Sounds good on paper, and could've been good, but just isn't really.
Sonic R was one of the very few sonic games for the Sega Saturn. Sonic did cameo in saturn games like Daytona USA, Gale Racer, and Christmas NiGHTS, but he only had three saturn games to himself.
The first was a 32-bit remake of Sonic 3D Flickies Island for the Mega Drive, which, apart from its superior music, graphics and special stage, wasn't all that different to the original. The second was Sonic Jam, a compilation of the Mega Drive classics with some bonus features. The third, was this game. Sonic R, which was the only original Sonic game for the Saturn.
Now, Sonic R is a racing game released in '97 as a stocking filler because No proper Sonic game was being introduced for the Sega Saturn (Although Sonic adventure was originally going to be for the said console). A Sonic Racing game sounds good on paper. Sonic is a speedy character. A racing game would be ideal. Hence, Sega asked Traveller's tales to create a Sonic racing game for them.
Traveller's Tales had previously worked on Sonic 3D Blast (Flickies' Island) but this time they had significantly more input in the game, and pretty much everything was made by them. (As opposed to 3D Blast, where most of the people working on the game were Japanese). I think the only things that weren't made by Traveller's Tales are the character models (Which were used in Sonic 3D blast and Sonic Jam, and were used in prototypes of Sonic Adventure) and maybe a couple of other things. A unique thing about this is that it's Sonic's first fully 3D game. One good thing about this game is the fact that most characters race on foot, unlike most others where Sonic & his chums drive in a car or on a board.
There are five tracks to race on. Resort Island is your typical Green Hill style level with loop-de-loops and other things. Radical City is some sort of City based track which doesn't seem to know if it's apeing Spring Yard or Scrap Brain. Regal Ruin is an ancient egyptian level with heiroglyphics and sphinxes that look like Knuckles (But stranglely there's water in the level). Reactive factory is a factory but there don't seem to be any poisonous chemicals that can harm you, and the Radiant Emerald is a psycadellic enclosed stage that you unlock after coming first in the first four tracks.
Here are the pros and cons about the tracks: In a lot of the levels, despite there being a recommended pathway for one to take, you can actually just cut every single corner so you're guaranteed to win the race. Then there's the problem that there doesn't seem to be anything that makes any track stand out. I think they should've added more platforming elements to the game, add Badniks for you to either avoid or destroy, perhaps add things like the swinging ropes from Angel island Zone, or the Conveyor belts from Scrap brain and Metropolis, even adding the occaisonal set of spikes would be a good idea.
Then there's the characters. The initial set of characters are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Dr. Robotnik. Sonic can Double Jump, Tails can fly, Knuckles can glide, and Amy and Robotnik can float over water. Collecting coins means you can use more characters, and this is quite easy to do. The extra characters are just robotised versions of the original characters; Metal Sonic, Metal Knuckles, Egg Robo and of course the evil Tails Doll. Collecting all the chaos emerals scattered about the zones enables one to Select Super sonic to race with. I think it would've been better if Metal Knuckles and Tails Doll were replaced with Mighty and Ray, or maybe members of the Chaotix.
Other game modes include Tag, where you have to tag the other characters in a specific amount of time, and then there's also a game where you have to search for Balloons in a certain amount of time. Despite these, there still isn't much variety.
The graphics aren't too great. The water is actually rendered quite well, but the tracks look quite blocky and so do the characters; for example Sonic's spines seem to be sticking up like someone's put starch in them, and his running animation seems clunky and unnatural. Robotnik doesn't really look like how he should (the promo shot of the model looks better than his model in the game), and overall the graphics aren't as good as other games on the saturn.
The Music isn't good. It doesn't feel like a Sonic game. It's strange because the composer of the music in this game also write the music to Sonic 3D flickies' island on the saturn, and that had some very good music. I think the music should've sounded more like the music in Sonic adventure, but with different sounding instruments.
The controls aren't very good, because they are just irresponsive and quite slippery. Most of the characters travel quite fast (Apart from Amy and Egg Robo) but often in this game the faster a character goes the harder he or she is to control. Quite a few of the characters seem to control like cars, which isn't surprising since Sonic R Started out as an F1 Racing Simulator.
If you have a Saturn, I'm not telling you you mustn't but it, but there are better and more fun racing games for the Saturn than this.
Music & Sound: 1/5