to sing along. This soundtrack and make you lose your manhood and modern street cred. But it’s much better than modern music (for the most part, I love Sia’s Chandelier).
Wait a minute, this was developed in the UK and the composer was British. This is the second Sonic the Hedgehog game with British involvement and we screwed it up again.
And now for the main event, the gameplay, IT’S BROKEN, from the controls and way you control the characters is broken, trying to turn is horrible, even then you use the shoulder buttons to tightly turn in tracks it’s just poor and you’re expected to find all the coins and Emeralds and still win the race?
The developers could have either tweaked the controls for the tracks or change the tracks to fit the controls. Why am I moaning? I managed to do it (with the help of GameFaqs and YouTube because this isn’t worth my time), yet playing it for hours and you know where to go you literally forget about moaning about the controls and just go along with it.
Each character has a different feature, Sonic being the all-around guy, Tails can fly, Knuckles can glide, Dr. Robotnik can shoot racers and Amy is the only character of all the anthropomorphic characters to drive a car and she is the worst character to play as, get ready to lose a lot with her. The unlockable characters don’t really feel any different to the original characters and just there for filler, which should have been used to make more tracks, they’re pitiful.
So to conclude this review, do I like this game? Overall, NO! But I don’t particularly hate it, but it’s just pointless. It’s sad that Sonic didn’t get a main game, it’s even sadder that the only fully 3D Sonic game, something that many Sonic fans wanted at the time ended up being a racing game and one that had mixed opinions. But this could be a guilty pleasure for some Sonic fans, it might not feel the sunshine, it might not have brighten up my day, but dammit them lyrics man, them lyrics.
You can get it on Sega Saturn, PC, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.