Sonic R (the R stands for racing) is a racing game made by Sega for the Sega Saturn and PC. It features characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game is characterized by the same sense of environmental openness in the Sonic platformers. The spin-dash move from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does not appear in Sonic R.
There are several collectable rings across each of the five racetracks. Each ring regenerates after a short period of time. These rings can serve one of three purposes.
- Stepping on a speed boost will consume all of a player's rings, to a maximum of 100, 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.
- Using fifty rings will open one of many special doors. After being opened, the doors remain open for all players for the duration of the game.
- Some characters can perform an attack for 10 rings (see below).
There are also inexhaustable emblem bonuses. Touching an emblem gives the racer one of multiple possible rewards, including a random number of rings and the bubble and lightning shields that 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 upon touching water.
Racers can run on water for a limited period of time, and can "swim" in it indefinetely, at greatly reduced speed. In addition, each of the ten playable characters has a different speed and a unique set of abilities. Unlike most racing games, these abilities are designed such that certain characters, even among characters that are initially playable, have a clear edge over others. The four characters that are initially playable are Amy Rose, Tails, Knuckes, and Sonic. Below are the characters and their abilities, listed roughly from worst to best.
- Amy Rose drives a car and can hover over water. However, she is extremely slow.
- Eggman, who races in a humanoid robot, 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.
- Tails can fly at a fixed level for an unlimited period of time.
- Eggrobo is an improved version of its counterpart, but slow compared to 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.
- Sonic is the fastest of the characters that are initially playable.
- Tails Doll can hover on water. Additionally, he can hover indefinetely a certain distance above the ground or water.
- Mecha Knuckles is an improved version of its counterpart.
- Mecha Sonic is an improved version of its counterpart.
- Super Sonic is the best racer, and also the hardest to unlock. He can double-jump and can "skip" off of the surface of the water. He is also the fastest racer.
There are five racers in each race. The four "best" racers that have been activated are automatically selected as computer opponents. Thus, there is some disadvantage to activating secret characters.
Races occur in random weather conditions, either normal, rainy, or snowy, unless the default settings are altered. Snowy weather freezes the water so that racers can run across it without sinking.
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.
Activating secret characters
Placing first on each of the first four racetracks activates the fifth. Placing first on the last racetrack activates Eggman. If a player collects all five coins on a racetrack and places first, second, or third, the player activates a race against a secret character unique to the racetrack. Defeating this secret character unlocks it. If a player collects a Chaos Emerald and places first in the race, the player keeps it. Collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds activates Super Sonic.