Sonic Riders

  • Original Platform: GameCube
  • Where to get: Second hand

Sonic Riders on the surface looks like it’s a slightly different Kart racer. It has a mascot, item boxes and crazy looking tracks: something that could be simple but a ton of fun. Sonic Riders is not like this at all, instead it’s a fairly unique racer with some complex mechanics.

The game will just throw you into it, so if you haven’t read the manual you will not understand what it happening in the slightest, with gusts of winds flying at you from other characters, stopping because your hoverboard (Extreme Gear as the game calls it) has run out of air. Upon reading up, and it’s more confusing than it really needs to be.

Air is fuel, you collect it by preforming stunts, getting it from item boxes or going through pit stops (which will hold your character in place until charged up). You can use this to boost, but use too much and you’ll have to run instead. Following air waves left by players in front of you make you go faster, and allows you to perform stunts for more air and speed. However, you can miss shortcuts because of this.

Shortcuts are also dependant in type of character: Speed characters use rails, Fly characters can fly though rings (with very difficult controls so you’ll probably just fall instead) and power characters can smash through walls…although other character can do so with a slight drop in speed. From what I experienced, Speed racers simply have better shortcut access.

Some shortcuts can be accessed by making higher or longer jumps of ramps which I only got to work a couple of times. Item boxes seem less what they are in Mario Kart and will mostly be air or rings (which upgrade your characters for the race, making you faster). There are a couple of weapons, but they seemed to be very rare.

There’s a story mode with a fairly dull story (and involves characters giving Robotnik chaos emeralds for a tournament he’s hosting…no surprise he has something up his sleeve) and some new characters who are descendants of an ancient group of thieves called Babylonians. Voice acting is especially bad, even for Sonic.

Sonic Riders is really just a confusing mess. The main thing I liked about it was the starting grid. You can walk backwards for more of a run up, then run forward to get your speed as high up. There’s an electric fence across the starting line that will stun you if you run into it before the countdown timer finishes. It’s way more fun than tapping a button at the right moment.

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