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Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car (literally meaning, "exciting Sonic patrol car") is a children's ride that features the video game character and corporate mascot of Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog. It is unique because it contains a simple video game in the police-car shaped cabinet. In the game, Sonic plays the role of a police officer, patrolling the streets of a city and keeping it safe from Doctor Eggman. The game was released in December of 1991 by Sega of Japan.
Arguably one of the earliest ideas to combine a video game with a children's ride, Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car combines a simple video game in a family-sized cabinet. The ride's interior is large, with enough space to comfortably accommodate two adults. The game is played from an overhead perspective as Sonic drives his squad car northward on an ever-scrolling city street backdrop. The steering wheel on the cabinet's dashboard controls the car's movement left and right while a nearby action button can be pressed, resulting in Sonic briefly jumping out of the car.
During gameplay, the cabinet rocks in a left-to-right manner in sync with the on-screen police car, which is controlled by a steering wheel. Buttons on the dashboard allow the player to start the game, turn the siren on and off, or make Sonic jump out of his vehicle.
Graphics and Sound
The game runs on Sega's System C-2 PCB, which was based on Sega Mega Drive hardware. The background music in the game is from Green Hill Zone, the first level from Sonic the Hedgehog. The graphics and sprites in Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car are large and look quite different from those used in the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The game also contains speech samples, making this the first video game where Sonic speaks.
The game begins with Sonic providing an introductory speech, then pulling out of a police station and hopping into his patrol car. At this point the ride begins to move and the player can control Sonic's car as they please, toggling the siren on or off, or making Sonic briefly jump out of the car. Along the way, the action pauses to let a group of animals cross the road. As the ride resumes, things remain peaceful for another short period of time, then Eggman, the villain of the Sonic the hedgehog series, appears and starts shoving cars aside. The player is expected to then activate the siren and pursue him, occasionally pushing a button to make Sonic jump out of the car and injure Eggman. The steering wheel is also used to avoid bombs that Eggman periodically throws to try to slow down Sonic's car. When enough damage is done to Eggman's vehicle, it explodes, but Eggman escapes unharmed and leaves the scene hastily. If no action is taken long enough, however, Eggman will get away. Regardless of the outcome, Sonic will pull up in front of the police station and the ride/game ends after Sonic bids the player farewell.
Availability Outside Japan
Although the cabinet is only available in Japan and is considered improper for operation outside Japan, copies have been found in the United States on various internet auctions for extremely high prices. Most are never used once purchased or are not capable of functioning.
Recently, an amusement machine vendor in Japan listed a copy of the game that is supposedly in English. It is likely that the version was developed by Sega for amusement parks that are located in areas with a considerable amount of foreign visitors. However, it could also suggest that Sega was considering exporting the game at one point.
Working units of the game have been found in certain arcades in Asia. The arcade on the top floor of the Sogo building in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is known to have a working unit, costing RM1 (two tokens, one token costs RM0.50) to play. Another unit was found at an amusement arcade at a shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. As of 2008, more units have turned up in Malaysia and the game is becoming increasingly common in amusement centers around the country. Several units can also be found in arcades in Hong Kong and Singapore. In Dubai, U.A.E., there used to be at least one unit available at Magic Planet, an indoor theme park located at the Deira City Centre, but today another unit is now available at the Sega Republic, an indoor theme park located in Dubai Mall.[ ]