From Sonic Retro
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- For the Tiger LCD version, see Sonic R (LCD game).
|System(s): Sega Saturn, Windows PC|
|Publisher: Sega Sega PC|
|Developer: Sonic Team, Traveller's Tales|
|Sound driver: SCSP/CD-DA (20 tracks)|
|Peripherals supported: 3D Control Pad|
|Genre: Action Racing, Racing|
|Number of players:|
Sonic R (ソニックＲ) is a Sega Saturn racing game developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Sega. Produced with the guidance of Sonic Team, and featuring Sonic the Hedgehog characters racing against each other through a variety of five tracks, it was first released in the United States in November 1997 to mostly positive reception. While praised for its colorful visuals and well-received soundtrack, the game's emphasis on momentum results in slippery physics and poor control, and has seen it gain an unfortunate modern reputation as one of the worst games in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Unlike other entries with a similar reputation, however, Sonic R has since seen a critical re-evaluation from the larger gaming community, and is generally considered a flawed but charming take on a Sonic-themed racing game.
Featuring a cast of varied characters with different abilities, courses which can be altered by acquiring Rings, and a secondary goal of collecting all the hidden Chaos Emeralds to see the true ending, Sonic R stands as one of the more considered attempts to merge the design of classic Sonic the Hedgehog games with the kart racing genre.
Originally developed for the Sega Saturn, Sonic R was later ported to Windows PCs one year later; this version has largely served as the basis for subsequent re-releases. It also appeared in a number Sega's modern game compilations - such as a fairly accurate port in 2005's Sonic Gems Collection - but has not been available on more current platforms in over a decade.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Saving data
- 3 History
- 4 Versions
- 5 Production credits
- 6 Manuals
- 7 Promotional material
- 8 Artwork
- 9 Physical scans
- 10 Technical information
- 11 External links
- 12 References
Sonic R is a racing game played from a third-person perspective, where players take control of one of ten Sonic characters racing around one of five courses against up to four other players. While never released in arcades, it is structured similarly to Sega arcade racers such as Daytona USA and Sega Rally Championship, however, the game also includes (limited) platforming segments, power-ups and hazards.
Keeping in the tradition of earlier Sonic games, Rings are scattered across each of the five courses, which in this game regenerate over a period of time. However, while in previous games Rings act as hit-points to protect Sonic from damage, in Sonic R they are used as currency; either to use on "accelerators" (which will consume all of a the characters' Rings (up to a maximum of 50) in exchange for a short, computer-controlled period where the player moves roughly three times as fast), or to open doors (which typically require 20 or 50 Rings) to access new areas of the map.
While some characters can attack other players, all obstacles in the game serve only to slow characters down, rather than eliminate them from the race. This includes water, which in this game causes certain characters to continue the race off-camera, rather than drowning them after an alotted time. Racers will also merely "bump" off each other if a collision occurs, and Rings cannot be lost in the same manner as earlier Sonic titles (i.e. they do not scatter everywhere when hit).
Secondary to racing computer (or human) opponents in Sonic R, the player can find and collect Chaos Emeralds (usually hidden behind doors), in-turn unlocking Super Sonic when all seven are collected. Each track also houses five Sonic Tokens, which if collected allows the player to challenge the computer (as one of the unlockable characters) in a head-to-head race, where winning unlocks the opponent character. The player needs to finish in first place for any of these conditions to count, and has only three laps to collect the required enough Rings/Tokens/Emeralds.
Also featured throughout the levels are floating "Item Panels", which if touched awward the player with one of multiple possible rewards, including multiples of Rings and Water and Lightning Shields (which first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 3). The Water Shield allows the racer to walk on water (until he/she reaches dry land once more), while the Lightning Shield attracts Rings, disappearing if the player touches water or after a period of time. Item Panels do not disappear, but there is a pause between rewards.
Aside from the main game, there are three special gameplay modes: reverse, in which racing occurs facing the opposite direction, breaking five balloons scattered around the stage, or tagging the other four players in the quickest possible time.
The soundtrack by Sonic R was presented by Richard Jacques, with songs performed by British singer TJ Davis. The vocals can be switched off in the options menu. 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.
Sonic R features ten racers, six of which are unlockable:
|Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Sonic the Hedgehog is the fastest of the four initially available characters, but is the most difficult to control. He can Spin Dash and double jump.|
|Miles "Tails" Prower|
|Miles "Tails" Prower is a slower version of Sonic with his trademark flying ability, allowing him to fly at a fixed level for a short period of time. The technique is not very useful in Sonic R, as the tracks generally lack any sort of "verticality" to them, and paths are usually enclosed by invisible walls.|
|Knuckles the Echidna|
|Knuckles the Echidna fills the role as the all-round character, with average speed and handling. Knuckles can Spin Dash, and while he can still glide, is robbed of the ability to latch onto walls and climb up them (though there is never any need to do so).|
|Amy Rose is the slowest of the playable characters and drives a car which can hover over water. 10 Rings allows her to boost for a short period.|
|Dr. Eggman/Dr. Robotnik|
|Dr. Eggman (Dr. Robotnik in the West) appears as an opponent from the start, however is only made playable after finishing first in Radiant Emerald. Driving an Egg Mobile, Eggman can hover over water and fire a short-range heat-seeking missile at other racers at the cost of 10 Rings. The missile temporarily slows down its target or removes their Shield, but is otherwise harmless.|
|Metal Sonic has a higher single jump than the rest of the characters, and can temporarily hover over water while travelling at faster speeds. The character is unlocked by collecting the five Sonic Tokens in Resort Island, then beating him in a race.|
|Tails Doll, unique to Sonic R, is the only character that can travel over water without decreasing speed. It can also float slightly higher for a short period of time without losing momentum. The character is unlocked by collecting the five Sonic Tokens in Radical City, then beating it in a race.|
|Metal Knuckles is a faster variant of Metal Sonic with the ability to glide. The character is unlocked by collecting the five Sonic Tokens in Reactive Factory, then beating him in a race.|
|Eggman Robo, first seen in Sonic & Knuckles, behaves similarly to Eggman, though is easier to control and slightly faster. The character is unlocked by collecting the five Sonic Tokens in Regal Ruin, then beating him in a race.|
|Super Sonic is unlocked by collecting all the Chaos Emeralds and pressing while hovering over Sonic on the character selection screen. As is usually the case in Sonic games, Super Sonic is the fastest character in Sonic R, though the increase in speed (and jump height) makes him more difficult to control. Super Sonic shares all of Sonic's abilities, but can now hover over water.|
While arguably many of the characters have pros and cons, differences in handling and special moves are often negligible, and the majority of the action involves travelling forward on the ground. This means the initial five characters, from fastest to slowest, are Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Eggman, Amy, while the unlockables rank as Super Sonic, Metal Knuckles, Metal Sonic, Eggman Robo, Tails Doll. The computer does not always follow the numbers - Knuckles is usually faster than Sonic when it is in charge.
During normal play, the computer controls four AI characters for the player to race against. Due to the passive nature of the game, most act as glorified pacemakers, rarely interacting with the player and following a predictable path along the course. In most cases, the computer selects the four "best" unlocked characters and never varies its choices - that is to say, as soon as one (non-Eggman) character is unlocked, Amy Rose will never be chosen by the computer to race again, as when controlled by the computer, she is the slowest character in the game.
The computer follows all the same rules as human players, and so will collect Rings, run through Item Panels and make use of doors and accelerators (if doing so offers a shortcut). Computer-controlled Eggman or Eggman Robo will fire at opponents which are close by, but will not actively hunt down other players. The computer also has no interest in collecting Emeralds or Tokens.
The AI opponents only ever run (or drive/float) around a track - they do not jump, use Amy's speed boost or capitalise on certain characters' ability to hover over water. With the exception of Radiant Emerald, large sections of the track are ignored by the computer, either due to the routes being longer, or presumed difficulties in overcoming certain obstacles. The stage designs coupled with smart-enough pathfinding means that the computer is unlikely to get stuck unless forced into a corner by a human player, but as its strategy never changes, the player has a huge advantage over the computer in most cases.
Computer characters move at an almost constant speed, hard-coded for each character which does not vary significantly between races. As the computer does not appear to be affected by character handling differences, this usually means it is easy to predict which order the computer characters will finish a race in. Sonic, for example, will always beat Amy in a race regardless of the chosen track, unless the player interferes in some way. While slight variations in the computer's racing lines could give Amy an advantage (i.e. she collects more Rings to use), the length of the track and the time taken to collect these Rings usually means that by lap three, each character has an unassailable lead over the next.
While the specifics are not understood, computer players do appear to "learn" better routes as the game progresses. One of the more obvious examples is the loop in Resort Island - when first playing the game, the computer will use the loop, but later will discover that it is quicker to avoid it on the right-hand side. Many (sometimes obvious) shortcuts are never taken by the computer, however.
When playing as Super Sonic in Radiant Emerald with all characters unlocked, Metal Sonic, Tails Doll, Metal Knuckles and Eggman Robo will travel faster through the stage and become more competitive as a result.
The Sega Saturn version of the game makes use of the Saturn's internal battery back-up as well as the Back-Up RAM Cartridge to save progress and unlockable content.
|Main article: Game Development:Sonic R|
For Sonic R's 23rd anniversary in 2020, Sonic the Comic artist Richard Elson was commissioned by Sega to draw a special illustration featuring the game's cast, which was posted on the Sega Forever Twitter account on the day of the anniversary, November 18th. According to Elson himself, he was requested by Sega of Japan to keep the characters on model for the illustration, resulting in a different style than his past work with the characters.
Sonic R was designed with the Sega Saturn in mind, but was subsequently brought to Windows PCs a year later. The PC version exists in two forms; one which uses software rendering (i.e. graphics are handled by the CPU), and another which uses hardware rendering, taking advantage of 3D accelerator cards which were becoming more commonplace at the time. The version of Sonic R which appears in Sonic Gems Collection is derived from this hardware-accelerated PC conversion.
On the Saturn, Sonic R uses the console's VDP2 graphics processor to render an infinite, textured plane which acts as the "floor" of each stage (save for Radiant Emerald). 3D polygons are then positioned on-top by VDP1, though to maintain a steady frame rate, the draw distance for these polygons is very short. To partially overcome this, Sonic R uses "fogging" techniques, rendering polygons which are further away with more transparency. 2D backgrounds then help to give the illusion that more of the scene is being drawn than what actually is.
While the software-rendered PC version attempts to emulate these Saturn quirks, 3D accelerators were designed differently, meaning that here, everything is a polygon, and fogging therefore applies to the entire scene. The hardware-rendered PC applies this effect to each individual pixel, leading to a less "choppy" effect than on Sega's console, where it is applied per polygon.
Draw distance is also configurable on the PC, and defaults to further away than on the Saturn (meaning more of the scene is rendered at any one time). It can be adjusted in the software-rendered PC version in real time by pressing the F1 and F2 keys. In Sonic Gems Collection, draw distance is not an issue, with the entire stage being rendered at once.
While the core content remains the same across all versions, the PC version introduces random weather conditions (either normal, rainy, or snowy) which can affect play. It is also able to operate at higher resolutions and frame rates than is possible on the Saturn.
Sonic R was also designed with "additive" lighting (blue light on red shows blue), meaning light sources dramatically change the colour of textures during play. In the hardware-rendered PC version, multiplication is used for the lighting calculations (blue light on red shows black) instead, creating more subdued tracks.
In the Saturn version, the Radiant Emerald track is rendered with semi-transparent polygons, and uses a transparent overlay to simulate multi-texturing. This technique comes at the expense of the fogging effect (meaning the track suffers from more abrupt polygon "pop-in". The PC and Gems versions opt instead for solid polygons and textures which pulsate with bright colors.
Backgrounds in the Saturn version use smaller textures, mirrored four times to wrap the screen (and in so doing, causing suns/moons to appear twice). The PC and Gems versions eliminate this problem by using 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, though despite these tweaks, texture resolution is roughly the same. Polygon counts for player models were increased for the PC port (Knuckles being one of the most noticeable improvements), though tracks were left unchanged. The software rendered PC version is also the only version with texture alpha blending (per texel transparency, with all other versions using per polygon transparency).
Collision differs slightly between the Saturn and later versions, such as ropes in Reactive Factory which are solid in the original game. Items also have different probabilities of being received in the Saturn version; shields and speed shoes are far more common for racers in top positions. All non-Saturn versions support up to four player races, versus just two.
In addition to all of this, the PC version makes a number of graphical changes, often as a result of supporting higher screen resolutions. The balloons in the balloon mode are blue in the Saturn version, while other versions have randomly colored balloons. Audio is generally worse on the PC, however - sound effects are often played in lower quality, and instrumental tunes are mysteriously truncated in the PC version. The Saturn and Gems versions have ambient sound effects for torches, waterfalls, and seasides; these are missing in the PC version, and are played too loudly in the Gems Collection port.
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(?).
Credits are different in the Saturn version in that there are no 3D characters.
Also released on
- Arcade Collection for PC (2000)
- Sonic Action Pack for PC (2000)
- Sonic Action 4 Pack for PC (2001)
- Twin Pack: Sonic 3D Blast & Sonic R for PC (2002)
- Xplosiv Top 10 for PC (2002)
- Sega PC Mega Pack for the PC (2003)
- Sonic Gems Collection for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 (2005)
- Sonic Double Pack for PC (2008)
- Sonic Gold Edition for PC (200x)
- 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.)
- 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
- General Producer: Yuji Naka
- Project Manager: Youji Ishii
- Producer: Yuji Naka
- Game Design Director: Takashi Iizuka
- Game Designers: Shiro Mukaide, Syun Nakamura
- Game Advisors: Takao Miyoshi, Katsuhiro Hasegawa
- Additional Artwork: Kazuyuki Hoshino
- Character Designer: Yuji Uekawa
- Graphic Advisors: Naoto Oshima, Hiroshi Nishiyama
- Sound Advisor: Naofumi Hataya
- Executive Manager: Shoichiro Irimajiri
- Executive Coordinators: Makoto Oshitani, Jin Shimazaki
- Overseas Coordinator: Ryoichi Hasegawa
- Public Relations: Hiroto Kikuchi, Takumi Miyake
- Manual: Hiroyuki Mitsui, Osamu Nakazato, Takashi Nishimura
- Special Thanks: Takahiro Hamano, Yukifumi Makino, Takuya Matsumoto, Yoshitake Miura, Yuichiro Suzuki
- 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
- 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
- Game Developed by: Travellers Tales
- Program design and implementation: Jon Burton
- Head artist: James Cunliffe
- Lead artist: Dave Burton
- 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 and visual advisor: Shigeru Okada (Sega Europe Ltd.)
- Character designer: Yuji Uekawa (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
- Music and sound producer: Richard Jacques (Sega Europe Ltd.)
- Project director: Kats Sato (Sega Europe Ltd.)
- General producer: Yuji Naka (Sega Enterprises Ltd.)
- 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
- Producer: Yuji Naka
- Game design director: Takashi Iizuka
- Map design director: Hirokazu Yasuhara
- Game designer: Syun Nakamura
- Game advisors: Takao Miyoshi, Katsuhiro Hasegawa
- Additional artwork: Kazuyuki Hoshino
- Additional artwork and visual advisor: Shigeru Okada
- Character designers: Yuji Uekawa, Yoshitaki Miura
- Graphic advisors: Naoto Oshima, Hiroshi Nishiyama
- Sound advisor: Naofumi Hataya
- Music and sound effects: Richard Jacques
- Vocals: T.J. Davis courtesy of Freedom Management
- Engineered and mixed by: Matt Howe
- Digital editing by: Neil Tucker
- Recorded and mixed at: Metropolis Studios and Sega Digital Studio
- Product manager: Toshinori Asai
- Producer: Tetsuo Shinyu
- Director: Masamitsu Shiino
- Sega Europe Ltd. director: Richard Lloyd
- European marketing manager: Hitendra Naik
- Assistant European product manager: Steve Wombwell
- Localization: Roberto Parraga, Dave Thompson, Michael Wiessmuller
- Packaging and software manual:
- Supervisor: Yuji Naka
- Special Thanks to: Takashi Iizuka, Jin Shimazaki, Kazutoshi Miyake, Katsuhisa Sato, Scott Hawkins, and Sonic Team
- developed by: Traveller's Tales
|Main article: Sonic R/Manuals|
|90||Sonic Retro Average|
|Based on 1 review|
|PC, US (Expert Software)|
|PC, UK (Xplosiv)|
|PC, UK (Xplosiv; alt)|
|PC, UK (Xplosiv; alt 2)|
|PC, UK (Xplosiv; alt 3)|
|PC, UK (Xplosiv; With Pro Pinball)|
|PC, UK (Grabit)|
|PC, FR (Xplosiv)|
|PC, DE (Xplosiv)|
|PC, DE (Xplosiv; alt)|
|PC, DE (Green Pepper)|
|PC, ES (Xplosiv)|
|PC, ES/IT (Xplosiv)|
|PC, AU (Valusoft)|
|PC, SG (Replaygem)|
ROM dump status
- File:Sonicr sat jp back cover.jpg
- https://sega.jp/history/hard/segasaturn/software.html (Wayback Machine: 2020-03-30 22:53)
- sega:Press release: 1997-11-17: The World's Fastest Hedgehog Races To The 3D Winner's Circle With "Sonic R"
- sega:Press release: 1997-06-19: SONIC’S BACK!
- [cvg, issue 193, page 72 cvg, issue 193, page 72]
- http://sega.jp/search/result.php?page=9&pf=11 (Wayback Machine: 2017-03-04 04:39)
- http://sega.jp/pc/sonicr/ (Wayback Machine: 2013-10-30 11:00)
- File:SonicR PC DE Box GreenPepper.jpg
- https://twitter.com/SEGAForever/status/1329092005809500160 (Wayback Machine: 2020-11-18 17:02)
- https://twitter.com/SonictheComicUK/status/1329117703274188806 (Wayback Machine: 2020-11-19 01:13)
|Sonic games for the following systems|
| 1996 Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island 1997 Sonic Jam | Sonic R |
Prototypes Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (Saturn tech demo) | Sonic R (preview) | Sonic R: Trial Version