Review by P_Peachie

"Mario Kart Has a New Rival"

Out of nowhere, SEGA have suddenly achieved master status with the racing game genre. There hasn't been such a flawless cartoon racing game since the Mario Kart boom. Whether you're a lone player or party gamer, this game is a treat. It'll greatly satisfy both racing and SEGA fans alike.

Gameplay: 10/10
The wheel is gimmicky, the Classic Controller is good, but with the Remote + Nunchuck the controls are simply perfect; players will instantly have an excellent grasp of their vehicle and will find it very easy to control. Even with vehicles that have lower Handling stats you‘ll find them effortless to adapt to, thus you can easily enjoy testing out all the different characters the game has to offer. (A whopping 19 in total!) As you will have guessed, this is no ordinary racing game- and different characters will race with different kinds of vehicles: cars, bikes, hovercrafts, planes- even monster trucks! All of these different rides will give you a different racing experience and will add nice versatility when choosing your character.

The courses are all very creatively designed and will be a pleasure to drive through (and half of them are absolutely thrilling!) You'll even get to ride on a classic Sonic the Hedgehog loop. The courses are all host to various goodies you can interact with while racing: for example pinball bumpers, balloons, and flowers. There is an impressive count of 24 courses for you to enjoy driving around in. One thing to note is the courses do take quite a few seconds to load- but because of the generally impressive graphics in this game it's fair to say the Wii is simply doing its best.

The items used during your races work almost the exact same way as Mario Kart, and therein lies the fun and the satisfaction: you drive through a “?”-marked capsule on the course and a random item will appear in your inventory for you to use whenever you wish to. (Sounds familiar, right?) Boxing gloves shoot out and bounce insanely off walls -and you'll be hoping they smack a target- whereas Rockets home-in on an opponent ahead of you (or can be shot from behind) and have a higher chance of hitting someone. You can also get things besides weapons such as shields and speed-boosters; but there are also some really all-out wacky items like the Pocket Rainbow, which when planted and a victim drives through it will overwhelm their screen with a cascade of hallucinogenic-like rainbow streams! Absolute madness.

In addition to these crazy shenanigans, each individual character has a unique special move (an “All-Star” move) which they can get if they're further back in the race. For example, Sonic turns into the golden Super Sonic and can shoot forward at high speed to move up in position with ease; but some other characters have alternatives to simply speed to help them catch up, such as Amy Rose‘s Piko Piko Hammer.

For the more mischievous player you can also make your character taunt (while beeping their horn) and do tricks while in the air, which is a delightfully pointless addition to the gameplay.

Aside from the main racing, you can also do Time Trials and Missions, as well as shop for extra Characters, Courses and Music with the points you have earned from playing (this makes it easier for Players to unlock their favourite hidden character, instead of having to complete certain challenges). Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Time Trials have a much nicer flow than other racing games' Time Trials. This is because instead of you having to reset the course every time you've finished the allotted laps, you can just keep on driving and the timer will reset itself, and it will even show a countdown with how many seconds you have left to beat your previous record- this can make you become very addicted. The Missions are a nice touch for when you feel like playing a little differently.

Graphics: 10/10
Your eyes are in for a real treat! This game really pushes the Wii to the best of its abilities graphics-wise. All the courses look stunning, with backgrounds bursting with life and character, a interestingly creative mix of textures and patterns to mark terrain, and colours that could compete with a candy store. One particularly insane level has you one minute riding through a busy carnival and then the next cruising through what could only be described as an “acid trip“! To balance this out however, there are plenty of courses with darker and more serious themes. Also, there are some really gorgeous details you may not notice the first time you play; e.g. a flock of fluttering butterflies in Seaside Palace.

The vehicles look simply fantastic, and very stylish; from Sonic's sleek blue racer with hedgehog spikes to AiAi's banana-shaped mobile to Amy Rose's adorable pink convertible. All the characters are animated charmingly and add a lot of verve to the racing experience.

Generally, there's a really good, mixed selection of characters and courses to satisfy different players. There's an assortment of classic, evil, humorous, cool and cute characters to play as, and the courses can range from happy and upbeat to dark and formidable.

Sound: 8/10
This game has obviously tried very hard to please long-time SEGA fans with a large collection of music tracks from previous games -such as Sonic R and Samba De Amigo- as well as a handful of ones. Aside from the Sonic series I have not had experience with SEGA's other franchises- however I can wholeheartedly say the soundtrack for this game is fantastic and extremely catchy. From the menu screen to the main racing to winning your Grand Prix trophy, the music really puts you in a great mood and definitely adds to the enjoyment of playing.

An interesting music-based feature in this game is when a character uses their All-Star move- their own unique theme tune will play. This can either please or annoy you, depending on your tastes. I personally find it very annoying because it builds up a lot of confusion when the environment's music suddenly changes (and then suddenly starts to play again)- it's awfully noisy and a bit chaotic. On the other hand, you can't help but grin as your character gets his or her grand comeback to first place.

The sound effects are all very fitting and give that extra bit of life to the game; lots of nice pops, whizzes and bangs like you‘d hear in an old-fashioned joke shop, plus some recognisable retro jingles. The characters all have their own cute and quirky catchphrases while starting up, racing and finishing; and luckily this is only occasionally, and thus won't drive you loopy. You can also choose to have a commentator talking through the race, which is a fun and unique feature for a racing game, even though if it will become irritating if you use him a lot.

Replayability: 9/10
There are plenty of different challenges for you to enjoy completing in this game (as well as finding literal hidden “Challenges”- small bonuses you receive for doing certain tricks whilst racing). However, while there's certainly a large array of different characters, courses and music tracks to unlock, it's fairly easy to earn enough points to buy them all promptly after you get good at the game. Fortunately, there are still some real trials for hardcore gamers- such as defeating all the Staff Ghosts in the Time Trials and successfully beating all the Missions.

However none of this really matters when you're playing the game as multiplayer with friends or online; even if you get bored of playing the game as Single Player you'll always be tempted to return to this game when it's time for a party!

Final Recommendation:
If you're a fan of cartoon racing games, I highly recommend buying Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing; and if you're a fan of the Mario Kart series then this game is an absolute must. Also, if you're a big SEGA fan this game is filled with nostalgia you won't want to miss.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/08/10

Game Release: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (w/Wheel) (EU, 02/26/10)

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