Video Game / Sonic Riders
"Even without wings, I can still fly!"
— Sonic the Hedgehog
series of Sonic the Hedgehog
, Sonic Riders
is a console Racing Game
series involving hoverboard racing. Started in 2006, it stars Sonic and his pals as they meet a new Power Trio
of characters known as the Babylon Rogues, composed of Jet the Hawk, Wave the Swallow, and Storm the Albatross. Together, they race at high speed using devices known as Extreme Gear.
There are currently 3 games in the series - Sonic Riders
, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
, and Sonic Free Riders
The Sonic Riders series provides examples of:
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Mobius Strip, the final track in Zero Gravity, has you riding through a track in the starry sky full of red and purplish eclipses.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Kutta–Joukowski theorem that Tails mentions when asked about how gears work is a real theorem relating to aerodynamics.
- Anachronism Stew:
- Metropolis Speedway in Sonic Free Riders resembles an old western European city, but has flying cars and hovering trains.
- In a different sense, Rocky Ridge, also in Sonic Free Riders. This is a still-inhabited Old West mining town. In other words, Sonic and his acquaintances are having a hoverboard race through a town whose citizens still travel about by steam locomotives and horse-drawn covered wagons. It's also quite anachronistic in the context of the series — whereas the rest of the series has a distinctively futuristic look, this place seems stuck in the 1850s.
- Anti-Frustration Features: In the Gigan Rocks track of Zero Gravity, the Gravity Dive section ends with a big jump out of a cave into the end section. As a precaution against overshot Gravity Dives, there's a barrier at the end of the track that will automatically launch anyone still in the air into an X level trick so they can still make the jump. You won't get any GP from it, but at least you won't throw yourself into a pit.
- Thanks to the nature of the racetracks in Zero Gravity, a shift in the gravitational pull as you fall will often times be just enough to toss you to safety if you were to whiff smaller jumps and even some big jumps that cover a relatively small horizontal distance.
- Another Side, Another Story: The Babylon Rogues version of the plot in the first two games.
- Ascended Extra: Shadow, Rouge, and Cream are plot-relevant in Free Riders when they were bonus characters in the first two.
- Awesome, yet Impractical: Boosting/Diving becomes this with Super Sonic. Reason being that Air/GP consumption is tied to Rings while playing as Super Sonic, and attempting to do either chews through a massive amount of Rings. Especially Gravity Dives in Zero Gravity, which will practically send you from 200 Rings to empty in a single Dive sequence. It's much easier to rely on the Super Sonic Boost to go fast, which is always active once you hit the Ring threshold needed to trigger it and doesn't burn Rings as quickly, despite being slower.
- Background Music Override: The Hang-On and Super Hang-On bikes will replace the background music of the track you are racing on with themes from their respective games.
- Balance Buff: After being nerfed in Zero Gravity, Super Sonic was restored to being the best character in the game in Free Riders. Free Riders Super Sonic is always on his board by default and has no concept of Levels or Gear Parts. Once you get 30 Rings, Sonic transforms into Super Sonic, which gives him better stats and infinite Air, but unlike previous games, doesn't automatically start burning Rings until he hits Super Sonic Boost. Activating any Boost will cause Super Sonic to go into Super Sonic Boost mode, which is sustained indefinitely until you run out of Rings, burns Rings at a rate of only two Rings per second, and has a blistering permanent top speed of 200 km/h.
- Bare Your Midriff: Wave the Swallow and Rouge the Bat.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Dr. Eggman manages to get the treasure in Sonic Riders. He doesn't like what happens, however, and calls it a day.
- Boastful Rap: Jet's theme "Catch Me If You Can", especially the Zero Gravity version.
- Book Ends: Metal City is the first racing course in Sonic Riders, and the final course in Sonic Free Riders.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The Chaos Emerald, which basically states that you've beaten all of the Mission Mode stages.
- Brutal Bonus Level:
- Every course in Sonic Free Riders has a very tough counterpart. While previous games had course counterparts for the Babylon Rogues which were tougher than the Heroes courses, Sonic Free Riders took this concept and stretched it incredibly far.
- Some of the missions in the original are pretty difficult, too. Special props to the races with Jet (one of which gives him an incredibly fast board while you're stuck with your character's default one and all of which include the below-mentioned rubberbanding and playing like they have a full stock of rings).
- Cobweb Jungle: Green Cave and White Cave are filled with enormous cobwebs. They are used as trampolines.
- Comeback Mechanic: Players moving at high speed leave behind Turbulence, which players behind them can ride to gain speed and do tricks.
- Conspicuous CG: Several of the backgrounds in the first game's opening. And as Production I.G was the one behind it, it's a given.
- Cool Airship: The Babylon Rogues travel in one when not racing. Jet has a jarringly formal-looking office in there.
- Cute Bruiser: In each game after the first, characters are no longer bound between Speed, Flight, and Power. You can make some very bizarre things happen, like Cream punching out giant stone pillars. In addition, Aiai and Billy Hatcher are assigned as Power characters by default, despite neither looking too threatening.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
- In all three games, they have ridiculous rubberbanding and play as if they have a full stock of Rings. In Zero Gravity and Sonic Free Riders, they will try to grab Rings when in front of you to prevent you from stockpiling them.
- One of the races against Jet in the bonus missions of the original gives him one of the fastest boards from the shop on top of the rubberbanding and ring cheating. Have fun trying to beat him, let alone get a Gold Emblem, on your comparatively slow default board.
- In Zero Gravity, the computer ramped their cheating up to the point that it's easy to assume they're playing an entirely different game. In certain sections of the track, the computer racers will very noticeably have their speed suddenly explode up to speeds between 190 and 250 in mere seconds without any help and maintain that speed until they hit an obstacle or are otherwise obstructed. It gets to the point that with in some races against some characters (like the Meteor Tech robot you can only obtain by beating him) the race can easily become a Luck-Based Mission.
- Crippling Overspecialization:
- The aptly-named "Fastest" gear is built for speed above else, and it shows: it has the highest possible top speed, but all its other stats are bottomed out.
- Succeeded in Zero gravity by the Untouchable gear. It holds the same stats as the Fastest gear, but whereas the Fastest is equipped two max speed-up gear parts and a rail grinding gear part, The Untouchable has nothing but max speed-up parts. It takes forever to accelerate, possesses pretty much no ability to turn and it's speed will sink like a stone if you look at it funny, but if you can get it up to speed, wow can it fly!
- Dark Reprise: Eggman's Leitmotif in the first game is a darker version of the theme song. It shows up again in Zero Gravity, which has a different theme song.
- Demon Head: Various Level 1 attacks, such those of Knuckles and Amy, invoke this.
- Developers' Foresight: In the Mobius Strip track, as per the plot, everyone is stripped of their gravity powers and the Arcs Of the Cosmos are absent from their character models. Even the bonus characters who don't participate in the story lack them if they're on the course.
- Die, Chair! Die!: Power-type racers work this way, with them punching any obstacles out of the way. All of the courses in Zero Gravity are also filled with random props one can destroy or fling into the sky with Gravity Control and Gravity Dives. Particularly large ones will stay in one place in midair, allowing you to touch them to slide along them and refill your boost gauge for each object. These objects subsequently fall and explode upon hitting the ground.
- Driving into a Truck: There is a truck parked by the side of the road in the first game's Metal City track. Power characters can go inside of it and punch through it to access the shortcut behind it.
- Early Game Hell: In Zero Gravity, Super Sonic suffers greatly at the outset due to starting a race with no Rings and being Ring powered. Even once you have Rings, he's not much better than regular Sonic on the Blue Star. However, once you buy Ring Magnet and at least one Ring Cap Up, Super Sonic becomes significantly better, being able to sustain Super form for effectively the rest of the race and is capable of staying in Super Sonic Boost mode all the time if the player is skilled.
- Easter Egg: In the first game's Metal City, there is no track behind the starting line. If you walk backwards until you fall off the track, a gust of air will propel you back up accompanied by confetti. When you pass the starting line, you will always get a "Fantastic!" rating on your exit time, regardless of how long it actually took you to cross the start line.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: The Blue Star II from the first game, which Tails hands to Sonic right before the final race of the Team Sonic Story in order to give him the edge over Jet.
- Eternal Engine: Egg Factory, Ice Factory, parts of Dark Desert, MeteorTech Premises, MeteorTech Sparkworks, Crimson Crater, Security Corridor, Astral Babylon, and Final Factory.
- Everyone Has Standards: E-10000B is a standard Eggman robot or so it seems but every other team is rather disgusted by Team Dark's apathy towards it's malfunctioning.
- Face–Heel Revolving Door: Dr. Eggman in Zero Gravity, who starts out bad, then becomes good, then becomes bad again for the climax.
- Fartillery: Eggman's level 3 attack.
- Final Boss: The Genie in the first game, Master Core: ABIS in Zero Gravity, and Metal Sonic in Free Riders. The former two switch into Unexpected Gameplay Change by forcing you to actually deal damage to the boss to end the race.
- Floating Continent: Babylon Garden.
- Foreshadowing: Although obviously not intended, the zero gravity wall-running section found in Dark Desert acts as a very accurate call-forward to the gameplay mechanics and revelations concerning Babylon found in the sequel.
- The theme song for Zero Gravity: Un-Gravitify manages to hide one. During the second chorus, the line "Ride and let go, In light in which sun drowns." and later on, "Through light in which sun drowns, don't stand down, Break through." is a blatant reference to the Lightless Black, the black hole that the Arcs of the Cosmos created when they resonate together.
- Fragile Speedster: Characters with the Speed attribute have excellent speed, but are average in everything else.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Wave the Swallow with Extreme Gear; Dr. Eggman with robots (when in a helpful mood); Miles "Tails" Prower with appliances.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation:
- Throughout Zero Gravity, part of the plot is that berserking robots are chasing down Arcs of the Cosmos, and the people holding them; despite story-wise being chase sequences, the game plays out these chases like a standard three lap race with the robots simply trying to place first against you. Zig-zagged with Sonic's first race, with a unique intro following from the cutscene beforehand, but then it goes straight into just another race anyway.
- Semi-averted in the Babylon story mode wherein you play as Amy Rose for the Meteo(r) Tech Sparkworks stage. While in the previous Sonic Riders, Amy would be in her racing outfit whenever she was a part of the gameplay regardless of what she was wearing in the story, in this particular race she is instead wearing her regular dress and boots, making it the ONLY time the player is able to race as her in this form of dress.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: Aside from the final bosses of the first two games, which involve chasing down and then charging into the boss, there are a handful of missions in Zero Gravity that involve your character, locked into Charge Mode, being tasked with chasing down overpowered foes to beat on them. While it's incredibly difficult to keep up with the overpowered foes, the object layouts are changed to simply throw you around corners and up walls so you don't have to rely on Gravity control, which leads to an exhilarating high-speed joyride through the tracks that ends up looking a lot more like a mainstream Sonic game.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: In free-play modes, Eggman can go toe-to-toe with Sonic and co. on Extreme Gear.
- Gravity Screw:
- The entirety of the second game, obviously.
- Dark Desert in the first game has an indoor section that has the riders jumping along the walls and ceiling.
- Metropolis Speedway and Metal City from the third game also includes wall and ceiling running of the same style as Zero Gravity.
- Grind Boots: Speed-types can hop onto rails and grind across them, which not only restores Air/GP, but also moves faster than regular boarding and generally takes you through shortcuts. In Zero Gravity, some boards can access Gear Changes that let them Grind when they cannot do so otherwise.
- Guide Dang It!: In Zero Gravity, nowhere is it alluded to what the Angel/Devil gear actually does. Angel Mode decreases your top speed but increases the odds of getting good Items from the Item Box, while Devil Mode does the opposite.
- Hailfire Peaks:
- Hostage Situation: After beating the Final Boss of the first game, Sonic and Jet are ready to pop open the Genie's treasure chest together, when Dr. Eggman suddenly appears and holds them all at gunpoint with dual Egg Blasters, in an attempt to steal the treasure for himself. He actually succeeds at this, although what he gets is... a carpet. He lets the heroes have it, and it isn't until he leaves that Tails points out that the "carpet" is actually an antiquated and priceless Extreme Gear from ancient times.
- Humongous Mecha: In Zero Gravity, SCR-HD uses the gravity rings to become Master Core: ABIS, a titanic roaring monster merged with the core of the black hole he is generating, for the final race and boss fight of the game.
- Idiot Ball:
- Why anyone would enter Eggman's Grand Prix in the original game to begin with. When Dr. Eggman is asking everyone for Chaos Emeralds, it should be blatantly obvious he's up to no good.
- While the entire cast doesn't seem to be too bright, Eggman holds it for Zero Gravity. To sum up his scheme for world domination: He lets his robots go berserk and run amok so he can go to the Crimson Tower, take control of them again, and rule the world. With a MacGuffin-stealing robot who has an odd habit of exploding at inopportune times.
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: When Tails first shows Wave the Blue Star, she arms it with one that's red and blinking. Neither Sonic or Tails notice it all the way up to the final race.
- Jungle Japes: Green Cave in the original game, Botanical Kingdom in Zero Gravity, and Forbidden Tomb in Sonic Free Riders.
- Joke Character: The Yacht Gears in Zero Gravity, who are Comeback Mechanic incarnate. All of them share the common distinction of having an incredibly awful top speed, and whose gimmick is built around trailing other players to go faster, to the point where you surpass them. However, once you get into 1st Place, the Yacht's terrible speed becomes apparent to the point where the character you just passed will simply pass you again in a couple seconds.
- Land of Dragons: Gigan Rocks and Gigan Device have a distinctly ancient Chinese theme.
- Large Ham Announcer: Omochao in Free Riders.
- Last Lousy Point: The E-bots in the first game, only unlockable by leaving the game on for 20 hours and 50 hours (for one, then the other). It's not very hard to get everything else well before you get the first one. SCR-HD in the second game is also annoying (but less so) to unlock, as you have to beat him in a Free Race, and there's no guarantee that he'll show up.
- Lethal Joke Character: Cream the Rabbit in the original game. She has the lowest top speed of any character and is a lightweight, tossed around if anyone makes contact with her. However, because she's so light, if she gets a boost for any reason, she will sustain it for an incredibly long time. Put Cream on the Light Board (which decreases a character's weight), and a sufficiently skilled player can spend pretty much the entire race in a boost, initiating another one roughly when the previous one goes out.
- Lethal Lava Land: Egg Factory in the original game and Magma Rift in Sonic Free Riders.
- Levels Take Flight: Babylon Garden and Sky Road in the first game. Taking place on the titular Floating Continent, Both levels involve a lot of big jumps, dangerous drops and sections involving using the turbulence off of fighter jets to soar along the skies in a very badass fashion.
- Lightning Bruiser: Any character with the Power attribute, in addition to being as fast as the other racers, can punch obstacles away effortlessly. Other characters are bumped backwards, but Power characters not only don't slow down, but gain Air (or Gravity Points in Zero Gravity) for doing so.
- Made of Explodium: All objects affected by gravity shifts in Zero Gravity will either explode immediately or will be flung far away, then explode, regardless of what it is.
- The Mole: The robot Shadow and Rouge recruited at the last minute in Sonic Free Riders turns out to be Metal Sonic, who has been collecting data on all of the racers. Doubly so, as Metal Sonic passed bogus data to Dr. Eggman and saved the real data for himself.
- Experienced players in Sonic Riders would do nothing but boost from beginning to end because it was so easy to gain Air. This was fixed in Zero Gravity by not only substantially increasing the cost to boost, but now gave it a charge-up time and made Gravity Points (equivalent to Air) harder to accumulate. The end result is that there are only one or two viable spots per course to boost in. Sonic Free Riders reverted back to the boosting as seen in the first game but kept the high cost to boost in Zero Gravity, striking a good middle ground.
- In Zero Gravity, Super Sonic was greatly nerfed. The first game made him a Master of All that had maximized stats and could use every type of shortcut, at the cost of consuming Rings in place of Air. In the second game, his stats were reduced to that of a better Blue Star, and he can only use Power shortcuts, and only when he's using the Super Sonic Boost, which requires at least 60 Rings to initiate and begins eating them at an alarming rate. Thankfully, this was re-balanced by giving him Ring Cap UPs and a Ring Magnet, which not only allows him to hold more Rings, but also allows him to grab them easier.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: By Zero Gravity, the Babylon Rogues have discovered they are genies from space.
- Nintendo Hard: The original. The boosting, air-charging, and drifting mechanics are given only a confusing explanation that does not teach you how to actually use them, the air-changing terminals are often hard to find, and the artificial intelligence is basically perfect, with no rubberbanding whatsoever. It's not infrequent for players to slam their controllers at their T Vs in frustration at being unable to get the required third place or higher in the first race.
- Nostalgia Level: Metal City from the first Sonic Riders appears in Free Riders.
- Paper-Thin Disguise:
- The World Grand Prix organizer in Sonic Free Riders looks like a hairier Dr. Eggman in an Eggman-red carnival ringleader outfit voiced by Mike Pollock. One guess as to who he really is.
- "I'm King Doc! Of, uh, Toreggmania!" Played with since no one falls for it.
- Power Up Letdown: Ironically, Super Sonic has the least useful Boost power-up in Zero Gravity. It is identical in function to the Super Sonic Boost, but can harm opponents it hits. This means it has a max speed cap of 180, whereas any other character's Boost can go far faster.
- Precursors: The ancient Babylonians.
- Recurring Riff: Highflying Groove, Team Sonic's electronic instrumental theme from the first game has appeared in some form in all the games in the series thus far, usually in the form of a short fanfare and musical loop as the results music after finishing a race. It's also worked into Theme Of Metal City.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The booby-trapped Gravity Ring Shrine in the beginning of the Babylon Rogues' story in Zero Gravity, and Master Core: ABIS' third lap attack in the same game (he pulls in and throws flaming meteoroids at the player).
- Rollercoaster Mine: The last portion of Rocky Ridge in Sonic Free Riders consists of this. Interestingly, the mine carts go faster than the hoverboards they're racing on.
- Scarf Of Asskicking: Dr.Eggman when kitted up for race.
- Second Person Attack: In the opening, Knuckles punches Storm like this a few times.
- Self-Imposed Challenge:
- In Zero Gravity, it is entirely possible to win a race as Super Sonic without ever actually becoming Super Sonic, due to the fact that without any Rings, Super Sonic is treated as Sonic on foot, who, despite having a far lower top speed than most Extreme Gear, is capable of accessing any Spring shortcut that would normally require a Boost item. This also works on the handful of other boards that eat Rings to use.
- The same feat can be performed in the original Sonic Riders by using either a ring eating gear or by turning off all items and pit-stops and equipping a gear that's incapable of replenishing it's air through normal means(The Cannonball skates work best for this) and then burning off all your air using tornadoes and drifts. Depending on the level and character type matching, some races can be won VERY handily on foot.
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: Zero Gravity can feel like this compared to the original title, largely due to the simplificationnote , revisionnote , or outright removal of some featuresnote . At this point, the game largely deals with the player's skill, their ability to overcome the AI (which was also toned down from the original), and their ability to juggle the few new Gravity mechanics.
- Shifting Sand Land: Sand Ruins.
- Shout-Out/The Cameo:
- The first two games had playable characters from other SEGA franchises. Both had NiGHTS. Sonic Riders had Ulala and Aiai. Zero Gravity had Amigo and Billy Hatcher.
- Hang-On and Super Hang-On are vehicles that will change the background music to the ones for the respective games.
- Zero Gravity's 80s Boulevard and 90s Boulevard tracks are packed full of references to SEGA games from their decades and has Opa-Opa and The Crazy as boards.
- Metal Sonic's scheme to gather data from the main characters to destroy them is exactly what he tried in Sonic Heroes.
- Sonic characters hoverboarding? That sounds familiar. Additionally, Jet and Wave's appearances seem to have been partially inspired by Manic and Sonia.
- Ark of the Cosmos? Sounds familiar? Raiders of the Lost Ark, perhaps? Or...the The Bible?
- During the original game's opening cutscene, Sonic is attacked by the Babylon Rogues while chasing after them. As he tries to get up, Jet exclaims, "So, you're supposed to be the fastest thing alive?"
- The Sega Carnival and Sega Illusion tracks. Pick up a Crazy Taxi cab? Check. Super Monkey Ball platform? Check. Flying through NiGHTS-styled rings? Check. ChuChu Rocket board? Check.
- Dr. Eggman uses the Egg Blasters for the first and only time in Riders. Amusingly, he dual wields them, despite being an Assault Rifle-type weapon in its origin gamenote .
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snow Valley, one of the Battle tracks from the first game, as well as Ice Factory; Snowy Kingdom from Zero Gravity, and Frozen Forest from Sonic Free Riders. Each game seems required to have at least one. The latter two actually have iced-over segments that make steering difficult.
- Smug Super: Super Sonic is portrayed as being especially cocky in these games, taunting the other racers maliciously as he passes by and responding to his victories with only a disgustingly smug "As it should be..." or "Nobody can keep up with me." Managing to lose a race with him has him respond with a dumbfounded "WHAT HAPPENED!?".
- Squashed Flat: Some characters have certain attacks that will do this to the opponent they use the attack on.
- Suspiciously Cracked Wall: Featured in the first game's Egg Factory, in the form of a crooked sign concealing a Power shortcut.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Well, for the anti-hero at least. All the teams seem rather disgusted by Team Dark's apathy to their malfunctioning teammate (E-10000B). By the end of their story, Cream is essentially begging them to get it treated.
- Tomorrowland: Future City.
- Took a Level in Kindness: The Babylon Rogues are still arrogant, but far less condescending towards their rivals in Free Riders. Jet even compliments Shadow and Rouge on their skills.
- Took a Level in Jerkass:
- A number of characters undergo this in Free Riders. Justified due to the competition being Serious Business.
- While Shadow and Rouge are usually far from the nicest folks around it is a little jarring to see them be quite so callous and mean, especially regarding to their mistreatment of E-10000B compared to their usual teamwork with E-123 Omega.
- Amy also qualifies in Sonic Free Riders. She behaves perpetually rudely and obnoxiously to her teammates, compared to the high spirited if temperamental leader she was in Heroes.
- Tron Lines: Final Factory from Sonic Free Riders is packed to the brim with this.
- Weak, but Skilled: Characters with the Fly attribute have average top speed and durability, but make up for it with their excellent acceleration and curving capabilities.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Indirect example. When Team Dark's E-10000B breaks down after the end of the finals, Cream begs Rouge to help her teammate. She points out they aren't teammates anymore and leaves it to frazzle.