Sega fans can rejoice because there’s a new and awesome kart racing game that will surely satisfy their need for adrenaline and wacky racing style. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a blissful merge between the Mario Kart racing style and classic age-old characters from Sega’s hall of fame.
Sonic, Tails, Ulala, Dr. Eggman, Shadow, Amigo, Knuckles, Billy Hatcher and many others have been brought together for the sole purpose of racing it out on various tracks for your amusement.
If it sounds like a deja-vu (granted, it borrows some of Mario Kart’s features) the game is quite unique in terms of landscapes and track diversity. Story
I’ve abandoned a long time ago the notion that a game is only as good as its story is and with this statement I strongly emphasize that Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has no plot whatsoever. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out for what all these characters are racing for or what their purpose really is for attending each race.
Nevertheless, this is actually a good thing because it’s hard to imagine a story coherent enough (or that didn’t sound like a massive cliché) to support the sheer amount of characters. So, don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out what B.D. Joe (from Crazy Taxi
) or Ulala (from Space Channel 5
) are looking in a race against Sonic the Hedgehog related characters.
The game has a whopping 24 racing tracks that each comes with various themes, features and not to mention a plethora of shortcuts and power-ups that will keep you fully immersed in this wacky world.
Each character will have its own ride that can be anything from a hovercraft to a car or a bike. The only difference between them (besides the obvious design) is the fact that they behave differently on various terrains. While being a rebel like Shadow (who rides a powerful bike) can sound like a lot of fun, it can be somewhat frustrating that you can easily be pushed off the road with a single nudge.
Hovercrafts are not exactly peachy either, because they’re not that maneuverable and their top speed is not exactly off the chart. Unlike cars or bikes, hovercrafts behave great on any type of terrain and this can be worked to your advantage with a bit of practice.
I’m not sure why Sonic got to drive a blue car (I would have went with a rebel bike packing a dual exhaust and an extreme sporty look), but it seems to do a good job at taking corners and staying on track. If you’re planning to get an extra kick and punch some more power into your ride, you could try performing a couple of drifts while you’re taking corners.
Squeeze down the break button and steer left or fight to charge up the power boost and then release it into a massive burst of energy (like a NOS boost) that will launch you to first place again. Learning to skillfully drift will considerably increase your chances to win a race, because you’ll soon find out that the competition is a lot tougher that you would have expected it to be.
With three difficulty levels (easy, advance and expert) your skills will constantly be tested on the track. The only way to win is to fully make use of all the power-ups, get all the shortcuts and occasionally use the special driving mode that each character has (when falling considerably behind you’ll transform into a rampaging derby that runs over anything in its path).
Driving each vehicle is pretty straightforward and the only thing you need to worry about is avoiding any incoming projectile aimed at you. Power-ups are plentifully scattered around the track and both you and your opponents will have a blast (sometimes literally) taking out those in front of you as well as those behind you.
Single player gaming modes vary from Grand Prix, Single Race, Missions and Time Trials, each of them having its own sets of rules and basically culminating with you unlocking as many Sega miles as possible. With these miles you can then unlock tracks, characters and even new soundtracks.
The best part about undertaking all of these modes is that you’ll be using all the characters on multiple tracks and you’ll quickly learn about their strengths and weaknesses, thus preparing yourself for multiplayer or split-screen mode. If you think the A.I. is tough, the real challenge awaits when you’re racing against a friend (or eight of them).
The funniest thing I’ve noticed (a major thumb up by my standards) is that characters are not glued to the seats of their cars and sometimes they behave rather funny and goofy behind the wheel. From jumping around to waving their hands and throwing their feet off their side window, they’re unwilling to abide by any conventional rules and turn the driving experience into a really relaxing and funny endeavor. Not to mention that the more stunts you pull of while in midair, the more power boost you’ll earn when you touch the ground. Audio and Video
With high quality graphics and detailed textures, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is definitely a racing experience that you’ll not forget too soon. The vivid colors (particularly on the Samba De Amigo tracks) are a wild trip that will take your spiraling in a rainbow of colors designed to enchant and confuse you at the same time.
There are no texture glitches that get between you and the racing experience and the vibrant colors surely add up to the great overall gaming experience.
Even the soundtracks pull off some fast-paced tunes that serve to emphasize the frantic driving style that you’ll soon become addicted to. Also, you’ll never get to hear the same boring engine sounds because each car comes with its own and carefully tuned engine that can be better described as its own personality. No two cars sound the same and each character is unique in both skills and power-ups. Multiplayer
The split-screen mode supports up to four players and it’s more than enough to take racing to a whole new level. If you thought the A.I. had a personal grudge against you, then competing against your friends will turn out to be a much tougher place to test some of your skills.
Using all the power-ups and driving tricks at your disposal, the multiplayer experience will prove to be fun and challenging, with a strong emphasis on fun. Chaotic at first glance and seemingly hard to keep track of, playing in multiplayer mode you’ll make use of all the tricks you’ve got up your sleeves and fully put all the cars to the test.
The online multiplayer mode can be played with up to eight of your friends and the advantage is that you won’t have to share a screen with all of them. Having the entire length of the display all for yourself will significantly increase your maneuvering ability.
Although there are no multiple racing modes and you’re stuck to simply trying out one circuit after another (in online mode), you can still have a lot of fun in split-screen with Free Race, King of the Hill, Collect the Emeralds and Capture the Chao modes.
To be perfectly honest, there’s really no way that you’ll get tired of multiplayer mode and you’ll have a blast racing it off against friends or family. Conclusion
Although a lot like Mario Kart, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has its own personality, that’s crammed with goofy characters and animations. It also pulls off some really impressive graphics to back up the experience and in multiplayer mode you’ll always have fun pounding your friends with all sorts of power-ups.
Overall, in both single player and multiplayer mode you’re in for a treat and you’ll get to play with all-time Sega favorites in a new, rich, dynamic and vividly colored 3D racing world.