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The racing game with an attitude

— Tagline

Sonic R (ソニックR Sonikku Ā?) is a racing game that was developed by Traveller's Tales and Sonic Team. It was initially released for the Sega Saturn and was later ported to PC in 1998.


Spoiler warning: Plot, ending details or any kind of information follow.

The title screen of the Sega Saturn version of Sonic R.

After various struggles with Dr. Robotnik, Sonic and Tails are off having a leisurely time together. While on an adventure of theirs however, they eventually go to a town, where they find a gigantic screen on a building that is announcing a World Grand Prix, and that it is recruiting contestants for the race. Tails is interested in participating, if only to test himself against others, but Sonic is not into the idea. However, he changes his mind when he finds out that one of the contestants is Dr. Robotnik. He thus rushes off to participate in the World Grand Prix, while Tails follows him.[1]

At the same time, there is a spy satelite far above the ground that is scouting Sonic and Tails. This satelite is being used by Dr. Robotnik, who has found out that the Chaos Emeralds are hidden along the race tracks of the World Grand Prix. He proceeds to gloat that he has planned to lure the heroes to the race, so that, if they find the Emeralds, he will take them away from them. Robotnik then turns around. From the corner of his eye, several cold silluettes appear, their red eyes glowing eerily in the dim darkness. He then proceeds to laugh, saying that, this time, his dreams of world domination will become a reality.[1]

Meanwhile, the World Grand Prix competitor recruitment commercials are airing worldwide. When they arrive, Sonic and Tails find out that they are not the only ones who saw the news of this event, as they find that Knuckles and Amy are participating as well.[1]

Can Sonic stop Dr Robotnik's evil ambitions? How will the World Grand Prix turn out? The answers are up in the air as the World Grand Prix begins![1]


Image Character Biography
Sonic R 3D Sonic stand.png Sonic Sonic is the fastest of all the racers. He's so fast that he almost lifts off the ground when he runs, so take care when cornering or you might miss the turn! Sonic has excellent jumping ability too.[2]
Tails 8.png Tails Tails is not as fast as Sonic, but he accelerates and corners well. Jump and grip are fairly good too, but best of all, he can fly![2]
Knuckles 41.png Knuckles Knuckles is the overall well-balanced contestant in the race. His ability to stay on the ground is outstanding, and cornering is good. Knuckles can glide after jumps.[3]
Amy 5.png Amy Maybe Amy's car doesn't have a very high top-speed, but there are some pretty wonderful things it can do. For one, it acts as a fast hovercraft on water. And look out when she fires the turbo boost![3]
SonicR EggmanEggMobile.png Dr. Robotnik Boo! Hiss! Dr. R is back with his new mean machine. The machine jet packs allow for travel over water and good cornering, but no contact with the ground means no grip! And what's that...a homing missile?[4]


An example of Sonic R gameplay in Resort Island, the first course in the game.

Sonic R is a 3D platformer third-person racing video game. Here, the player can take control of ten characters, four of which are unlocked at the beginning of the game. In addition to the racing gameplay, the game also makes use of exploration elements, with each course having various secrets to find.

The main objective of Sonic R is to finish in the top 3 of each race. Various elements can be found throughout the courses to grant the player an advantage. Abundant in the game are Rings, which can be used to activate Accelerators and open Ring Gates that lead to shortcuts and secrets. There are also some special items, such as Sonic Tokens and Chaos Emeralds, which can be used to unlock other features in the game.


Button formation Character movement
Sega Saturn controller 3D Pad Sonic Tails Knuckles Amy Robotnik Eggrobo
Controlpadds.png up / B Button (Sega Genesis).svg Move forward
Controlpadds.png left/right Turn left/right
Left Shift Button + Right Shift Button Trigger L + Trigger R Brake
Left/Right Shift Button Trigger L/R Drift left/right
X Close-up camera
Z Overhead camera
Controlpadds.png down Crouch N/A
Sega Saturn A Button.png/Sega Saturn C Button.png/Y Jump Turbo Boost Homing Missile
Sega Saturn A Button.png/Sega Saturn C Button.png/Y in midair Double Jump N/A Gliding N/A
Move forward + Controlpadds.png down > Controlpadds.png up Spin Attack N/A
Crouch + Sega Saturn B Button.png Spin Dash Roll N/A
START Pause the game



Gimmicks and obstacles


Playable characters

Non-playable characters


Sonic R has five courses: Four of which are available at the start of the game, and one which is unlocked by finishing first in all four unlocked courses.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 68% (Sat)[5]
70% (PC)[6]
Review scores
Publication Score
Allgame 4.0/5 stars[7]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 8/10, 8/10, 8/10, 7/10 (Sat)[8]
GameSpot 5.6/10 (Sat)[9]

Sonic R received generally positive reviews from critics at the time of its release, although retrospective commentary has been more mixed. The Saturn version currently holds an aggregate score of 68.92 percent in GameRankings based on six reviews,[10] while the PC version received 70% based on two.[11]

Ryan MacDonald of GameSpot commented positively on the graphics and audio, but said that the game is "so short that you'll probably finish it the day you rent it."[9] Game Revolution noted that the game was "a little different" from normal racing games, but was highly critical of the music (remarking that "With lyrics like 'Can you feel the sunshine brighten up your day', you feel like Disney has suddenly taken over the world and Gestapo mice are forcing you to smile all the time") and the "wily and inexact" controls.[12]


Image Platform Description
Arcadecollectionnostalgia.png PC Arcade Collection is a compilation of Sega PC games which includes Sonic R, Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, and Sega Rally. It was released by Empire Interactive in 2000.
SonicSpeedPack PC US Box Expert.jpg Sonic Speed Pack! is a compilation of the two Sonic PC games developed by Traveller's Tales, being Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R. It was released by Expert Software in 2000.
SAP pc us front.jpg Sonic Action Pack is a bundle of three Sega PC Sonic games; Sonic R, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, and Sonic & Knuckles Collection. It was released in 2000.
Sonicaction4pack.jpg Sonic Action 4 Pack is the same as Sonic Action Pack, except it also includes Sega Smash Pack 2. It was released in 2001.
SonicDoublePack.jpg Sonic Double Pack similar to Sonic Speed Pack!, a compilation with Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R. It was released in 2008.
Gc sonic gems collection p o5pa9w.jpg Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 Sonic Gems Collection is a compilation released in 2005 that features the remaining notable Sonic games not included in Sonic Mega Collection, as well as numerous extras. The three main games of the compilation are Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R. The version of Sonic R included is the 2004 PC port.


Main article: Sonic R (album)

The front cover of the album.

Sonic R is an album for the soundtrack of the game. It was released by Marvelous Entertainment in Japan in 1998. It contains a total of twelve tracks, two of which are remixes exclusive to the album. A digital version was released in 2014 and included the instrumental versions of the tracks, but excluded the remixes from the original release.


  • The PC port of the game has a few noteworthy differences, enhancing the game with some extra features and making the controls more responsive. Some of the changes include changing the character stats slightly and altering the item probability (making the gameplay easier against the AI), as well as weather ("snow" would also make the water frozen), daytime effects, and some graphical changes like multicolored balloons and character model touch-ups (though certain effects like the water surface and Radiant Emerald lost its unique characteristics, such as elusive transparencies in a Saturn game).
    • However, there are multiple publishers for the PC version, and some of them (namely the common Activision distribution) inexplicably removed the entire soundtrack (possibly due to extended licensing issues).
    • Versions released around 2004 (namely the ValuSoft edition) fixed minor glitches and also helped compatibility with Windows XP as the game is notoriously hard to set up on modern computers.
    • In versions that do include the soundtrack, not only does the game require the original CD in order to play the audio, but the instrumental tracks have noticeably been shortened from the Saturn length.
    • The version in Sonic Gems Collection is based on the PC port with its version of the soundtrack, but is missing a few additions such as Netplay (which was an officially patched feature). The PS2 version is also only up to two players like the Saturn version.
  • The game's theme music is also heard in Sonic Pinball Party and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Music from this game is also featured in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
  • Every course begins with the letter R.
  • This is the only original Sonic game on the Saturn, as Sonic 3D Blast was ported from the Genesis and Sonic Jam was a compilation of the first four Sonic games.
  • This is the only Sonic racing game where characters primarily race on foot.
  • At the beginning of the episode "Dinner Out" in the TV series Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm and his friend Stevie can be seen playing Sonic R in the level Resort Island. Malcolm is playing as Sonic and wheelchair-bound Stevie is playing as Amy Rose, who is the only character in the game on wheels.
  • During gameplay there is an orange Chaos Emerald. Despite this, the image shown when the player beats the game with all Chaos Emeralds replaces it with a blue emerald.
  • In the development of the game Mario Kart 64, the game was known as Super Mario Kart R in early 1995. It was changed when the game was released in 1996/1997 and Sonic R ended up coming out in 1997.
  • Sonic R was promoted before its release at Sonic's 6th Birthday Celebration.
  • According to the prototype version of the game, this was originally going to be Sonic's first appearance with the soles on his shoes. This was scrapped for unknown reasons.
  • This game was Traveller's Tales second involvement in the series, the first being Sonic 3D Blast and the last being LEGO Dimensions in 2016, where Sonic was added to game.
  • This is the last Sonic game of the "Classic" era, before Sonic Adventure redesigned the characters.
  • This is also the final Sonic game that was released for the Sega Saturn.
  • On the Xplosiv version of the disc on the PC, the game's title is "Sonic Racer".
  • Sonic R is one of the two Sonic games added to the Arcade Collection, the other being Sonic 3D Blast.
  • Ian Flynn has stated that one of the notes given to him from Sega of Japan stated that Sonic R is canon.[13]
  • The "R" on the logo of the game was reused much later, in Team Sonic Racing.



Sonic R Mini Trailer


Saturn Sonic R Trailer 480p


Sonic R Dec. 1997 Preview Japanese Sega Saturn Video Magazine


Sega Saturn Sonic R Japanese commercial


SS Sonic R - Prototype Footage (Late Summer 1997)


SEGA Saturn Commercial - Sonic R


Evil Sonic R Commercial


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sonic R (Sega Saturn) Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 4-5.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sonic R (Sega Saturn) United States instruction booklet, pg. 17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Sonic R (Sega Saturn) United States instruction booklet, pg. 18.
  4. Sonic R (Sega Saturn) United States instruction booklet, pg. 19.
  5. Sonic R for Saturn – GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on 18 June 2010.
  6. Sonic R for PC – GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on 18 June 2010.
  7. Sackenheim, Shawn (3 October 2010). Sonic R – Review. allgame. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved on 25 August 2016.
  8. EGM Staff (February 1998). Sonic R Review. 10. p. 112.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sonic R Review. GameSpot.
  10. Sonic R for Sega Saturn. GameRankings. Archived from the original on 14 December 2009.
  11. Sonic R for PC. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010.
  12. Why does the female hedgehog get the car?. GameRevolution.
  13. BumbleKast - Episode 22 - BumbleMon Go. YouTube (25 August 2016). Retrieved on 2 September 2016.

External links

Sonic the Hedgehog spin-off games