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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U) Review

Review for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Since SEGA's withdrawal from the games hardware business in the twilight days of the Dreamcast, there has scarcely been a Nintendo machine launch without a game starring its famous spiky mascot on Day One or not long after. The Game Boy Advance saw the Sonic Advance series that took Sonic back to his roots through momentum-based platforming and excellent sprite work. The GameCube received an enhanced port of Sonic Adventure 2 with extra competitive elements. The DS had one of the blue blur's best games of recent memory in Sonic Rush, and the Wii's release of Sonic and the Secret Rings helped to begin breaking his run of increasingly bad 3D titles. Although the franchise of Sonic the Hedgehog is still strong enough to sell units on its own, appearing at a new console launch with something a little different is a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd. Thrown into the largest game support output in console launch history, does Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed secure the podium spot?

As a sequel to the well-received Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on previous generation machines that took characters and locations from SEGA Lore, Transformed always had a strong foundation to build from, and developer SUMO Digital has taken the concept even further. Alluding to the Transformed part of the name, each character's racing car can now morph into a boat or plane depending on the terrain, not unlike the variety seen many moons ago in Diddy Kong Racing on Nintendo 64. This conversion is instant without any needless input from the player, and brings with it a slightly different feel to general movement when guiding the plane or the boat formations, making for an interesting mid-race adjustment. A new layer of strategy is subtly made use of too, as since the plane is slightly faster than the other vehicle modes, players are encouraged to find routes that will let them switch over faster.

Following on from its predecessor, Transformed takes key franchises from SEGA history, like Golden Axe, Jet Set Radio and Shinobi to name but a few, and drags locales and playable characters straight out of them. Like a certain all-encompassing mascot fighting game, Transformed contains a vast amount of SEGA goodness that any long-time fan will enjoy wading through, be it in the main Career mode, taking on the rest of the world in online match-ups, or simply taking in the luscious and familiar melodious remixes. Whether it's because of the sales factor or simply the headlining status, however, there does seem to be a little too much of the Sonic franchise in this sequel, with many of his friends taking up character slots and a considerable number of stages dedicated to the Blue Rodent's legacy. Not only that, but the weapons in this game feel rather generic, despite being well balanced functionally. Instead of Speed Shoes, for instance, there is a regular boost symbol, and where there could have been Alex Kidd's beam fists, there are snowballs. This isn't in any way a detriment to enjoying the game, but such weapon themes from popular franchises would have fit the game far better.

Screenshot for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Whilst Transformed may suffer from identity confusion at these times, though, every other aspect of the game has been completely nailed. SUMO has done a fantastic job in creating a racing game that not only makes excellent use of the weapons-based mascot karting genre, but succeeds in making it a pure racer at the same time; one that encompasses the feel of a pure racing sim yet throws weapons into the mix without polluting the pool. In very few racing games do you get the sense of speed that this delivers, nor the satisfaction in nailing that tight corner with a drift or hitting that opponent out the corner of your eye. The sense of challenge is alive and well too, with opponents that will show no mercy and not leave an opening with which to gain traction. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and Transformed holds this saying in high regard; there is an absolute truckload of modes, features, and unlockables to search out. Aside from the choice of over two dozen characters to choose from, each with control modifications that unlock with enough use, there is the main Career mode, Time Trials, Arcade, Online Races, Friend Matches, Versus options, all topped off with an Achievement-like sticker system that allows for customising the licence sheet upon completing certain tasks.

The Wii U's extra functionality certainly makes this version of the game stand out more than most. Aside from the beautiful and colourful visuals locked into a steady frame-rate, there is the whole matter of the game being playable on the GamePad itself with a mere swipe of the screen, making for an extremely convenient TV dibs solution, albeit not as much of a good looking one due to the GamePad screen's lower resolution. All possible control methods that the Wii U will recognise are supported as well, with the Wii's Classic Controller and the Wii U's Pro pad functioning identically to the GamePad minus the screen. The Wii Remote option is a fiddly one, mainly because of the drift being mapped to the B trigger; adding a Nunchuk results in a control scheme much easier to grasp, though. Any one of these together with the GamePad allows a second players to have a screen all to themselves, making for an unrealised level of strategy when not being able to directly see the opponent's actions, adding more incentive to play any of the main modes through a Co-Operative option. Up to five players on the same machine at once are supported, in either a varying number of different race modes, or events unique to the Wii U version that are based around the GamePad player.

Screenshot for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

In a single-player race, the GamePad displays an overhead view of the racer's surroundings, together with a leader-board of current standings, and as a bonus, replay footage of when a weapon fired hits an opponent that is both quick and unobtrusive appears. Transformed is entirely playable without the advantage of the second screen (which isn't an issue in multiplayer play anyway), but freeing up the main screen display by hosting data on the 'Pad is a clear benefit.

The main Career mode takes players through stages of SEGA lore, separated by paths that can be unlocked by either beating the required world task, or accumulating enough stars to progress further. Gaining said stars brings up another of the game's unique points, the medal system that determines both difficulty and reward when facing computer opponents. Opting for Bronze will only let you earn that medal for any placement at third or higher, but opponents would be on the easiest difficulty. Silver is second or more for normal foes, and the almighty Gold is against the hardest opponents with only a first placement getting any awards. This mode isn't just all straight races, though, with a varying number of different tasks to complete within each new level -- be it reaching a target checkpoint in time, taking down a tank with ammunition, or out-pacing individual foes one at a time, making for a nice change of pace.

Screenshot for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Arcade mode is a standard, consisting of grouping four levels together with a points value system determining overall winners, but Time Trials is the real trendsetter in Sonic & All-Stars Transformed. Unlike most renditions of this mode in other games that just give a few laps on a track to set a new record on, here it literally throws the staff ghosts right at the player in varying difficulties to spur them on, and with each lap finished, personal ghosts emerge from the overall best lap time to add that little bit more challenge. There aren't even any set number of laps to complete, allowing for a player to figuratively carry on until they beat that last stubborn ghost or feel they have had enough. This relentless version of the popular racing mode is a very welcome conversion.

Not to say that the game's main content is lacking in any respect, but the online function is as always the returning aspect of any competitive title, and Transformed does not disappoint here either. Aside from general single-player online races that net players levelling-up points for their chosen character and an overall score that rise or fall depending on placement, you can also choose to gather together buddies from your Wii U Friends list. The game provides you instant notifications for friend lobbies by way of a flashing icon on the main screen, and Transformed also allows players to choose from any of the main modes of play from regular split-screen multiplayer through individual votes, and also the difficulty of any other computer opponents, making for a tailor-made experience, and adding to an already packed title. If any launch game will last you into next year and beyond, it's this one.

Screenshot for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Successfully meshing together the traditional weapons karter with a pure sense of speed and control, Transformed is almost flawless in execution, let down only slightly by the tricky Wii Remote control mapping and a difficulty that could be deemed too harsh at points.

Graphics

Striking and vibrant visuals that allow the colour to truly shine and the varying environments to strut their stuff. The conversion to the GamePad is instant, but some of the lustre is lost with the lower resolution.

Sound

Some excellent remixes on classic tunes and some left unaltered. The voiceover, as enthusiastic as he may be can, though, can get in the way of them at times.

Value

Absolutely jam-packed to the brim with modes, content and lasting appeal. The online modes alone will easily see this game through release windows of other Wii U titles.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Sonic's second foray into the motoring world is his best yet, with a game that headlines the defining advantages of the Wii U format whilst providing more than enough to see and do for SEGA fans both young and old. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed retains trademark aspects of the karting genre, but also provides enough variation on it to be able to stand side-by-side with Nintendo's eventual Mario equivalent.

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03.12.2012

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Developer

Sumo Digital

Publisher

SEGA

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Bloody brilliant party racing game, I haven't had much time for my WiiU yet but it's my most played game so far and probably will be for some time to come, I especially love that you can do 5 player across (almost?) all modes! Friends come round to play games a lot so this will be great for that.

Also imo it's better than recent Mario Kart titles out of sheer content, multiple fun modes and race styles and great creativity in the course designs.

It's a shame people will disregard this because it's a Sonic game, it's a solid and quality game in every right and a celebration of all things SEGA, there are even Panzer Dragoon stages.
Great review Smilie I agree on many accounts as you probably know!

( Edited 03.12.2012 21:19 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
roryp (guest) 03.12.2012 22:13#2

Wow this sounds excellent. I didn't buy it because of playing the first one on PS3 but i might get this if cheaper? Thanks!!

Whether its because they're in financial difficulties, or they're trying a new marketing strategy i'm liking how sega is releasing games at a reasonable price. This for £25 and Anarchy Reigns for £15 are almost impossible to pass up.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'd also recommend getting Hell Yeah! on Steam, as it's heavily discounted right now...it's another fantastic Arkedo game (Big Bang Mini).

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

Really need to pick this up at some point! It sounds like a whole lot of fun and it'd be nice having a few races online with fellow C3 members. Smilie

Staff Member

Nintendo should have done a bundle with this, it out-Mario-karts Mario Kart in a lot of ways. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Phoenom said:
Nintendo should have done a bundle with this, it out-Mario-karts Mario Kart in a lot of ways. Smilie

Wonder if some people at Nintendo have some ol' SEGA Vs Nintendo rivalry feelings bubbling up Smilie a Sonic racer beating Mario Kart?? No way!

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Staff Member

Looking at the roster for the game, I'm seeing a pattern. Every game representative is in a title that is accessible via current generation means, be it downloadable or retail (also explaining why there are so many duplicates to help drive familiarity and sales even more). Two things to gather from this; Skies of Arcadia is the sole exception to this rule (the rumor of an HD port is strengthened far more now), and Ryo's non-DLC absence speaks volumes.

I took a chance on this title at launch just to try a downloadable title, and not knowing too much about it. I have to agree that it's an incredible value and offers a lot for the money. It's also a lot more difficult and challenging that I thought it would be, and I'm a little sad that I can't unlock every character yet in career mode because I don't have enough stars, having gone through at mostly Silver difficultly level.

Which means I'll have to go back and attempt Gold level on all the stages! Smilie Not that I'm complaining!

And I haven't even jumped into the online yet! What a great game!

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