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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Unofficial Review)
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13285 posts
On consoles I like racing games, its one of the genres that really belongs on the TV with an arcade controller. Mario Kart Wii was fantastic and when we picked up a U this Christmas I was a little disappointed to note that the plumber's Kart title had not been released.

So, noting that local retailers had reasonable prices, I decided to just buy the Sega clone (as I had always thought of the title on the original Wii), hoping for at least a solid facsimile of the Kart experience before the real deal emerged. Was I in for a surprise - Nintendo had better pull their socks up, because to be honest after a few sit downs I have to confess that I find Sega's new offering superior!

Nintendo's once-rivals have really put some time into this one, and of the 3 games we have bought (obligatory SMB and the bundled Nintendo Land) I find it hard to find a reason it shouldn't be at least a contender for the best of our initial title trio. It really gives me heart for future 2nd and 3rd party releases on the console. Developers and publishers with racing games in their stables can also lean on the Sega game for some good (and less good) ideas for GamePad use. More on that later.

Onto the gameplay. The game is, as hinted, a Mario Kart clone. You drive, boat and fly around lurid, unlikely tracks, run over power ups that can be weapons or boosts, and pull off drifting maneuvers around corners for extra speed boosts. There are a selection of Sega 'all stars' but aside from Sonic, Tails, Alex Kidd and Dr Robotnik it seems a bit of a stretch to refer to them as 'stars'. But whatever, they worked with what they had.

The game's mouthful of a title title implies a Transforming gimmick, which is reasonably well implemented, although passive in that you don't choose your vehicle type. The tracks change over time with new areas and sections opening up, so that at certain points you will be driving a boat, car, or piloting a plane, and the transformation sequences between them are fun enough to present a satisfying transforming feel. The first time you change into a plane is a bit of an 'ooohhh yeh!' moment.

The three vehicle types handle quite differently and the drift mechanic has a slightly different implementation. Terrain is generally carefully implemented so you seldom feel like you're soaring through empty space or driving a water car on a wet road.

This mechanic plays a lot better than implementations such as Diddy Kong Racing where the player chooses the vehicle at the outset, or where the player can choose their method of completing the course. Invariably this ends up with aircraft being superior unless specific land-based objectives are implemented. I loved Diddy Kong but flying and bombing people in cars was always kind of OP.

I haven't personally found any, but the loading screen hints system mentions secret pathways to grant extra flying time -- the fastest way to complete the map. There are a number of obvious shortcuts and no doubt a number of hidden ones to find.

There are a large series of maps to be unlocked, lots of standard fare for the genre with racing and challenge modes to complete, and battle arenas for when you want a break from driving. The unlock process spreads these variations out so you don't find yourself locked into a long series of races while unlocking maps, which is pleasant. There should be gobs of time here if you're looking to clock it purely from a single player experience, and achievements rain down as you progress.

The Wii U's GamePad is a little wasted in single-player (and presumably online multiplayer), showing a zoomed-in overhead map and list of players and their order. I glanced at it once and forgot about it - the information is much more conveniently presented in the main HUD and removing your eyes from the main screen in a racing game just doesn't cut it. To be honest I don't see how much useful could be done for a racing game, any game with sufficient speed really requires eyeballs on the action at all times.

In local multiplayer however, the GamePad is a godsend. When new players are added, the GamePad becomes the screen for player 1. The resolution, frame rate and clarity are sufficient that there is no serious disadvantage, and for 2 players this really improves competitve racing as the players no longer see each other's screen directly (although P1 can sneak a peek at the TV depending on your setup!). As the number of players increases the GamePad becomes the optimal controller with a superior display. Unfortunately, at 4-5 players framerate noticeably begins to suffer. Its not bad enough to make the game unplayable or no longer fun, but its certainly noticeable, even rendering at lowly 720p for my budget TV. Perhaps an update can improve matters.

Graphically the game is lush and beautiful, it can't really be faulted (aside from the above framerate issues). Simply put, this is the Wii HD I wish I had years ago.

The Wii's HDMI output carries 5.1 multichannel PCM well and sounds great, delivering pleasantly deep rumbles of engines and well-rounded sound for announcers and game events like explosions. Like all Wii U setups though, a dedicated AV receiver is likely required to fully enjoy the system's sound as there are no dedicated surround sound outputs.

The individual controls also deliver player-specific information, although the Wii's controllers have a pretty lame speaker and this tends to be drowned out by any reasonable home theatre sound system - fortunately the local sounds seem to be largely cosmetic rather than important track and game information.

The game's music is well done and appropriate, but not especially notable in my opinion. Control schemes are wudely supported, including classic controllers, pro controllers, sideways wii remotes and that odd wii steering wheel thing-a-ma-job.

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to put online multiplayer through its paces yet, but from online reviews the experience seems solid. Will report back on this later.

All in all, I can't help but give this one 4.5 pork chops out of 5. If you like to grab at least one racing game for your console, you likely won't be let down by this one on the Wii U.
06:50pm 27/12/12 Permalink
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06:50pm 27/12/12 Permalink
rrrocket
Brisbane, Queensland
1710 posts
wacky races on PC was better

(this is where nintendo stole their idea from)
09:12pm 27/12/12 Permalink
Mantorok
Brisbane, Queensland
6717 posts
wacky races on PC was better

(this is where nintendo stole their idea from)
You're thinking of Wacky Wheels, and it came out after Super Mario Kart (Wacky Wheels was 1994, Super Mario Kart was 1992).
09:24pm 27/12/12 Permalink
greazy
Brisbane, Queensland
5660 posts
Can you do a "what we liked/didn't like" so it can become an official review.
12:24pm 28/12/12 Permalink
TicMan
Melbourne, Victoria
8386 posts
Went to JB & Target at Chadstone and no Sonic game :(
01:28pm 28/12/12 Permalink
Dazhel
Gold Coast, Queensland
5534 posts
Can you do a "what we liked/didn't like" so it can become an official review.


Finally, give it a controversial number for everyone to complain about and you're done.
01:59pm 28/12/12 Permalink
TicMan
Melbourne, Victoria
8392 posts
Am not enjoying the drift challenges..
02:13pm 31/12/12 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13290 posts
Am not enjoying the drift challenges..

The challenges get really hard beyond easy, as the motherf*****s basically make you memorise the track because of ridiculous placement of hazards and turns.

I don't mind it per se, its just hard :) Clocking it won't be easy..
02:20pm 31/12/12 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
22340 posts
CBF READING? WELL DON'T BUT THE GAME IS ONLY $14.99 AND IT RULES BUY IT JERK CLICK

Just reviving this thread because I grabbed the PC version and it f*****g owns bones.

First of all, this game is not called Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed. No, I am transforming that mouth-full-of-c*** title to the simpler and more appropriate Sega Kart 2. Sega Kart 2 is the new king of console kart racing games featuring characters specific to a certain brand. Heavy lies the crown.

The graphics are wonderful. If the console versions suffered framerate issues then on a decent PC they are certainly gone. The tracks are just so much fun and the way they change from lap to lap really keeps things fresh. Where on the first lap the home straight might have been a cobbled path, on the second it could be a raging torrent.

Driving karts, and piloting boats and planes is awesome fun. The drifitng mechanic is simple yet challenging to pull of to its maximum potential. Sure, it may be easy to pull off level 1 drifts till the princess comes home (oops wrong game) but if you want to nail the level 3s you are going to need expert timing. Using the right thumbstick on a 360 controller while flying performed precise little rolls so you can squeeze through those tight spots and get out of jams. The most important part of a driving game is how it drives, and there are no problems here.

One thing is for certain, though. This game is HARD. Bronze medals are easy, silver can require a few cracks but if you want gold then you better buy a reinforced controller because you're going to need it. I don't think it is as hard as getting platinum in Project Gotham 3 (that was seriously impossible f*** that game) but it's up there. Especially hard are the sprint and battle challenges. I am about eight seconds behind the gold pace on sprint challenges and on battle I feel like a pedo in a prison shower. Everyone wants to gang up on you and to be honest it is a little frustrating. I haven't played enough to see if you need gold to unlock absolutely everything but if you do I am in for some frustrating times.

Now to be quite honest I have literally no idea who some of the characters in this game are. In Mario Kart it is almost like I know of all the characters personally. This doesn't really detract from the game though because they all seem to have enough personality to make them interesting anyway. My favourite is Alex the Kidd. He wasn't an original release and was actually a Christmas present given by the developers. What's new in Sega Kart 2 though is levelling up individual characters to unlock new mods (actually, I _think_ this is new, I could be wrong). This means giving their racer a handling, speed, boost or an acceleration bonus. There is also a balanced mode, and a super mode to unlock as well. Except for sprint mode I have found handling to be the best. It allows you to maximise your drift boost and to dodge obstacles and enemy fire easier. Having this new levelling up feature encourages players to use different characters so I think it is a good thing.

So overall like Hoggy I really recommend this game. And guess what? It's only $14.99 if you follow this link.

Buy it!
06:07am 04/03/13 Permalink
Spook
Brisbane, Queensland
35267 posts
spook jnr and i have put a fair few hours in the original on the wii.

its no mario kart beater though.

im sure mario kart on the wii-u will be just around the corner, ready to dominate.

signed

mario kart no 1 fanboi
07:43am 04/03/13 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
22341 posts
The original was certainly no Mario Kart beater, no. But this has a chance I reckon. The less recognizable characters will probably hurt it.
08:32am 04/03/13 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13562 posts
spook jnr and i have put a fair few hours in the original on the wii.

its no mario kart beater though.

You're talking about a different game. If Nintendo don't innovate this time around and just do the Wii version in HD + new maps, then I hate to say it but MK will be the inferior Kart game :(
The graphics are wonderful. If the console versions suffered framerate issues then on a decent PC they are certainly gone.

The console only struggles a little when in 4-5 player mode streaming a dedicated viewport to the tablet. The single-player, no-splitscreen (or 2 player, one on tablet) experience is flawless.
09:41am 04/03/13 Permalink
Spook
Brisbane, Queensland
35268 posts
If Nintendo don't innovate this time around and just do the Wii version in HD + new maps, then I hate to say it but MK will be the inferior Kart game :(


the big n is smarter than that. each version of mario kart has been different than its predecessor.

i cant see them dropping the ball on the wii-u;
10:59am 04/03/13 Permalink
glynd
Melbourne, Victoria
934 posts
If Nintendo don't innovate this time around and just do the Wii version in HD + new maps, then I hate to say it but MK will be the inferior Kart game :(


It's Nintendo. They wouldn't stuff up a system seller. The home console versions tend to be completely different as well (double dash and wii were definitely unique).

That said, keen on picking this one up for the Wii U. I think ozgameshop are selling it for $30!
11:13am 04/03/13 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
22345 posts
Get it on PC for $15.
12:11pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Eorl
Brisbane, Queensland
8660 posts
Get it on PC for $15.

Wouldn't it feel better on the Wii U? I've never been a fan of racing games on PC, always feels weird.
12:40pm 04/03/13 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
22348 posts
Hmm I guess that is a personal preference thing. I have my PC hooked up to an LCD TV so it feels like a console to me but with all the benefits of a PC :P
12:50pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13566 posts
Wouldn't it feel better on the Wii U? I've never been a fan of racing games on PC, always feels weird.

That's what xbox 360 pc controllers are for.

Am I missing something ... how did mario kart evolve between SNES, N64 and Wii? Don't you still drive around on karts skidding for extra speed and F*** THE BLUE SHELL F*** IT RIGHT IN THE ARSE

as-always, relevant xkcd:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/f*****g_blue_shells.png
01:06pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Spook
Brisbane, Queensland
35271 posts
subtle evolution hoggy.

subtle was always the key with mariokarts.

whether its just upping the levels of turbo produced from powersliding, to online multiplayer to just subtly improving the vehicles and tracks.

i thought the snes mariokart was best evar! and then i thought the n64 mariokart was truly the best evar.

and then i played teh wii versioN!
02:28pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
13573 posts
oh, so like ... cod evolution? :(
02:31pm 04/03/13 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
22351 posts
Or iphone evolution.
02:32pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Spook
Brisbane, Queensland
35272 posts
mariokart is very different to an iphone.

mariokart started at near perfect, an iphone obviously was no where near perfection.

you couldnt make large scale "improvements" to mariokarts, without changing what makes mariokart awesome.

the smallest adjustments were only ever needed.

(also, iphones have had many evolutions are still obviously completely terrible)
02:45pm 04/03/13 Permalink
SwissCM
Gold Coast, Queensland
176 posts
Posting in support of this awesome game.

Console: The 360 and WiiU versions run at sub-720p and upscale and have s***** frame drops when theres water. The PS3 runs at 720p but the shader effects are inferior and it has the worst framerate out of all of them.

PC: It runs at 1080p and 60fps on any relatively modern hardware and scales down very well. It also has roughly double the texture resolution.

Console: The WiiU and 360 have "exclusive" characters that are simply the Mii and XBL Avatars in generic cars, which is pretty boring. PS3 gets nothing

PC: 3 extra characters! Shogun Total War, Football Manager and Team Fortress 2. Sure they're silly but it's a kart racer.

The PC version is also far cheaper, supports 4 player split screen (it has XBOX 360 controller support, and even old directinput controller support for those who don't have newer controllers) as well as internet multiplayer and will probably even be modded at some point because Sonic fans are crazy and always tear these games apart. VAC support is incoming to deal with cheaters according to the developers, who have been really friendly and helpful on the Steam forums.

Thats not to mention that this game is just plain fantastic. I'm a Sega fan so I get basically all the references and it's f*****g filled with them, from the Sega Master System to the Dreamcast and beyond. SUMO must be rabid Sega fans because some of the references are so obscure I feel like I'm only one of 20 people to get them.

Buy it.
04:15pm 04/03/13 Permalink
glynd
Melbourne, Victoria
935 posts
oh, so like ... cod evolution? :(


besides graphics:

SNES -> N64 is obvious
Double Dash brought it item optimisation, class specials, alternate karts with stats.
Wii brought in bikes, more characters, more karts, online multiplayer.

on top of that, slight gameplay adjustments. that's just from the top of my head. it's all about subtle changes. they're not drastic changes but why would you want it completely overhauled?
05:10pm 04/03/13 Permalink
Mantorok
Brisbane, Queensland
6799 posts
And there's already the whole land-air-sea thing in Mario Kart 7 on 3DS.
06:22pm 04/03/13 Permalink
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06:22pm 04/03/13 Permalink
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