Published by: SEGA
Developed by: Sumo Digital
Platform: Wii (Reviewed), 360, PS3
Rating: E – Everyone
The graphics are extremely impressive for the Wii. Each stage you race on will have its own spectrum of colors and each one is as vibrant as the last. Each character you choose to play as will look just as if they were playing in their very own current generation game. This is a nice upgrade considering a few of these racers have yet to see any new games lately themselves and are finally being treated to current generation graphic upgrades.
At a distance everything in the game blends perfectly with one another. However upon closer inspection you may notice that the visuals are not very smooth in certain areas and there will be a large amount of rough areas in the environment and even the vehicles. Certain bits of scenery, even large bits will have some rough edges and appear slightly fuzzy. However you will be zipping past most of these things without even noticing any problems at all.
With two players the visuals stay smooth and fluid with only the screen size reduced which is a non-issue. Though when three or four people start to play the frame rate begins to suffer and drops significantly especially with some of the more complex tracks with plenty of background objects moving around including the racers. Not only that but due to the being run in so many different views, the environments are stripped down to the bare minimum. The game is best enjoyed graphically through single player or two players on the same screen. Anything above that will cause performance issues but is still playable.
There are a total of 24 different race tracks included in the game and each one is unique as the last and nearly every one has been designed to factor in one SEGA game or another. Some of the most interesting are the Jet Set Radio tracks which mirror the cities seen in the older game. Some are seen much more than others; as Sonic tracks are more prominent than most.
The tracks are usually designed straight forward, but there are others which will include hidden shortcuts that can force you to drop from 1st place to 5th place simply by missing a shortcut that the computer knows exactly. Unfortunately most of the AI racers know a large amount of the shortcuts off the bat and will be challenging the first few times on the track. However this is also beneficial because you can follow them to discover the shortcuts yourself.
For your racing pleasure SEGA has provided a very large soundtrack from each of their franchises though the music for the menu stays the same. There are at least two or three songs that are available for each franchise at the start of the game. There are between one and three unlockable songs for each franchise as well, making for quite a large selection of racing music.
The music is changeable at the loading screen as you wait for the race to begin. The song selections are fast paced and will keep your adrenaline flowing. This means that some of the more lucid and memorable songs however have been left behind in favor of music better suited to fit the action happening on screen.
Besides the standard exhibition race there are also the Grand Prix mode which is essentially a tournament and will show you every single race the game has to offer between the various Grand Prixs. There are also missions which are interesting as they change the racing up significantly and provide certain objectives that must instead be completed on the track. Then finally there is Time Trial where you must beat your best time around the track and try to be developers times. There is no option to download other people’s friend’s ghost track data on the Wii however so you are only able to compare your times through the leaderboards.
Multiplayer is a ultimately a must for any type of racing game and Sonic & SEGA All Stars knows how to deliver. Local multiplayer involves five different styles of gameplay; Free Race, Arena, King of the Hill, Collect the Emeralds and Capture the Chao. However these modes are not transferred into online play as the only online game option is the Free Racing. Sega mis-stepped here by only including one type of online gameplay when they have a multitude of local multiplayer options.
As this is a Wii game you have a multitude of options when it comes to actually playing the game. The best of the options is if you have the Wii Wheel which ironically comes with the game’s rival. The Wii Wheel picks up everything perfectly with the tilting and turning without any cause for error. Then again you can also play it with the Wiimote by itself, the combination with the nunchuck, or the classic controller but I would recommend the wheel for the best experience. If not then just the Wiimote itself is the second best option.
So you may know about the controls now. But who will you be controlling? Sonic & SEGA All Star Racing includes many characters that you know and love; including some that you may never have seen before. They aren’t all cartoony either. There are a total of 20 different characters of SEGA fame, seven of which come from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. With over 1/3rd of the roster filld with Sonic members the other 13 spots. One of which is your own little Mii, there is Ryo Hazuki coming from Shenmue, Beat from Jet Set Radio, Billy Hatcher from Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg to name just a few extra.
Each character comes with their own unique form of transportation and thankfully they are all quite unique. Most of the vehicles will mimic the game, such as AiAi from Super Monkey Ball drives in a vehicle which looks like bananas or Ryo Hazuki drives on a motorcycle. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each character seen through the stats shown when selecting the character.
Not only that but each character has their own unique All Star move. The All Star move is essentially the special move of that character and is balanced relatively well. Unlike the Blue Turtle Shell in Mario Karts there are no overpowered weapons. All Star moves are only provided to the players in the back of the pack and usually allow the player to gain positions but it does not distinctly seek out the winning player.
On the same note with weapons; some of them are extremely similar to what we have seen in other games. Green Boxing Gloves are essentially Green Turtle Shells, likewise with Red Boxing Gloves. There are traffic cones which act as bananas. However in the end these are known to work and any major modification would have made them either useless or overpowered. Other more unique weapons are a giant horn which will blast enemies around you into an out of control spin, and a giant missile which can be detonated via another press of the weapon button.
One negative about the weaponry however, is that besides the All Star moves, none of the other weapons translate well from the SEGA franchises. The only weapon that is used from the SEGA arsenal is the boost, which appears as Sonic’s running shoes. The boxing gloves appear to be out of Punch Out! if you were to liken them to anything at all.
There is a new feature that hasn’t been seen in a Kart game of any kind however and that is the drifting feature. Every single one of the courses is filled with many sharp twists and turns and by breaking and drifting around the corner your racer will begin to boost. These boosts come in three different levels and are signified from the jets coming out of your exhaust pipe.
The longer the drift the higher level of the boost and with the higher boost level the faster the speed. This method is blended perfectly with the game and is essential to winning due to the fact that the AI also drifts. For further boosting if you perform an aerial stunt during a jump and when you land there will be a boost relative to how many stunts you performed in the air.
Last but not least is the currency for the game; Sega Miles. These miles can be used to purchase unlockable sound tracks, race tracks, and other characters as not all are available at the start of the game. Miles are earned through any type of race be it multiplayer or mission or even exhibition and are rewarded by how well you placed or how complicated said mission was.
Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing is one of the best kart games I’ve played in years. The fast paced and colorful worlds will never get old and only when you really slow down will you notice anything wrong with it. That being said though there are practically no slow moments for the game. With excellent characters and a diverse local multiplayer selection then this is definitely a rival for your Wii racing attentions.
I give Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing