United Game Artists
Sonic Riders (ソニックライダーズ Sonikku Raidāzu ) is a video game spin-off produced by Sega and developed by Sonic Team in cooperation with Now Production, for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. It is the fourth racing game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, preceded by Sonic Drift, Sonic Drift 2 and Sonic R.
The game was released to start off the 15th anniversary of the release of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. For a short while, the Microsoft Xbox version of the game was released with a free Sonic X DVD. This game introduces five new playable characters, the Babylon Rogues and the E-10000 series. A sequel to Sonic Riders, entitled Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, was released in 2008 for the Wii and PlayStation 2, followed by the Kinect-enabled game Sonic Free Riders for the Xbox 360 in 2010. This was the last Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft Xbox worldwide, and the last Sonic the Hedgehog game released for PS2 in Japan.
This game splits the story into two halves, the Heroes Story (Team Sonic), and the Babylon Story (Babylon Rogues). all of the stories start differently, and eventually overlap. Both stories are only told from the point of view of the specified characters and Omochao. The Babylon Story also includes an epilogue.
While tracking a Chaos Emerald one night, Team Sonic realizes that the Emerald was stolen by a group of thieves called the Babylon Rogues. After Knuckles punches Storm off his board, Sonic takes it and chases Jet, but he escapes. The next day, Team Sonic sees Eggman on a digital billboard, adverising for the World Grand Prix. When Sonic realizes that the entrants are the Rogues, Team Sonic enters as well. Race after race, Team Sonic continues to defeat their opponents. However, during the final race, Wave activates a bomb she planted on Sonic's board, allowing Jet to win the World Grand Prix and the Chaos Emeralds. Using their power, Jet manages to make Babylon Garden appear. Eggman then takes the cube Jet used and flies to Babylon Garden, with Amy grabbing onto Eggman's ship at the last minute. Team Sonic heads to Babylon Garden as well, when Tails gives Sonic a new board to catch Eggman. Unfortunately, Jet wants to defeat Eggman first, and challenges Sonic to a race. After Sonic wins, both teams find Eggman, who is holding Amy hostage. Combining their powers, Jet and Sonic manage to retrieve the cube and Amy. After Team Babylon leaves, Amy gets mad at Sonic and chases him with her hammer.
One day, Jet is doing nothing in his ship, when Storm announces that there's a visitor, who is Eggman. Eggman knows that Jet has the key to Babylon Garden, and tells him that he needs the Chaos Emeralds to make Babylon Garden rise. After stealing an Emerald, the Rogues enter the World Grand Prix to get the other Emeralds. Prior to the second race, Wave goes over to Team Sonic and Amy, where she makes fun of Tails's work, implanting a bomb in the process. Following Storm's loss to Knuckles, Jet orders him to infiltrate Eggman's factory, and he returns with Eggman's electronic diary, which speaks of a legendary treasure that was made by the Babylonians, which let a boy conquer the world. Seeing the value in this, Jet defeats Sonic in the final race (due to Wave's bomb), follows Eggman to Babylon Garden after he steals the cube. While Jet and Sonic are racing, Wave, Storm, Knuckles, and Tails meet again in Babylon Garden. However, Eggman's robots start chasing them, forcing them to flee. After Eggman is defeated and the cube is given back to Jet, they proceed to open a secret door using the cube, which leads them to a strange room. When Team Sonic hears a loud growling, they proceed to follow, finding the Rogues and the Babylon Guardian. After defeating the Guardian, a chest appears, and Sonic and Jet open it, revealing a carpet. Unfortunately, Eggman followed them in as well, and forces Sonic and Jet to give him the treasure. When they give Eggman the carpet, he is uttely confused, under the belief that the Babylon treasure was an item of great power, and he passes out. Under closer inspection, the carpet is actually an EX Gear, and using the cube, it starts flying, hence the name "Magic Carpet". After this, Team Sonic and the Babylon Rogues depart and go their own ways.
The game is played in its entirety using hover boards, which function largely like skateboards. Players must race seven other competitors on a total of 16 tracks, 9 of which must be unlocked through progress in the story mode, and two of which must be unlocked by winning Gold in each World Grand Prix (5 tracks per Grand Prix). Each individual character has different statistics, altering their performance slightly in races.
A key component of the game is the air tank, displayed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Air serves as the fuel for Extreme Gear, and is depleted gradually as the race goes on. and by certain maneuvers. These include cornering, allowing the player to round sharp turns with ease, and building tension before a jump, which involves using the air to propel the player higher off of ramps. If a player runs out of air, their character will start running, putting them at several disadvantages; they can't boost, attack, corner easily or use charged jumps. After going off ramps, players can perform various tricks, which refill the air gauge according to their rating.
In the Story Mode, players take part in consecutive races, one after the other, based on the storyline, in order to defeat the Babylon Rogues and win the Grand Prix.
Sonic Riders received mixed reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the GameCube version 63.46% and 59/100, the PlayStation 2 version 59.70% and 55/100, the Xbox version 58.84% and 56/100 and the PC version 43.33%.
A sequel to Sonic Riders, entitled Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, was released in 2008 for the Wii and PlayStation 2. A third title, Sonic Free Riders, developed by O-Two, is a launch title for Xbox 360's Kinect peripheral which was released on November 4, 2010.
Archie comics adaptation 
The Archie Sonic Comic issues #163 and #164 include a loose adaptation of Sonic Riders, even using the same art style used in the game's title sequence. Two characters are also seen riding Extreme Gear in issue #173. Bark the Polar Bear and Bean the Dynamite also use Extreme Gear in the Archie Comics. The Babylon Rogues make appearances with their Extreme Gear and Airship in Sonic Universe issues 23 and 24. They also have an arc in Sonic Universe issues 33 - 36.
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