> Sonic R is the first Sonic game specifically programmed for the
Saturn. As you may deduce from the name, it is a racing game. And similar
to other 3D racing games, you race through locales via a third person perspective,
but instead as a variety of Sonic-based characters. The innovative game
was conceived by the legendary Sonic Team, responsible for creating
the classic Nights, but coded by Traveller's Tales, a skilled
British company. The game produces some of the best visuals ever to grace
> The typical Sonic gameplay survives Sonic's transition to 3D; the sheer
speed prevalent in the older games is all too familiar. The game retains
the distinctive art and colors of the Megadrive/Genesis Sonic games, easily
serving as a reminder of its heritage. The first track, Resort Island seems
like Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, which is a testament to the blue hedgehog's
> Five characters are initially available, including Sonic himself, and
there are five hugely complex circuits to race around. Just like Nights,
there's far more to the game than merely finishing each course in first
place (though you might be tempted to rush towards the end like you would
in the older games). Each beautifully detailed track offers multiple routes,
adding an element of exploration and making the overall racing experience
less linear. Some alternative routes require knowledge of the track layout,
and some require skill. You can collect rings in order to access otherwise
hidden shortcuts, power ups and chaos emeralds, while racing against four
computer opponents who are all intent on winning.
> If only Traveller's Tales' 3D engine had been used in more Saturn
games; it uses every 3D trick in the book whilst maintaining a very fast
frame rate. Transparencies (such as the trail of light left in a racer's
wake after passing over a speed icon), reflective water effects, and dynamic
light sourcing are but a few. Some of the shield power ups are transparent,
too, but 2D. Sonic R runs at a fluid 30 frames per second, and thus keeps
the exhilarating sensation of speed super-smooth. The scenery fades into
view, seeming misty at first but becoming more solid the closer you get
to it, as opposed to the ugly pop-up seen in other Saturn titles. Yet another
awesome new effect present in Sonic R. The 3D environments are densely
packed, rock solid, detailed and covered in very colorful, seamless textures.
The well-animated character models are also, colorful, solid and sharp
(especially Sonic's hair -- check it out). The level of detail is unprecedented
for a Saturn title.
> Believe it or not, but the hidden fifth race track, Radiant Emerald,
is constructed out of transparent polygons!
> The two player split screen mode retains the amazing levels of track
side detail and special effects of the single player game with no slowdown
whatsoever. The scenery mists into view slightly closer than its does normally,
however, but all the stunning special effects remain intact.
> The camera angle will sometimes veer too far to the left or right of
the track when making sudden turns, breaking the illusion of solidity.
I only noticed this on the first track, though.
> The controls are sensitive and therefore difficult to get to grips with
> Each character has unique abilities that facilitate racing. For example,
Knuckles can jump and glide, which is handy indeed for navigating around
water, or finding certain shortcuts. Amy's car can float over water and
speed along at an even faster rate of acceleration (but your choice of
direction needs to be accurate because you have no control as soon as you
hit that nitro button). Doctor Robotnik's hover vehicle can fire missiles
at racers when enough coins have been collected. Sonic can double jump
> The game music is dance
music supported by vocals. Remixed instrumental versions of the songs are
available if the female vocals annoy you. The tunes are quite catchy if
you like what I'd call something akin to pop music. Apparently, Yuji
Naka personally requested the music renditions from Sega Europe's
Richard Jacques. It's met some criticism, but what do you expect from
an upbeat Sonic game?
> Familiar Sonic sound effects make a welcome return, such as jumps and
rings chiming. All are crisp and clear.
> Apart from the obligatory Grand Prix mode, there's the standard Time
Attack mode where you can race against your previous best times in the
form of a ghost. The tag mode is quite interesting too: you must catch
up with other racers, make contact with them, become them and then repeat
the process all the way to the end. It's trickier than it sounds, as the
other racers are elusive. Five courses may seem like too few, so a reverse
mode was added. This basically allows players to race through each course
in the opposite direction. It really does inject longevity into the game.
> The power ups include blue shields that allow you to travel over water,
to gold shields that draw rings to you like a magnet. The classic speed
power up seen in the old Sonic games is present too, doubling your current
speed rate. To say the power ups are helpful is an understatement.
> Once you've collected all five golden coins hidden throughout a track
and managed to finish in a reasonable position (third or above), you get
the opportunity to race one of the four hidden characters. Beat them, and
they'll be available on the character selection screen. All are recognizable
Sonic characters, such as Metal Sonic from Sonic CD. Seven Chaos
Emeralds are also hidden in the first four tracks. When you find one while
racing, you must finish in first place to keep it. A much sterner challenge
than just finding them. Collecting all will make Super Sonic, first seen
in Sonic 2, a playable character. He's extremely fast, but of course difficult
> There are locked doors that require a prerequisite amount of rings to
open up (20 or 50), making the accumulation of rings a priority. Passing
over speed icons will zoom you along a path uncontrollably, and lasting
according to however many rings you have (the rainbow-colored transparent
trail left behind you as you move is beautiful).
> The two player mode is great. Not only can two players race one another,
but a quest mode has been added whereby both players must collect five
balloons before racing to the finish line.
> Simply put, Sonic R is one of the most visually impressive Saturn
titles to date. Not to mention that it's an enjoyable racing game in its
Geoffrey Duke ~
9.3 | Graphics: 9.6 | Control: 9.3 | Sound: 8.8 | Fun: 9.5