Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Posted 3 years ago By - Kyle Baron
Did you enjoy Super Rub ’a’ Dub? Yeah, me neither. This is where you join me in being pleasantly surprised that the developer of that title, Sumo Digital, has created one of the most refined kart racers I’ve played since the original Mario Kart. When you first pop in the game and sift through the convoluted menus, options like ’grand prix’ won’t really convey the subtle quality of All-Stars. Even though the 60+ challenges can be fun, that’s still not the soul of the game, or the reason I feel it’s important for me to review it.
With just a few buttons to worry about, and the familiar trappings of item pickups, boost strips, and the usual drift-and-boost mechanic, the game does a good job in being approachable.
But, as approachable as All Stars is with its kart racing nature, the game has elements that will appeal to any hardcore kart racing fan, for instance, those who know what snaking is. For starters, the kart handling is finely tuned. Holding the left shoulder button during a turn will make your kart drift and eventually boost. The interesting part is that, not only can you adjust your trajectory while drifting, but the ratio of brake to gas that you apply affects how quickly you gain boost, as well as how sharp your turn will be. With such manoeuvrablity possible during turns I found that, for once, I was able to make use of the ’heavyweight’ characters in a kart racing game without ricocheting off walls during sharp turns. Thankfully, the large curvy tracks make it difficult for expert players to boost endlessly during a race with non-stop drifting.
Yes, there are ATVs
As far as maps go, the game has a decent lineup of around 20 tracks, which are all inspired by different SEGA franchises. The Sonic and Jet Grind Radio maps were my favourites, offering up an interesting set of paths, corkscrews, and huge jumps. Sumo Digital was also considerate enough to throw in some House of the Dead tracks for us zombie nuts. Oddly enough, there are also some levels from Billy Hatcher. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know what that is, however, as it’s an old Sega game. Unfortunately, the barrel-full of tracks is marred by a limited influence from only around four franchises, which is a shame considering how varied the character selection is.
The variety in the 20-odd characters includes the expected faces of Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue, Sonic, and some retro additions like Opa-Opa and Alexx Kidd. Xbox 360 owners also get Banjo and Kazooie as well as an additional ’avatar’ character who, *drumroll*, looks like your avatar. Wii users get to use their ava..er..Mii character too. Playstation 3 owners don’t have any exclusive racers, though I secretly hoped in vain for the ability to race as Kevin Butler. Sadly, Banjo and Kazooie, as the helpful in-game statistics show, share identical stats to Dr. Eggman. In fact, a few of the characters share identical stats, and are only differentiated in terms of gameplay by their special moves which are activated by a specific power-up.
As far as the power-ups go, they don’t get too ambitious in terms of originality. There are heat seeking missile power-ups, dumb firing power-ups, traps you can leave on the track and so on. Granted, this helps level the playing field and make things more interesting in any kart racing game, but there’s still the trouble of getting nailed right at the finish line, only to have other racers blast right past you to take first place. This is where I become all giddy again, because even players without items can still defend themselves to some extent. By boosting just as a power-up is going to hit you, you can deflect incoming projectiles. That may sound like a minor addition, but it can be a huge life saver, and something other kart racers should learn from.
Graphics and Sound
The quality of the gameplay in All-Stars is subtle and surprising for a kart racer, but it doesn’t hurt that it looks good too. So long as you aren’t playing the Wii version, the game runs in crisp high-definition, with smooth plasticy textures and vivid environments bustling with moving parts and hazards. The detail of the textures isn’t too ambitious, but the animations and driving all look quite smooth. It’s not perfect though, and the game can slow down framerate-wise during some of the larger pile-ups of racers and flying projectiles.
I’m looking for some sailo....dude, check out mybike!
The sound is something that, as a child of the 90s and a Sega fanboy at the time, I can appreciate. The bumpers in the Sonic stages have their characteristic ’boing’ and just about every other sound effect is likely to tingle the memories of any gaming veteran. It’s bogged down by the announcer, who, as helpful as he’d like to be in informing you of any players who have powerful items, can get really obnoxious after a while. I ended up turning down the announcer and just enjoying the pleasure of goofy Sega sound effects and the soundtrack of Jet Grind Radio after a few grand prix matches.
All Stars isn’t an overly ambitious racing game and won’t turn the kart racing genre on its head. It has some minor framerate issues and the varied character selection is at odds with the less varied bevy of tracks. What the game does successfully and, brace yourselves, better than its Mario Kart predecessor in terms of gameplay, are in terms of refinements to said gameplay as well as bringing some more depth to the genre.
You won’t see this game fly off the shelves as fast as anything with the ’Mario Kart’ name on it, but if you are a fan of kart racing to any degree, you’ll find something immediately appealing in what’s offered here.
+ Lots of challenge missions
+ Stable online play
+ Drenched in Sega nostalgia from the 1980s onwards
+ Extremely satisfying handling
+ Deep mechanics for experts
+ Slick visuals
- Some characters share identical stats
- No speedometer
- Convoluted menu
- Framerate can drop at times
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Release Date : 2010/02/23
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : SEGA
Developer : Sumo Digital Ltd.
Category : Racing
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10