Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic, SEGA’s blue mascotte, has been living in the shadow of his eternal arch rival, Mario, for years already. Still both icons have joined hands for a series of games based on the recent Olympics. Now, however, Sonic has decided to fully focus on the competition again and starts with Mario’s favorite hobby: karting. Whether Sonic can keep his flashy car on the track or whether this will rather result in a permanent loss of driving permit is something you can read below.
To cut to the chase, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is Mario Kart dressed with some SEGA sauce. Mario and his friends are now called Sonic & Co. and SEGA added a couple of additional characters like AiAi from Monkeyball, Amigo from Samba de Amigo and Billy Hatcher who got know for his giant eggs. Whether these characters will manage to appeal to others than pure SEGA fans is yet unknown but for many the names will be coming from a distant past and then we haven’t even talked about Ulala 5 (Space Channel 5), Ryo (Shenmue) and Jacky & Akira from virtua fighter. The latter also don’t look like they fit in the concept of a fun racer due to their realistic looks compared to the other characters.
All characters have slight differences but the most important things about the statistics are the turbo powers as All-Stars Racing is little more than pushing a couple of simple buttons. The first is the right trigger to push the throttle, a facebutton to fire your weapon and finally the left trigger to start your powerslide and charge your turbo. The longer you keep your powerslide going the more turbo you receive. This is the main goal of the game and those that want to win will quickly go in a permanent drift over the track. Especially online this is necessary against trained players.
The tracks are based on the world from which some racers come from. They all have a very colorful palette and eye for detail. Even on the Nintendo Wii we hardly see such high quality finishing by third-party developers. The difficulty degree and accompanying learning curve on the other hand are completely out of this world. Some levels from the first grand prix cups already require good skills in order to finish without bumping all over. Especially younger players will have it difficult to get their timing right for starting up a powerslide around those sharp corners.
No shortage in local gameplay as you can compete in a grand prix, single raec, time-trial or one of 60 missions for a high ranking. Also there’s – as in any karting game – a local multiplayer included. Those that prefer to go online will be pleasantly surprised by a good working lobby system and plenty of other players. Where the game does miss the ball are the limited options. You can only choose from one race and it’s not even possible to create a championship. Hopefully SEGA will integrate this in a later update but we’re guessing we can forget about that.
Graphically the game doesn’t do bad thanks to the beautiful colors and details environment but the framerate does suffer from all the beauty. The instability comes when something comes up too fast or too many things appear on screen at the same time. Luckily this doesn’t result in bad gameplay. The audio could be better with especially the commentary being quite awful and annoying while the music is that typical trashdance that some people over here tend to appreciate. We on the other hand like it so much.
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is a direct copy of Mario Kart and offers nothing new. People without a Wii may find it a perfect replacement and will certainly appreciate the pick-up & play level. Sonic & his friends don’t do bad and deliver – despite the shortcomings – an amusing kart racer for young & old, SEGA fan or not.