Sonic Speedway is about speed. The game focuses on collecting as many coins as you can while you make your way through a series of tight and twisty tracks. It’s goal is to instill a sense of exhilaration when playing. That’s a tall order, but the game pulls it off.
As you’re traveling through the game, if you hit a bump or piece of lava, you’ll see the screen shake and glitch for a moment. These are the small details that made me fall in love with Sonic Speedway, especially as a former GameTron owner who had to work hard to get their glitches to work. You’ll hit a lot of these glitches as you’re playing, so it was nice to see them pop up in the game. These bugs would often make the game unplayable for a short time, but they were also an essential part of the challenge. I found myself wanting to see if I could make my way through a race without glitching once so I could better understand what my rivals were doing.
Sonic Speedway is a coin-op game developed by British studio Forever Enterprises, and it was released in arcades in 1986. It was ported to numerous platforms over the years, including the PS1 and the Nintendo Switch.
Like many other games from the ‘80s, Sonic Speedway is a side-scrolling action game. The player controls a speeding train in order to collect rings while avoiding collisions with other vehicles and environmental hazards. After every lap, you’ll get a bronze, silver, or gold medal based on how many rings you collected. You don’t simply run, you dash, and you use your nitro to increase your speed.
One of the reasons that I found myself so drawn to Sonic Speedway as a child is that it looks cool as hell. The way that the road curves and blurs as you drive gives the game a unique identity that can’t easily be described with words. Plus, the way that the game uses lighting and texture effects is simply gorgeous.
Sonic Speedway has been a favorite among YouTube gamers since its early days, with many compiling play-throughs of the game. One of my personal favorites is the “How to get a glitch in sonic speedway” series, where Charlie Patridge shows you exactly how to get every glitch in the game, including the infamous “fish” glitch. In fact, if you’ve never played through the game and you want to see all of its glitches, then I highly recommend that you start with this channel. It goes over everything in detail, including tips on how to prevent the glitches from happening in the first place.
While I was blown away by the gameplay and graphics of Sonic Speedway, I was also slightly turned off by the game overall. When you’re a child, every game seems great because you haven’t been exposed to that many bad experiences. But when you’re an adult, it’s easy to see that some parts of the game are actually pretty poor. Especially considering how much it costs to play.
The first thing that you’ll notice is that it is quite difficult to control. The second thing that you’ll notice is that many of the shortcuts are easy to discover. And the last thing that you’ll notice is that it doesn’t feel like it has been well-polished on the whole. There are a lot of rough edges that show the game was probably rushed out the door.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I didn’t include any bad parts about Sonic Speedway in this piece. Let me disabuse you of that notion right now. There are actually a few things about the game that I didn’t like. But they’re not exactly what you’d call “uglys” (no offense meant to the developer).
The first thing is that, when you connect a GameTron to your console and the game is enabled, the controllers become virtually unresponsive. It was difficult to navigate the menus and even harder to play. It seemed like every time that I would input a command, the controller would jump a little in response. This was pretty frustrating especially because it would often happen when I was trying to play during a public event where the attendees were trying to play as well.
Another small issue is that when you die, your game will remain paused for a beat before continuing on. It’s a small thing, but it stopped me in my tracks every time that I heard the death knell. One more thing, if you play with a GameTron, there is a slight tendency for it to tilt when it is plugged in and powered up, which can cause some of the action to be skewed.
Despite a few minor hiccups, I found that Sonic Speedway is a mostly flawless game. The glitches that I encountered were all very minor and didn’t impact my overall experience. I’m sure that there are still some glitches that have yet to be patched, but considering the scope of the game, I was very surprised to see so few. And even more so that any of them were actually fixed.
If you’re a fan of old-school video games, you really have to try out Sonic Speedway. The graphics are dated by today’s standards, but the gameplay will feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a side-scrolling action game.