Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 85/100

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Review
Developer:Sumo Digital
Publisher: SEGA
Format Reviewed: Xbox360
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

We seen a collaboration between Nintendo and SEGA characters in Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, but lately we experienced Nintendo's gameplay in SEGA's games such as SEGA Superstars Tennis, which seemed a copy of Mario Power Tennis but with SEGA's characters of course. And now we have the chance to review Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, a rip-off of Mario Kart?

Start your engine...
Thanks to Sonic you'll learn the basics of controlling your vehicle on the tracks and he shows you how to step on the accelerator, to steer, and how to drift. These basics are helpful to make it through the first corners and tracks, but the fine-tuning and gaining of more driving skills can be retrieved by racing, racing and more racing. You'll learn that a drift can be powered up to perform a maximum level 3 power boost but also to figure out how to set the car in reverse when your vehicle is parked against a wall or an object. Well you can always check the controls and configurations as you like in the options menu. For gamers who often play a race game, the standard controls settings are comparable to other race game controls.

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing contains many game modes. The single player mode contains single races, time trails, grand prix and missions. While racing in the single race mode, only a couple of tracks are available, but enough to learn how to control vehicles and to explore some courses. Besides the “normal” racing, you can participate in 64 missions. Each mission contains a certain goal that needs to be achieved in order to unlock a new mission. For example in Billy Hatcher's Egg-stremely Simple, the goal is to scramble Billy through each gate before the cluck runs out. Or take Dr Eggman out for a little target practice, where he needs to shoot targets on the course to score enough points to unlock the next mission. The missions are divided in varied types such as rival race, drift, knockout, collect, race, hit contest, boost, grand prix, time gates, avoid, and score gates. Enough varied fun races for sure! The missions are excellent to increase your race talent, just like in the single races or time trials but then with an extra goal. The time trials are very challenging as you see two ghost riders on the track, one of your best laps, and one guest driver. It’s very tempting to keep on trying to set the fastest lap. It's amazing to see the scores some gamers have achieved already on the leader board.

To check if you got the skills to compete against the best of the best of SEGA's characters, you better join the Grand Prix. It contains races for beginners, advanced racers and expert racers, each which 6 varied cups. Each cup contains 4 different tracks and when you collected enough points at the end of a cup (the 4 race tracks) depending on the race results, and finishes on the podium, a new Grand Prix cup will be unlocked. Race on the track Jumble Jungle (Monkey Ball), Carnaval Town (Samba de Amigo), Casino Park (Sonic the Hedgedog), Blizard Castle (Billy Hatcher), and many more courses which are built and designed on SEGA games and characters. Each track contains alerned routes, creatures and items which need to be avoided, except for the capsules which contain special items to attack enemies or to power up your character with a shield or extra boost. The best items are the Giant Rocket which can be sent far away before you let it explode with a big impact, and the All-Star item is the ultimate item as the super power of the character become real. It's the Uber-Super item and you easily win a couple of places / distance,

Although the single player modes are challenging enough to have fun for many hours, the multiplayer modes truly are fun as you play against real opponent. Play either on split screen on TV, if any racers dare to challenge you, or go Live where you can choose to play against friends or a random player. There's even an Xbox Live Party which is in my opinion the best multiplayer mode as it lets you and up to seven friends jump from experience to experience while staying connected at all times.

Each race has 8 racers, and before starting a single race or Grand Prix (4 races), you can choose your own character from a selected list. For example you can choose Amy from the beginning of the race, but Ulala can be unlocked later on when you earned enough SEGA Miles. Each character has its own specific vehicle and it is not possible to choose a specific character with a vehicle that belongs to another character. For example you cannot let Knuckels race on Shadow's motorcycle. All vehicles have other speed, acceleration, handling and turbo-boost settings which can be checked before selecting the character. Although you can and will race with most of the characters, there's only one license which keeps track of SEGA Miles. For each finished race and performance during the race, you'll be rewarded with SEGA Miles. These can be used to go for a shopping spree to “buy” / unlock more characters, courses and music.

From a female point of view, a couple of female characters are included in this game. Already unlocked from the beginning of the game is Amy with her pink car with heart shaped back lights. Ulala is one of my favorite SEGA characters ever and included as well, although you have shop and pay a lot of SEGA Miles to get her unlocked. While driving it is as if she floats over the tracks with her space ship. Another female character that requires a payment of miles is Zobiko, the blond, blue character of Zobia & Zobiko. Not that famous as the above two mentioned female characters, but nevertheless one which comes in a package, as the big zombie is with her.

SEGA uses a lot of its characters in this game. Although most of them starred in games ages ago, they still are being exploited in new games. Ulala for example became famous with Space Channel 5 on the Dreamcast in the year 2000 and on the PS2 in the year 2002. Why doesn't get a character like Ulala a new game, where she can do the things that she loves to do? Such kind of question popped up in my mind while playing Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.

If you see this game as a Mario Kart rip-off, remember that Mario Kart can only be played on a Nintendo Console. Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on the other hand is not only available on Wii and Nintendo DS but also on the Xbox360 and Playstation 3. And let’s be honest; how many of these types of games do we get to play on consoles like the Xbox360 and Playstation 3? Exactly, hardly one to none. The gameplay is addictive as you want to unlock all characters and courses, and want to win all the races. And then there's XboxLive to compete against real opponent over and over again. It's a good race game, great characters, original race tracks and a superb boost for your Xbox games collection.