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Video Game / Sonic Riders

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"Even without wings, I can still fly!"
Sonic the Hedgehog

A Spinoff series of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Riders is a console Racing Game series involving hoverboards. 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 3 games in the series - Sonic Riders (for GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox), Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (for Wii and PlayStation 2), and Sonic Free Riders (only for Xbox 360).

The Sonic Riders series provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different:
    • In the first two games, after playing through the Babylon Story as the Babylon Rogues, you retake control of Sonic for the final battle.
    • In the second game mid-way during the Babylon Story, the player takes control of Amy as she tries to outrun Storm.
  • 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.
  • 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. In Zero Gravity turbulence returns but is restricted to appearing in specific areas in the tracks, usually to give lagging racers access to shortcuts and alternate routes that the leading player can't access.
    • Much like Mario Kart, item luck favors the players who are trailing behind. For example, in Zero Gravity, you may never see the Boost item if you're in 1st, while players close to last may see it far more often than usual.
    • The main quirk of Yacht type gears in Zero Gravity is this. By riding behind another racer the yacht is able to catch onto their slipstream, boosting your top speed, allowing you to break through the pack and take first. Unfortunately due to their middling stat spreads, it can be difficult to keep hold of that pole spot. Slipstream boosting was also brought back in Free Riders though in that game it's just part of the normal gameplay mechanics and not tied to any gear type.
  • 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.
    • CPU racers in Sonic Free Riders will typically use five kick-boosts in a row for every one the player uses with no apparent drawbacks or consequence despite the steep consumption rates for boosts. Somewhat subverted in that them doing so doesn't really give them that much of an advantage over the player as consecutive kick-boosts don't stack and the course layout is such that they'll run out of open road long before they can ride out their boost to it's full extent.
  • 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!
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In this series Eggman runs several legitimate businesses including a popular Extreme Gear manufacturer and a prominent worldwide security company. Why he doesn't just let his companies flourish and rake in the big bucks legitimately instead of using them as fronts for his evil plans is never really addressed.
  • 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.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Eggman annoument in the opening of the first game includes this gem: "Not just a race... But a special race, to see who is the fastest." So... what is the difference between a regular race and a special race?
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • In the first game's Babylon Guardian track, since the boss battle revolves around gathering air to boost into the guardian's core, there are no rings to be found anywhere on the course and all item boxes only give air. However, if you're playing as Super Sonic, who uses rings instead of air, the item boxes will be modified to give him rings instead since the battle would be unwinnable otherwise.
    • In the Mobius Strip track in Zero Gravity, as per the plot, everyone is stripped of their gravity powers and their Arcs of the Cosmos are absent from their character models. This also applies to the bonus characters who don't participate in the story; they lack them if they're used on the course in multiplayer.
    • In Freeriders when an attack lands, your character will cancel out of their current animation to do a little celebratory pose, tricks included. Managing to override a trick with a celebration animation will reward you with an S-Rank by default even if you botched the jump beforehand.
  • 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.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When Sonic lets Jet have the treasure at the end of the original game, Jet is enraged and declares he neither wants nor needs Sonic's pity. Wave, on the other hand, is more than willing to accept his charity.
  • 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: The first two installments are chock full of references and gags based on different Sega properties even setting aside the obvious Sega themed bonus levels and guest characters. From ridable versions of the Hang-On arcade cabinets as obtainable gear (complete with music) to Eggman using Egg Blasters to threaten Sonic and his gang. Even within the Sega themed tracks, there are several easy-to-miss nods and easter eggs if you're not in the know such as being able to hail Axel to give you a ride during the Crazy Taxi section of Sega Carnival or the Sonic UFO Catcher section in 80's Boulevard.
  • 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 Babylon Guardian in the first game.
    • Master Core: ABIS in Zero Gravity.
    • Metal Sonic in Free Riders.
  • 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.
  • Game Mod:
    • Sonic Riders DX and Tournament Edition, two mods for the Gamecube edition that tweaks and overhauls numerous gameplay elements to make Riders 1 more viable to play in both casual and competitive settings. They also have their own netcode for online play plus additional characters and costumes.
    • Sonic Riders Regravitified, a mod for the Wii version of Zero Gravity, streamlines numerous mechanics while fixing some of the more questionable aspects of the base game, such as tying skill types back to the characters themselves instead of being gear dependent, restoring standard drifting to avoid use of the pace-breaking Gravity Smash (though that ability is still in the mod), and being able to activate your melee boost ability at will instead of needing an item.
    • The No Kinect Patch for Sonic Free Riders does Exactly What It Says on the Tin by removing the Kinect controls and replacing them with normal controls.
  • 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 opponents 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.
  • 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 and Freeriders has a freely equipable Grinding Gear Part that can be used with any combination of character and gear provided the gear has a slot for parts.
    • Skate type gears in Zero Gravity are able to grind rails by default, making them a more literal example of this than usual.
  • Guest Fighter: Both the first game and Zero Gravity have three non-Sonic SEGA characters as secret unlockables for completing every mission in Mission Mode:
  • 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:
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: In Sand Ruins in the original game, it doesn't matter if you approach the finish line with a 30 second lead and Jet is choking on dirt at the back of the pack. Wave will blow you up with the bomb attached to your Gear and Jet will win the race.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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 even 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 easily 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.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Riders games are very lighthearted in tone compared with the main games. Compare Eggman in the main games of the era (fighting a war against an alien invasion, trying to capture a deity that could destroy time itself) with the Riders incarnations, which despite being Obviously Evil, is presented as a goof with simpler goals than world domination.
    • Free Riders even manages to be this to the previous two games. While Riders and Zero Gravity featured complex stories covering Babylonian lore, with the second game in particular ending with a battle against the core unit of a black hole threatening to destroy the planet, Free Riders lacks any of these elements and instead goes for a simpler plot with Eggman's new Ex World Grand Prix having nothing to do with the Babylon Rogues' ancestors. The plot simply revolves around challenging the other teams through each race until reaching the end. And the final boss is simply a one on one race against Metal Sonic without any world threatening disasters.
  • 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.
  • Loose Canon: As a spinoff, the Riders games have always been of nebulous canonicity to the main Sonic games; the only appearance of Riders-related material in a main Sonic game was in Sonic Generations, which featured a statue of Jet as a collectable item. Sonic Frontiers finally confirmed the games as canon to the rest of the series, as Jet and the Babylonians are mentioned by Sonic and Eggman respectively.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The final boss of Zero Gravity can only be damaged if the player is in 1st place during the automated Gravity Dives, but the race takes place on a straight, barren track with very little the player can do to overtake other characters if they get hit by an attack and fall behind. Sometimes the AI will just suddenly overtake you for no discernible reason. The only way to get a decent lead again is to hope that you get a generous pattern of debris to bounce off of during the gravity dive, or an item box gives you a speed boost. What makes this particularly frustrating is that the other characters have narratively the same goal as Sonic during this stage, but if they hit the boss, all it does is prevent Sonic from doing so for another attack cycle.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Secret Final Campaign: Both the original and Zero Gravity use Sonic Adventure 2-style campaigns. You must first clear the Heroes/Team Sonic campaign to unlock the Babylon campaign, a retelling of the same story from the Babylon Rogues' point of view. Clearing this campaign unlocks the final campaign, where Sonic faces off against the True Final Boss.
  • Shaped Like Itself: How Doctor Eggman announces the tournament, in the first game.
    Eggman: Not just a race… But a special race, to see who's the fastest.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Sand Ruins.
  • Shoot the Hostage: When Eggman holds Amy at gunpoint to keep Sonic from taking the treasure at the end of the Heroes story in the first game, Sonic simply attacks them both with a tornado. Amy is pissed, and Sonic proceeds to eat hammer as the credits roll.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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!?".
  • Speed Demon: The lyrics to "Free", Free Riders' theme song, reference the joy of racing:
    I'm falling free in the wind, in the wind
    Free to be me in the wind, in the wind
    What would it feel like to be speed of light
    And rule the night and day
    Watch as it passes by, the masses try you
    But they just can't keep up
    Into the free, into the me
    Into the ever knowin'
    Felt so refrained,
    Felt so constrained
    But now I'm breaking out and
    I'm falling free in the wind, in the wind,
    Free to be me in the wind, in the wind
  • Squashed Flat: Some characters have certain attacks that will do this to the opponent they use the attack on.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The gear you unlock for beating the story mode of the first game has weaker stats than most of the stuff you already have. But considering it's just a prototype to begin with and the technology has had hundreds of years to catch up, is it really surprising there's better stuff out there? Heck, it's lucky the darn thing flies at all.
    • By the time of Zero Gravity, Knuckles has finally stopped falling for Dr. Eggman's lies and is even the first to call him out when he claims innocent on the newest scheme. While he has believed a guy who has openly plotted world domination a little too much, there's only so many times you can fall for the same trick before you catch on.
    • Wave is shown to be far superior to Gear manufacturing and building than both Tails or Eggman, two of the smartest guys in the Sonic world. This makes perfect scene when you realize Wave has been working with the tech all her life while both Tails and Eggman had only learned it even existed just before the first game.
    • While Sonic is able to pick up the basics of Extreme Gear riding almost instantly thanks to his natural athleticism and getting his hands on a high quality gear made specifically to be extra stable, the moment Jet moves in to attack him, he ends up eating both crow and the pavement in spectacular fashion because he has no idea how to defend himself.
  • 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.
  • Theme Naming: The default gears for Team Sonic include their primary color as part of the title (Blue Star, Yellow Tail, Red Rock, Pink Rose). The default gears for Babylon Rouges are all part of a series called Babylon Standard with each gear having it's own letter to denote it (Type-J, Type-W, Type-S).
  • Tomorrowland: Future City.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tron Lines: Final Factory from Sonic Free Riders is packed to the brim with this.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Amy and Wave are the only females in the story.
    • There's also Rouge and Ulala who are playable outside of the story mode.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: In the final boss fights of the original game and Zero Gravity, instead of racing around the track you have to deal damage to the boss.
  • 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.
  • We Will Meet Again: At the end of the first game, Jet declares that he'll be back to challenge Sonic again before departing. Naturally, he makes good on his promise in Zero Gravity.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The plot of Free Riders can essentially be summarized as Sonic Heroes ON HOVERBOARDS!
  • Wrench Wench: Wave the Swallow, who is the one responsible for building the boards for the Babylon Rogues. She's also not afraid to use a wrench physically.
  • 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.