Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing

By: Tristan Clark    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 10:00 AM
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Sonic in a racing game. You’d think it’d be a natural fit, but you’d be wrong. There have been several botched attempts at bringing the speedy hedgehog into the realm of laps and tight corners, but to date they have all failed dismally. Trust me, I’ve played them all – I even paid good money to import Sonic R on the Saturn. So I approached Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing thinking, “This game surely shouldn’t exist…but I’ll probably end up enjoying it more than I should simply because it’s better than Sonic R.”

What’s weird is that I did end up enjoying this game, and not just because of my hideous nostalgia for all things Sonic. No, honest – this is actually a competent kart racer. Yes, it steals almost everything good from Mario Kart, but that’s why it works. And considering I don’t have a Wii in my lounge, I’m glad there’s now a decent kart racer available for any drunken escapades with friends, if we can stay away from Rock Band for long enough.

So yes, S&SASR (what a funny initialism) isn’t bad. It certainly nails the presentation, although I would like to strangle the commentator. The game brings together a pretty eclectic cast, mainly from Sonic games but also including characters like Alex Kidd (yay!), Ryo from Shenmue (yay?), and the ship from Fantasy Zone (???). Likewise, the tracks are inspired by levels from Sonic, Super Monkey Ball, House of the Dead, and more. It’s sort of, kind of a Sega fan’s dream – but if I can think of half a dozen characters, tracks, or songs I’d like to see included; I’m sure other fans can think of more.

At least what is in here is generally of a high quality. Aside from the annoyingly sharp right-angle turns in the Monkey Ball levels, the track designs are well thought out, and the environments themselves look lush and pretty. It’s just a shame that the frame rate is far from steady in places, but it doesn’t generally affect your performance.

I expected Sega to nail the presentation of this game, but I wasn’t expecting the gameplay to feel so solid. Driving your kart around the track feels just as it should, providing a very arcade-y feel that doesn’t feel too floaty. Drifting is firmly encouraged, and provides a satisfying speed boost when pulled off. Most of the time, you’ll be able to concentrate on the simple fun of pulling off corner after corner, overtaking opponents just before the finish line.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mario Kart clone without weapons, and it’s here the similarities are the most…similar. Seriously, for every weapon in Mario Kart, there’s an equivalent to be found here. The arsenal includes homing rockets, shields, stars that flip the opponents’ screen upside down, and the All Star power-up. That last one is pretty cool – it temporarily transforms you into a super version of yourself, allowing you to steamroll the opposition.

Of course, it’s more fun in multiplayer. You can race online or through splitscreen, which has the added advantage of being able to distract your fellow racers at crucial moments. Either way, the options available are good but not perfect – there’s no real Grand Prix equivalent here, so you’ll have to make do with single races or one of the other modes like Battle. That mode, just as in Mario Kart, gives you a finite number of lives, and has you racing around an enclosed arena trying to blast everyone else away. It’s fun, but hampered by the fact that there are only three arenas to play in. Likewise, modes like Grab (where you need to grab and hang onto Chaos Emeralds) are a fun distraction, but probably won’t keep you entertained for long. Still, it’s all robust enough for a casual sit down with some mates (or your Sonic-loving children!).

So are you hankering for a kart racer, but don’t own a Wii? And did you maybe grow up playing your Master System or Mega Drive until it broke? Then Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing is worth taking a look at. If you’re a Nintendo nutter at heart (boo! No, I kid), there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before – but for everyone else, this is a solid, if not perfect, racing game.

The Score

Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing
"A surprisingly solid kart racer, now with extra nostalgia."
Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments (17)

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On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 11:21 AM Posted by Xenojay VIP
I've actually been looking forward to this game and would love to get my hands on it.

As soon as I saw Alex Kidd included in the game, I wanted to yell in such hysterics akin to the KFC Burger Tower commercials. It's just, so freaking awesome to include Alex Kidd.

On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 11:53 AM Posted by leopardsqueezy
What was wrong with Sonic R? I had, and I liked. Saturn ruled.

The general concensus seems to be that this game is pretty good. I'm surprised, pleasantly so, and now I really wantee. Yay for Sonic.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 12:53 PM Posted by McPhisto VIP
16 March 2010, 11:53 AM Reply to leopardsqueezy
What was wrong with Sonic R? I had, and I liked. Saturn ruled.

The general concensus seems to be that this game is pretty good. I'm surprised, pleasantly so, and now I really wantee. Yay for Sonic.
I enjoyed Sonic R back in the day, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it was *good*. Do you remember the controls? They were awful! And oh dear god the music...
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 3:31 PM Posted by Syn-Ryn VIP
I hope it's as good as Sega Superstars Tennis.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 3:56 PM Posted by Donutta VIP
I remember being like "WHYYYYY?" when I saw this, especially since Sega tend to focus on this kind of crap rather than giving us good games. But then I saw that it was buy Sumo Digital, who handled the port of Outrun 2. Suddenly, I was interested. I'm not surprised that it turned out good and I might even give it a go. :)

On an unrelated note, the biggest crime in gaming is that SCUD Race never got a home port.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 4:07 PM Posted by Soyerz VIP
It will be cheap by December. I will think about it at $20...
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 4:40 PM Posted by Srassy VIP
It has Ryo Hazuki in it which automatically makes the game worth it. :) But I haven't really played a kart racer in a while. I seriously will consider picking up a copy.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 5:06 PM Posted by Koopa18 VIP
Ha. Interesting.
Riot Pig
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 5:44 PM Posted by Riot Pig VIP
I just wish there were more surprises and unlockables in it. The game is quite up-front with all the courses and characters available, and it doesn't take long to unlock everything. There's LOTS of challenge levels to do, but little incentive to do them.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 7:01 PM Posted by Kiwi08 VIP
I played the demo and loved it, but I think I will wait for Modnation Racers instead, because it has much more variety/features.
On Tuesday 16 Mar 2010 11:50 PM Posted by Oliver VIP
I love how surprised the tag line for this review is... "Actually not too bad!"
On Wednesday 17 Mar 2010 4:51 PM Posted by Soyerz VIP
16 March 2010, 11:50 PM Reply to Oliver
I love how surprised the tag line for this review is... "Actually not too bad!"
I think it is pretty obvious on why that is the tag line... :P
The Host of Chaos
On Thursday 18 Mar 2010 4:34 PM Posted by The Host of Chaos VIP
Apart from the demo locking up my PS3, it was pretty fun. Might be keen if the price is right.
On Monday 22 Mar 2010 1:49 PM Posted by SpawnSeekSlay VIP
Looks to kiddy for me now lol
On Tuesday 23 Mar 2010 1:40 PM Posted by Soyerz VIP
22 March 2010, 01:49 PM Reply to SpawnSeekSlay
Looks to kiddy for me now lol
All kart games have that vibe bro.
On Tuesday 23 Mar 2010 5:35 PM Posted by twisterjamz VIP
me and my brother go hard out on the demo for this, we just need the money to buy the game
On Wednesday 24 Mar 2010 9:45 AM Posted by leopardsqueezy
"On an unrelated note, the biggest crime in gaming is that SCUD Race never got a home port."

+1. All DC owners were waiting for that, and it never came.

That aside, I've picked this up, and it's actually pretty good. But stay well away if you are epileptic - seriously. Colours + flashing lights + ropey framerate + acid trip design = major brain thing.