So, I think I’ve said on here before that I started my gaming life with the MegaDrive. I may be wrong and I haven’t said that before, since I can’t remember everything I wrote in the past 700 articles, but I’ve said it now!
Anyway, being that I was a MegaDrive (or Genesis) gamer as a child, Sonic was naturally a big part of my childhood. However, when the PlayStation came out, that was pretty much my go-to console. In fact, I missed the Sega Saturn completely.
Therefore, when Sonic R for the Sega Saturn was selected for this week’s Retro Showcase, I was really quite excited. I’d never actually played it before and, since the 3D Sonic games don’t have the best reputation (outside of the Sonic Adventure games), I was interested to see whether or not it manages to break that reputation… Spoiler: it didn’t.
Now, as you probably know, graphics aren’t something I care about normally. I mean, I wouldn’t be playing retro games if graphics mattered to me. However, the first thing that I saw was that the graphics look so dated and low quality.
The Sega Saturn can handle some reasonable graphics, as a friend at school had one and we played Tomb Raider on it. Yet, Sonic R actually looked more like a late SNES F-Zero game when it came to the backgrounds. The characters looked alright, to be fair, but the tracks and locations were pretty awful.
Moving passed the graphics, the controllers for Sonic (as that’s who we played as) were awful! He lives up to the name of “fastest thing alive” when going in a straight line. However, as soon as you try to turn, you realise just how bad the controls are.
That seems like a good place for us to move on to the Gameplay section of this rundown, don’t you think?
So I have already said, the ability to turn in Sonic R is almost non-existent. In fact, the only real way to make it around the corners is the drift using the shoulder buttons. However, even that will sometimes see you careering off to the side of the track and straight into a wall or a body of water.
Don’t worry, though! If you end up in the water then there is a great physics breaking trick you can use to get straight back onto the track; run towards one of the bridges.
As you can see, the game’s so-called “physics” will just teleport you back on top of the bridge. That is just one example of how broken Sonic R actually is. Here’s another good example for you guys.
It’s very easy for your camera to clip through the walls of the various tracks, revealing the empty void behind. This makes the game very hard to keep track of, especially when moving at speed. Oh, and Sonic R just doesn’t care about that and will be as unforgiving as possible.
Between the extremely poor turning and terrible camera, Sonic R also throws you into racetracks with extremely sharp turns to really mess with you!
With that, we’re going to move onto the “enjoyment” aspects of Sonic R, because I think we’ve covered the main gameplay parts of the game.
Normally, you would expect that the enjoyment of a game comes from the deep and meaningful story, fun gameplay or fast-paced reactions. With Sonic R, that certainly wasn’t the case.
In fact, the most enjoyment I got from playing Sonic R came from how broken it was. That and the awesome songs you guys were playing through Song Request. The game, itself, was far more frustrating than it was enjoyable to play. But thankfully, everyone watching the stream made it better for me.
On the other hand, to be fair, I did get a lot of excitement and joy when I finally won a race. This was mostly because I felt like I was starting to overcome the various bugs with the game. When that happened, this was my reaction;
So in the end, whilst Sonic R is an awful game, it was still a lot of fun!
If you’re a fan of great racing games and are looking for something along the lines of Ridge Racer, Forza, F1 or even Mario Kart, you should probably go elsewhere. On the other hand, if you like laughing at terrible games that still manage to be enthralling, then Sonic R might just be perfect for you!
And That’s All Folks
It’s actually surprisingly hard for me to recommend Sonic R to anyone, but also difficult not to. It’s so broken that it can be really funny, especially if playing with others or streaming it. It’s also not the worse racing game I’ve ever played. That crown still goes to Crazy Frog Racer.
If you can pick Sonic R up cheap, then it is probably worth it, just for the comical side of the game. If not, then I would give it a miss. It doesn’t really offer anything new to the racing genre (even using a final stage that is eerily reminiscent of Rainbow Road). On top of this, the gameplay mechanics are pretty awful and the level design misses the point of a racing game at times.
However, it did help to spawn the more recent Sonic racing games which improve on the mechanics of Sonic R by quite a lot.
Have you played Sonic R? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.