In this series I will go over all the games I remember playing as a kid on my Gamecube. Some were good, but most were bad, but all of them have a special place in my heart.
In the 2000’s Sega had given up on the console market and shifted their focus on reminding everyone that they used to be good by dumping their whole sonic library onto various games on various platforms. There were some good games such as Sonic Mega Collection, which included all of the best games featuring the speedy blue hedgehog. And then there was the Sonic Gems Collection, a game where the title is the opposite of the quality of the games included. Most of these games included could definitely be seen as garbage, but ultimately not memorable. There are exceptions, two of them to be exact, and they will be covered in this two part series intro.
Sonic R is the best worst racing game ever, and it’s my favorite on this “gems” collection. There is hardly a thing on this game that is considered good. The music is bad, the game play is bad, the controls are bad, the graphics are bad and the courses are so bad that they are more like mazes than race-able tracks. Everything in the game is so laughable in it’s quality, that it’s very memorable.
First, the character selection is a whole five characters to begin with. Super Mario Kart was released five years earlier than Sonic R’s initial release and had eight playable characters from the get-go, marking the first red flag of this abysmal game. The Sonic universe did not have that many characters at the time, but enough to make at least eight playable racers. The five starting characters include Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Amy and Robotnik, and each racer has their own benefits, but every kid who fires up this game will play as Sonic because he is the fastest and most recognizable. The other characters simply do not have the same advantages as Sonic does, so choosing anyone other than Sonic makes no sense.
You can’t race without a track and these tracks are so funny how unnecessarily complicated they are. There is a main track, four hundred shortcuts or alternate routes, and another hundred unlockable tracks that you can obtain by collecting enough rings. All of this stuff is on one course. I understand the need for having secrets and shortcuts, but making the collectables a currency to obtain shortcuts distracts from the fact that you are trying to win a race. There are also only five total tracks in the whole game, a fourth of what Super Mario Kart had in 1992. Granted, the tracks in that game are not as complicated but Mario Kart 64 released the same year as Sonic R and includes 16 tracks. The Sega Saturn is not a weak console, and it can easily hold more tracks, but Sega was lazy and just wanted to make complicated rat mazes for gamers to get lost in and forget that they were playing a racing game. Even looking at some of the main track that the computers follow, there are huge panels missing in the track, and in it’s place is the water that surrounds most of the levels. There is even a knock-off rainbow road to really cement the game as the worst racing game ever.
The controls are disgusting. There is no accelerating button like most games, but instead everything is controlled with the main control stick and a jump button. There are games that take advantage of simple controls and still be engaging, like Kirby’s Air Ride, but Sonic R’s horrible controls are a huge detriment to the quality of the game especially since there are complicated tracks with tight turns and absurd obstacles.
The music is mostly comprised of a hilarious set list of a woman singing songs that were so corny and unbelievably stupid that they could be rejected songs from a D-List girl group in the 70’s. The lyrics are encouraging and upbeat, but really out of place when it comes to the actual quality of the game. Lyrical highlights include, “Can you feel the sunshine/ Does it brighten up your day?”, and “You know you have to survive/ You have to keep that dream alive”. To this day I could sing all of the lyrics at a moments notice, and I guarantee that no one would know what I was singing or what is was from.
This is by far the worst game that I had ever played on the GameCube, and it’s not technically a GameCube game. The Sonic Turds Collection is the only way to experience this game without a Sega Saturn, and by sales history, it’s possible it’s the only way to experience this game. As a kid, I knew back then that this game was bad. I got the turds collection right around the time when Mario Kart Wii was released and comparing the two games is laughable considering the huge difference in quality. Say what you will about Mario Kart Wii, but at least it’s playable. Of course Sonic R is bad, but I see it like a “disasterpiece” movie like The Room. Every bad choice possible was made and everything came together to make a huge stinker of a game, but it is an experience unlike any other.
Next week, I will return to the Sonic Gems Collection to finish out the two-part intro with a game from the collection that has no right to be as intricate as it is.