What is Sonic Riders?

Sonic Riders is a Series of racing game spin-offs in the Sonic The Hedgehog series. The unique concept of the game is that players race on Extreme Gears, which are hoverboards. The first game in the Series, simply titled Sonic Riders, released on the Gamecube, Xbox, and Playstation 2 in 2006 in commemeration of Sonic's 15th Anniversary. It was also the first major Sonic Racing game since Sonic R in 1997.

The Riders Series has 3 games currently; Riders which was released in 2006, Zero Gravity released in 2008, and Free Riders released in 2010. The games are often remembered for their unique concept of hoverboard racing and the unique and colourful 2D artstyle that was used in the first game.

Critical Reception of the Riders Series

Critics gave Sonic Riders (2006) mixed reviews; criticizing the gameplay, controls, and overall design. The game unfortunately doesn't do a very good job at teaching the player the mechanics of the game, nor does it go in depth about its trick system, at most the game has a Tutorial Option on the Main Menu which will play a short video explaining the main controls, this video demo will also play if left idle on the Title Screen for long enough. Despite this, the game was a commercial success and re-released as best seller titles for both Gamecube and Playstation 2.

Zero Gravity also received mixed reviews, the improved graphics, larger level designs, music, and easier controls were praised upon release; but it was also criticized for its loose controls, lack of online play, and the removal of certain gameplay aspects, mainly the trick system. It's difficult to come back to Zero Gravity years later compared to the Original Riders mainly because of the Gameplay being completely different from the previous iteration.

And finally, Free Riders. This game is easily seen as the "Franchise Killer" due to the poor reception of this game and there not being a new Riders game since the release of Free Riders. Critics panned the motion controls and believed it "ruined the game" and made it an even worse launch title for the Kinect.

What's so Special about Sonic Riders?

Sonic Riders is so Sonic, so cool, and perfectly unique to the franchise more than a Kart/Vehicle racer ever will be. Characters ooze style with unique glasses, goggles, and outfits created just for this game. Riders, the first installment of the Series, has its own unique artstyle with rough shading that isn't like anything else I've seen in a game before (Pictured above). The overall aesthetic of the game, Frutiger Aero, like main early SEGA styles, still feels fresh to this day among the other games in the franchise. The first Riders game also had its own unique Opening Animation done by Production IG.

The music is another highlight of the franchise, it's no secret that Sonic games have good music; but if you like Trance, Drum and Bass, Breakbeat, and Underground 90s House, then this soundtrack is something I reccomend listening too. Even if you're not someone who listens to "Electronic Music" I reccomend taking a listen to a few tracks from either Riders or Zero Gravity, my personal reccomendations are the following; Splash Canyon (Riders), Sand Ruins (Riders), Babylon Garden (Riders), Through Traffic (ZG), and Gadget Round (ZG).

Another thing that is amazing about the music is in Zero Gravity, the music changes when you use the gravity mechanic in the game, causing the music to feel dynamic and change as you play. My favourite song from Zero Gravity is the Main Menu Theme which is an instrumental of the Main Theme for this game, Un-Gravitify. Zero Gravity is subtitled Shooting Star Story in JP, which ties into the main theme of the game; where the original Riders played on the idea of Genies, Zero Gravity gives an in-universe explanation to the idea of wishing on a star.

Mimic the Octopus with the Gear "Omnipotence" from Sonic Riders, Tangle and Whisper Issue 3

Elements from the Riders exist in other Sonic Media as well, characters are seen using Extreme Gear to travel around rather than vehicles (though characters do use vehicles like cars, Extreme Gear is used for single, quicker transportation and for exploring areas). And Riders is making an unofficial comeback for IDW Issue 69, which at the time of writing this, hasn't released.

Time Attack Runs!

Currently on the SonicBlast Forums we're Time/Score Attacking (TA'ing for short) different tracks in Sonic Riders and sharing our best times. The thread hosts other Sonic games like Sonic Advance, Rush, and Heroes but because this page is about Sonic Riders, only those relevant times will be hosted here.

The rules we have established at the moment are simple;
- No gears that allow double types for characters
- No glitches or out of bounds (OOB) strats
- 100 Ring Capsules are allowed
- you're allowed to use any other Extreme Gears, just specify in your upload

Most of this is friendly competition and trying to find the "best routes" for ourselves in stages. We're not trying to compare scores to other ones outside of the forum or go for anything serious at the moment. If you have an account on SonicBlast you are more than welcome to join in on the Time Attack shinanegans!

My Current Best Times

Metal City
fastest lap 00'39''48
3 lap 00'00''00

Splash Canyon
fastest lap 00'43''44
3 lap 02'16''60

Egg Factory
fastest lap 00'46''85
3 lap 00'00''00

Green Cave
fastest lap 00'50''46
3 lap 00'00''00

Sand Ruins
fastest lap 00'49''56
3 lap 02'33''30

Babylon Garden
fastest lap 00'59''40
3 lap

Digital Dimension
fastest lap 00'50''93
3 lap 00'00''00

SEGA Carnival

Night Chase
fastest lap 00'39''69
3 lap 02'06''45

Red Canyon

Ice Factory
fastest lap 00'56''18
3 lap 02'56''18

White Cave
fastest lap 00'45''50
3 lap 00'00''00

Dark Desert
fastest lap 00'49''62
3 lap 00'00''00

Sky Road

Babylon Guardian
Amy/Pink Rose
fastest lap 00'36''10
3 lap 1'50''06

SEGA Illusion

Anything labelled ??? or 00'00''00 is due to me not knowing the character I used or 3 lap time for those tracks, I'm currently trying to have my fastest lap and 3 lap times in the same run; eventually they might be seperate. If a video is not linked to a time it's due to it being before I started recording runs and is a time stored on my memory card.

Tips & Tricks for playing Sonic Riders

As said before, Sonic Riders unfortunately doesn't do a very good job at explaining its deeper mechanics to its players, and it's one of the few games to not have a tutorial stage at the beginning of the game. Some of this information can be found in the instruction manual for Sonic Riders, but other things will have been things discovered later on in the game's life cycle, much like other racing game tech.

Just before reaching a trick ramp (which is usually marked with arrows on its surface in some way) you want to hold down either the A Button (GC, Xbox) or X Button (PS2) and you'll see your Air Meter on the side have a charge mark at the top of the reserve. Your character will start moving slower the longer this button is held down.

There are 4 different directions that you can hold your Control Stick prior to letting go of the held Button and starting your Jump and Tricks. Holding Down on the Control Stick while letting go of the held Button to Jump will cause your character to launch higher, reaching higher area shortcuts.

Some shortcuts aren't as high up but rather further out, holding Up on the Control Stick while letting go of the held Button will launch you further.

You can also Hold Left/Right on your control stick as well before letting go rather than Up/Down and your character will sway to either direction that you're holding.

Shortcuts / Random Oddities

Stage: Splash Canyon

At the beginning of the stage after the first large jump there is another pathway visible on the right-hand side of the screen, turning around and trying to follow this path leads to a dead end

Stage: Egg Factory

Just before the 100 Ring capsule, there is one section of the wall with a red light, this wall can be broken by a Power Type character to reveal another shortcut that ends w/ a ramp and takes you to where the pulleys leave you off

Stage: Ice Factory

In the main hallway w/ the large rotating fan blades, this grindrail has a speed of 400 compared to the other rails in the game which do 200~250

Page Credits

Banner Image by Min Ho Kim for IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog Issue no. 69

Zero Gravity Menu Background from sonicscene.net

HD Stage Select icons from Kamanira on GameBanana