Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing

GamesCom 2009: Sonic and SEGA All Star Racing Preview

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No doubt the first thing that will pop into your head upon viewing this title will be; Mario Kart. While it is safe to say that the Nintendo racer is the one cherished by many as the original (and arguably best) comedy driving game, it would be unfair to disregard Sonic and SEGA All Stars as easily as that. Drawing upon a rich heritage of characters and locations from SEGA’s back catalogue, this game has more than enough about it for the game to stand on its own two feet.

Leading the charge is none other than Sonic (what gave it away?) and a number of his sidekicks and foes, amongst them; Knuckles, Tails and Dr Eggman. If the blue speedster is not to your liking, then you can always plump for Alex the Kidd, Samba di Amigo, Ai-Ai or Beat (Jet Set Radio) to name but a few. In fact the final list of characters has yet to be finalised though we spotted at least ten on show during the brief run through with one or two others that we could not even recognise. Shame on me. Each character also has their own customised car; so Sonic is in a Speedster, Ai-Ai’s in a giant banana and Billy Hatcher drives some kind of egg mobile. It gives them all a nice quirky feel and also affects how they move and handle throughout various courses. 

The levels themselves are based around favourite locations from various SEGA titles, so expect to see Seaside Hill and Casino Park from Sonic, Jumble Jungle from Monkey Ball and Blizzard Castle for Billy Hatcher. Once again we were not given the total track list but you would have to assume that there would be one or two for each character. The tracks have been filled with as much character as possible and all have their own unique obstacles to throw at the player. The casino track drops large gambling chips from the sky, while in Blizzard Castle you will do well to avoid marauding crows and giant eggs.  The developers did make a point of saying the obstacles were never unfair and that nimble drivers would never feel harshly done by and would be able to avoid them.

The gameplay itself is exactly what you would expect. The levels are full of multiple routes and shortcuts and you can pick up a plethora of weapons to aid your cause and hamper your opponents. Exactly what weapons you will get is entirely dependent on where you are in the race. If you are leading then you will have to make do with smoke (which gives your opponents a wonderful on screen blur effect) or mines; whereas if you find yourself near the back of the pack then you are more likely to get boosts and rockets.
Each character has their own unique weapon, which you can snag randomly, and they are a sight to behold. Sonic gets his invincible golden sheen, ditches has car and hurtles round the course. Billy Hatcher turns his ride into a giant egg and careens along crushing other competitors, while Beat jumps into his trusty rollerblades and can spray paint other cars to momentarily dazzle them. Each move is funny to watch, though they may end up being a tad overpowered, especially in multiplayer, as it is not hard to go from last to first while using them.

A key element of the game is the ability to drift, and you are encouraged to do so at every available opportunity. The main benefit is the build up of boost you get after drifting around a corner, so those seeking an edge (or merely a fast time) will want to glide around every bend. It does depend on the type of vehicle you are in though as small nippy cars and bikes will do well on the twisty tracks, but may not have the power on straights, while the opposite is true for chunkier vehicles.

Multiplayer is touted as a key component of Sonic and SEGA All Stars – as expected – and boasts four player splitscreen and up to eight players online. No specific modes were mentioned, but party play is going to be an integral part of the whole experience, and if they can recreate the successful formula of that Mario Kart game, then they will not be going far wrong.

The game itself looks beautiful and all of the characters and cars have a real energy about them. None of the tracks seem like filler either and you should have plenty to see and do on each of them. Obviously there are still a lot of questions to be answered at this point, in terms of characters, tracks and modes, but from what we saw, this is shaping up to be a lot of fun indeed. Keep an eye out for this one.

Sonic and SEGA All Stars is currently slated for a Q1 2010 release.


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Game Info


US February 23, 2010
Europe February 20, 2010

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