2010 has come and gone, and with it came a slew of excellent SEGA games. I won’t list them off as I’m certain every reader here knows all the great titles that released. However, I do want to point out one of the releases that made it into my top ten games of 2010 list: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. When first announced in 2009, many let out a collective “meh”, and rightfully so. Up until that point, Sonic spin-off titles have ranged from terrible to good, but never great. SEGA Superstars Tennis, the predecessor to All-Stars Racing, was a good game. However the roster was lacking, the mechanics needed polish and the mission mode was a bit unforgiving.
However, as 2010 neared, SEGA and Sumo Digital began to drop hints that the new racing game would include a far larger roster, solid gameplay and a ton of surprises for SEGA fans. When the game released, nearly every promise was delivered on. The character roster was impressive. While Superstars Tennis had 16 characters from 8 franchises, All-Stars Racing featured 21 racers from 14 franchises. Not to mention, some racers included more than one character in the vehicle and there were even non-playable cameos from NiGHTS, Ristar, Flicky birds and Jacky Bryant’s car looked a lot like a certain famous red Ferrari. The gameplay, for the most part, was solid and there was a good deal of SEGA fan service. I mean, Ryo freaking’ Hazuki was in the game! Despite all that, there are a number of things that the game could improve upon. Let’s take a look at five things a Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing 2 must have in order to attain greatness.
If there was one complaint that every SEGA fan shared of the first game, it was that the track selection was limited. VERY limited. While the environments were diverse, the variety of franchises were minimal. Of all the possible SEGA games, only a measly six were represented! If there is one major change that Sumo would need to make, it would be in this area.
For example, let’s say that in a sequel, Sumo brings back nine of the best tracks from the first game, as is customary for racing games to bring back tracks from the previous game. Then, Sumo creates nine new tracks using assets from the returning tracks. So one returning Seaside Hill track and one new Seaside Hill track, one returning Monkey Ball track, one new Monkey Ball track, etc. This way, Sonic the Hedgehog would have eight tracks (two Seaside Hill, two Casino Park, two Final Fortress, two Death Egg), Billy Hatcher: two tracks, Super Monkey Ball: two tracks, JSRF: two tracks, Samba de Amigo: two tracks and House of the Dead: two tracks.
Then, having brought 18 tracks to the game with minimal development of new assets, Sumo could then bring in seven MORE franchises. Space Channel 5 could feature Spaceport 9 and Astroid Belt tracks. Phantasy Star Online could have Ragol Forest and Ragol Caves tracks. Fantasy Zone: two tracks (Opa-Opa track, Space Harrier track), Crazy Taxi: two tracks (West Coast and Big Apple), Panzer Dragoon: two tracks, NiGHTS: two tracks and OutRun: two tracks. Of course, with Sonic being the star of the game, an additional three tracks could be developed, inspired by the ’90’s era games, such as Labyrinth Zone, Stardust Speedway and Ice Cap. Finally, an awesome surprise would be Three Seven Speedway, though of course it would be under the SEGA Racing Classic label.
TL;DR version: 25 tracks from 6 franchises stunk, 36 tracks from 14 franchises is better.
The roster of the first game was impressive, however thanks to hints and teases from SEGA and Sumo that never came to light, a number of fan favorites were left in the dust and many fans were dissapointed. Of course, the 21 racers from the previous game would return (Metal Sonic being that twenty-first racer). With an already beefy roster, I don’t think Sumo would get much flack for going for quality over quantity when it comes to new additions. Let’s say only twelve new racers are added, however nearly each and every one of those racers are just as awesome as Ryo Hazuki? Edge of Panzer Dragoon Saga, Vyse of Skies of Arcadia, NiGHTS and Toe Jam and Earl would all make for excellent additions.
Segata Sanshiro would bring some welcome insanity and would make SEGA Saturn fans cheer. Obvious SEGA racers like the Hornet and Hang-On bike would appease SEGA racing fans. Finally, while not fan favorites, it would be nice to have a few more Sonic characters just to round out the cast. At least add the Chaotix and Rouge to complete the 1991 to 2001 Sonic cast. With this limited, but strong, number new of racers, Sumo could use more development time on increasing the already mentioned track list and satisfy a number of fans. Win, win!
Anybody who has played the first game online knows that the fun begins and ends with basic races. While there were a number of options allowing players to decide how many computer controlled racers there were, turning weapons and hazards on and off and how many laps, there was nothing in terms of arena battles. Unless I invite physical people over, a good chunk of the game goes unplayed thanks to many multiplayer modes being offline only.
From what I have played with visiting friends, the battle mode games are a lot of fun! Basic battle, Capture the Chao, King of the Hill and Emerald grab games would have been loads of fun online. Even if a sequel adds no new battle mini-games, having them be online would be a must.
Bringing battle mode online would also mean a number of new arenas could be created. All arenas from the previous game would return, as would new arenas be designed to represent the newly added franchises, like Space Channel 5 and Phantasy Star Online. Remember that dragon boss battle from the first PSO? His giant cave would make for a perfect arena. Other franchises could also be brought in for new arenas. Superstars Tennis featured Virtua Cop’s harbor and After Burner’s aircraft carrier, so I see no issue with reusing these graphical assets (just made that term up) for SASASR2 arenas. Oh yeah, and Shenmue’s Yokosuka Harbor please.
What were SEGA and Sumo thinking when they presented such an assortment of generic weapons? While yes, the All-Star moves were very much SEGA inspired attacks, the weapons themselves could have just as well appeared in a Capcom racer. A sequel must remedy this. Instead of a rainbow filling the opponents screen, why not have Puyo Puyo blobs drop down obscuring the players view? Instead of a generic homing rocket, have it be one of Eggman’s badniks (in fact, in early stages it WAS a badnik, resembling a fish badnik).
SEGA inspired weapons would go a long way in making the game much more of a SEGA game and would allow for a number of franchises to sneak their way in as weapons. This one’s a no-brainer.
Nothing against the Wii and DS versions of the first game, they looked great! However, I think development of a sequel could go a lot further if Sumo stuck to one HD platform and ported the game to the other HD platform. If I’m not mistaken, for the first game the PS3 was the lead platform and the 360 version was a port. By doing this, Sumo wouldn’t have to double check and see that all four platforms receive the same content. The 360 and PS3 can do so much more (I am NOT linking those last three words to a certain song) than the Wii, so why not focus on the platforms that could provide more content rather than holding back for the sake of a third console? Give a sequel more tracks, racers and online modes and the fans will follow.
So those are my 5 things that an All-Stars Racing 2 must have. What things do you think a potential sequel must have?Ad: