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Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed Review

Pierre_Bienaime By:
GENRE Racing 
PLAYERS 1- 10 
DEVELOPER Sumo Digital 
E10+ What do these ratings mean?

Well, at least it isn't werehogs.

I don't like defining a game solely by comparing it to another. Yet we're all thinking it: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (SASRT) is Mario Kart set in Sega lore, right? Well, true up to a point. The game repackages many of Mario Kart's trademarks, and there's no way it would exist without that series having blazed the path of the item-littered casual racer. But SASRT also differs from Mario Kart in a lot of ways, ways that make the game worth picking up—for certain gamers at least—and ways that should lead us away from comparison to an albeit clear progenitor.

SASRT draws from many different Sega universes, like Golden Axe, After Burner, and Skies of Arcadia. If you recognize all these, you're definitely a Sega fan and probably born no later than the '80s. Those are some of the lesser known game-worlds in the mix, though of course Sega flag-bearers Sonic and Jet Set Radio are represented as well. You'll also have weird shoehorns like Danica Patrick and Ralph (from Wreck-It Ralph). Must be a funny licensing story behind that. Or maybe just a sad one.

Anyway, it all makes for a handsome amount of content, especially when you start playing through all the different game modes. Career Mode will be your main distraction in the single-player. Some of the challenges are straight-forward races, but it gets more colorful. There's Traffic Attack, in which you dodge both static and moving cars; Pursuit, where you dodge a giant tank's attacks while needling away at its health with missiles;  and a few slalom-style and against-the-clock modes.       

Playing through Career Mode on the medium difficulty, you'll eventually have to eke boosts out of every corner in order to succeed. There are plenty of ways to earn boost: run over a boost stripe, slide for long enough, or pull some airborne stunts. During some stretches, you can nearly always be boosting. It's what separates the boys from the men... or, you know, those who unlock all the levels and characters from those who don't.

For a casual racer, the vehicles in SASRT have a nice weight to them. There's a welcome option to play local versus games without items, and in that instance especially, it will often feel like your game has a hint of simulator to it. It comes to no surprise since Sumo Digital, the developer here, has quite a few racing games under its belt. That feeling is helped along by an absence of rubber-banding. As the laps roll on, the climb to the head of the pack proves consistent and rewarding, and you'll likely stay in the top three unless you really wipe out.

Wrapping it all up is SASRT's presentation. Each race will start with a screensaver of sorts, a fly-through of the venue. For the most part (and minus the music), the locales do a great job of working in their source material. Some of them are sober, some are trippy... it all depends on the game they're borrowing from. Once you get started and see Sonic's "hair" waving in the wind, you'll agree that this game looks slick.

One gripe I have, however, is the uninspired set of items. Here, SASRT wears its Mario Kart inspiration rather shamelessly. Nearly all of these items are calqued on Nintendo's armory, but they don't have any bearing whatsoever on Sega lore. I mean, you'll be shooting fireworks, ice balls, and, uh... bees. Yeah, I'm sure those nouns have all found themselves in a Sega game at one time or another. It's a weak inventory.

Anyway, SASRT can be dug if you're charmed by the casual racer subgenre, and if you're a Sega fan especially. Ah, and I've forgotten to address the last word of this game's damn long title. Your rig can change into a boat or a plane once you go through the right rings. I'm only addressing this because I have to. It's done well and adds a nice layer of complexity (especially since you can seek out these rings early on for an advantage). Does it really transform the game? Sure. More importantly, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed could have stood alone without it and still be a fun $40 ride.

Copy provided by publisher. Review based on X360 version.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Weighty racing engine feels good
  • Loads of content
  • Four-player local and online play
  • One fat debt to Mario Kart
  • Lots of Sega lore/bastardization
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Also known as: sonic and all-stars racing transformed

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