Sonic R. Sega. (1997) Sega Saturn

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Woof. I’ve been sat for some time trying to think of an eloquent opening paragraph but….man. Just….woof.

Background

One of only two sonic games produced for the ill-fated Sega Saturn (the other being the utterly pointless Sonic Jam), Sonic R is Sega’s first, and so far only, attempt at a Sonic racing game for a home console. Sonics whole gimmick is that he’s REALLY fast, so a racing game is a natural fit, right? Urgh. Read on..

The Story

Nope!

The Gameplay

I’m going to make a very concerted attempt to be kind. This is another Sega game I’ve very fond memories of as a youth, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Sonic. You choose from an initial lineup of four characters – Sonic, Tails, Amy (why?) and Knuckles. As the game progresses you unlock such luminaries as Dr Robotnik, Mecha Sonic, Super Sonic, Mecha Tails, Mecha Knuckles, Deep Space Sonic, Arctic Adventure Robotnik and Kung Fu Grip Amy. I’ll be honest, my character list may need some fact checking. From there you have a veritable treasure trove of four, count them, four tracks to choose from. But it doesn’t stop there – there’s an unlockable fifth track! Slow down, Sega!

Though there are only a few tracks, they are, in fairness, really bloody good. The level design is superb. You see, as well as the simple racing game rules of three laps and try to come first, the courses are littered with secrets. Sonic R comes replete with more shortcuts than I can even count, some of which lead to secret coins and chaos emeralds, all of which are used to unlock those tasty characters along the way. And in all honesty, finding them is a blast.

Unfortunately, Father Time has beaten Sonic R like a red-headed stepchild that owes it money. The main issue comes from the actual controls – all of the characters handle like they’re being held in place by magnets. If you want to turn right, you’ll find yourself wrenching on the control with all of your might to make so much as a 45 degree turn. Oddly enough this begins to prove cumbersome. Who’d have thought, right? See, in order to unlock those precious characters, you need to grab coins/emeralds and then WIN. If you’re five miles of the beaten path, have collected an emerald, but all Knuckles wants to do is whisper sweet nothings to the wall, you could consider that a design flaw. Sonic himself is the main offender, as Sega try to offset his proverbial supersonic speed – in order to make the game fair – by breaking his fucking kneecaps.

 

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The feeling of breakneck speed is fucking palpable, isn’t it?

In addition, did anyone notice how I’ve brought up unlockable characters three times now? That’s because there’s NOTHING ELSE HERE! Sparse isn’t the word. Granted, as I’ve said, the levels can be a heap of fun to explore, but when you can see everything a game has to offer within half an hour, it doesn’t really account for dick! Multiplayer? Yep, that’s there. See everything I wrote up there? Multiply that by two. If anything the flaws are magnified by the fact there’s a friend next to you saying everything you’re thinking.

Presentation

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BEHOLD MECHA TAILS IN ALL HIS GLO–ok, seriously, what the hell is that?

Heyyyyy blocky blocky! Whaaaaatcha got blocky? How about blocky, I can’t bloody seeeeee! It’s blocky. It looks like every other blocky ass Saturn game. And if you’re really lucky, occasionally some pop up will scream out of the screen at you and burn your retinas. And, oh my stars, did I mention the soundtrack?! You are in for a treat. Here – try and listen to these “songs” without cringing so badly you’ll need a chiropractor. Go on, enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY9m2sHQwLs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJRosZzB_a8

I don’t care if you hate me now, I can’t be the only one to be subjected to this.

Verdict

Sonic R TRIES to be a good game. It’s got some great ideas, and was clearly made with a lot of love for the franchise. Sadly, no amount of admittedly awesome level design can save a game this fundamentally broken. In the wake of other cartoon racers, Sonic R is rendered virtually unplayable. I’d tell you to avoid, but that retro Saturn market isn’t exactly booming. Sonic R could probably shoulder most of the blame for that.

Pros : Great levels..

Cons : ..all five of them. An absolute turd to control, looks like that shitty Def Leppard video, almost zero longevity or replay value, THE WORST SOUNDTRACK IN THE HISTORY OF GAMING.

25%

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