The original version of “Why is Sonic in a car?” is now one step closer to being at our fingertips. Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car has now been dumped and emulated courtesy of a Mame expert called David Haywood aka ‘Haze’.
For those not in the know, Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car was an arcade amusement released exclusively in Japan way back in 1991. This was along with another obscure title, Segasonic Cosmo Fighter Galaxy Patrol. You play as Sonic in a patrol car, and the goal of the game is to chase down Eggman on the mean streets of a non-specified city.
With no release overseas, and a lack of interest in obtaining it prior to this due to its short and very basic nature, it has previously only been shown to us through videos of people playing the arcade unit itself. Now Haze, with a combination of technical skill and donors to afford the board itself, has brought it into a format that’s playable on PCs and far more accessible to the average Sonic fan.
I’m no expert on the technical side of things, so for those who are more interested, these are Haze’s words on those aspects;
The game has 4 buttons (Lights, Jump, Accelerate, Turbo) as well as a Left / Right ‘Winker’ (indicator) and a Steering Wheel (which in reality just acts as another left/right joystick, it’s not analog at all).
The Lights and Winker buttons seem purely cosmetic, triggering sounds and animations on the screen. The Accelerate and Turbo buttons allow you to move faster and overtake cars but really have no real influence on the progression of the gameplay, you’ll get to Robotnik regardless. The Jump button has no real purpose until you reach Robotnik, at which point it’s used to jump attack his car, destroying it is optional, the game will end after that either way.
The hardware used is the Sega C2 board, the very same PCB as Puyo Puyo etc. It’s a board using the Genesis VDP, but with some changes to the rest of the hardware compared to the home system. The protection chip used on this one is the same as Bloxeed. The C2 driver is one of my older drivers (actually one of my first major contributions to MAME) and getting this running in the C2 driver didn’t really require any additional work, just mapping of the inputs.
As of yet, this emulation hasn’t been released to the public, but with it existing it all we’re now much closer to being able to try this obscure piece of history. Below is a small sample of the screenshots taken of the emulated game in action, there’s more provided in Haze’s article above.