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Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Review (X360)

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Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Review (X360)
SEGA
In the world of kart racing videogames, there are really only two levels of quality. Great = Mario Kart. Mediocre = everything else. At least, that is how it has been until now. SEGA and Sumo Digital have created a surprisingly good kart racer in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing that might actually challenge Mario Kart for the crown. Sure, it isn’t terribly original, but the gameplay is just plain fun and the presentation (especially if you love SEGA) is pretty spectacular. Find out all of the details in our full review.
Game Details

  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Developer: Sumo Digital
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Solid gameplay; fun drifting; lots of characters; good music; solid visuals; tons of content
  • Cons: Difficulty a bit harsh; some obvious characters/levels missing; no battle mode online

The draw behind Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is, obviously, the characters and levels borrowed from SEGA’s rich history in the videogame industry. You can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and other Sonic series mainstays, but also Ulala from Space Channel 5, Beat from Jet Set Radio, and many more from games like Curien Mansion, Virtua Fighter, and Chu Chu Rocket, among others. Banjo & Kazooie and the ability to use your Avatar are also included in the Xbox 360 version. The levels you race on are all taken from the SEGA games, and it is interesting to see racetracks interwoven through some of the familiar levels and settings we’ve played through in the past.

I have to say that while I’m not fully familiar with everything in the game (I was firmly on the Nintendo side of the Nintendo v. SEGA war up until the Dreamcast), the stuff I do directly connect with (Sonic, Virtua Fighter, Jet Set Radio Future) really gives me the warm and fuzzies in this game. I can just imagine what a real SEGA fanboy (used as a complimentary term here) will think when they see the characters and levels and listen to the music in this game. There is certainly enough charm here even if you don’t know the characters, but SEGA fans are really in for a treat that other gamers won’t appreciate nearly as much.

Gameplay

SEGA
The gameplay is a mix of kart racing that leans heavily on the foundation that Mario Kart laid down combined with drifting ripped straight out of Outrun. If you have ever played a Mario Kart game, the weapons will be very familiar here. Green boxing gloves instead of green shells. Red missiles instead of red shells. You get the idea. Each character here also gets their own super move (you know, when you’re bouncing around in the back of the field) that gives them super speed or powerful weapons so they can get back into the race. Each character has a unique vehicle with unique stats and overall feel, so each character really does race differently.

The biggest difference in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is how the drifting is set up. You hold the right trigger to accelerate and hold the left trigger to start drifting. It is really smooth and surprisingly intuitive to drift around a long corner and build up a big turbo boost. The controls just plain feel good and you always feel like you have full control over your car and can do anything you need to. It is hard to describe, but this game just feels good.

One slight complaint I do have is that the difficulty is kind of crazy. On Beginner difficulty, you can win with no problems. On the higher difficulty levels, however, watch out. On Intermediate difficulty you can still win, but it takes a heck of a lot more work and a good amount of luck. The A.I. drivers are near perfect and have a knack for whacking you right before the finish line so you get 2nd or 3rd instead of 1st. Expert level? Fuggedaboutit.

Modes

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing has a surprising amount of content on offer. There are six Grand Prix cups to complete, dozens of missions (specific drifting, item collection, racing, etc. goals), and a fun time trial mode that smoothly integrates ghost drivers as you finish each lap and automatically updates the online leaderboards. All of these modes also earn you SEGA Miles, which let you unlock more characters and tracks and music. Multiplayer includes both splitscreen (with racing and battle modes) and online (just racing) and is a ton of fun. Beware, though, online players are really good already, so better learn how to drift on the straights (also called “snaking”) to build up turbo or you’ll never keep up.

Graphics

Graphically, the game is pretty darn nice looking. The characters look great and the tracks are nicely detailed and widely varied in terms of theme and color palate. Some people have complained about framerate dips, but honestly I never noticed. It is always playable, at least.

Sound

The sound is quite good overall as well. The announcer is a bit annoying, but you can turn him off. The music and sound effects are great all around.

Bottom Line

SEGA
In the end, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is a really well put together kart racing game that should more than challenge Mario’s dominance in the genre. Honestly, I had more fun with this game than I did with the last two console Mario Kart games, so that should say something. Longtime SEGA fans will certainly get more enjoyment out of the package than normal gamers since this is essentially nothing but fan service, but the gameplay is fun enough and the characters charming enough that even if you aren’t looking at them through nostalgia-tinted glasses anyone and everyone will find something to like here. I definitely recommend it for at least a rental, but I’d say if you are a SEGA fan and/or you have kids, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is worth a purchase.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy

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