Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed Review
Jesse Pinkman would approve
There have been many kart racers that have come and and gone throughout time with only one king, Mario Kart. Who could take on this juggernaut that has owned the kart racing market for the past two decades? In 2010 Sonic came on to the kart racing scene with the help of Sumo Studios. While the original game garnered some fans, such as Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, it was not a Mario Kart killer. Sumo Studios went back to the lab to cook up a new recipe with Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed and we’re happy to report, it does not disappoint.
In Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed you will be racing in a variety of ways. To get to the finish line you will need to learn how to drift on land, sea, and even the air. While the game appears to be taking some inspiration from Mario Kart 7 it is completely original in its concept. In an ever changing environment your vehicle will transform from a car to a boat or a plane by itself. This dynamic change in gameplay is what causes Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed to be so fun and engaging. Even after playing through the courses several times it never gets old. Unlike Mario Kart 7 where racing in water is more of a visual effect and flying in the sky is actually just gliding, Sonic All Stars goes all the way. While racing on the water your boat reacts to the waves through physics and can be quite tricky to handle, but in a good way. While taking to the sky you will need to maneuver your aircraft in just the right way to avoid obstacles and get through boost rings.
Sonic All Stars Racing is not only a kart racer but a celebration of Sega’s history. You will travel across many platforms that have featured Sega franchises such as Sega’s own Dreamcast, the Gamecube and even Arcade. You will see many familiar worlds and faces attached to these platforms such as Samba De Amigo, Skies of Arcadia, and even Golden Axe. There are even some outsiders who come to race such as Disney’s Wreck it Ralph, Miis, exclusively on the Wii U, and the world renowned female racer Danica Patrick! (what?) Each world is highly detailed and has many references to these classic games of the past. The game is so packed with details at times that it can actually be a distraction to the player. I personally enjoy this because this game at its heart is an arcade racer. If I wanted absolute concentration to get the best time possible with nothing going on in the background I would probably want to play a racing sim. But, with my karting game I’d like a bit of personality.
Drifting is the main driving mechanic of Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed and you will need it for every race. As could be guessed, the longer you drift the higher speed boost you will receive. At high speeds you will need to drift the tightest of corners at times. The excellent controls together with the stable frame rate will be right there to back you up on your need for speed. Trick moves are also available for speed boost when going over ramps, cliffs, or even decently-sized waves.
Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed is packed with content. In career mode there will be more than just racing. Traffic Attack is where you dodge moving cars across the track. Battle Race is where you have 3 lives and must remain the last man standing in the race. Pursuit is where you try to take down a giant tank with missiles while avoiding enemy fire. A standard grand prix mode and time trial mode are also offered. All modes offer experience points, which can earn you new driving methods to your characters such as speed, handling and acceleration.
Every kart racer needs a mean arsenal of weapons to take down all who stand in your way. Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed provides in this area but in an odd and somewhat disappointing way. There are creative items such as a cyclone that flips your opponents vehicle and causes them to drive backwards for a moment. Various other items such as a snowball and firework which can be thrown while a blowfish (Jesse!) can be left behind on the track to cause some devastation. The thing that left me scratching my head is why a lot of the items were generic and no way connected to the history of the Sega franchises.
On the Wii U you can play Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed entirely on the GamePad. With a downwards swipe of the screen you can bring the image of your TV down to the GamePad. While racing in single player a map of the course will be shown in top down view. A small image of a rear view mirror will also be shown on the GamePad for occasions such as avoiding enemy fire. The game offers 5 player local co op and online support which is highly impressive.
The online is very stable and offers racing and a battle arena mode with up to 10 players. There is no voice chat in this game at the moment, which is pretty disappointing. One thing that must be noted in local or online play is that you cannot choose the same character as someone else. This can be a huge problem for someone who has built up a character throughout the game and wanted to use them. If someone chooses that character before you, you’re out of luck.
What I like most about Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed is that it is fair. When you fail you do not blame your short comings on the computer but for your own lack of skill. This game is less based on luck and spamming of weapons and is more skill based. While this can push away some casual players, people who want a challenge and like to be rewarded for their hard work should get behind the wheel on this game.
Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed is a near perfect kart racer. Out of the 21 tracks provided in this game I have enjoyed every single one immensely. The game is packed with fan service and a wide variety of content. At $40 there is no reason for you not to have this game in your library. Has the king been dethroned? That’s up for you to decide but maybe Sega does what Nintendont.