2010’s Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was a mostly well received, Sega-themed kart racer in the same vein as Mario Kart. That is to say, it featured random weapon pick ups, arcade style gameplay, and a recognizable cast of characters. Its sequel, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, takes things up a few notches in terms of variety thanks to its focus on transforming vehicles.
I spent some time with the game at the Sega booth today and got a pretty good indication of what’s in store for the game. Head on past the break to read my impressions.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed actually has more in common with Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS than any of the other Mario Kart games. No, correction – it feels more like Diddy Kong Racing than Mario Kart. Your main mode of conveyance is a 4-wheeled kart, but the kart will transform into a boat or a plane as the situation requires. Rest assured, your vehicle will be doing a lot of transforming.
Tracks are based on a number of recognizable Sega franchises – the two I tried out were based on Panzer Dragoon and Golden Axe. The Panzer Dragoon track changed routes with every lap, creating a hectic sort of unpredictability. The Golden Axe track on the other hand was the same route in each lap, but with every lap completed, new obstacles and hazards were spread out across it, making it tougher and tougher as the race progressed.
Control-wise, things feel pretty solid. Boat and plane steering is a bit looser than car steering, which is to be expected, but all vehicles are capable of drifting in order to build speed. You can also execute tricks with the right thumbtick in mid-air as you go hit ramps and other launching points, which will also give you a speed boost when you land. In plane form, barrel rolling can also be used to avoid weapons and level hazards.
Speaking of weapons, the game employs a random weapon pick up system not unlike most other kart racers. I only got to see a small handful of weapons for myself, but I witnessed things like snowballs which can slow down whoever they hit, heat seeking blow fish mines, RC cars which act like homing missiles, and a baseball glove which acts like a shield, but has an added twist which allows it to catch and return any projectile launched at it.
Each character will also have some form of special ability. I was not given specifics as to the nature of these abilities, only that you build up an energy meter as you perform tricks, drifts, etc. With characters like Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, Samba from Samba de Amigo, Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, Beat from Jet Set Radio, Joe Musashi from Shinobi, and more, one can start to imagine the possibilities.
Mario Kart doesn’t have a whole lot of competition for the position of king of kart racing, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed looks like it’ll give Nintendo’s flagship racer a run for its money. Look for it on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Vita, 3DS, and Wii U this Winter.