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Great Job for all of those who improved the game so far! Here are some suggestions that can make the game even cooler, with hope it can be achieved: 1) Resuscitate the old Beta (and much better) models of Dr. Eggman and Amy. 2) Change the hit effects of the missiles of Dr. Eggman and Egg-Robo to be more effective (instead of just jumping the character, ironically boosting him). 3) 4 Random characters (when unlocked) to compete with - instead of only weak\strong- to make the Grand Prix more versatile. Keep up the good and much appreciated work!
I've been working on my own Sonic R thing but it doesn't really change anything your asking for. But maybe its in the same vein of the stuff you want.
I changed the physics / controls of the game to generally play a lot better and be more balanced and managed to add some other things as well. I can send you it if you want to test it out for me before I release anything. (along with a list of all the stuff I changed)
Request 3 is implemented in JSONMenu, but that's really not in a stable state right now and I'm not currently interested in working on it further at the moment. That said, a large problem is that the characters are inherently tiered into standard/metal not just by stats but also by the routes the AI takes, and mixing them might not be the best idea.
Number 2 was done in Sonic Redux, but I haven't yet found the relevant code in the 2004 disassembly. Redux changed the missile routing code to be more direct (as the old code tried to stick to cardinal directions if possible, probably due to limitations of the Saturn hardware), killed the player's speed when they were hit, and took away some of their rings. That said there's a number of ways to do this.
Number 1 has been attempted, but so far we haven't gone anywhere. If you remember how crap the new models looked in Redux, that's largely what we're still dealing with. That and crashes/stability issues, because unlike Redux the mod loader doesn't have a rewritten character loader yet.
Sonic R is not a game that's meant to be modded, and the fact that Redux was even possible was nothing short of a miracle. I tried to work towards making it a more moddable game with things like JSONMenu, but there is so much work to be done that rewriting the game in Unity or whatnot would almost certainly be less work. As such, I've largely lost interest in modding Sonic R.
Just want to say that things like these would require a deep level of understanding and decompiling the game's files, which no one really has yet, aside from MainMemory/InvisibleUp who have many other games to work on, and Sonic R is probably one of the least popular ones. So unless you can convince someone with that skill level to work on Sonic R, or learn it yourself, chances of modding like this are probably pretty slim.