Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, developed by Sumo Digital and published by the always reliable SEGA, is without a doubt in my mind the best kart racer of all time. Hardcore Mario Kart fans might argue this point, but when you compare the two side by side it’s easy to see what the better title is. A colorful cast of over 20 characters and an assortment of intricate tracks makes this a superior sequel to its surprisingly successful predecessor. Nevermind the fact that it does things that no kart racer has done before.
Between the numerous game modes and long list of tracks, this is one of the most legnthy racing games out there. Local game modes include World Tour, Grand Prix, and Time Attack. Each mode offers a different gameplay experience. It’s in these modes that you will unlock different tracks, characters, and vehicle mods. Unlocking everything that this game has to offer requires a great deal of patience and a certain level of skill, as this game is not an easy one. The online multiplayer modes, which are less abundant than local, are a whole lot of fun and give you the opportunity to put your skills to the test. You can race against other competitors in a 10-man showdown or you can play battle mode, which involves eliminating others with the use of your weapons. One of the greatest features of this game is that local players can join you in virtually every game mode, whether it be online or offline. Being able to have local friends join you online is always cool, and it’s something that is lacking in most racing games out there.
Although there is the occasional visual glitch, this game looks fantastic. While the character models are decent, it’s the tracks that really shine. They are colorful, vibrant, and offer up some much needed nostalgia. Each track is representative of a certain game series. Track designs are based off of such games as Sonic The Hedgehog, Nights Into Dreams, and Jet Grind Radio. Playing off of these different franchises gives the tracks variety, making each race look and feel different. The Sonic The Hedgehog tracks are particularly beautiful and actually make you feel like your playing through a Sonic level, but in a kart.
The sounds of this game are good but aren’t necessarily memorable. What I did appreciate was that every course featured a different soundtrack which goes together perfectly with the look of each level. I also enjoyed hearing your racer talk smack as they blast their competitors with weapons or pass them on the track.
The racing is absolutely exhilarating and some new gameplay elements make things even better. Catching serious speed, drifting around turns to build boost, and blasting your foes with a wide array of weapons makes for an overall joyous affair. Each course presents multiple shortcuts and alternative routes to the finish line, making Sonic & All Starts Racing Transformed feel as much like an adventure game as a racing game. The most significant inclusion is being able to transform into different vehicles mid race. Most races will require you to switch vehicles at some point. You may find yourself cruising around in a kart before instantly transforming into a boat or a plane. Some races even require you to race with all three vehicles. These vehicles not only look different, but they handle differently as well. A boat is far more difficult to handle than a kart and planes allow you do maneuver in ways that you couldn’t in other vehicles. We have seen racing games with different types of vehicles before, but never have we come across a game that has your vehicle transforming mid-race. It is this quality that makes the game triumph over any other one like it.
Even if you haven’t been into racing games in the past, it’s impossible not to enjoy this game. The only issues that I had is that a couple of tracks are recycled from the previous entry. It seems like they wanted to develop 20 tracks but only had enough power to produce 18, so they just threw in the other two. Also, two of my favorite characters from the previous title are gone, which are Billy Hatcher and The Bonanza Bros. Instead, we got Wreck-It-Ralph and Danica Patrick, which makes no sense and gives you the feeling that SEGA included these two characters as a way to gain sponsorship.
Overall, this game is pretty flawless. In all honesty, I had heard about the use of different vehicles but still didn’t think the game would hold up against its predecessor. I could not have been more wrong. Not only is this an exceptional sequel that will be remembered in the minds of fans forever, but Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is the greatest racer that I have ever had the pleasure of playing. A common misconception is that this game is strictly for kids. That statement is the farthest thing from the truth. Although it’s accessible for kids, the degree of challenge makes it a perfect game for adults and racing fanatics alike.
If you want an exciting racing game that really packs a punch while introducing some wonderful ideas, than look no further than Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. I highly doubt you will find a better racing experience anywhere else.
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