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