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Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (Xbox 360)

If you've been desperate for a SEGA equivalent to Mario Kart, then Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing (With Banjo-Kazooie in the 360 version!) is your game. Featuring a whole bunch of SEGA Superstars from various SEGA games, this should intrigue any SEGA fan. But is it fun as a racing game? Read CapnCloudchaser's review to find out.

I'm a big fan of kart racing style games because they're just so much fun to play, especially with friends. Other racing games tend to take themselves far too seriously for my liking, and games like Mario Kart have enough depth for some serious competition.. Whilst also being good for a laugh. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is the Sega take on the kart racing formula as developed by Sumo Digital, the guys that handled previous Sega All-Star effort, Sega Superstars Tennis. However, what makes All-Stars Racing more fun than other kart racers is the simple inclusion of much loved Sega characters. Let the race begin!

In All-Stars Racing, there are twenty characters from a broad range of Sega games, including Ryo Hazuki of Shenmue fame, Opa-Opa of Fantasy Zone and the Bonanza Brothers. The Xbox 360 version also includes Banjo and Kazooie from the Banjo-Kazooie series, as well as the option to drive as your own personal avatar, whereas the Wii version allows you to race as your own Mii. Each character has a vehicle that matches their personality or game origins as well as special all-star moves. For example, Ryo rides on the bike he borrowed from the original Shenmue and jumps on his well know forklift truck as part of his all-star move. Whilst there was potential for even more Sega franchises, the mix included as part of All-Stars Racing is entertaining enough for all kinds of Sega fans.

The vehicles themselves are split between the following types: cars, trucks, quad bikes, bikes and hovercraft. These different types have various strengths and weaknesses, for example the bikes tend to have fast acceleration but a slower top speed, and the trucks or bigger cars have a greater top speed, but less acceleration. Some types are easier to handle or have stronger boost capabilities which mix up the character selection a bit more.

The main gameplay feels very similar to the OutRun series, as All-Stars Racing is based on the same engine. Races are fast and refreshing, really giving a satisfactory sense of speed. Like OutRun, one of the main race mechanics is drifting, which is not only required to complete laps quickly, but drifting also stores boost power, which when released, is a powerful thrust of adrenaline which just adds to the slick style of the game. Like most kart racers, there are different types of weapons that can be picked up and deployed as well, some of which have a 'rock, paper, scissors' effect in how they can be used to cancel each other out. There are the obvious projectiles and speed boosts, such as the giant rocket which can be exploded at any time, as well as the more pointless ones, like the rainbow, which is only worth using on the ultra-bright, fabulous levels of Samba de Amigo.

There are a whole bunch of tracks on offer, based on the worlds of Sonic Heroes, Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, Jet Set Radio Future, Samba de Amigo and House of the Dead. Whilst these tracks feel well designed and work well with the drifting mechanics, it does feel somewhat disappointing that there were not more Sega based tracks. Not all tracks rely on drifting easily around however; my favourite ones were the Money Ball based levels which force many sharp turns. It can be a real nostalgic treat to race around levels based on Jet Set Radio or House of the Dead, and the Monkey Target level is absolute genius.

All of these characters and tracks can be unlocked by earning 'Sega Miles' during races, whether single or multiplayer. Speaking of nostalgic treats, a nice range of Sega music is also available to buy with Sega Miles, including such Sonic classics as 'Can You Feel the Sunshine?' and 'Super Sonic Racing' which are such a joy to race to.

The single player mode includes a grand prix mode, as well as single races and time trial modes, but these won't keep you busy for long. What will entertain you are the variety challenges as part of Challenge Mode. These are similar to the challenges within Superstar Tennis and include such gems as chasing after Sonic whilst playing as Amy or avoiding breaking pots as Big the Cat.

There are a number of fun multiplayer options. Split screen allows you to race or battle against local friends; whereas online multiplayer lets you enjoy the company of online buddies. Online match-making on the 360 has been a bit quiet of late, but the real downside to online racing is that the option to use All-Star moves has been disabled due to latency problems. Sure, you can fiddle around with the CPU difficulty, switch items and catch-up on or off, but it doesn't feel as much fun with no All-Star. Offline split screen can be a real party hoot with All-Star moves in play.

All-Stars Racing is a really fun game, perfect for some quick 'get up and go' races and even better for getting your mates round and having a laugh. It does, however, have its faults. Character clipping along the sides of the tracks can be issue and sometimes gameplay doesn't feel particularly balanced. Certain All-Star moves feel more overpowered than others, such as Sonic's 'turn super and win everything' move. Also, if a player has a large lead out in front, then it can be really difficult to bridge the gap, even with catch-up on. The giant rocket was supposed to be a substitute for the blue shell in Mario Kart, but it just doesn't reach far enough in the same way a blue shell does. There can be some frame right drops during four player split-screen races as well, but the frame rate isn't an issue the rest of the time.

If you want a really fun kart racing game that doesn't take itself too seriously, then All-Stars Racing is a great, fast paced little game perfect for Sega fans and non-fans alike. It's colourful, shiny and creates such a rush when playing. For us Sega fans, the nostalgia value adds even more to that, although it is a shame that other Sega franchises couldn’t be included via download content. Of course, for those that prefer their racing games to be a bit more serious, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing may just be a bit too sweet.

Final Verdict: 4/5

20th March, 2012 - 13:23 GMT Tru Article viewed 1157 times 0 Comments

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