How would you follow up the best kart racer of the current console generation
? Some companies would sit back and release basically the same game for the next ten years or so. Not SEGA, though. SEGA and developer Sumo Digital go back to that already great racer, rip up the formula, and make something wildly new and fresh and undoubtedly better. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features fantastic gameplay that evolves over the course of each race, tons of characters and features, and presentation that will make any SEGA fanboy and kart racing fans in general very happy.
- Publisher: SEGA
- Developer: Sumo Digital
- ESRB Rating: “E10+" for Everyone 10+
- Genre: Racing
- Pros: Nice presentation; tons of content; fun gameplay
- Cons: Feels slow on "Easy"; a bit difficult for a kart racer ...; why are Danica and Ralph here?
Sonic & All-Stars features all of the classic characters from SEGA's many franchises over the years. Sonic and all of his pals race alongside characters from Space Channel 5, Nights, Jet Set Radio, Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, and more. All of the tracks are based off of these game franchises as well, which gives each track a unique visual style and feel that is really great. The only real misstep here is that real life race car driver Danica Patrick and CG movie character Wreck It Ralph are also included and they stick out like a sore thumb compared to the more interestingly designed SEGA characters. The rest of the cast is rock solid, however.
Modes include a World Tour mode where you unlock new characters and stages to race in, a grand prix mode where you play through a series of races for points, time trials, and single races. Multiplayer is also included, of course, and both local and online modes are fantastic. There are also a lot of distinct race types such as normal races, versus races where you just have to hold off a single opponent for a set amount of time and then another opponent pops up, battle races where you have to hit opponents with weapons three times to eliminate them, ring races where you fly through a series of rings, boost races where you have to boost as often as possible to stop the clock, and more. There is a lot of variety here.
One note about World Tour mode is that it can be bloody difficult to actually play through. There are three difficulty levels unlocked at the start - Easy, Medium, Hard - with each difficulty offering more stars for beating it than the one before. You need those stars to unlock new characters and advance through the career. The problem is, however, that when you first start out Medium is crazy difficult and Hard events are basically impossible. In fact, Hard events are still difficult even when you get good at the game because they heavily rely on luck (usually getting an All-Star powerup on the last lap to even have a chance to win). This is an issue because you can't actually play all the way through the career just on Easy - you literally can't earn enough stars to see it all. My advice is to start playing on Medium to make sure you actually have enough stars to progress. It will be difficult at first, but much better than having to go back and re-play races to earn more stars.
The gameplay is basic kart racing at its core, but with a few twists. You still collect weapons scattered around the track. There are boost zones to make you go faster. You powerslide through corners to build up boost on your own. All pretty basic. That little word "Transformed" in the title is where Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed sets itself apart, however. The tracks have road sections, water sections, and flying sections built into them and your kart transforms into a car or boat or plane automatically whenever it needs to. Each vehicle type controls differently from the others, which makes the game really varied and interesting to play. Not only do the vehicles transform, but the tracks themselves transform from lap to lap as well, so you don't ever run the same course three laps in a row. The tracks are also filled with shortcuts or super powerups and even opportunities to transform earlier than if you take the main path - planes are faster than the cars or boats, so if you can transform to a plane a few seconds earlier you have a definite advantage.
My only real gripe with the gameplay is that it can feel kind of slow, especially on Easy difficulty (the difficulty also affects the speed of the vehicles). The boats are also pretty plodding no matter the difficulty level.
Graphics & Sound
The presentation is very nice overall with great looking tracks and well designed characters and vehicles. Everything is bright and colorful and just looks good. The sound is also solid with music taken from each game for its respective levels, which is pretty nostalgic and awesome. Dubstep lurks on the menus, however.
All in all, Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed is a great kart racer that stands among the best the genre has seen this generation. It makes significant positive changes to the gameplay formula - it isn't really just
a kart racer anymore - and the transforming vehicles and tracks make the game really dynamic and interesting to play through. The difficulty is a little out of wack, which is odd for a kart racer which are usually meant to be kid-friendly, but younger players will be able to play on Easy well enough (or maybe try Joy Ride Turbo
). For kart racing fans, SEGA fanboys, or folks just looking for a colorful racer to play with their kids, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is highly recommended. For just $39.99 MSRP you're getting a ton of content.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy