Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
What We Liked:Fantastic online and party modes, FUN FUN FUN
What We Disliked:Can feel slow at times when not boosting
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed The tag line is “it’s not just racing, it’s racing transformed…” and just to kickstart all the positivity I feel for Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed – I have never played a racing game that has brought back so many memories of “Sonic R” on the Sega [...]
The tag line is “it’s not just racing, it’s racing transformed…” and just to kickstart all the positivity I feel for Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed – I have never played a racing game that has brought back so many memories of “Sonic R” on the Sega Saturn, “Diddy Kong Racing” on the N64 – and oddly “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!” because all three feel as if they’re connected on this latest kart racer from Sega bearing Sonic’s heroic name.
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is more fun that you would probably ever expect it to be. I didn’t get all that excited for it leading up to release, and my only impression prior to gameplay was that I’d be sat in a vehicle as Sonic the Hedgehog racing through bright, vivid tracks that could resemble past levels in many of my favourite Sonic the Hedgehog platform games. If I had for one moment known it was going to be every bit as fun as it is – I’d have been camping outside any gaming retailers premises just to get my hands on it, and pretty fast! Sega has taken one of the world’s best loved gaming characters; put him in a car that doubles up as a plane and a boat, and no amount of words can really do justice to the experience you have from playing a racing game that is as fun as this. They have taken a Mario Kart concept of bright, fun and funky, with a range of different items to collect whilst you’re racing to use against your rivals – chuck out a Blowfish, shoot some ice, or watch a whirlwind take your nearest competitor off the track, the aim as always is to remain in 1st place.
The major part of Transformed that has been overhauled from the previous game is the actual racing itself. Instead of being your average kart racer, Transformed decides to mix it up a bit with your vehicle changing mid race between a kart, boat and plane. I have to admit that I was extremely worried going in that the boat and plane sections would handle terribly and just not be fun. So imagine my surprise when they were just as great as the normal kart racing. There is of course a notable handling difference between the three disciplines and it isn’t as easy to drift but that’s the nature of the beast when on the sea or in the air.
The tracks also accommodate the three variants very well. The courses themselves will change with almost every lap, in fact it’s rare for a race to have the same lap layout all the way through. The tracks themselves aren’t as forgiving for getting a level 3 drift as the previous game Sonic & SEGA All Star Racing. In fact it will be very rare that you can squeeze out a level 3 drift boost, but if you can master where and when are the best places then you can give yourself a massive advantage. It adds an extra depth to the racing line if you can master the track and discover the opportune time to utilise a level 3.
You’ll be using one or two variants on most tracks with some occasionally making use of all three. It’s a nice way to utilise the vehicles and you’ll need to master all three disciplines to become a top racer. But what would a track be if it wasn’t a looker? Every single race in Transformed is full of absolutely stunning backdrops and settings that will bring a tear to Sega fans. From the Skies of Arcadia backdrop with Air Pirates roaming about to Golden Axe and even a Burning Rangers stage. Yes that’s right, Sega made a whole level dedicated to a Saturn game that hardly anyone played. The level of fan service is above anything else that’s come before from any company.
The main bulk of the game is in the single player World Tour Mode. Anyone who’s played Virtua Tennis will feel immeadiately at home as it’s very similar in it’s essence. There are several different tours and within each tour are a multitude of challenges, ranging from races to challenges and scenarios. There’s a myriad of different things and all are enjoyable to some degree. Standard ring race offers the most basic of objectives but the boost and drift challenges mix things up a bit. If your not drifting or boosting then you’ll lose time, try to keep the drift or boost going to pause the clock. It’s an interesting challenge and in the long run will make you a better racer – an aim that most challenges in World Tour mode aim to do. The more challenges you complete the more stars you earn. The harder the difficulty you complete challenges at – the more stars you’ll get per challenge, in turn these stars unlock extra tour’s, races and characters. It’s a simple and familiar system but it works and in order to unlock everything you will need a high level of skill.
Many unlockable characters wait to be discovered via game progression, but the initial roster still contains a good mix of classic heroes and leftfield choices. The inclusion of Crazy Taxi’s B.D. Joe, as well as Beat from Jet Set Radio, AiAi and MeeMee from Super Monkey Ball, Samba of ‘De Amigo‘ fame, and even Ulala from Space Channel 5 are all particularly welcome. Ristar shows up just to wave the chequered flag, and presumably remind everyone he ever existed. With this expansive guest list, I almost expected Vectorman to show up and say ‘Chicken, fight like a robot!’ while Sketch Turner swipes your kart with his swishing ponytail.
In conclusion Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed has now taken back the first place spot that it had lost to Mario Cart, and it is the attention to detail that makes this gem of nostalgia so damn good. As racing games go this game is fun, frantic and fabulous right through every map and racer. Never in a long time has a game taken us on such a wonderful journey through gaming memories, while being totally unique in it’s own right. Sega have proved themselves with this one, and if they keep it up, Mario Kart will be a distant memory.