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Grind Rail

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For the gimmick in the Sonic Boom franchise, see Rail (Sonic Boom).

The Grind Rail, also known as the rail, is a recurring gimmick in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It is a certain type of rail that allow playable characters to jump onto and grind down them to reach new areas. The designs of the grind rails have vary from stage to stage in order to suit the local theme.

Game appearances

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle were the first games to feature Grind Rails. Only Sonic the Hedgehog, Shadow the Hedgehog, Amy Rose, and Metal Sonic utilize them 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 use the control stick to balance on the Grind Rails, or the player will slow down and fall off. Pressing and holding the action button makes Sonic or Shadow to Crouch and gain speed while on Grind Rails. Grind Stepping is also possible, but since Grind Rails do not "attract" the player, the maneuver may be undesirable.

Screenshots 2015-08-19 00002

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

There are certain Grind Rails that can be used for tricks, causing the player to jump higher into the air while the character does a midair trick. When this occurs, the player is awarded a thousand points and the point-rank "Awesome". In Final Rush, they are also Grind Rails marked with green crosses, which the player can press the jump button near the end of to make an extra long jump.

Strangely, at least in the Dreamcast version of the game, an invisible Grind Rail is present in Meteor Herd. Since Knuckles cannot grind, it can only be utilized by hacking Sonic or Shadow into the Stage. It does not lead anywhere specific, so it is likely a beta remnant.

Sonic Advance series

In Sonic Advance, Grind Rails can be used by Sonic and Amy Rose. They only appear in a few acts, including Neo Green Hill Zone Act 1, and are mostly obscure gimmicks that are not required to progress with the game. To utilize the Grind Rails, the player must jump onto the flat portion at the beginning of them and hold the R button. Sonic and Amy will then slide down the Grind Rails and be launched into the air at the end.

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

In Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Advance 3, all the playable characters can utilize the Grind Rails. In these games, they are now automatic, meaning that simply jumping onto the Grind Rail will result in grinding. Unlike the first game, Grind Rails are an integral part of the level designs. Jumping while on a Grind Rail makes the player jump off said Grind Rail and fall down to the areas below it.

Sonic Heroes

In Sonic Heroes, all playable characters can use Grind Rails. In this game, crouching on Grind Rails from Sonic Adventure 2 has been changed; pressing the action button will cause the lead character to perform a small trick for acceleration, and continuing to hold the action button will keep them in the trick position which has the same effect as crouching in Sonic Adventure 2.

In Sonic Heroes, it is possible to travel up a vertical Grind Rail with no momentum by rapidly pressing the action button. Also, while manual balancing is not required, it is possible. When in Fly Formation, the player moves much slower on the Grind Rails and cannot perform tricks. In Rail Canyon and Bullet Station, the Dash Rails are also introduced, additional gimmicks for the Grind Rails which increases grinding speed. These Stages also feature transparent Grind Rails controlled by switches used to connect with regular grind rails. If the team touches the switches that go to the rails, the rail will change the direction within the signs. The blue rail means the rail is in the original direction and the raspberry colored rail indicates the direction is altered.

Sonic Rush series

In Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, Grind Rails function as they did in the Sonic Advance series. In this game, the player can perform Grind Tricks on Grind Rails to earn up to 1,700 points, charge the Tension Gauge and get miniscule acceleration while grinding.

Plant Kingdom Act 1 features a 3D Grind Rail section for the first time for a handheld game.

Shadow the Hedgehog

In Shadow the Hedgehog, only Shadow can utilize Grind Rails. The Grind Step is now a sideflip instead of a horizontal hop. This is the first 3D game in which no balance mechanic is used on the Grind Rails. Pressing the secondary action button (the same button that performs the Light Speed Dash and Spin Dash) causes Shadow to perform a rail trick, which curiously bounces him high enough off the grind rail to miss Rings. Like in Sonic Heroes, this maneuver grants a short boost of speed, however keeping Shadow in his secondary position no longer has any effect on his acceleration or maximum speed. Shadow can also use weapons on Grind Rails.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), characters' tricks do not raise them above the rail as in Sonic Heroes, but like Shadow the Hedgehog the trick only grants an initial boost of speed and cannot be used to increase maximum speed or acceleration. The player can also for the first time target Grind Rails with the Homing Attack, although the player can only target the middle of the Grind Rails rather than the ends. This also marks the first game since Sonic Adventure 2 where sparks fly from the Grind Rail as the character grinds on it. The game also includes the Wind switches which can create Grinds Rail made of air.

Sonic Rivals series

In Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2, Grind Rails disregard the acceleration/momentum physics used in previous games, instead, they automatically accelerate the player to top speed. Certain Grind Rails also only allow the player to move in a certain direction, making Sonic's Signature Move Sonic Boom ineffective on those rails. The player can jump off Grind Rails by pressing PSXButton while holding down.

Sonic Riders series

In Sonic Riders, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic Free Riders, Grind Rails are accessible to characters with Extreme Gears utilizing the Grind Gear Part (or Speed Type characters in Sonic Riders). The beginnings and ends of these Grind Rails are indicated by blue and red lights respectively. 

Sonic Storybook series

Sonic and the Secret Rings

In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic can utilize Grind Rails by jumping onto them. In addition to Grind Steps, tricks can be performed by pressing the Jump button. Sonic can halt while on a rail as well, causing him to fall off. Some Grind Rails are invisible and only appear when Sonic lands on them, mostly in areas where Rings or Pearls hang in midair.

Sonic and the Black Knight

In Sonic and the Black Knight, Grind Rails rarely appear. In Camelot Castle, the player can in particular use ballistae to fire a grappling rope into a wall and then use the rope as a Grind Rail. 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 also jump higher than usual.

Sonic Unleashed

Grind-Rail-Sonic-Unleashed-Manual

A piece of Grind Rail from Sonic Unleashed.

In Sonic Unleashed, Grind Rails work just as in previous 3D installments. Dash Rails also appear more frequently. Jumping onto a Grind Rail can contribute to an active Action Chain on the PlayStation 2/Wii version of the game, but it cannot start one.

Sonic Colors

In the Wii version of Sonic Colors, Grind Rails work like in Sonic Unleashed. In addition to be able to use the Grind Step on them, the player receives a "Grind Bonus" worth three thousand points periodically for some time while using Grind Rails. When Super Sonic uses Grind Rails, he simply floats above them.

In the DS version of the game, Grind Rails work like in Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, but without the Trick Action system.

Sonic Generations

SonicGenerations 2013-07-31 19-57-44-191

Sonic using a Grind Rail in Sonic Generations.

In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, Grind Rails work like in Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. Interestingly, certain Grind Rails do not permit the player to boost on them, notably in Green Hill. In this game, Classic Sonic can also use Grind Rails, but instead of standing, he rolls down them.

In the Nintendo 3DS version, the Grind Rails work like in the Nintendo DS games. However, due to the 3D nature of the Grind Rails in the game, the physics are slightly different. 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 version. The end section of Mushroom Hill Act 2 in particular 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 sometimes appear in new patterns such as a complete circle. Due to the nature of the gameplay, groups of Grind Rails can appear in a circle, like in Tropical Coast Zone 3 and Lava Mountain Zone 2.

Trivia

  • 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.
  • In Sonic Generations, during the battle against Shadow, if the player uses the normal Ramps that leads to two adjacent rails just before going to the early part of the race, the player will see that the end of one of the rails is marked with green crosses, even though they do not work like in Sonic Adventure 2.

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