- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sumo Digital
- ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
- Genre: Racing
- Pros: High-Speed Action, Addictive Silliness, Incredible Replay Value
- Cons: Mario Did It First
"Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed" follows a simple structure -- beloved characters from Sega games, mostly from the universe of "Sonic the Hedgehog," climb into vehicles that typically start as cars, transform into hovercrafts when the track turns liquid, and even can transform again when land and water give way to air races. Some tracks consist of all three, one lap on ground, one lap on the waves, and one lap in the sky. Races include weapon pick-ups that can be used to derail your opponents with a variety of firepower, including snowballs, blowfish that serve as mines, and even swarms of bees. It's all addictively silly and so fast-paced that it becomes a remarkable time-drain. There's always time for just one more event.
They really might as well have called this game "Super Sonic Kart" in that it cribs from "Super Mario Kart" so completely that it's nearly embarassing. Even the unique worlds with their weird tracks based on hit Sega games often feel like "SMK" tracks. And there's that weird, everything-we-could-find approach creatively in that there's zero explanation as to why Knuckles would be racing Danica Patrick and Wreck-It Ralph across a track based on "Panzer Dragoon." (While that may sound like an exagerration, every word in that previous sentence is true.) I kind of admire the fact that a loose narrative wasn't even attempted but it doesn't keep the game from being any less weird when you see Tails and Dr. Eggman shooting swarms of bees at each other.
The fact is that the target audience for a game like "Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed" doesn't care about plot. They want high-speed eye candy and Sumo Digital delivers that in waves. There's also a nice variety of race types and modes with which to play. Some races are straightforward while others are based on maintaining boost, defeating specific enemies, or beating a certain time. Tracks need to be unlocked to progress or open them in Free Play and there's a Grand Prix mode that allows for multiple races to be linked together. The replay value is strong given the variety of racers, weapons, track shortcuts, modes, and difficulty levels.
Some of the tracks and racer AI can get a bit frustrating at times. There were moments where I would nick the corner of a track on a drift and practically screech to a halt and yet other sections in which I could bounce off the wall and not lose a MPH. One thing that every gamer looks for in a racing game is consistency and "Sonic & All-Stars" drops that ball every once in awhile. But none of these mechanical glitches persist long enough to take away from the need for goofy speed that will keep you coming back for more.