Sonic R

From Sonic Retro


Sonic r title.png
Sonic R
SonicR Win icon.png
Publisher: Sega
System(s): Sega Saturn, Windows PC
Save file size: 2.16 KB (PC)
Genre: Racing
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Saturn
1997-11-18  ? 81800
Sega Saturn
1997-12-11 £44.99 [1] MK81800-50
Sega Saturn
1997-12-04 ¥5,800 GS-9170
Sega Saturn
1997  ? 191306
Windows PC
1998-11-11  ? 85076
Windows PC
US (Expert)
?  ? ?
Windows PC
1998-11  ? ?
Windows PC
EU (Xplosiv)
?  ? ?
Windows PC
EU (Xplosiv)
?  ? XP-1263
Windows PC
1998-12-11 ¥7,800 (¥8,190) HCJ-0144
Windows PC
AU (Valusoft)
2005  ? THQ70475


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Sonic R (ソニックR) is a racing game, featuring characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was developed by Traveller's Tales and Sonic Team for the Sega Saturn and PC. The PC version was ported to the GameCube and the PlayStation 2 in Sonic Gems Collection. The game is characterized by the same sense of environmental openness in the Sonic platformers. It contains colorful 3D graphics combined with a Powerpop soundtrack by Richard Jacques (including songs performed by British singer TJ Davis).


There are five racers in each race. The opponents selected depend on what character the player chooses. If the player chooses a secret character, the other secret characters that have been unlocked will be used. If the player chooses a starting character, he races against the other starting characters. For the purposes of selecting the racers, Dr. Robotnik is treated as a starting character.

There are several collectible rings across each of the five racetracks. Each ring regenerates after a short period of time. These rings can serve two purposes.

  • Stepping on a speed boost will consume all of a player's rings, to a maximum of 50, and boost the player ahead along a preset path. The boost is at a speed approximately three times the normal maximum speed of a character and lasts for a duration proportional to the number of rings deducted.
  • Each level contains special doors which open when the player uses twenty of fifty rings on it. Twenty-ring doors frequently hide tokens, shortcuts, or both. Fifty-ring doors frequently hide Chaos Emeralds, shortcuts, or both. After being opened, the doors remain open for all players for the duration of the game. The number of rings required to open the door is displayed in the frame above it.

There are also inexhaustible emblem bonuses. Touching an emblem gives the racer one of multiple possible rewards, including a random number of rings and the water and lightning shields that first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The bubble shield allows the racer to walk on water once, after which it disappears. The lightning shield attracts rings to itself, but is eliminated over time or immediately upon touching water.

Aside from the main game, there are three special gameplay modes: reverse, in which racing occurs facing the opposite direction, break five balloons, and tag four players.


There are five racers in each race. The four "best" racers that have been activated are automatically selected as computer opponents if a secret character is chosen. If one of the default characters is chosen, then the opponents with be the other default racers.

Some racers can run on water for a while, and all characters can "swim" in it indefinitely, but the speed of movement will be greatly reduced. In addition, each of the ten playable characters has a different speed and a unique set of abilities. These abilities can give certain characters, even those which are initially playable, a clear edge over others. The four characters that are initially playable are Amy Rose, Tails, Knuckles, and Sonic. Below are the characters and their abilities, listed roughly from worst to best.

  • Amy Rose drives her car, which is similar to her cart in Sonic Drift, and can hover over water. She is slow but at the cost of 10 rings, she has the ability to boost, giving her a high top speed.
  • Eggman, who races in an Eggmobile, can do a short-range heat-seeking attack at a cost of 10 rings. The attack will eliminate the target's shield if it has one and slow it down if it does not. He is also particularly slow but can hover over water.
  • Tails can fly at a fixed level for a limited period of time thus he can take shortcuts that others can not. He has good acceleration, but is difficult to turn with at high speeds.
  • Eggrobo is robot whose head and body are shaped like an egg, first seen in Sonic & Knuckles. Its abilities are similar to those of Robotnik, but it is slow compared to the other secret characters.
  • Knuckles can glide for an unlimited period of time, gradually losing height. He cannot latch onto or climb walls as in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. He is an all-round character, not having any major features and Speed and Control is even.
  • Sonic is the fastest of the characters that are initially playable. He can double jump. He has quick acceleration and high top speed, but has poor handling.
  • Tails Doll can hover on water. Additionally, he can hover indefinitely a certain distance above the ground or water.
  • Metal Knuckles is a robot version of Knuckles that is faster on the ground and while gliding.
  • Metal Sonic has a very high single jump and does not immediately fall into water, instead floating above it while losing speed, and then falling in after he has stopped completely.
  • Super Sonic is the fastest racer, and also the hardest to unlock. He can double-jump and can run on water indefinitely, although at a reduced speed. By repeatedly jumping, it is possible to move across water at full speed. His only flaw is that he can be hard to control at times.

Differences between versions


-The Saturn version of Sonic R handles the game's signature fade-in differently. If the game is undergoing slowdown the fade-in will disappear, shortening the draw distance, in an attempt to keep the frame rate up. Polygons that are transparent do not have lighting applied.

-On the software rendered PC version, fade-in is fixed and can be changed in the options menu or in-game with the F1 and F2 keys. On the hardware rendered version, fade-in is displayed differently, calculated per pixel instead of per polygon. Also on the hardware rendered PC version, the lowest flat floor fades-in with the polygons.

-The Gems version has no fade-in.

Track Lighting

-The Saturn and software rendered versions use addition to calculate lighting. This allows for much more dramatic lighting and changing to color of a texture. (Blue light on red shows blue.)The hardware rendered PC version and Gems version uses multiplication for calculating lighting. (Blue light on red shows black.) Since the game's lighting was designed for additive lighting, the track appears subdued on the hardware rendered and Gems versions.

-In the Saturn version, the Radiant Emerald track is transparent and has a transparent overlay to simulate multi-texturing. The fade-in found throughout the game is disabled, so the end of the track pops into view.

-In the PC and Gems versions, fade-in works normally, but the track is no longer transparent and there is no overlay. Instead, the coloring of the track pulsates with bright colors.

-On the hardware rendered PC version and Gems versions, the track is dark and unlit in places, but coloring does change.

Backgrounds and Textures

-The Saturn version has a smaller background (mostly made from a tilemap) and is mirrored four times to wrap the screen (causing suns/moons to appear twice).

-The PC and Gems versions use a 1664*128 bitmap for the entire background.

-The water for the Saturn version appears different, with light shading on the wave reflection of the background (a palette effect) and a faintly visible water surface.

-The software rendered PC version has ripples done that same way as the Saturn version, but is missing the visible water surface and wave shading. The Gems Collection version animates water in a similar way.

-The hardware rendered PC version is missing the features that the software version misses, as well as the background reflecting by a slightly darkened, wobbling texture.

- The Saturn version uses 4-bit textures whereas the PC and Gems versions have 24-bit textures. Despite some tweaks, texture resolution is roughly the same. Some polygon models have changed, too. The changes on Knuckles are particularly noticeable between the Saturn and PC/Gems versions. Also, the software rendered PC version is the only version with texture alpha blending. (Per texel transparency, all other versions only do per polygon transparency.)

Other Differences

-In some places collision detection has changed. For example, in the PC/Gems version, you can stand on the ropes in Reactive Factory; in the Saturn version you cannot.

-The Saturn version's controls were unresponsive at times, (but using a 3D Analog Pad slightly fixes this).

-In the Saturn version, there is a slight delay between when a button is pushed and when a character responds.

-The PC/Gems version has time records for each character, mode, and track combination, and the Saturns' has records for each track, mode, and combination.

-The Saturn and Gems versions have ambient sound effects for torches, waterfalls, and seasides; the Gems version has volume issues (too loud) and is missing some of the sounds that the Saturn version has.

-Credits are different in the Saturn version in that there are no 3D characters.

-The balloons in the balloon mode are blue in the Saturn version, while other versions have randomly colored balloons.

-Items have different probabilities of being received in the Saturn version; shields and speed shoes are far more common for racers in top positions.

-In the PC and Gems versions, races occur in random weather conditions, either normal, rainy, or snowy, unless the default settings are altered.

-The Saturn version supports two players in split screen, while other versions support four players.

-In the Saturn version, the instrumental tunes are longer, they're mysteriously truncated in the PC version.

Saving Data

The Sega Saturn version of the game makes use of the Saturn's internal battery back-up as well as the Sega Saturn Back-Up Ram Cart to save progress and unlockable content.

Sonic R Save Data
Name Comment File Size

Miscellaneous trivia

  • By loading the Saturn or PC CD of Sonic R in a standalone audio CD player or a media player on a computer, one may listen to the soundtrack of the game, which is also fully tagged if the players supports CD-Text.
  • (However…) Some copies of the PC version released by Expert Software (ActiVision Value) are missing the CD audio tracks, most likely due to a (very) sloppy mastering job. Hence, the game will not play music.
  • As there were many versions of Sonic R produced for the PC, there have been many accounts of bugs which can spoil the experience for the player. One such bug brings up an error message when the user makes an attempt to play the game. The game is still playable by forcing the computer to execute the program over and over again. Moreover, the bug can be fixed permanently with a single text edit(?).


Sonic Retro emblem.svg
Main article: Sonic R manuals

Also Released On

Production Credits

Saturn Version

  • Program Design & Implementation: Jon Burton (Travellers Tales)
  • Head Artist: James Cunliffe (Travellers Tales)
  • Lead Artist: Dave Burton (Travellers Tales)
  • Game Design Director: Takashi Iizuka (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
  • Map Design Director: Hirokazu Yasuhara (Sega of America Inc.)
  • Additional Artwork: Kazuyuki Hoshino (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
  • Additional Artwork & Visual Advisor: Shigeru Okada (Sega Europe Limited)
  • Character Designer: Yuji Uekawa (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
  • Music & Sound Producer: Richard Jacques (Sega Europe Limited)
  • General Producer: Yuji Naka (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
Travellers Tales
  • Programmed by: Jon Burton
  • Polygon Model Design and Implementation: Neil Allen, Dave Burton, James Cunliffe
  • Texture Map Design and Application: Neil Allen, James Cunliffe
  • Character Animations: Dave Burton
  • Model and Animation Data Conversion: Andy Holdroyd
  • Terrain System Programming: John Hodskinson
  • Special Effects Programming: Jon Burton
  • Artificial Intelligence: Stephen Harding, Gary Vine
  • Texture Application Software: Andy Holdroyd
  • Additional Programming: Stephen Harding, Gary Vine, John Hodskinson, Andy Holdroyd
  • Development Director: Jon Burton
  • Special Thanks: Helen Burton and Helen Gavin
Sega Enterprises Ltd.
Sega Europe Limited
  • Sound Producer: Richard Jacques
  • Additional Artwork & Visual Advisor: Shigeru Okada
  • Music & Sound FX: Richard Jacques
  • Sound Programming: Thomas Szirtes
  • Vocals: T.J. Davis (courtesy of Freedom Management)
  • Engineered & Mixed by: Matt Howe
  • Digital Editing by: Neil Tucker
  • Recorded and Mixed: Metropolis Studios & Sega Digital Studio
  • Technical Support: Colin Carter, Ed Hollingshead, Tamer Tahsin, Thomas Szirtes, Elton Bird
  • Senior Product Manager: Kazutoshi Miyake
  • Operations Manager: Naoya Tsurumi
  • Product Manager & Public Relations: Mark Maslowicz
  • Lead Tester: Jason Cumberbatch
  • Assistant Lead Testers: Dave Thompson, Roberto Parraga
  • Special Thanks: Jo Bladen, Mark Hartley, Phiippe Deleplace, Frederique Ayer, Stephanie Petit, Jose Angel Sanchez, Begona Sanz, David Garcia, Hitoshi Okuno, Andreas von Gliszczynski, Thorsten Moe, Tina Sakowsky, Richard Leadbetter, Paul Davies, Tom Guise, Ed Lomas, Daniel Jevons, Jose Aller
Sega of America Inc.
  • Map Design Director: Hirokazu Yasuhara
  • Project Coordinators: Jason Kuo, Dave Locke
  • Product Managers: Kristin McCloskey, Terese Russell
  • Lead Tester: Fernando Valderrama
  • Assistant Lead Tester: Jeff Junio
  • Special Thanks: Scott Allen, Sandy Castagnola, Curtis Clarkson, Geraldine Dessimoz, Marci Ditter, Sheri Hockaday, Michael Jablonn, Judy Nybo, Paul Sears, Seedy Lounge, Eric Smith, Dan Stevens, Bernie Stolar, Mark Subotnick, Shuji Utsumi, Mike Wallis

Sega Enterprises, Ltd.

PC Version

Traveller's Tales
  • Program design and implementation: Jon Burton
  • Head artist: James Cunliffe
  • Lead artist: Dave Burton
Traveller's Tales
  • Polygon model design and implementation: Neil Allen, Dave Burton, James Cunliffe
  • Texture map design and application: Neil Allen, James Cunliffe
  • Character animations: Dave Burton
  • Artwork: Bev Bush, Carleen Smith
  • Additional artwork: Leon Warren, Sean Maden, Jon Rashid, Will Thompson
  • Model and animation data conversion: Andy Holdroyd
  • Terrain system programming: John Hodskinson
  • Artificial intelligence: Stephen Harding, Gary Vine
  • Texture application software: Andy Holdroyd
  • 3D Engine and Porting: Steve Monks
  • Additional programming: Andy Holdroyd, John Hodskinson, Stephen Harding, Gary Vine, Neil Harding
Sega Enterprises Ltd.


On Sonic Channel

Sonic Channel, the official Japanese-language website of Sonic the Hedgehog, hosted profiles for each of the Sonic R playable characters. A partial translation was compiled by Thrippa:

About Appearing Characters
Each character possesses their own unique ability, and by means of this ability may be able to take differing routes where the road forks.

Basic Characters
Characters appearing at the start. These five contend in Grand Prix mode:

Sonic the Hedgehog
Well-known protagonist. His maximum speed is the highest among all characters. However, because his acceleration and grip performance is inferior to theirs, skill is required. When he rolls into a ball and does a spin dash, even faster speeds become possible. Additionally, with his double jump he may be able to leap over large obstacles such as rivers.

Key advice:

  • For success at the starting point, do a spin dash.
  • Regarding deceleration, use the LR buttons to the best of your ability for smooth cornering.
  • Use the double jump to try to find new shortcuts.

Miles 'Tails' Prower
Yearning to be like Sonic, always along wherever Sonic goes. His maximum speed may be inferior, but his other abilities are relatively good. As with Sonic, when Tails curls into a ball, a spin dash is possible. Also, by spinning his two tails, he is able to fly, making bold short cuts possible.

Key advice:

  • For invariable success at the start, use the spin dash.
  • Flight time is unexpectedly short. Remember to take care when choosing a landing spot, to be able to make a good landing.
  • Search for routes that allow Tails to make the best use of his propeller flight.

Knuckles the Echidna
Sonic's rival-like being. Regarding this character, all abilities are in balance. As with Sonic and Tails, the spin dash is possible when curled up. Also, gliding through the sky is possible; from a high place, he can fly further than Tails.

Key advice:

  • For success at the starting point, do a spin dash.
  • Glide from high places for shortcuts. Intense up-down along the course is particularly effective.
  • With skillful turning, higher cornering stability is possible than with Sonic.

Amy Rose
Only female character. Tails remodeled her all-purpose car so she could drive it and participate in the race. This character is aimed at the beginner; maximum speed is low, but it accelerates nicely. Also she has a truly all-purpose car; she can even drive it on the water. And she is able to do a Turbo Dash, traveling at great speed for a set length of time.

Key advice:

  • At the start, the Turbo Dash is indispensable.
  • Her ground speed cannot outrun other vehicles, so to win, look for bold shortcuts across the water.
  • Turbo Dash management is often the deciding factor. Using it recklessly will result in time loss.

Doctor Eggman
A wicked, genius scientist. He rides his familiar Eggmobile to participate. Since it floats in the air, its turning ability is very high and it can float over water too. Eggman is also able to throw bombs to attack other players.

[Appearance requirements] Become overall champion in Grand Prix mode to have Eggman appear on the Character Select screen.

Key advice:

  • Turning ability is extremely high, so be careful on curves.
  • Make full use of the hydroplane ability.
  • At any rate, Eggman has a large build. Press the Z button to view the course from a different angle.

Hidden Characters
These characters will appear when their requirements are met. One must become a good player to handle them.

Metal Sonic
Eggman developed his secret weapon with the aim of exceeding Sonic in power and speed. His maximum speed is precisely equal to Sonic's, and his acceleration exceeds Sonic's. However, because of that overwhelming power, his turning ability is inferior. Considerable skill is necessary to operate him.

[Appearance requirements] Collect 5 tokens on Resort Island in Grand Prix mode and finish better than fourth place to begin a one-on-one match with Metal Sonic. Win this race and Metal Sonic will become a possible choice on the character select screen.

Key Advice:

  • Low turning ability. You must decelerate to turn sharply without losing control.
  • Due to inertia, traveling on water is possible. Falling in the water may cause Metal Sonic to become confused.
  • Metal Sonic is not able to do a double jump, but his single jump is better than Sonic's.

Metal Knuckles
As with Sonic, Eggman prepared this secret weapon for the sake of overthrowing Knuckles, considering his existence to be a hindrance. Having the same power plant as Metal Sonic, speed and acceleration power are high, but like Knuckles, this robot can glide from high places.

[Appearance requirements] Collect 5 tokens in Reactive Factory in Grand Prix mode and finish better than fourth place to begin a one-on-one match with Metal Knuckles. Win this race and Metal Knuckles will become a possible choice on the character select screen.

Key Advice:

  • Low turning ability. To turn without losing control, you must decelerate.
  • Due to inertia, traveling on water is possible. Falling in the water may cause Metal Knuckles to become confused.
  • From a high place, aim at a shortcut without pausing.

Eggman created this robot intending to surpass his strongest robots, including the other Metals. However, it demonstrated its true strength on its first mission: thanks to its comical body, it ignores air resistance . . . Eggman boasts of the offensive abilities he gave it, and it still matches Metal Sonic's speed.

[Appearance requirements] Collect 5 tokens in Regal Ruin in Grand Prix mode and finish better than fourth place to begin a one-on-one match with Eggmanrobo. Win this race and Eggmanrobo will become a possible choice on the character select screen.

Key Advice:

  • Low turning ability. Use LR Buttons effectively to struggle through corners.
  • On the water, deceleration occurs immediately. Hurry to land to recover.
  • Eggmanrobo has a huge body. When a course is difficult to see, press the Z button to change your viewpoint.

Tails Doll
As a last resort, Eggman manufactured this to catch Sonic unprepared. This, except for the power plant embedded in its head, is a mere stuffed animal, whose meager form nevertheless exhibits considerable ability in races due to its lightweight design. Still, it is also able to float in the air for a long time.

[Appearance requirements] Collect 5 tokens in Radical City in Grand Prix mode and finish better than fourth place to begin a one-on-one match with Tails doll. Win this race and Tails doll will become a possible choice on the character select screen.

Key Advice:

  • Get accustomed to the feel of the light steering.
  • Travel over the water completely without accident or deceleration? This is the only character able to do so.
  • Keep pushing the jump button to keep floating.

Super Sonic
By using the power of the Chaos Emeralds, Sonic's strongest potential abilities can be brought out. Surely the strongest and faster character, Super Sonic boasts overwhelming acceleration and maximum speed.

[Appearance requirements] After finishing at least 3rd in Grand Prix mode in Radiant Emerald, and collecting 7 Chaos Emeralds, Super Sonic will become a possible choice on the character select screen. However you are not able to keep Chaos Emeralds you pick up unless you come in first in that race.

Key Advice:

  • Generally high speed. First of all, get accustomed to this speed.
  • Overall, Super Sonic will outstrip everyone, but cornering can be difficult.
  • This character is the fastest, consequently small control errors become lethal errors. Slow down in moments of uncertainty.

Physical Scans

Saturn version

Sega Saturn
87 Sonic Retro Average
Based on 4 reviews
Publication Score Source
Computer and Video Games 80 №193, p72/73/74/75/76
edge 80 №53, p100
gamesmaster 90 №64, p32/33/34
saturnpower 96 №9, p68/69/70/71/72/73
Saturn, US
Sonic R Saturn US Cover Back.jpgSonic R Saturn US Cover Front.jpg
Sonicr sat us cd.jpg
Sonic R Sega Saturn US Manual.pdf
Saturn, EU
Saturn, AU
Saturn, JP
Sonicr sat jp back cover.jpgSonicr-box-jp.jpg
Sonicr jp cd.jpg
SonicR Sat JP manual.pdf
Sonicr sat jp nfs disc.jpg
"Not for sale" disc
Saturn, BR
Sonic R sat tectoy back.jpgNospine.pngSonic R sat tectoy.jpg
Sonicr sat us cd.jpg

PC Version


Sonicr pc us spinecard.jpgSonicrpc.jpg
Jewel Case
PC, US (Expert Software)
SonicR PC US Box Front Expert.jpg
Sonic R Expert Disc.jpg
Sonic R Expert Cover.jpg
Jewel Case
SonicRPC EU Boxart.jpg
Sonic R JP Cover.jpg
PC, JP (Ultra 2000)

PC, AU (Valusoft)
SonicR PC AU Box Valusoft.jpg
SonicR PC AU Disc.jpg
PC, UK (Xplosiv)
Sonic R Xplosiv EU disc.jpg
PC, UK (Xplosiv) (newer)
SonicR PC EU Box Xplosiv2.jpg
SonicR PC EU Disc Xplosiv2.jpg
PC, UK (GrabIt)
SonicR PC UK Box GrabIt.jpg
PC, DE (Green Pepper)
SonicR PC DE Box GreenPepper.jpg
PC, ES (Xplosiv)

Promotional Material

External links


  1. File:CVG UK 193.pdf, page 72

Sonic R

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Sonic games for the following systems
Sega Saturn
 1996  Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island     1997  Sonic Jam | Sonic R    
 Unreleased  Sonic X-treme | Sonic Saturn
Windows PC
 1996  Sonic the Hedgehog CD | Sonic the Hedgehog The Screen Saver | Sonic's Schoolhouse     1997  Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island | Sonic R     2003  Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut     2004  Sonic Heroes     2006  Sonic Riders     2010  Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing     2011  Sonic Generations     2013  Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed     2017  Sonic Mania | Sonic Forces