The Vault: The 1999 European Sonic Speed Challenge

Hello and welcome to a new feature that I’m going to do every now and again. Normally we look at the current news regarding Sega and Sonic, but for now, I’d quite like to look at some of the older and more obscure items Sonic’s history because, sometimes it’s fun to do that.

We all know how Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 has recently been re-released right? Well how many of you downloaded the DLC? On the Dreamcast?

What madness is this some of you cry? Well, the Dreamcast was one of the first consoles that could access the internet, only there were two tiny problems, most of the time it didn’t work. No really, here in the UK the service was so bad it appeared on UK Consumer Group show Watchdog due to how many complaints it received, due to it’s reliability and the fact the 33k Modem was dialing out phones which resulted in huge bills. Combine this with how many homes at the time didn’t have internet access, much of the Dreamcast’s DLC content was never experienced by many.

Sonic Adventure received a lot of additional content which if you take a gander at Sonic Retro, you can find a great deal of information about, however, one which caught my attention was ‘The European Sonic Speed Challenge‘ which was sponsored by Reebok DMX.

This was an event held across Europe in which gamer’s could race through a modified Emerald Coast stage which had new item boxes filled with shoes that had been stolen by Eggman. The 50 people who completed the stage in the fastest time would each win a prize.

What did the competition stage look like? Well, despite it being over 10 years old, some pictures have still lasted the years. So for the sake of archiving, here you go.

As you can see, it looks similar to an item box you’d find in Sonic Adventure, only now it has some strange shoes inside, as well as the Eggman face logo and billboards advertising the Reebok shoes.

Whilst many speed runners are probably licking their lips, there was a slight catch. The shoes were hidden throughout the stage and you often had to go off course in order to find them. This particular box for instance was hidden under the pier.

You can also make out in that one how some of the stages traps and hazards remained present, so it wasn’t that easy a task.

As this screen shows, the stage was cut as gamer’s raced towards a giant GOAL banner in front of another Reebok billboard that asked the gamer if they were ‘feeling it,’ did they mean hand cramp? If so, yup.

What did it look like? Well, amazingly there is footage of the course on youtube.


From what I understand, it is possible to still access challenge if you own a Dreamcast and a VMU, but you’ll need to look into that one.

As mentioned, the 50 fastest times would win real prizes. Now I know what we’re all thinking, with 50 prizes on offer, they weren’t going to be that good right? Well… you’d be wrong!

11th – 50th Prizes: Exclusive European Sonic Speed Challenge Reebok T-shirts

5th – 10th Prizes: Framed certificate and a pair of Reebok DMX shoes worth £50

2nd, 3rd & 4th Runners Up: Framed Gold Sonic Disc, £200 of Reebok clothing plus a pair Reebok DMX shoes

1st Prize: A personalised Dreamcast Pod (6ft high display unit featuring television monitor, console and controllers) Trophy, £1,000 of Reebok clothing, including a pair of Reebok DMX shoes

Not since the days of Commodore 64 has there been a quest of this magnitude! Whilst the idea of winning T-shirts and certificates doesn’t sound that exciting, consider that similar promotional items and competition prizes for gaming events are now worth a small fortune and that Sonic merch on it’s own tends to be highly desirable, if you’ve got one of these, consider yourself very lucky!

So what did they look like? Well, this is where information starts to dry up. Despite there being so many prizes, I can’t find any pictures of them, either as promotional pics taken by the event staff, or from those who were awarded the goods at the time. However… there is one indication as to the quality of the goods.

In September of this year a former/current employee of Sega began to list a number of rare items on ebay including a framed certificate/award that was given to the then CEO of Sega Europe JF Cecillon. Now… before anyone asks, from what I read, Cecillon left this to Sega when he left the company. Several years later the award along with other old items of interest was due to be thrown out, which is why it ended up on ebay over nearly 12 years later.

Out of over 3500 contenders, the winner of the contest was a Mr Neil Riddaway, who won with a time of 46.09 seconds, who finished just 0.05 seconds ahead of everyone else. According to a post I found on NeoGaf from someone claiming to be the guy in question, he also got congratulated in the official Dreamcast magazine.

As mentioned earlier, no photos of the prizes exist, but judging by the award Reebok gave to Sega, something tells me that they were something special, it’s just a shame that no photos of them exist.  Anyone here take part in this? Did anyone actually win something from it? If so let us know in the comments.

Well that’s our first look into the vaults of old, maybe I’ll take the time to do it again sometime. Anyone got any suggestions for a better name? Or will ‘The Vault’ do?

Sources: Gamefan.comSpong.comSonic Retro, NeoGaf

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  1. I’m fine with The Vault but I guess if you wanna do one each week on a certain day it could be:
    Weird Wednesday?
    Mysterious Monday?
    Far-Off Friday? (Or maybe Foggy Friday i dunno)
    I’m terrible at stuff like that but just giving out some of my ideas even though they suck lol

  2. I really wish I grew up with a dreamcast.

    I also really wish there were challenges like this in games too. Ahh, good times back in the 90s.

      1. guess you failed to read my comment in full.

        “I’d love to see some pics of the other prizes”

        As in, you never know if someone has some somewhere. Or maybe someone who won might take some pictures after reading this?

  3. I took part in this, and I’m sure one of my memory cards still contains the challenge DLC along with Station Square at Christmas and Eggrobo in Twinkle Park. During the competition, it was thought that people were using turbo controllers to achieve times around the 37 second mark, which was impossible to do when also collecting the hidden shoes. This resulted in them removing times they believed to be unachievable. I recall being 57th in the world with my fastest time. I’ll dig out the Dreamcast and have a look.

    1. Mistake regarding Eggrobo. That was Sonic Adventure 2 lol although there was something for Twinkle Park.

  4. I remember the Dreamcast DLC’s. here in the US, we had the AT&T challenges for Sonic Adventure plus a DLC that celebrated the new millennium by scattering a bunch of Goal Rings in certain levels with the digital clock displaying “2000” right in the middle of the ring, and if you touched it, the Japanese version of Palmtree Panic ‘P’ Mix would start to play.

    And I still have the DLC for Sonic Adventure 2 where you can race as Egg Robo in the kart racing section. 😀

  5. I do remember the Rebok challenge, aswell as the twinkle circuit challenge with the new entrance outside the park across the water against the wall. I remeber the haloween event where pumpkins appeared within twinkle park. I also remember mentioned above the new years celebration with the large rings in levels that play Palmtree panic. But what I remember most is The large christmas tree in the middle of the road in front of the station and when you interact with it, it plays the BLUES version of the Dream Dream song from NiGHTS.

    1. If you still have your Dreamy laying around you can burn this nifty bit of homebrew to a CD-R.

      It might have said DLC on it. I can’t quite remember. I know it does have the christmas and halloween dlc however.

  6. Oooh, maybe you could call it the Egg Vault? Hot Shelter? I liked someone’s idea of Ring Vault… Or! Lovely Gate Number 3! I’m a Spy, you know. ^_^

    This segment was very informative! Hope you do more soon!

  7. news flash: new sonic jump update is out for the ios. featuring twice the boss battles in act 6, new gameplay features, new wallpapers, improved graphics and more

  8. This actually makes DLC look like it’s something special…well it was back then. Now on the other hand….

  9. Wasn’t Atari’s Swordquest competition after the Commdore’s heyday? I’d think that would be what you’d use as a “Not since” rating.

  10. I remember this. I kept trying to download it, but since I was in the US it wouldn’t let me. All I could download was that stupid singing Christmas tree into Station Square.

  11. Back when DLC was fun and free. I actually have a fondness for 90’s modems and slow internet connections.

  12. I remember connecting online with my DC once or twice MUCH later on in it’s last year before SEGA called it a day, remember getting the DLC New Year patch and being so excited but so anxious for the download to not take too long! I’m guessing this contest happened a lot earlier on as I never saw it on the DLC site for SA

    They also stuck all the coloured variant of Chao for SA2 on the special DLC website – I was so excited to get a “moon chao” back in the day – though nowadays you can get them via the black market additions instead (though now it’s just called “metallic purple” oh well!)

  13. I wanted to experience all the DLC, so I went to to download all the VMU event files and I was able to experience them all for myself. It was a very nice nostalgia trip for nostalgia that I never even got to experience (because I didn’t have a Dreamcast back then). It made me feel like I was in the 90’s, on a 56k modem, experiencing SEGA’s history in the making. It was nice to be able to walk around Station Square and have balloons floating everywhere, or a Christmas tree that plays a Christmas theme when you walk near it. Every now and then, when I play Sonic Adventure on my Dreamcast, I switch up the theme a bit because they’re so cool to have. SEGA should have put DLC into the Xbox 360/PS3 ports of Sonic Adventure so that the game could be something more than just a simple port.

  14. I remember this very well indeed! I went to school with Neil and used to go round whilst he was trying to win the comp, think he had about 6 weeks off school in total to try and win this comp , ha! (we were only 14 at the time!) Each day someone would beat his time by about 0.01 seconds but he’d keep plugging away until he beat them! I have never seen anyone be go quick at a game in my life it was unbelievable! There were a lot of glitches in the time trial & you had to expose each one of them to get the best time! He eventually won and the pod when delivered was amazing! Looked like the ones that used to be in hmv etc but all branded up with sonic! Really cool! So strange people are talking about this 13 years later!

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