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Grind Rail

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Grind Rails, also known as rails, are recurring elements in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They allow playable characters with the ability to grind to jump on rails and slide down it to reach new areas. The characters who can grind have varied from game to game. The designs of the grind rail also vary from stage to stage in order to suit the level's theme.

Game appearances

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle was the first Sonic game to feature grinding. Only Sonic the Hedgehog and Shadow the Hedgehog can grind in this game. Grinding is relatively difficult due to the fact that the grind rails are thin, do not "attract" the player, and cannot be targeted with a Homing Attack like in later games. Also, the player must actively tilt the control stick to balance on the grind rail, or else Sonic or Shadow will slow down and eventually fall off. Pressing and holding the action button will cause Sonic or Shadow to crouch and thus gain speed. Rail switching can be performed by holding the control stick in the desired direction and pressing the jump button, but as rails do not "attract" the player, the maneuver may be undesirable.

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Shadow performing the Grind Rail's trick in the air.

There are certain Grind Rails in gameplay that can be used to do a trick with, causing the player to jump higher into the air while the character does a complex midair trick. When this occurs, the player is awarded with 1,000 points and the point-rank "Awesome", akin to the Trick Action. In Final Rush, they are also Grind Rails marked with a green cross, which the player can press the jump button near the end of to make am extra long jump.

Strangely, at least in the Dreamcast version of the game, an invisible grind rail is present in Knuckles' level, Meteor Herd. As Knuckles can't grind, it can only be utilized by hacking Sonic or Shadow into the level. It doesn't actually lead anywhere specific, so it is likely a beta remnant.

Sonic Advance series

In Sonic Advance, grinding can only be performed by Sonic and Amy Rose. Rails only appear in a few acts including Neo Green Hill Zone Act 1. It is an obscure move that is never required to progress in the game. To perform the move, the player must jump at the flat portion of the grind rail at the top and hold the R button. Sonic and Amy will slide down the grind rail and be launched off into the air at the end.

The Android port of the game (Japan-only) still contains rails, but due to the lack of an emulated R button, they cannot be used.

In Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Advance 3, all playable characters in these games can grind, marking the first time that Tails, Knuckles and Cream have been shown to possess this ability. It is now automatic, meaning that simply jumping at the grind rail will result in grinding. Unlike the first game, rails are an integral part of the level designs. Jumping while on a grind rail will cause the player to jump off and pass behind the rail, allowing them to reach areas below (or possibly fall to death).

Sonic Heroes

In Sonic Heroes, all 12 playable characters across all 4 teams can grind. Crouching from Sonic Adventure 2 has been removed; instead, pressing the action button will cause the lead character to perform a small trick that accelerates their speed, regardless of momentum. This style of acceleration was favored for future games. It is possible to travel up a vertical grind rail with no momentum by rapidly pressing the action button. Also, in this game, balancing manually is not required, though it is possible. When in flight formation, grinding is much slower, and it is not possible to perform tricks. In the stages Rail Canyon and Bullet Station, there are dash panels on rails that could accelerate the character while grinding when touched.

Sonic Rush series

Sonic Rush

In Sonic Rush, grinding works the same way as it did in the Advance series; Blaze is revealed to possess the ability to grind. Grind rail tricks from Sonic Heroes returned, but they work differently: to perform a rail trick, the player must press the R button, which then gives Sonic or Blaze both a score bonus (up to 1700) and a small amount of energy on the Tension Gauge. These tricks can also provide a small amount of acceleration, but not to the extent of Heroes. Sonic and Blaze can both boost on grind rails to move faster.

Sonic Rush Adventure

In Sonic Rush Adventure, Grinding in this game works the same way as it did in Sonic Rush; however, rail tricks can now be performed by pressing the B button as well as the R button. The player can still jump off the rail using A button only.

Plant Kingdom Act 1 features a 3D grind rail-switching section for the first time for a handheld game.

Shadow the Hedgehog

In Shadow the Hedgehog, only Shadow can grind in its stages. This is the first game where balancing cannot be executed at all. Pressing the secondary action button (the same button that performs the Ring Dash and Spin Dash) will cause Shadow to perform a Heroes-style rail trick, which curiously bounces him high enough off the grind rail to miss rings. Unlike in Sonic Heroes in which holding down the secondary action button will allow the player to gain more speed in the same sense as crouching in Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow has the same speed whether "crouching" or not. Shadow can use weapons on grind rails.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Grind Rails appears and has the same function of those in Sonic Heroes, with the same style of tricks returning. This is the first time that rails can be targeted with a Homing Attack, though you cannot do so on the ends of the rails but in the mid. This also marks the first game since Sonic Adventure 2 that sparks fly out from the rail as the character grinds on it.

The game also presents the Green Orbs; using them will create a Grind Rail made of air for Sonic and Shadow to use.

Sonic Rivals series

Grind Rails appeared in both Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2. While grinding on them, the player can jump off the grind rails by pressing PSXButton while holding down.

In these games, Grind Rails disregard the acceleration/momentum physics used by the rest of the game, and will automatically accelerate the player to a high speed. Certain rails only allow the player to move in a certain direction. Thus, Sonic's boost is ineffective on grind rails.

Sonic Riders series

In Sonic Riders, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic Free Riders, Grind Rails appeared and were accessible to characters that were able to grind with certain Extreme Gears that consisted of the Grind Gear Part (or were Speed-Type characters in the case of Sonic Riders). The beginning and end of a grind rail were indicated by a blue light and a red light respectively. 

Sonic Storybook series

Sonic and the Secret Rings

In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic can again grind by jumping on rails. Tricks can be performed by pressing the Jump button, while rail switching requires the player to quickly tilt the Wii Remote to the appropriate side. Sonic can halt while on a rail, causing him to fall off. Some rails are invisible and only appear when Sonic lands on them, mostly in parts where rings are hanged in air or pearls .

Sonic and the Black Knight

In Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic can grind on rails, though they rarely occur as part of the level environment. Usually Sonic will use a ballista to launch a grappling rope to a wall, and then grind on the rope. On the grind rails, the tricks from the previous 3D games can be performed, and Sonic can swing his sword. On the ropes, Sonic can jump higher than usual.

Sonic Unleashed

In Sonic Unleashed, grinding works just as in previous 3D installments. Rail boosters appeared more frequently on the rails though.

Jumping onto a grind rail can contribute to an active Action Chain (Wii/PS2 version only), but it cannot start one.

Sonic Colors

In the Nintendo Wii version of Sonic Colors, grinding is the same as in Unleashed, with the addition of a "Grind Bonus" that awards 3000 points periodically for grinding, and the player can switch grind rails using the analog stick. When Super Sonic uses grind rails, he simply floats above the track.

In the DS version, grinding is the same as in Rush/Rush Adventure, but without the trick system.

Sonic Generations

In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, grinding is the same as in Unleashed and Colors. Interestingly, certain grind rails do not
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permit the player to boost once on them, notably in Green Hill. In this game Classic Sonic can also grind in certain stages like City Escape, but instead of standing, he rolls down the grind rails.

In the Nintendo 3DS version, grinding is the same as in the Nintendo DS games. However, due to the 3D nature of grind rails in the game, the physics are slightly changed. When Sonic jumps, he lands back on the grind rail, but he can fall through the grind rail if the player holds the down button and jumps. Classic Sonic's stages do not feature grind rails in this game. Mushroom Hill's 3D segment at the end involves Sonic boosting along a grind rail with the camera in a fully behind-the-back view. Tropical Resort also features the second grind rail-switching section in a portable game, where Sonic jumps from rail to rail to dodge falling meteorites; here he cannot boost.

Sonic Lost World

In Sonic Lost World, Grind Rails can sometimes appear in new patterns such as a complete circle and due to the nature of the gameplay, groups of rails can appear in a circle (this is notable in Tropical Coast Zone 3 and Lava Mountain Zone 2).


  • In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic and Shadow are shown to possess special Soap grinding shoes, as part of a promotional for the shoe company. Later games dropped this, and allowed Sonic to simply grind with his regular shoes.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, when there are two or more grind rails next to each other, switching from rail to rail seems to increase speed, likely by reducing friction.
  • Later games let Sonic start grinding at a fixed speed (this means that even if Sonic were walking up to a grind rail, touching it would cause him to grind quickly). In Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes, this is not the case, as Sonic's current momentum carries into the grind.
  • The level Rail Canyon from Sonic Heroes has more grind rails than any other stage in the entire game series.


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