‘Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed’ Review

Nov 20, 2012 by  

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed Review -

Going through a review of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed without mentioning Mario Kart would be extremely difficult, because the similarities are present from the very beginning. Sega and developer Sumo Digital aren’t shying away from the fact that Mario Kart serves as their game’s inspiration, but, at the same time, they aren’t simply copying Nintendo’s successful formula – they’re evolving it into its own evocative offering.

All-Stars Racing Transformed, a successor to the surprisingly successful Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, takes a thing or two from the page of Mario Kart 7, and even its own past iteration, but evolves those similar concepts into something unique. Granted, Transformed is, at its core, a kart racer, and gamers disinterested by that concept best turn back now, but what it does do for the genre is worth commending.

Like with the first game, Transformed presents players with a wealth of iconic Sega-brand racers, and a few oddballs to keep things feeling fresh. This iteration’s new racers include the likes of Wreck-It Ralph, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, and (oddly) Danica Patrick. Each racer, from Sonic all the way down, has their own signature kart, which by extension has its own characteristics, be it faster acceleration, a higher top speed, or better handling.

Those characteristics, however, can be tweaked to some degree by the game’s leveling system, which unlocks a different, character-specific mod at each level. Usually a mod will boost one specific stat, like drifting, but at the expense of another. It’s not the ideal leveling system, but it does keep things balanced when newcomers are racing up against veterans.

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed Review - Gameplay

While a unique cast of unlockable characters will be a major draw at first glance, Sonic & All-Stars‘ greatest achievement is its 20+ maps. While the game’s world tour mode gets plenty of mileage out of each map by mixing and matching various race types, they individually have their own appeal for Sega fans. Each track is based on a specific Sega or video game property, from Golden Axe to Shinobi to Super Monkey Ball. The tracks are designed in such a way to pay homage to the spirit of each game, and they incorporate some of their more popular elements.

However, these tracks are not just static raceways, but are gradually changing landscapes that, usually by the final lap, look completely different. Oftentimes a track will lose its racing surface midway through, and force the player either to the skies or water. Thankfully, as the game’s name suggests, the karts are capable of a transform ability whereby they can double as a boat or plane depending on the terrain.

Yes, Mario Kart 7 introduced the idea first, but Sonic & All-Stars actually does it better, making all three forms play differently. Racing through the skies, for example, has a lot more freedom of movement, and turns each track into a more open play space, whereas the water sections are much looser on the controls. The “transform” concept does make it difficult for casual gamers to hop in and race with ease, but for those who have become jaded by the endless cycles of arcade racers it’s a nice change of pace.

Racing through a track that isn’t simply the same landscape during all three laps is a welcome change of pace, and helps keep the player from running on autopilot the whole way through. Occasionally players will lose sight of where to go next as a result, their sight lines lost in the design of each track, but usually there are guide arrows pointing them in the right direction.

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed Review - Golden Axe Track

To show off the game’s dynamic maps, Transformed offers a decent selection of modes, from the typical 4-race tournament to the quick race. Players that enjoy a little deeper experience in their kart racer will find that the World Tour fits the bill nicely and offers a wealth of different race types. Like other recent evolutions of the kart racer, Sonic & All-Stars features more than just typical races – like ones focused specifically on drifting, or timely use of speed boosts, or even ones that require beating a single racer. Some are more successful than others, and a few are pretty poorly conceived, but each helps break up the monotony of the world tour – taking the attention away from simply aiming for 1st place.

1st place, however, is still the main goal in many of the modes and races, but achieving it will require not just skill but a bit of luck. The game provides a healthy selection of power-ups to acquire during a race, and players who can use them well will find the greatest success. There are about seven randomly unlocked power-ups available, each meant to assist the player in catching up to another racer or racers, or simply preserving their lead.

Most of the power-ups, though, are different variations on the missile, with some requiring a little aiming while others will seek out a racer regardless of their distance. Then there are items like the power glove, which allows players to protect themselves from any oncoming weapon and then, after “catching” it puts that item in their arsenal. And there are no power-ups like Mario Kart‘s lightning, which put only one player in an advantageous position and leave all others to suffer.

At times it will still seem like the AI controlled opponents end up with the best power-ups at the most opportune times, but thankfully there are three levels of difficulty to choose from — easy, medium, and hard — to help different types of players find a suitable challenge. Be warned, though, the hard difficulty takes that luck and happenstance and turns it into frustration and heartbreak. There’s no worse feeling than having the enemy weapons pile on just as you take the lead.

Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed Review - Transform Ability

Multiplayer keeps the playing field as even as possible, but those who have unlocked all of the game’s 20+ characters will find a more serviceable selection to choose from. Racing across the game’s numerous tracks against real opponents makes the proceedings much more challenging, but, at the same time, makes the victories that much more rewarding. Obviously appeal will vary based on a particular gamers’ feelings about the kart racing genre, but for those that loved playing Mario Kart with friends, this is a fantastic evolution of that experience.

With a handful of modes to choose from, including an addictive multiplayer offering, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is more than just Sega’s answer to Mario Kart. Its inventive transforming kart concept and constantly changing tracks keep the gameplay dynamic fresh without becoming too cluttered or confusing. The game suffers from its fair share of rubber banding AI, as many kart racers do, but it alleviates some of that stress with a forgiving learning curve and more accessible goals (like finishing 3rd or better to advance). Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is not the revelation the original Mario Kart was, but it certainly succeeds in evolving that game’s winning formula into a really fun game.

Have you had a chance to check out Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is available now for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. Game Rant was provided the Xbox 360 version for review.

 

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5

15 Comments

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  1. Wow, GR has really been cranking out reviews lately, just as they should be. However, Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed makes up only 1/3 of the kart racing barrage this fall. F1 Race Stars and LittleBigPlanet Karting have yet to receive reviews from GR.

  2. Vanellope should be in the game instead of Ralph. Just saying.

    • Haha I was thinking the same thing. They should have included both, Ralph is kind of the star of the film. :P

  3. My girlfriend and I have been racing Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing every day since we got it 6 months ago. We were not interested in all the weapons, just in real racing, so we shut off all the weapons in the settings section.

    To my extreme disappointment there does do appear to be a way to shut off the weapons in Sonic & Sega Transformed. As an adult I’m not interested in running a good race only to be taken out by a missile just before the finish line. I’m interested in a real racing experience. Sonic & Sega All Stars with the weapons turned off gives that kind of experience.

    I will call Sega in the morning and see if there isn’t some way to shut off the weapons. If we can’t Transformed will go back to the Amazon.com store. Too bad as we were really looking forward to Sonic Transformed.

    The interface was not at all easy to use, and is nothing like the one in Sonic All Stars Racing. No manual or instructions on line. The printed material with the disc is a joke. Almost no useful information. It took over an hour just to get 2 cars racing. There are no directions of any kind for operating the interface. None.

    For all the looking forward to the release date, and watching the trailers on line, this has to be the most disappointing experience I could imagine. How could they put this out with no way to remove the weapons from the race? This is a very serious mistake, and will turn off a lot of adults who are looking for a real racing experience. Real races don’t have weapons.

    If you loved Sonic & Sega All Star Racing with the weapons off and at high speed you are not going to be happy with Sonic Transformed. Unless there is a way to turn off the weapons this game will not provide the real racing experience that Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing does.

    If you love the real racing experience and hate the weapons stick with Sonic All Stars and pass on Sonic Transformed. It is a hot mess. If someone has found a way to shut off the weapons please post. You’ll be a hero in my house.

    • That’s a bummer about turning the weapons off.

      While I can’t see why someone would be interested in a kart racer that doesn’t feature weapons, if you and your wife found the experience to be more enjoyable without them then I’m sorry that feature is not available in Transformed. Maybe a future update can patch it in.

      As far as the interface, I found it to be pretty self-explanatory — modes laid out nicely — and had no problem jumping into any game with multiple players.

      • Well I wish you were my neighbor. I would have asked you how to get the 2 player at home mode going. The reason we don’t want weapons is because we want a real racing experience. There are no weapons in real car racing. Sandy and I want to race against each other. Having weapons come out of nowhere after you have run a great race only to shoot you down just a few feet from the finish line is not a great experience.

        We want to race against each other. Pure racing. We’re not interested in racing against the track. That is not the way racing works in real life, and we feel that having weapons fired at you ruins the racing experience. If you really can’t shut these weapons off Sega has made a serious mistake in terms of appealing to adult players.

        The weapons make the race a game of chance instead of a game of skill. I hate the weapons! Sega All Stars Racing had a way to take out the weapons.
        Why not Sega Transformed? Very serious mistake.

        If anyone knows a work around for shutting off the weapons please post it. You will be a hero in my house.

        Thanks,

        Ted

        • Whilst I respect the fact that you dislike the lack of the option (I agree with the fact that there’s no real reason as to why it shouldn’t be in the game) but I think you’re making a slightly bigger deal out of it than warranted.

          This is a mascot racer after all. Items are a key part of the overall experience. There’s supposed to be that sense of chaos. And the items in this game are relatively well balanced. There’s no Blue Shell or Storm Cloud based item like in Mario Kart Wii for example. Heck even the All Star moves have been toned down a fair bit (though the Twister item is rather annoying). Heck the items are even generally easier to avoid in this game than most kart racers.

          And it’s not like items are the sole defining factor of matches. At its core this game is largely about snake drifts and building boost to retain the speed.

          So whilst I agree with your suggestion and also think you should address it to Sumo directly, I feel that if it were not done it wouldn’t be a huge deal breaker for me personally.

          Have a nice day

          • I’m not even sure what a mascot racer is or why it is important. For me and Sandy Sonic & Sega All Stars with the weapons turned off and the difficulty level set at high was pure racing. The race depended on your driving skill, not some other driver shooting you with a weapon.

            I’ve noted that the All Star moves have been toned down a bit, and the weapons are somewhat easier to avoid than in the All Star Edition. This idea that because this is a “mascot racer” there is supposed to be a sense of chaos must come from some sort of Kart Game History. Maybe this is an age thing but I don’t want chaos on the race track. I want a real racing experience.

            If you own Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing try racing someone with all the weapons off and the difficulty level set to high. Now that is a realistic racing experience, and it is all about your driving skill. No All Star move to save you because you’re not running a good race.
            No errant missile from some racer who no chance of wining taking you out 10 feet before the finish line.

            If they had put in the option of not using the weapons then we both could have played the way we want. I did learn some things from your reply, and Sandy and I played the 1st 4 tracks today. We have some miles or points racked up but I don’t see any way to buy other tracks or characters.

            The interface to this is different than All Stars. I can find no manual or information of any kind about how to unlock tracks or buy other characters. Not even on the Sega website.

            I did email Sega. I take it Sumo are the actual developers. I’ll copy them. Thanks for the good information and suggestions. I learned a lot from your thoughtful reply.

            Be well

          • I believe you unlock the tracks playing them in the World Tour mode, or at least that was how I unlocked the tracks.

    • ….have you tried the boost races in custom match???….those dont use any weapons i believe…. (o.o)

      • LunoYoryiki…you are a hero in my house! The boost races are just what we were looking for. Blinding speed. No weapons. The race decided on driving skill. My girlfriend Sandy is so happy. This has had a real positive effect on our enjoyment of this most excellent video game. Thank you for your reply, and for sharing this valuable information. In the early days of a release like Transformed there is not much info around.

        This has been a big help. We love the boost races! Thank you so much!

        Ted & Sandy

        • …..youre welcome….just glad to help!!! (^-^ )

  4. To: Anthony Taormina…thank you very much for your helpful reply. After playing around with the World Tour mode as you suggested I was able to unlock a track. Sandy and I are planing on doing some more World Tour racing, and unlocking more tracks.

    Your suggestion has made a real difference in our enjoyment of the video game, Sonic Transformed. Any ideas on how you unlock the characters? I used another character in Sonic All Stars and would like to unlock him.

    Thanks again for the info. Very hard to get when a game is so new. You are a hero in our house!

    Ted & Sandy

  5. I’m having a problem with Sonic Transformed. I can’t set the flight assist on the 2nd local controller. My girlfriend and I play most every day. If you have flight assist it is much easier to fly following the green things in the sky. I can adjust controller #1, the primary controller for flight assist but there does not appear to be a way to set controller options on a 2nd controller.

    My girlfriend who is using controller #2 wants flight assist too. Whenever I go to options, and then controller options, all it has is controller #1.

    Does anybody know how to set options in controller #2? My girlfriend doesn’t feel it is fair that she can’t have flight assist, and she’s right.

    Can anybody help us? How do you set controller options for controller #2 in Sonic Transformed?

    ps…my thanks to those that responded about boost races-no weapons,and opening tracks with world tour. Couldn’t have enjoyed this great game without you.

    • I, too, am having a problem with Sonic Transformed. I also can’t set the flight assist on the 2nd local controller. My son and I play a lot. If you have flight assist it is much easier to fly following the green things in the sky. I can adjust controller #1, the primary controller for flight assist but there does not appear to be a way to set controller options on a 2nd controller.

      We are using PS3.

      Any tips?

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