Published on January 4th, 2013 | by Duke0911
Review: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Developer: Sumo Digital
System(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft Windows
Release Date(s): November 16, 2012 (Europe, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), November 18, 2012 (North America, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U), November 30, 2012 (Europe, Wii U), December 7, 2012 (Europe, PlayStation Vita), December 18, 2012 (North America, PlayStation Vita), February 8, 2013 (Europe, Nintendo 3DS), February 12, 2013 (North America, Nintendo 3DS), TBA 2013 (Microsoft Windows and iOS)
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was released back in 2010, and it was surprisingly a decent mascot kart racer. Sure, it was seen as a Mario Kart clone with its drift mechanic and items, but it still had a bit of charm to how it played. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a sequel to the Sega kart racer, and the fourth game in the Sega Superstars series. If you expect this to be another generic mascot kart racer, you’ll be very surprised.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed plays very similar to its predecessor, but has a few differences as well. In the original you can accelerate by holding either a button down or a trigger; depending on the control scheme you have set up. What may disappoint you this time around is that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has a set control scheme. You accelerate with R1/R2 and drift/brake with L1/L2. You control your movement with the control stick, and use items with the X button. I don’t mind the control scheme at all, and find it works perfectly; especially being able to look behind you by holding the Square button, in order to aim your pickups behind you.
Pickups are the items you can, well, pickup on the track during the race. New to this game is the Hot Rod, which gives you a burst of speed and allows you to detonate it in order to slow down opponents around you. However, ride around with it active too long, and it’ll detonate on its own and cause you to spin out. Other pickups such as the boost returns, as well as the All-Star. All-Star gives your character a massive speed boost and an attack that varies depending on who you are. Sonic will use his homing attack on opponents ahead of him, while B.D. Joe will honk an amplified car horn to spin out others around him. You can also start a race off with an item by earning one through a Bonus Chance mini game. You have a few moments to bet five star tokens, which you can pick up on race courses, to spin the slot machine and earn power ups, or other prizes such as less crash time from a specific item.
A lot of kart racers lets you drift around corners in order to make turns more efficiently, and the same can be said for this game. After drifting for a few seconds, your exhausts turn red, and when you let go you’ll get a small burst of speed. If you can hold the drift a little longer the exhaust color will change again, and a third time if you can hold the drift even more, giving you more speed. What’s interesting about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is that you can switch your direction while drifting in order to continue building your boost. This maneuver takes some getting use to, but will come naturally once you get a feel for the track layouts.
Drifting isn’t the only way you can earn some extra speed in a race. While in the air you can tilt the right analog stick to do a trick. Once you land you get a small boost, but there’s a little more to it than that. You can flip forward, backwards, left, or right. Doing these tricks affect your direction while falling, and can help you dodge items and objects while in flight. If you manage to trick out of the way before hitting something while flying, you’ll get a risk boost.
Transformation of your vehicle mid race is the main focus of the course designs, and the game as a whole. There are giant blue gates on the track that you can ride through, and transform the shape of your ride. While in the general shape of a car, you’ll be drifting around on land; going through loops, up ramps, and more. Once you take to the skies, it’s almost like a new game. Your controls are initially inverted, but you have the option switch this. When in any body of water your vehicle obviously changes into a boat. Here your traction goes down quite a bit, and it makes sense considering that you’re moving across the surface of the water. Because of the lack of traction though, it’s a lot easier making tight corners, but at the same time you can lose a lot of speed if you turn the wrong way.
The characters themselves can also change depending on what mod you equip them with before a race or event. A mod alters the stats of your character, and can completely change their strengths. A speed mod obviously focuses on raising your speed, while a handling mod gives you better control over your turns and drifting. You can unlock more mods by gaining experience points in any race or event, and can level up to star rank (a total of five times). I found this to be a great concept for giving you an incentive for practicing with multiple characters; in the beginning there were a couple of characters I didn’t really enjoy using, but after leveling them up I found them more desirable to my preferred style.
A major issue with Sonic & Sega-All Stars Racing was the music. Most, if not all of the soundtrack, is ripped directly from other games in the past. Richard Jacques, who has worked with Sega many times as early as Shinobi Legions, is the lead composer once again and did a fantastic job. Though all of the music is remixed from previous games, it gives the overall soundtrack more variety. You’ll hear mash-ups of classic tunes such as “Super Sonic Racing” (Sonic R) with “You Can Do Anything” (Sonic the Hedgehog CD), to more obscure tracks including “We Are Burning Rangers” (Burning Rangers).
The track variety is simply amazing in the game, with many Sega franchises being represented here. You’ll be flying around the crumbling ruins of Sanctuary Falls from the Sonic universe, to the chilly waters of Billy Hatcher. In some races you start off on solid ground, while other times you’ll be starting in the water or air. During the race the design of the track will change dramatically; meaning that you won’t always be taking the same route every lap. A road that you may have taken on lap one could be destroyed in the next, having you take a completely different route. I’ll admit that even though all the areas look gorgeous and represent their respective franchises well, they can be too distracting. I honestly find myself so distracted by the locals during a race, that I occasionally lose track of what I’m doing. There are also four classic courses from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, but they’re not as interesting as everything else. The tracks are still nicely designed, but they don’t take advantage of the additions made in this game, and they come off as a little boring.
The game has plenty of modes for you to choose from, such as Time Attack and Grand Prix mode. You’ll no doubt spend most of your time in World Tour, which is essentially the mission mode of the game. The challenges you come across ranging from a simple race, to taking down a tank with missile pickups. Whenever you complete a challenge, you’re awarded stars based on the difficulty in which you complete it. These stars are essential for unlocking many things in the game such as other missions, extra characters, mods, and more. For the most part, I find the missions enjoyable, and though you can unlock more content through the other game modes, I found myself sticking to World Tour not only because I found it more organized, but just a ton of fun completing the many objectives.
The online mode has you race against random players across the globe, or against friends that you have registered. You have the option to participate in either a race, battle, which has you capture the chao or fight against your opponents in an enclosed arena, or Lucky Dip. Lucky Dip randomly places you in race, battle, or one of the events you can find in World Tour mode. For the most part, the game runs smoothly online, even with a max of ten participates. If you’re not in the mood to race strangers, you can send invites to your friends, or set up a private lobby so that no one but your local and online friends can join.
This is definitely no ordinary kart racer. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed sets itself apart from games before it with it’s track designs, level up system, and transformation gimmick. The driving and flight controls work great, though admittedly the boat controls may be awkward at times. There’s plenty of content that will last you for quite a while, and it’s a blast playing with friends and other players across the globe. If you’re a fan of Sega or racing in general, this shouldn’t be missed.
+ Great driving and flight controls
+ Character mods allow for customization
+ Visually amazing
+ Enjoyable World Tour
+ Solid online mode
+ Fantastic soundtrack
– Visuals can be too distracting at times
– Boat controls are a little awkward
Final score: 4.75 out of 5