Sonic & SEGA Allstars Racing
Wii, DS, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Back when this title was first announced, I really didn't know what to expect. To me, all it looked like was SEGA's answer to Nintendo's Mario Kart franchise. Now that the game is out I can say that I was right. It really is just Mario Kart with SEGA painted over it. However, that's not bad in the slightest. Infact i'd go as far as to say it took Mario Kart and made it better. Right where shall I start? Let's go for the main gameplay. Each character controls very well and its easy to get used to. Right Trigger is for accelerating, Left Trigger is for drifting(?) and the A button is used for items. As with Mario Kart, Allstar Racing has a variety of different items you can pick up and use against your foes. With the likes of boxing gloves, rockets and a pair of Sonic's shoes to speed you up. Where as in Mario Kart these would be green shells, red shells and a mushroom. Amongst the collection of items, each character has an Allstar Move. These are pretty much the same as the character specials from Mario Kart Double Dash on the Cube. These all vary between characters and are a great way to catch up if you're trailing behind. Sonic turns into Super Sonic, Banjo and Kazooie hit the track with raining jiggies, Big takes a ride of a super sized version of Froggy. They all range from amusing to insanely stupid but they work so well amongst the madness.
After the 100th time, Super Sonic just isn't all that awesome anymore. Still works though
The several tracks available are fantastic. Each one is based off a stage or location from SEGA's library of games. Although sadly, most of the Sonic stages are based off of Sonic Heroes and that wasn't exactly the best outing he's had. Something like Greenhill Zone or Chemical Plant Zone would have made better stages. My favourite location is definately the Curien Mansion from the House of the Dead series. One track leads you around the graveyards where as another takes you through the underground sewers. The Tower boss makes an appearence in the sewer stage which is a nice reference to House of the Dead 2. It's just little things like that which make it so much better. Some stages are quite frustrating though, Monkey Island is one. The corners are so sharp that you'll most likely hit it then spin out. I can't count how many times i've been overtaken due to that happening, I really can't. Not much else to really say about the stages, I just wish they took a bit more of a retro approach to some of them.
The Curien Mansion stages have zombies. Win? Yes. Yes it is.
The character roster features a whopping 22 SEGA characters ... a third of them being from the Sonic franchise. Yeah SEGA decided to be lazy bastards and cut corners but what can we do about it? Quite a few series have representatives this time around. Including Samba De Amigo, Super Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi and Shenmue. Possibly the most surprising addition for me was the appearence of the Bonanza Bros, who haven't really been seen in a new outing since the original Megadrive title in 1990. One of the more bizzare cast members are Zombio and Zombiko from House of the Dead EX, an arcade game which never made it outside Japan. As to why they were added I have no idea but it's really good to see the House of the Dead franchise getting a representative of sorts. Although I would have been more amused with Isaac Washington from House of the Dead: Overkill. There has been a lot of discussion over the current roster and quite a big factor of that is about two certain SEGA stars known as Toejam and Earl. There were some copyright issues but by the time they had something sorted, the game was too far into production so they had to call it off. They're rumoured to be appearing as DLC so we'll wait and see if this ends up being true. Yet another candidate for the roster was old SEGA mascot Segata Sanshiro, who is extremely well known amongst SEGA fans for those bizzare japanese adverts for the SEGA Saturn. Why did they leave him out!? It would have been a hilarious addition to an already amusing cast. Again, there's always DLC ... Too bad the Wii version doesn't get any.
Mobo and Robo certainly made the leap to 3D extremely well. Look how shiny they are!
Sonic & SEGA Allstar Racing has several game modes to keep you busy. First we have the Grand Prix mode which is divided up into 3 difficulties and several different cups. Single Race is for picking a single stage to play, instead of groups of 4. Mission Mode pretty much describes itself. As with Allstar Tennis, Allstar Racing has its own set of missions with special objectives. These range from drifting for certain lengths of time and winning battles to target practise and Chaos Emerald collecting. A nice wide variety and a fun way to take a break from the competitive racing. Now i'm not certain if the Wii version has this or not but Allstar Racing features an online mode. It's very easy to find a game online and even easier to set one up. Gameplay online stays very much the same except for the fact Allstar Moves are disabled online. Too laggy i'd assume. For each race or grand prix you finish, you are awarded SEGA Miles which work as a form of currency in the game. SEGA miles can be used to purchase new characters, new stages and music to choose from. I'd love to say this is time consuming but sadly its not. It won't take you long to rack up enough miles to purchase everything. I guess it can't be helped.
I couldn't find an appropriate image for this section so have a Robotnik instead.
The greatest part of Allstar Racing is undeniably the soundtrack. Apart from a few original tracks, a huge portion of the songs used are from previous SEGA titles. You'll be hearing songs such as Super Sonic Racing, Theme of Magician, Fly Like A Butterfly, E-G-G-M-A-N (Instrumental) and much more. So much more actually... right that was an awful pun. I'll grab my coat. Anyway, soundtrack = brilliant. Very impressed with the collection of songs but only one thing bugs me. There's a huge lack of retro songs on the Sonic side of things. Like with the stage choices, a lot of it comes from Sonic Heroes which in my opinion was a bad move. I do like the fact they added a song from Sonic CD but that's only one. I'm going to use the Greenhill Zone excuse here again because you should not have Sonic without that song. It's like having bread without butter. You just don't do it. Regardless, its still nice.
To wrap it all up, Sonic & SEGA Allstar Racing is a fantastic racer if you don't take it seriously. The racing genre is one I tend to avoid but I had a lot of fun with this game. The SEGA theme and easy to learn gameplay really helped me enjoy it. I can easily say that it's by far better than any Mario Kart game. Even Super Mario Kart. SEGA sure are getting back on track lately. Between Madworld, Bayonetta and now this! Here's hoping SEGA don't slack off and Sonic 4 does just as well. Not really much I can write about a racing game so i'll leave it at that. If you love SEGA, buy it. If you don't, give it thought before buying it. Either way just play it and see what you think.
Verdict - 8/10 read