WiiU

North America

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

by Neal Ronaghan - November 26, 2012, 6:17 pm PST
Total comments: 19

8

Sega's sophomore mascot racing effort bests Mario Kart in some respects, but falls short in others.

When Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed’s use of land, sea, and air was revealed, it seemed like Sega had created its second kart racing game as a carbon copy of Mario Kart 7. In the end, though, the game fully realizes that land/sea/air aspect, besting Nintendo at its own game while delivering a superb single-player experience with tons of content. Woefully, the local multiplayer aspect of Transformed on Wii U is choppy, glitch ridden, and not a whole lot of fun.

The glitches pop up in single-player, too (though a patch is promised and, according to Sega, is coming soon), but only sparingly throughout the long and excellent Career Mode. That mode features a branching path of races and objective-based challenges that include destroying a tank and beating several racers one-on-one in rapid succession. The sheer variety found in this mode is wonderful, and it features a steady difficulty curve and unlock progression, though some of the later events are quite challenging. If you want to unlock all the characters, you’ll have to get damn good at the game. In addition to Career Mode, Transformed features a Grand Prix and Time Trial mode very similar to Mario Kart. With unlocks tied to every mode, it is worthwhile and rewarding to play each one.

The game’s characters are highly customizable; as you play, you can level them up and gain mods that change their stats. For example, a Speed mod may increase a character’s Speed while decreasing their Handling. The roster is a little narrower than the first entry, with nearly half the roster coming from the Sonic the Hedgehog series and many series having dual representation, but the breadth of characters is still nice. It’s especially wonderful to see Vyse from Skies of Arcadia and Joe Musashi from Shinobi make appearances, though characters such as Ryo from Shenmue and Opa-Opa from Fantasy Zone don’t return from the first game.

Transformed’s courses are more varied than the first game, with only a few popular series receiving more than one. Almost every track features a mix of land, sea, and air, and they all change from lap to lap. In one race, you spend the first two laps primarily on land, but the destruction of the ground forces you to fly during the last lap. The courses also dip into some under-appreciated Sega franchises, such as Burning Rangers and Panzer Dragoon.

The multiplayer mode features a variety of play options, including races and battles. Every control option available on the Wii U is usable, from the GamePad to the Wii Remote by itself. The motion controls are hit or miss, but traditional controls are fine and should be familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with racing games. Unfortunately, while five-player split-screen (with one person on the GamePad) is awesome in theory, it makes the game’s graphic quality dip drastically. Even then, the framerate remains inconsistent. Online multiplayer is a different story, though. Aside from most players picking the Rainbow Road equivalent of the track list (which is a spectacular treat for Sega fans), the online experience is excellent.

The Wii U version features a few exclusive features in addition to the five-player split-screen. Two party modes, based around Shinobi and Monkey Ball, leverage the asymmetrical gameplay capabilities of the system, but half the maps in each mode are fabulously broken. One infinitely spawns characters in space, while the other spawns every character in a way that ended the match instantly. As previously mentioned, a patch is promised, but currently, these modes aren’t worth touching. Off-TV Play is awesome and present, but is so esoteric to activate that I only learned of it near the end of my time playing. ProTip: Hold a finger down on the touch screen, and then swipe to activate it!

Sega and Sumo Digital’s second challenge to the kart racing throne is largely a success, but the ever-present glitches and lackluster local multiplayer experience holds it back from completely thrashing the competition. If you’re looking for a solitary campaign and online experience, then Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is the game for you. If you want chaotic multiplayer party fun, wait until Mario Kart on Wii U.

Summary

Pros
  • Excellent single-player experience
  • Great, inventive course design
  • Solid online multiplayer
Cons
  • Glitch-ridden Wii U-exclusive modes
  • Poor local multiplayer experience

Talkback

Does it feel like it has rubberband AI? Or really annoying weapons constantly coming at you when you're in first place, in the single player mode?

NeifirstNovember 27, 2012

Quote from: Pandareus

Does it feel like it has rubberband AI? Or really annoying weapons constantly coming at you when you're in first place, in the single player mode?

No, absolutely not!  This game actually requires skill to complete and offers 3 levels of difficulty on every course in the world tour.  If you learn the courses and the drifting mechanic, you will win the race.  There's a very limited number of weapons and there is no equivalent of the infamous blue shell.  I have found this game to the be the most compelling of all the launch lineup and it easily trumps the Mario Kart series.  Especially at $40, it is a must-have.  I know that the rating is not the most important part of a review, but I think an '8' really is too low.

Darkurai the Oracle PonyNovember 27, 2012

Personally, I've found that splitscreen in the career mode is ridiculous fun even with framerate drops.

It's interesting to see you talk about the online so fondly though; it's been totally dead every time I tried to play.

RazorkidNovember 27, 2012

I wish a Sugar Rush track from Wreck-it-Ralph was in it 😔

MrMan2k7November 27, 2012

I didn't notice any performance issues when playing with two or three players, but the framerate certainly dipped down with four or five players. I still thought it was fun, but I was a bit disappointed. I wonder if the other platforms have issues with four-player multiplayer or if this is a problem exclusive to the Wii U edition.

broodwarsNovember 27, 2012

Quote from: Neifirst

Quote from: Pandareus

Does it feel like it has rubberband AI? Or really annoying weapons constantly coming at you when you're in first place, in the single player mode?

No, absolutely not!  This game actually requires skill to complete and offers 3 levels of difficulty on every course in the world tour.  If you learn the courses and the drifting mechanic, you will win the race.  There's a very limited number of weapons and there is no equivalent of the infamous blue shell.  I have found this game to the be the most compelling of all the launch lineup and it easily trumps the Mario Kart series.  Especially at $40, it is a must-have.  I know that the rating is not the most important part of a review, but I think an '8' really is too low.

This game actually sounds pretty promising, especially if it doesn't have the many issues Nintendo seems to consider "features" in the Mario Kart franchise.

As far as I can tell, there is a little rubberbanding, but nothing that makes it feel unfair.

The closest blue shell equivalent is the bee swarm, which launches a minefield of bees that lands in front of the first place racer. It's usually easy to avoid, and honestly, it's the coolest blue shell-esque weapon I've seen in a racing game even if the bee part of it is so generic.

What brought this game down for me were the glitches and performance issues. I'm not sure how we'll handle the incoming patch, but this game becomes far greater than what my review indicates if the patch fixes everything. Still, I reviewed the game I received, which was somewhat broken.

Mario Kart is still the multiplayer choice, but for single-player (and co-op stuff), this is the best kart-racing game I think I've ever played.

broodwarsNovember 27, 2012

Quote from: NWR_Neal

As far as I can tell, there is a little rubberbanding, but nothing that makes it feel unfair.

The closest blue shell equivalent is the bee swarm, which launches a minefield of bees that lands in front of the first place racer. It's usually easy to avoid, and honestly, it's the coolest blue shell-esque weapon I've seen in a racing game even if the bee part of it is so generic.

Seriously? There's "a deadly bee weapon" in Sonic & ASRT?  :P:

Darkurai the Oracle PonyNovember 27, 2012

Quote from: NWR_Neal

The closest blue shell equivalent is the bee swarm, which launches a minefield of bees that lands in front of the first place racer. It's usually easy to avoid, and honestly, it's the coolest blue shell-esque weapon I've seen in a racing game even if the bee part of it is so generic.

The execution of the bee swarm is definitely the best blue shell equivalent I've ever seen.

ToraNovember 27, 2012

Sounds like a buy for me. 
Does anyone know if this (or any other Wii U games, really) supports classic controllers, or classic controller pro? Cuz' I've got like 3 of them, and I really don't want them to go the waste if the Wii-U can't support them.  Thanks.

MasterENovember 28, 2012

I really love this game. The single player is pretty fun but it is even better when I was playing 5 player split screen. You can play almost everything split screen which is amazing. Yes there are some frame drops but with five players at once I expected it a little.


As for the swam being a blue shell equivalent I can see that to some degree. I like the swarm way more than blue shells though. It does target the the lead player but it can be dodged with good driving a and a little luck. It all depends on where it is deployed, the more room you have to maneuver (ie in the air. wide lanes, etc) the more likely you can get out unscathed. It also stays place on the map so multiple players can be hit (not the person who fires though) so it doesn't just screw you over for being in first. The best part is that most items can be used in multiple ways, in the case of the swarm you can leave it as a trap behind you to slow down your immediate competition.


at $40 I find that this game is a steal. Its not perfect but it is definitely one of the best launch games.

CaterkillerMatthew Osborne, Contributing WriterNovember 28, 2012

I played this at my brothers house and what a rush! It's so freakin fast and really does require more skill than Mario Kart.

I love Mario Kart but the vast, open tracks in Sonic really stand out compared to the compact areas of Mario Kart. Played 2 player split screen and thought it was fantastic on the game pad. If there was one thing I hated about local multiplayer it's sharing the screen, so this feature is fantastic.

I just have too many games now. I've got to wait for Christmas or later on to pick this up.

Mop it upNovember 28, 2012

Since Mario Kart is probably still a ways off, I may grab this game for the wait.

Pixelated PixiesNovember 28, 2012

My young sister has asked Santa for a Wii U this Christmas, she's a huge Mario Kart fan and I was thinking of buying this as her gift. For the purposes of having another game to play with the family on Christmas I'm willing to overlook the technical issues and just hope that it's patched at a later date.

It's a real shame that Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends and Scribblenauts Unlimited (in Europe) aren't being released this year. I'm pretty sure she would have thoroughly enjoyed any one of those. All-Star Racing on the other hand I feel is more likely to be something which is played for a few days over Christmas and then forgotten about. I could be wrong though.

Wake me when the patch arrives.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Wake me when the patch arrives.

Will do. And expect a follow-up article regarding it when it does.

The game is really good. The tracks seem more varied in both themes and overall design than the original game, the Nights level is especially cool.

I have found the game to be harder than the previous as well, and I've only been playing on medium. The new drift mechanics seem to benefit the overall gameplay, but I still sort of miss the feel of the old game.

I'm still early on in the game, but so far so good.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, December 04, 2012

Quote from: Mop

Since Mario Kart is probably still a ways off, I may grab this game for the wait.

I honesty think that the original Sonic & Sega (at least on PS3/360) is better than Mario Kart Wii.

Pixelated PixiesDecember 04, 2012

Quote from: Phil

Quote from: Mop

Since Mario Kart is probably still a ways off, I may grab this game for the wait.

I honesty think that the original Sonic & Sega (at least on PS3/360) is better than Mario Kart Wii.


I know what you mean. For as much as I have enjoyed the Mario Kart series the games (with the exception of Double Dash) have always been a little vanilla. In my opinion they don't even do that good a job of plundering Mario's rich history of environments and characters.

Although I haven't played All Stars Racing Transformed (and dog knows I'm not a Sonic fan) it seems to me to have a little more flair to it.

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Sumo Digital

Worldwide Releases

na: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Release Nov 18, 2012
PublisherSega
eu: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Release Q4 2012
PublisherSega
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