Xbox 360 Review: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing

Sonic and friends take on the racing track with some surprising results…

There have been a number of Mario Kart wannabes over the years, with the best probably being good old Diddy Kong Racing for the N64. Full Auto wasn’t too bad either…but nothing has come close to topping Mazza’s racing crown. Can Sonic finally get it right on the track after numerous bad attempts like Sonic R?

Shadow prepares to finally shut Big the Cat up...

It seems so. While it’s nothing more than an imitation of Mario Kart…Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is the closest anyone else will get to it. It has all the things you would expect such as weapons, great tracks and an impressive roster of drivers to choose from. The 360 version includes Avatar support as well as including Banjo-Kazooie to drive around, but while the Avatar handles well…Banjo’s vehicle is perhaps the worst of the bunch, never mind.

The 24 tracks are heavily themed to SEGA franchises like Sonic, Jet Set Radio, Curien Mansion and Super Monkey Ball and each are memorable with shortcuts and so forth. Each of the 22 characters has an All-Star move which can turn the tables of a race and place you from 7th/8th all the way to 1st. My personal favourite has to be Sonic turning into Super Sonic, but there are some other great ones that you will come across.

Besides 6 Grand Prix courses, Time Trial and Multiplayer lies 64 missions which you must complete with AAA ranks to unlock the achievement. These missions can vary from simple races; driving through checkpoints to keep the clock going; drifting or boosting to score and even taking on a big huge robot with your weapons. They are perhaps the most challenging aspect of the entire game, but at least they aren’t as awkward or frustrating as the ones found in SEGA Superstars Tennis.

There are a good variety of weapons like missiles, boxing gloves, mines and even one that flips your perspective upside down. There is a strategy involved with how you play the game thanks to the drift move which ends up giving you an extra boost or triple boost if you charge it for long enough, this can turn the tide of a race in some cases and comes in very handy.

I did come across a few glitches in the achievement tracker and in one case, didn’t get an achievement through a glitch on Time Trial and had to go through all 24 tracks until I found the one Staff Ghost that had managed not to save properly upon exiting. From what I’ve seen on forums, it seems to be happening to a number of people…but gladly, not everyone. Just be careful when you exit every race and keep checking the achievement tracker to make sure your progress is being updated properly or you could be void of the achievement for unlocking them all.

Sonic...gambling is the devil!

Each player will find a racer that they prefer the handling of more than the other and while in Mario isn’t the fastest in Mario Kart, in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing neither is Sonic. He can easily be outclassed by the likes of Alex Kidd, Shadow, Knuckles and even Tails. I personally prefer Sonic but don’t mind picking my Avatar to drive about. Online supports up to 8 players and alas 2 players cannot be the same character and All-Star moves go AWOL…which is probably for the best.

When I played the demo for the game about a month or so ago, I was unimpressed by the game. The framerate seemed off and I couldn’t even win the damn race. But when you put the game in, you’ll get a lovely little patch update that fixes the framerate issue and the game runs like a dream. It’s a good looking game with pretty colours and the character models aren’t too shabby either. Tracks are impressive to look at and make me wonder why there aren’t more Mario Kart-type games on other consoles. The announcer is a tad annoying and the music can be cheesy as hell, but with Sonic in the mix…what else would you expect?

The Verdict

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is a damn addictive game that although doesn’t topple the Mario Kart foundations, does a brilliant job in bringing a similar experience to the other consoles. It might have been nice to have a few tracks from Banjo games included (there’s an idea for DLC!) and some more weapons might have been good, but that doesn’t stop the game from being fun from the start to the finish line.