Over the years we've seen Sonic do a number of odd and embarrassing games that simply didn't work for Sega's mascot. Sonic R was a commercial failure. Sonic Drift. Sonic Drift 2. Sonic Spinball. Sonic Riders. Sonic Riders: Zero. Mario and Sonic. And the list goes on. Sega has exploited their little hedgehog as much as they possibly could, across virtually every genre they possible could, including RPGs. Well, they've taken a step back to familiar territory and bringing us another racer. This time, it's a more traditional kart racer and it includes not just the Sonic gang, but a bunch of Sega's A-listers too.
For starters, 20 different characters populate the game, including Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, AiAi, Amigo, Dr. Eggman (Dr. Robotnik), Amy Rose, Shadow, Big the Cat, Beat (Jet Set Radio), Alex Kidd, Billy Hatcher, Zobio and Zobiko (House of the Dead EX), and even Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki. Each and every character gets his/her own unique mode of transportation that's split up into different classes: racing, off-road, bike, hovercraft. In addition to that, characters can activate special All Star moves. All Star moves transform a character's ability when he/she has fallen behind in a race. For example, Sonic abandons his car and begins racing on foot as Super Sonic. AiAi the monkey rides around in his signature monkey ball, Ryo rides a forklift, Tails has his plane and so forth.
The game's 24 tracks are designed with handicaps in mind, so as terrain varies so will the performance of your chosen machine, which is a nice touch for a kart racer. Pickups will be scattered all across the tracks, such as missiles, mines, speed boost, and other things. Up to four players can play via split-screen, but eight can go online and participate. Game modes are Grand Prix, Arcade, and Time Attack…the standard affair, but there should be options to tweak the experience.
I have to say that when I saw the game running at a recent Sony event in NYC, I was impressed by the visuals. It's actually a pretty good looking game, with clean textures, and smooth lines. It's colorful tone also adds a lot of charm to the overall look of the game, as you'd expect. You'll race through recognizable locales ranging from a variety of Sega games.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is expected to arrive at the end of February. From what I've seen of the game so far, it's looking decent. If you're looking for a fun kart racer, this may fit your need. Keep your eyes peeled for the reviews.