Video Game: Sonic Riders

"Even without wings, I can still fly!"

A Racing Game spinoff series of Sonic the Hedgehog. 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.

Sonic Riders provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Team Dark lacks their usual "power" character, Omega. Why? Never explained.
  • 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. See Fridge Brilliance below.
    • 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.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The Babylon Rouges 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Eleventh 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Averted in the Mobius Strip track. As per the plot, everyone is stripped of their gravity powers and their Arcs Of the Cosmos are absent from their character models. Even the bonus characters!
  • 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.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Egg Factory is both Eternal Engine and Lethal Lava Land.
    • Egg Factory gets frozen over into Slippy-Slidey Ice World as Ice Factory.
    • Aquatic Capital and Torrential Waterway are a utopian technological haven that's also apparently a water park.
    • Frozen Forest is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, combining a forest in the wintertime with what seems to be a dragon graveyard full of gigantic skeletons.
    • Magma Rift is a Lethal Lava Land combined with Roman-like ruins.
  • 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. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik 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.
  • Jungle Japes: Green Cave in the original game, Botanical Kingdom in Zero Gravity, and Forbidden Tomb in Sonic Free Riders.Al
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nerf: 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.
  • 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.
  • The Other Darrin: Free Riders is the first North American game to use the new voice cast, beating Sonic Colors by eleven days.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • In addition, 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.
      • Both of these stages sure feel like something from Crazy Taxi, music and all.
    • 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. Chu Chu Rocket board? Check.
    • The original game marked the first and only time within the franchise that Dr. Eggman has ever used the Egg Blasters.note 
  • 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 potrayed as being especially cocky in these games, taunting the other racers as he passes by and responding to his victories with only a disgustingly smug "As it should be..." 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-10000G). By the end of their story, Cream is essentially begging them to get it treated.
  • Tomorrowland: Future City.
  • Too KA 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. This may be justified due to 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.
    • Amy also qualifies in Sonic Free Riders. She behaves rudely and obnoxiously to her teammates.
  • Tron Lines: Final Factory from Sonic Free Riders is packed to the brim with this.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Indirect example. When Team Dark's E-10000G 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.

Alternative Title(s):

Sonic Free Riders