Review by GOLD_sonic
"The Racer to beat Mario Kart! ... Took long enough..."
Ever since the SNES days, Mario Kart has been the number one kart racer around. Every console and handheld made by Nintendo seems to get it's own version of the ultimate kart experience. Well, it seems that Nintendo is in trouble, as it's oldschool rival has gotten Sumo Digital to create a stunning kart racer, that actually manages to be better then every Mario Kart title.
The game is Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie. (What a horrible name...) As you can imagine, the game is basically a kart racer with Sonic and other classic Sega franchises... as well as Banjo and the 360 Avatars. Actually, there is a lot more to this game then that. It's actually a very clever title that knows what people want from a kart racer!
Well... there is none. It turns out that Dr. Eggman, Aiai, Beat, Ulala, Tails, the Bananza bros., Billy Hatcher, and tons more are racing for no important reason. I guess they all just got karts/ planes/ motorbikes recently, and wanted to try them out. Good for them.
You thought Mario Kart Wii had detail? Think again! Sega All Stars Racing is quite possibly the most beautiful racing game around! It's got a crap ton of yummy eye candy, and it is very varied in it's design. All the racers look great and the environments feel alive! The Samba De Amigo tracks are probably the highlights. The game also gives each racer a TON of taunting animations! They are humorous, cute, and cool. Racers will jump on top of there seat and dance, even! It really helps when a game as a lot of variety in it's animations, so you never get bored of them.
Unfortunately, the game does have some obvious technical problems. The game has a ton of screen tearing if you drive slowly, and there are some very noticeable frame rate drops at times. It's never enough to take you out of the experience, though, so it's not a huge complaint. Still, I hope Sumo tries to fix this up with a patch.
The overall sound in Sega All Stars Racing is certainly passable, but feels a bit cheap. If you are a fan of Sega, then you should know that they have games with some of the best music around in gaming. Titles like Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Jet set Radio Future, and Samba De Amigo all are known for great tunes. Because if this, it's nice to see that Sumo has given us multiple pieces of music per track type. That's nice and all, but some tunes seem to be missing... Where is the classic Green Hill Zone tune? Or what about the lack of Space Channel 5 music? Only franchises that have actual tracks to race on get music, which is a big bummer. Still, what's here is certainly good. You got Metal Scratchin! from Sonic Rush, and you got Theme of the Magician for House of the De- *cough* Curien Mansion *cough*...
My big complaint, however... is the voice overs for the characters... Sumo decided to make things easier foe themselves and take past lines said by the characters, and use them for this game. Sure, some have new voices, but many a reused. Beat's voice is the same as the one from Sega All Stars Tennis, and it still sounds out of place. What;s worse is that many of the lines that have been reused seem COMPLETELY out of place. Sonic will say "My, that's a pretty snazzy performance, there!" when he wins at times. This voice clip was used for when he was commenting on Eggman's return in Sonic 2006. Shadow also says "I can't believe it! How can this be?!" when he get;s an All Star (a very special power-up I will mention soon.). Why would Shadow seem so negative towards getting an awesome power-up?
Also, there is the announcer. Thankfully you can turn him off if you want. He does have some nice commentary, though. IT repeats a lot though... like almost every other announcer in gaming history.
When you first look at it, Sega All Stars racing looks a lot like Mario Kart Wii. You boost the same way, some items are similar, and you can do tricks off of jumps. Then again, if you look closely, you will learn that Sega All Stars Racing is a LOT more skill based, and has some pretty neat additions to keep the experience fresh.
Simply put, Mario Kart Wii (and most Mario Karts) require lots and lots of luck. Items would hit you left and right, and there was always that blasted Blue Shell that was ready to wreck your train! Sega All Stars Racing, is pretty tame in comparison. You have your boxing gloves (green shells), red missiles (red shells), traffic cones (bananas), and super sneakers (mushrooms), but besides the red missiles, non of the items are easy to use. They require good timing, planning, and clever trickery to use. Unlike most Mario Karts you can actually see what items everyone has. Racers have the items hovering over their heads! This let's players plan ahead on if they should mess with other racers or not, and be prepared to block items with your own!
Perhaps the games only truly powerful item is the All Stars item. If you ever played Mario Kart Double Dash, then you should know that in that game each "team" of racers had a special item to use. This is very similar, but it last longer and is only given to those having trouble. Basically getting one gives your character a brief power that let's them rip the tracks and it's other racers a new one! As Sonic, you can transform into Super sonic and blast down the course. As Beat, you loose you pimped out car and get to skate on the track ,and spray graffiti on your opponents wind shields, causing them to loose some of their view. If you are Amigo, you will start a funky conga line and make everyone near you fall to your musically prowess. If you are the adorable Chu Chus, then you can transform into a vicious Kapu Kapu and munch on all you get in your way!
Basically, these all last for about 20 seconds and help the rookies get a chance to fight back. They rarely seen unfair as they stop early if you get too far ahead with one, and you either speed up alot , or you attack and confuse the other go karters, or do a tiny amount of both. You can never truly cheat anyone out of a precious win with it. This is what Nintendo SHOULD be putting into their games! Instead of making all players get hit by a bolt of lighting from a simple press of the item button, players should be able to jump back into the pack with out destroying everyone else fun!
Now I guess I should mention the AWESOME courses you can race on. There are a total of 24 tracks to test your skill on. When compared to recent Mario Karts, this might seem small when compared to the whopping 32 tracks in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, however, there are some big things to note. First off, all of these 24 tracks are brand new, and have never appeared in a game before. (Unlike Mario Kart DS and Wii, where 16 were new, but 16 were from past games.) Also, these are some of the best Kart Racing tracks I have ever laid eyes on! Most courses rely heavenly on tight turns, big jumps. and everything wanting to see you lose. This is what all kart racing tracks should be like! Mind you, though, there are a few stinkers. (Mainly the Monkey Ball ones.)
Basically, the game plays like every Kart Racer should!
Sega All Stars Racing is packed with features. You have your typical single races and cups, as well as time trials. (The time trials option is the smoothest and most well thought out time trial mode I've seen!) What's surprising is how far Sumo went the extra mile to make this worth every penny. You get a mission mode with a ranking system. It has a total of 64 missions! Most are very easy to AAA rank, though. The game also features a collectibles section, to check out the info on all the characters and tracks you have.
Surprisingly enough, you don't unlock characters/ tracks/ music by beating the cups. Instead, you earn Sega Miles for everything you play. You earn them depending on your performance. You use these to go to a shop and buy all the bonuses. This is a great way of unlocking stuff, but it does make beating all the Cups pointless. Also, after only 3 days of play I bought EVERYTHING in the shop.... so now every time the game hands me Sega miles it's pointless. They should of made some of the unlockables cost a lot more...
Thankfully, the game has nearly infinite replay thanks to the online option. It's fairly easy to jump in and play a few races (or more!). I do have some problems with it, though. First off, there is a lobby and host system for the online, which feels completely unneeded. Second, you can only choose the course you want to play if you are the host! That's stupid! Why not do the one thing Mario Kart Wii does better, and let everyone VOTE on the track we all want to see? Finally, the awesome All Stars Specials are NOT online! I don't know why, but it seems like Sump got lazy. It would of been a nice option.
Even with all these problems, though, the online mode is still a blast and will keep you entertained!
Pros and Cons
+ 22 great Sega characters!
+ 24 creative tracks!
+ Visually impressive!
+ Mario Kart, but with more skill!
- Banjo and Avatars. This is Sonic and Sega All Star Racing, not Banjo and Avatars racing...
- Monkey balls tracks blow...
- Online has some issues...
- Minor technical issues...
If you are either a Mario Kart buff, or a big Sega fan ,then this is for YOU! It;s the best kart racer ever created in my opinion, and that's saying a lot! Hopefully Sumo will keep making games like this, as they know what they are doing!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/02/10, Updated 03/04/10
Game Release: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie (US, 02/23/10)
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