This is the game that could be the successor to the awesome Sega Rally. With far better graphics, more characters and a blue hedgehog, Sega have come up with a winner here. Instead of just the normal game modes such as Grand Prix and Time Attack, Travellers Tales have added two new modes to the Time Attack era - a Tag Battle mode and Balloon Hunt mode. These are great fun, and you can just keep coming back to beat your best times again and again.
The graphics in this game are absolutely brilliant, perhaps the best I have ever seen on the Saturn. Traveller's Tales have managed to push the Saturn to it's highest limits and have produced a game which can handle all these amazing effects all at once. The fade in-out scenery effect erases the chance of any pop-up, while still handling a colourful 30 frames-per-second graphical display. The lighting effects are great, with each track illuminating the characters as you would expect for that environment. There is absolutely no glitching at all in this game. Personally, I don't think any Saturn or indeed PlayStation racer has managed to outdo this. It is one of the luxuries of owning a Saturn.
This game features 4 tracks plus one secret one, bringing the total to 5. Each track is completely different to the others, and totally original except some being loosely based on levels from the 2D Sonic games. Resort Island is a big island which is of course very sunny. Regal Ruins is an Egyptian land which features some cool Knuckles sphinxes as you run by. The most amazing track, however, is the hidden one, Radiant Emerald. In this track, the whole floor is translucent and the effect is outstanding. It is obviously in competition with Mario Kart 64's final track, and does the job perfectly well - it is even better. The only letdown here is the absence of the fade in-out scenery, which obviously the Saturn could not handle at the same time as the transparencies. This calls for some ugly pop-up but still, not much.
The 2-Player mode is just great. It uses the old split screen way of doing things, but unfortunately suffers from some annoying slowdown which can sometimes disrupt the gameplay. This is only likely to happen in places like Radiant Emerald, so don't worry, it is still fun. Normally you can't pit two of the same character against each other, but by holding X when you select the character, this is made possible, only with a different colour Player 2.
Well... it's dodgy, that is all that can be said for it. The tunes are actually pretty good, very Sonicy. But the decision to add lyrics to the game was a debatable one. The song-writer obviously had very little experience of it, as the words are bit pathetic. But turn the lyrics off, and you have a brilliant soundtrack too. Some songs go better with words, most don't, but it's really up to personal preference. I like it without more, but that is just my opinion.
Sonic R has all the options you need really - difficulty settings, lyrics on/off, music volume, best times etc. You can't really beat it, and I can't think of any other options they could include. Except a colour change. That would be nice.
This is game is a total must-have. It is just as good as Sega Rally, but no better of course. Even if you have every racing game to date for your Saturn, you have to have this. With a wide range of characters and tracks to choose from mixed with eye-popping graphics, this is one of the most playable games there is. Buy it.
Review By: Joel Stanier