“Sega combines their historic franchises to deliver an amazing karting experience.”
Racing games have never been terribly kind to Sonic the Hedgehog and friends, despite the fact that Sega has been responsible for some truly memorable entries in the racing genre. Sega and developer Sumo Digital look to make Sonic’s poor run with racing games end with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Have they succeeded? You bet your bottom they have.
All-Stars Racing takes the basic kart racer formula that has been popularized by Mario Kart and just runs with it, infusing characters from several different Sega franchises of varying popularity. Sonic the Hedgehog, Virtua Fighter, Super Monkey Ball, Shenmue and House of the Dead are all prominently featured while lesser known Sega stars of the past, such as Opa-Opa from Fantasy Zone, are also represented.
Selecting your character, as well as courses and game modes, are very hassle-free thanks to the game’s easily navigatable menus. Everything that you will be looking for is labelled and onscreen help is provided along the bottom each menu.
As is the case with Mario Kart and other popular Kart racers, All-Stars Racing relies heavily on easy to learn drift-dependent controls and weapon power-ups. Weapons are the typical staple items you will find in other games such as projectiles that home in on the racer in front of you, or stationary obstacles that you can deploy on the track to muck up the racing line of the characters behind yourself. Speed boosts and character specific special attacks are also present. Unfortunately, the specials are usually nothing more than overglorified speed boosts themselves, but they’re usually always interesting to watch anyway.
Drifting is done by holding L2 around corners and nothing more. Unlike in other kart racers, you do not need to wobble the analog stick or do any fancy tricks. As soon as you press L2, your character will be drifting and your boost will be powering up. The longer you hold L2, the higher level your boost will be, and the longer it will last when you let go of the drift button. With drifting being so easy to accomplish in this game, it is no wonder that it plays such an integral part in winning races.
There are quite a few different grand prix cups that you can compete in, numbering far more than a mere a dozen, and they span approximately twenty different courses which are all Sega themed. There are four races per cup, and winning a cup will net you a hefty amount of Sega Miles, the ingame currency used to purchase unlockables.
Aside from the standard cup racing, there’s also time trials, single race, multiplayer (local and online), and missions. The mission mode is pretty straight forward. You select a mission and are given a specific character to use who you must complete a task with. These tasks can be anything from beating someone to the finish line, completing elimination races, or collecting rings. You will receive a performance-based rank at the end of each mission that also determines how many Sega Miles you will rack up. Touching upon Sega Miles, they are used in the Sega Shop to purchase new racers, tracks, and music. To unlock everything, you will have to acquire hundreds of thousands of Sega Miles, and this should keep you very busy!
In terms of graphics, All-Stars Racing gets the job done. While the graphics are mostly just a little above average, there are so many things going on at each track that the graphics appear better than they truly are. This game is very flashy and the trackside of each location you will visit will be bustling with activity. In fact, so much attention to detail was put into the surroundings of each track that there is a bit of slowdown when the action picks up on certain tracks. The FPS will take a visible dip, but it will not harm the racing at all and is only a very minor concern.
Music in All-Stars Racing sounds repetitive at first, but it quickly becomes as catchy as the tunes in other kart racers. Ingame music becomes even more rewarding when you unlock nostalgic music tracks from the shop. Sound effects are what you would expect from a Kart racer, though there are many nostalgic sounds from previous Sega games thrown in to make you smile. Even the cheesy announcer who blurts out the most corny jokes ever should make you grin at least a few times.
In terms of content, this game is packed with things to do. Aside from winning cups, there are dozens of unlockables, time trials to perfect, and exciting multiplayer modes, and these should all guarantee that players have a lot to do in this game for quite some time. With downloadable content confirmed as well, expect this game to have a very long shelf life.
Sega and developer Sumo Digital have done a fantastic job bringing together Sega franchises to form a competent kart racer that not only matches the competition, but may very well beat it. In short, if you’re a fan of kart racers or Sega franchises, then this game is an absolute must own!