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Sumo Digital
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Release Date:
November 18, 2012

Every once in a while, it’s nice to kick back with a game that is designed purely for the sake of putting a smile on one’s face. And we all grin at various things when playing, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed elicits that whimsical, innocent, happy-go-lucky smile, which isn’t appropriate for some of the more adult-oriented productions these days. It has its flaws and some may find it too shallow to warrant a purchase, but I say it’s loads of good old-fashioned fun that has great mechanics and overall appeal for just about everyone.

You know, I’d forgotten just how dark and drab so many big-budget games have gotten; it caused me to forget that at one time, video games were really colorful. It was actually a shock to see such vibrant, lustrous shades and hues when I took to the track and to be honest, it was almost a relief. It wasn’t so much nostalgia; it was more that I felt like I was looking at a game that prides itself on lighthearted entertainment and isn’t afraid to show it. The detailing isn’t impressive, but the effects are diverse and a pleasure to behold and the environments are undeniably attractive.

The audio complements the zany, fast-paced fun with a bouncy soundtrack and a series of crisp sound effects. They don’t do the best job blending the music with the on-track racing and sometimes those effects are a tad underwhelming, but it certainly fits the overall presentation. The music selections make perfect sense and while I would’ve wanted more variety, I never really got tired of the upbeat tracks that continue to enhance one’s general enjoyment. Technically, this is a solid, well put-together title with surprisingly high production values and an abundance of fantastic charm.

So many of your favorite Sega characters are here; in addition to the iconic Sonic, there are all his buddies (like Knuckles), along with a few surprises, such as Vyse ( Skies of Arcadia ), the real-life racer Danica Patrick, and Wreck-It Ralph. Each racer has a unique vehicle and each vehicle has a singular assortment of physics and wacky abilities. Obviously, when it comes to racing games, control is the primary concern and thankfully, winging your way around the racetrack is simple and responsive. The controls are tight and there aren’t too many irritations or eccentricities.

And because this is all sorts of arcade-y (you didn’t really expect a simulator, did you?), drifting becomes a big part of the experience. Drifting earns you the all-important boost, which can help turn a tight race into an easy victory. You’ll snag various items and weapons as you drive around and the available arsenal is all sorts of fun. Half the time you’re hoping to stumble across a wicked cool weapon just ‘cuz it’s a blast to use. Sure, it might give you the advantage but the simple act of using that awesome weapon greatly adds to the core fun factor. The balance is just about right, too, as nothing feels supremely over- or underpowered.