A SEGA mash up game that involves racing? Really, it’s hard not to be excited for a game that lets me see as Ryo and Sonic in the same race. So does the game stack up? Find out after the jump.
The game is a kart game and like it, it shares a lot of what other games have done. One of the features is the drifting to get boost, you can also do tricks in high jumps or ground tricks (bikes only). Crash Team Racing had a boost while drifting, other games might have it too but I just don’t recall.
Gameplay will change depending on the vehicle you use. SEGA All-Stars Racing features cars that are slower to accelerate and have issues or advantage in some courses depending on the terrain. Then there are bikes, that seem to be fan favorites in online races, they have faster acceleration and have the ability to do ground tricks for boost, but are weak and if a bigger vehicle runs into them they are defenseless. The last are hovercrafts that have no terrain issues due to flying, so they are a safe beat.
The game also features item boxes with power ups, another common thing in kart racers and works well on this game. Each item has another item that it can block, so remember to always have an extra item with you, even if you are in the lead. Nothing feels worse than getting hit by a missile when you are a few feet from that sweet looking finish line.
The graphics in the game are not all next gen with extra saucy filters, some of the tracks have low texture and polygon models, that being said the graphics are the best yet in a Kart racing game. This game just features more background stuff compared to games like Mario Kart or Mod Nation Racer, not to mention it does it all with bright colors. Right when you start the game, your jaw will drop at the amount of colors on screen; why is that most “next generation” games always have to be super detailed with brown graphics? The game does have some framerate stuttering, it isn’t up to par on 30 fps when racing. I think all racing games, including this one, should aim to be 60fps. Regardless, the framerate does not kill the gameplay. (Note: I was running it at 1080p, most users don’t notice framerate issues on SDTVs)
Right when we heard about the game, we were all worried that Sumo Digital lost their way, first they added Sonic to the title; most likely due to the fact that Sonic brand name sells more than “SEGA”, which is a sad truth. Then the roster really had some characters that did not deserve to be there, like why do they have Billy Hatcher? Seriously, the game didn’t sell great, had low ratings and only had one game released in 2003 (later same game on PC in 2006).
Even though the game does have a few bad eggs, it also has a fair share of good characters. I mean, we all got excited when SEGA showed off Ryo Hazuki. Shoot, we here had the puzzle sorted out the first few days it was made public. Trust me, we wanted him in and we got it. I’m thankful, even if I whine about the character selection. Who would have expected Chu Chu Rocket (Chuith, ChuBei, ChuPea and ChuBach) and Opa-Opa to be playable? What about Jacky Bryant with Akira Yuki? Even if they do act a bit odd and have a “bromance”. They even have obscure characters that I actually appreciate, like Zobio and Zobiko. I know most people will say they don’t deserve to be here, since they are only in a spin off, but I like obscure stuff in mash up games.
The game even featured some characters that I hated before, but after playing this game I couldn’t help but love, espeically their animations. One of the characters that come to mind is Robo and Mobo from Bonanza Bros. I know they have been put into almost every “Genesis Collection” by SEGA and I get what they do and the games, but I never really liked the characters and was a bit confused as to why they were put into a game like this. I mean, I’d rather have about 10 other characters instead of these guys. After playing with them I thought they weresuperb and fit into the game quite well. I love the whole slap stick duo thing they do. Very nice.
The path into obscurity…
Here is the biggest disappointing thing the game, at least to me, was the track selection. The game does feature 24 tracks, which is great, but they are only based on locations from 6 franchises. Really? Why would they think we would want more than one track based on Sonic Heroes or Billy Hatcher? Yes, all the Sonic locations are based off of Sonic Heroes, no idea why. Other tracks feature The House of the Dead, Jet Set Radio Future, Super Monkey Ball, and Samba de Amigo. That is all. No Shenmue tracks, no classic Daytona tracks or anything like that. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed in this.
But to give Sumo Digital credit, even though the tracks are based off some of the bad games, like Sonic Heroes, they are still a blast to play because they don’t play like Sonic Heroes. It is just the assets put together into a really fun track to play in. Could they have gone out and used some better assets for SEGA fans and even Sonic fans (seriously, how many of you are Sonic Heroes fans and want more tracks based only on that game?).
Like stated before, the tracks, even though they are not made up of assets from more interesting franchises (Give me a Harbor stage for Shenmue!) are still really well made. Nothing feels better than doing your loops in Sonic stage, screaming about those damn sharp turns in the Super Monkey Ball stages (and you will be screaming about it) and going all trippy stuff in the brightly colored Samba de Amigo stages.
Humming the bass line…
The sound track could have featured more songs from a broader era, especially for Sonic who has a huge chuck of songs, but mostly from newer games like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Heroes. Though I do give them credit for including songs from Sonic R, I know a ton of fans wanted that and they did get a few (Super Sonic Racing and Can you feel the Sunshine come to mind).
I think that was the issue for most of the games, they did not use the older game’s music in their levels and most franchises didn’t get a track since you actually needed to have a level in the game to get a song, which is impossible for franchises like Fantasy Zone, Shenmue and a few others to get songs into the game. Then House of the Dead EX songs don’t even appear in the game, but the lead characters do? I don’t know why.
I don’t understand why they went out of their way to include a new horrible song like “So much more” by Bentley Jones, when they could have went back, used a REAL SEGA artist like Yūzō Koshiro or even Tomoko Sasaki. I mean, there is a huge list of people I could list that would have made a better theme song for the game. Shoot, I could have made a better theme song.
This is not music related, but I know a ton of people that were very bitchy about the announcer being super annoying that they “couldn’t “play the game. Well you can turn off the announcer if you want, but I really do enjoy the commentary, mostly to see what jokes he slips in that are corny. Seriously, the announcer says the darndest things. Also the announcer is the same announcer for MadWorld, so its hard hearing him not say the word “Fuck” constantly. Maybe SEGA should have let him slip a few in and make us feel right at home.
Modes, give us modes..
The game will keep you busy, there are plenty of things to do. First of all you will obviously want to buy out everything in the SEGA store, which means you need to earn some SEGA miles by racing. The shop section features music tracks, drivers and racing tracks to unlock; which one has its own cost and can be bought in any order that you desire.
If you are going to make this a single player event, you can always do Grand Prix, you have 3 levels to choose from and it does last awhile. If this is not what you are into, you can always try mission mode. The game has about 65 missions for you to bite into; some are drifting challenges, hitting bosses with items and many different things. The only issue is that they repeat the same mission too many times for my liking.
You can also do a Single Race, but this mode is just one race, good if you just want to practice on a course you just unlocked or tired of getting your ass handed to you online (aka me). The real practice though, comes in Time Trials. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t really play Time Trials in ANY game; seriously, I just ignore the feature and talk about how ghosts sound super spooky. But the feature is really awesome and can get additive if you are a person that loves to be challenged. Basically you can race Sumo Digital’s ghost, try to beat online leaderboard times or your friends (on your friends list) times on a course. Beat them with Big the Cat and send them PMs of you laughing at them. Classic.
If you are the type of social person that likes to play the game multiplayer, then you are in luck. That is the best way to enjoy this game, it seriously is. Even though single player is entertaining enough, nothing beats playing with your friends. 4 player split screen has the most modes(Free Race, Arena, King of the Hill, Collect the Emeralds and Capture the Chao), while online only has Free Race. It is sad really, I wish online had more options, though what it has is very solid. The online match making, racing and everything go through smooth.
The game does drop the ball with content selected for the game, mostly musical tracks and racing courses, but what they have in there is still solid, even the racing courses. Even though most of you will whine about the cast of characters, it still has some very obscure stuff like Opa-Opa from Fantasy Zone.
In the end of the day the game delivers superb SEGA racing action and at least has one character that every SEGA fan would like to play as, well built courses with a ton of missions to keep you entertain and a solid multiplayer mode to keep most people busy for months to come. I do wish that they added more modes online, but just racing is still fun. Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is the best Kart Racing game I have played, ever.
+ Solid built tracks that will have you practicing your drifting.
+ Handles like a beautiful beast.
+Bright graphics remind me of why I love SEGA.
+Game hits you with nostalgia; it has Shenmue for crying out loud.
- Online mode only has racing? Why?!
- Musical tracks could have spread into more franchises
-Racing courses could have spread into other franchises as well.
- You always have the “I wish ‘X’ character made it in.”