Our Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed celebration continues with part 2 of our salute to the SEGA all-stars who will hit the track this November. In part 1 we featured Sonic, Vyse, NiGHTS, Gum and Amigo. This week, we take a look at more characters from the Sonic and Jet Set Radio franchises, keep the ball rolling with the star of Super Monkey Ball and we see the return of a certain iconic ninja. After the break, it’s an all out all-star salute!
Miles “Tails” Prower
First Appearance: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Genesis/Mega Drive, 1992
Latest Appearance: Sonic Jump, iOS, 2012
From the very beginning of the Superstars/All-Stars series it was established that the Sonic franchise was the headliner. While Sonic characters have more representation than other SEGA franchises, SEGA and Sumo should be commended for not going all out Sonic with the racing franchise. In the All-Stars Racing sequel, SEGA scaled back on the Sonic cast by dropping Big and not adding any more Sonic characters. And why should they? The seven Sonic characters featured in the game are the most iconic to the series, and the second most iconic of these characters is Sonic’s sidekick Tails.
Fans who grew up with the Sonic games and experienced Sonic 2 as it released were probably just as floored as I was to see a SECOND character on screen when Sonic 2 booted up. Sure we knew about Tails addition, but seeing him there and playing the game for the first time was quite an experience. Tails followed you around, mimicking your moves sometimes to comic effect. I’ll admit, I’ve lead Tails to his death a few too many times. Despite that, I love the little guy! Throughout the series Tails has balanced out Sonic’s impetuousness, and Tails has even given Eggman a run for his money with his own mechanical creations. In the last All-Stars game, Tails flew a modified Tornado bi-plane. This time out, he drives a stylish car that is very similar to his Sonic Drift vehicle from 1994.
First Appearance: Jet Set Radio, Dreamcast, 2000
Latest Appearance: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, Multi-Platform, 2010; Jet Set Radio, XBOX 360/Playstation 3, 2012
Like Tails, Jet Set Radio’s Beat has been a Superstars/All-Stars series staple; appearing with Gum in SEGA Superstars Tennis, and returning without Gum in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, sporting his JSRF design. Now, in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Beat returns with Gum in tow as both Jet Set Radio characters sport their original designs. This return to the original designs is fitting, as the first Jet Set Radio rereleased to HD consoles a little over a month ago. In Transformed, Beat trades up his De La GG’s ride from the first game (the name of the vehicle being a nod to the Japanese Dreamcast rerelease De La Jet Set Radio) for a new transforming ATV. The recent Sonic Universe comic adaptation of the upcoming game even gives an in-universe reason for this change: Beat is all about freedom of expression, he can’t be tied down to just one ride!
First Appearance: Sonic the Hedgehog, Genesis/Mega Drive, 1991
Latest Appearance: Sonic Jump, iOS, 2012
Guest written by Shigs: Dr. Eggman has been Sonic’s main nemesis in almost every Sonic game since the 1991 original. Known in America and Europe as “Dr. Robotnik” for the first 8 years of his existence, he officially took up his Japanese moniker worldwide in the 1999 Dreamcast release “Sonic Adventure” where it was used as a mocking nickname that he kept. He is a man-child who has been scheming for world domination for the past 21 years. From capturing small animals and putting them inside robots to unleashing monsters that always backfire on him to building an amusement park in space made up of tiny planets. Sonic always thwarts his schemes, but he’s never deterred. Often, I wonder if he doesn’t enjoy the attempt at world conquest more than if it actually happened and it’s all just a game to him? “What’s the fun in having my plans succeed without any challenge?”
First Appearance: Shinobi, Arcade, 1987
Latest Appearance: Shinobi, Nintendo 3DS, 2012 (unlockable character)
Guest written by Kori-Maru: One of SEGA’s mascots of the late 80′s, the legendary ninja Joe Musashi has been a long time favorite amongst the SEGA fan community. He made his first appearance in his original black attire in the arcade classic Shinobi, as he went up against an evil organization called Zeed who were kidnapping children of the Oboro clan. His next apperance in Revenge of Shinobi, for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1990, gave him the recognition he deserved through to today with hardcore platforming and memorable music by composer Yuzo Koshiro.
The legendary ninja has fought through the likes of the Terminator, Spider-Man, Batman, and even Godzilla to rescue his beautiful girlfriend, Naoko. Years later, he was an unlockable character in the revamped version of Shinobi for the Playstation 2. This was his last appearance, until the release of Shinobi 3DS in 2012 as a playable Street Pass character while his father, Jiro, took his place as the hero. I’ve been a fan of the Shinobi series since I had a Genesis and I am happy to say thank you Sumo for bringing back the legendary ninja who is in for a challenge against hedgehogs, pirates, monkeys, and many more in the race of a lifetime. By honoring his father’s attire, Joe Musashi will prevail!
First Appearance: Monkey Ball, Arcade, 2001
Latest Appearance: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz, Playstation Vita, 2012
The Monkey Ball series is, without a doubt, one of SEGA’s most prolific post-Dreamcast franchises. Developed by Amusement Vision and debuting to arcades in 2001, Monkey Ball released to the Nintendo Gamecube as Super Monkey Ball that same year. The series has since appeared on a number of platforms, both home console and mobile. For the most part, the Super Monkey Ball series has been a solid one, with only a few missteps. Super Monkey Ball Adventure, developed by Traveller’s Tales, was a critical failure. Also, the series Wii releases were either too difficult, due to imprecise motion controls, or too easy due to an abundance of safety rails. Still, there has always been a good Monkey Ball game to be found, such as the excellent Super Monkey Ball 2 for iOS and the just released Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz for the Vita.
The series star, Aiai, has become SEGA’s equivalent to Pac-Man. Gobbling up bananas in classic arcade-style gameplay. The pie-eyed simian may not have deep characterization, but he does have a unique design and a bubbly personality that makes him a unique All-Stars Racing racer. The Monkey Ball series itself has also lent some impressive tracks to the All-Stars Racing series, with the iconic Monkey Ball courses themselves acting as race tracks. Learn more about the Monkey Ball series in this 10 year retrospective from the SEGA Blog.
Next Week: Two of Sonic’s rivals, a jester’s worst nightmare, a crazy cabbie and a bearded legend.