Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: A Racing Game For The Easily Bored

By Kris . December 1, 2012 . 4:30pm

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a racing game that feels like it’s designed around entertaining the easily-bored. The game is basically three different racing games packed into one, often changing styles in the middle of the lap.


You might start a race in a car, which feels just like your average kart racer. You drift around corners, pick up items, and shoot them at the people in front of or behind you. Simple enough, right?


As you’re driving, perhaps the road might crumble beneath you dropping you into a pit of lava. No worries though, your car simply turns into a (fortunately lava-proof) boat and your main play style might change a bit from drifting around corners (although you can still drift your boat) to watching the lava for swells big enough to front-flip off of. Alternately, another path might have you flying through the air, dodging stalactites and going through boost rings. When you think you’ve figured out a method for the first two laps, something will happen in the background that completely changes the way the third lap will play.


For example, the NiGHTS into Dreams stage will divide its first two laps into flying and boating racetracks, but the third will have you teleport to an area with a boss who shoots obstacles at you. However, in the Panzer Dragoon stage, a dragon will destroy the racetrack in front of your eyes (assuming you’re in first). Between multiple paths through a track, all of the bizarre background elements that force you to play differently, and the three racing styles, each track has a ton going on.


Fortunately, all of this is unified by one primary objective: gotta go fast.


There are at least five different ways to get a boost in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. You can hit boost pads, drift for extended periods of time (longer drifts will result in more powerful boosts), pick up a boost item from an item box, do tricks in the air (as a car or a boat), or even time your acceleration with the countdown at the start of the race (each properly timed tap of R2 will increase your starting boost to another level). If you aren’t already going fast, the game’s balanced in such a way that you should be working towards the opportunity to go fast.


While drifting boosts are basically what you’d expect, the trick system in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is much more involved than you’d think.


If your car or boat finds its way into the air, the right analog stick will allow you to backflip, front-flip, or roll to the left or right. The more tricks you do the bigger your boost will be when you land. This is… good and bad. Because I like getting a bigger boost, I attempt tricks whenever I think I have enough air to do so… which often involves me crashing face-first into the ground and losing a ton of momentum. On the plus side, my constant failure starts teaching me how many tricks I can do off of each jump in a stage, which ultimately teaches me how to go fast more efficiently.


However, there’s more to tricks than just the speed boost. On occasion, you might hit a jump at an awkward angle, which would typically send you off the side of the course… but using the tricks properly can save your life. More than once, I’ve recovered from certain death by side-rolling, which also gave me a handy boost. Tricks are a simple addition, and like many things in the game, it’s yet another thing to keep your interest when you’d normally get complacent.


Bored of standard racing? Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed wants you to race in every way possible. As you play through the game’s “World Tour” mode, in addition to your standard races, the game throws nearly every sort of permutation of its mechanics you could think of at you.


Battle races have you chasing down opponents and damaging them three times either by shooting them with an item or knocking them off the track. Other levels will have you racing after and shooting tanks that try to shoot at you and block your path. Or you might be racing through traffic and trying to hit checkpoints that extend your remaining time. Or you’ll race through rings in the air! Or you’ll be tasked with drifting through an entire stage to complete it in time! Or you’ll be doing time trials against ghosts!


Add in an optional slot machine that’ll impact your performance in the next race, and World Tour mode hardly gives you a chance to get used to one kind of race. It’s just as over-caffeinated as the tracks themselves are.


Unfortunately, things are a bit less varied in terms of character selection. Because of the transforming vehicles and the fact that you can unlock various “character mods,” there’s an unfortunate feeling of samey-ness. Knuckles and Beat (from Jet Set Radio), for instance, can basically become each other if you use the right mods (which are simply unlocked by using the same character repeatedly). Add to that the fact that most characters have the same “All-Star ability” (basically an item that transforms your car into a flying one that has an AOE attack), and it’s kind of hard to shake the feeling that you’re using skins.


However, even with the characters feeling pretty samey, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed does a lot to keep your attention. While there’s a ludicrous amount of stuff going on in each stage mechanically, they’re also charmingly devoted to Sega history. As a Sega enthusiast, I couldn’t help but smile when I first saw the NiGHTS and After Burner stages, as Sumo Digital nailed the aesthetics. There are also a few unlockable characters (that I won’t spoil) that were pretty fun to see… even if they’re unlocked AFTER cameos like Wreck-it-Ralph and Danica Patrick (I’ve got to admit, I’m still a bit grumpy that the game added her and lost Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki from the previous game).

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  • Junko Enoshima

    Best parts of the game: NiGHTS and Panzer Dragoon tracks!

    • chibisake

      The After Burner level is awesome too. When I played that track and heard the music…. *fangasm*

  • XYZ_JolteonZ980

    I assume online is lots of people, when I got the first I was disappointed in that there seemed to be so few players in the US while everyone I played with was in Euroland and etc, making it odd to chat while playing.

    Ill look into this one eventually hopefully, (Super Sonic Racing on ost?)

    • Syltique

      Yep, it’s on the OST. I’ve briefly heard it after winning a race as Sonic.

  • chibisake

    In the AGES track you can see a small Segata Sanshiro flying with a rocket (3rd lap). The game is awesome, but I miss characters like Opa Opa (SEGA’s first mascot), Ryo Hazuki, Segata, Fang and Billy Hatcher

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      I believe they mention, they are thinking of adding them with DLC? But well if the game does did well, we can hoped that the next Sonic All Star Racing will add more characters there.^_^

  • Muffum

    I’m not sure whether being “for the easily bored” is a good or bad thing. On one hand, it sounds kind of like damning by faint praise. On the other, I enjoy the game quite a lot, and I’ve been easily bored in the past, so.

  • John Diamond

    awww i can’t wait to play this sweetness. i tried the demo and it’s one of the best games since mario kart

  • MasterHiei

    I’ll definitely buy this game, does someone know if Segata Sanshiro is in there as well?

    • Julien_N

      According to chibisake’s comment, it is not the case, as Sanshiro is only seen as a cameo.

  • KaydeeZ

    I wonder if the glitches have been fixed yet. Played this online when it first came out in the US and online was plagued by glitches such as falling through the track or being stuck in an endless teleporting loop.

  • kenshinx13

    Looks awesome, sounds like snowboard kids trick system mixed with classic cart racing and diddy kong racing vehicles. Now if only Sonic would get out of that stupid car we’d have a damn awesome racing game in my opinion.

  • the sonic fanbase seems to be right up there with mario, and megaman a few steps behind.

  • Syltique

    I can’t recommend this game highly enough. It’s only $40 new, but it’s probably the best kart racer I’ve played since Mario Kart 64. You may not be good enough to play on hard mode and beyond, because the computer AI can be quite challenging. But other than that, the game is almost flawless. The tracks are drop dead gorgeous, and transforming between vehicles is a lot of fun. There is a ton of Sega fan service here too.

    • AuraGuyChris

      Literally speaking, it’s the only Kart Racing game on the Wii U so yeah, it’s the best thing you can go if you only own that console.
      Just wait till the inevitable “Mario Kart U”.

      • Syltique

        I got it for PS3. Seriously considering double dipping at some point to have it on Vita also.

  • I have the Wii U version and plan on getting the Vita version for on the go racing on my Vita since the 3DS version has been delayed. Anyways I sure wish Nintendo would release the patch for the Wii U version that they have been sitting on for a week now.

  • TheGameTagerZ

    When is sonic going to remember that he can use his feet?

    • AuraGuyChris

      I really doubt he can fly or swim, though. Therefore the reason for a vehicle.

      • hawk222

        Well, he can fly if he goes Super Sonic, and he can run on water so long as he doesn’t stop…
        But yeah, they just wanted him to be in a vehicle: that’s all there is to it.

        • GuyAlpha

          It’s a kart racing game. That’s why he’s in a vehicle. That’s why everyone is in a vehicle. Why is this so hard to grasp?

    • Elvick

      That would be about as useless as letting one person use a car in a foot race.

      Sonic runs fast. We get it. Doesn’t mean that would make for a fair and balanced race between other characters in vehicles. Just as a bunch of runners being up against someone driving a car wouldn’t be fair either.

      Tired of people trying to be clever with this, when they don’t even use common sense.

      • TheGameTagerZ

        Let some people run let some people use vehicles. It’s been done before.

        • Serpenter Rex

          Sonic R shouldn’t count ._.

          • TheGameTagerZ

            That game was bad but the idea was great.

          • Derek E Nay

            Yes, Sonic R was bad. But, that did not mean I didn’t enjoy it lol.

          • TheGameTagerZ

            Sonic Rivals, also a bad game did it without the use of cars. A game like sonic riders with just feet would be nice. The closest they ever did was using roller blades.

      • Cyberxion

        Wow. So unnecessary. It’s a videogame, just roll with it, dude. Save the indignation for things that deserve it.

  • Nikolai Sumcad

    That was a helpful review. I’ve been contemplating whether to get this or not as I have had high expectations for ‘wacky’ kart racing ever since CTR and Mario Kart, and its good to know it holds a good amount of fun in itself.

  • Tails the Foxhound

    You forgot the Risk Boost in the planes. If you trick/flip out of the way of an obstacle at the last second you can get a boost that way too.

  • protofox

    im loving this game so far, even with the few issues so far. ive gotten a few network disconnects, as well as random black screens that make me have to reset my 360 or the game freezes entirely during a race, but it doesnt happen enough to make me stop playing. and god this game is colorful and bright in HD and the online racing has suddenly gotten far more competitive in the past 3 days ..went from being 57 on the leaderboards to 300 something -_-; last night..sonic is serious bizzzneessss to some people it seems, but im totally happy with my purchase..was getting bored with MK7 on my 3ds

  • zero254

    Just because she is in doesn’t mean she took his spot.

    I recall them paying for the resources to put her in. Anyways, vote for Ryo if you want him in.

  • Lester Paredes

    I can’t wait to play this game. I hope I get it for christmas! I also hope that the 3ds and vita versions are good, because i likes my handhelds abit more than my consoles.

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