The kart racer is dead, long live the kart racer!
Actually, it’s not so much dead. More like…hard to stand out in the crowd. See, Nintendo created the kart racer many moons ago with Super Mario Kart for the SNES, a game that still holds up remarkably well today. The fiancée and I play it a lot, actually, and I like to throw false information at her such as telling her about secret teleports hidden in spots of water. Alas, she’s learned not to trust my “advice.” Anyways, Super Mario Kart naturally spawned some imitators, the majority of which failed to live up to the flagship’s standards. Save for Crash Tag Team Racing; I like that one for reasons I’m not ready to say.
So the demo for Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing felt very much like it should: formulaic. You select your racer, you select your track, you hit the gas, you pick up weaponry from floating somethings, and you zip along until you’ve crossed the finish line. We know how to play it; we’ve been playing this game for years.
Definitely the one place where Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing outshines Nintendo is in its roster. Given the game’s title and much like in SEGA Superstars Tennis, there’s a unique gathering of characters from all sorts of previous games. You can definitely play as the blue blur himself, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Eggman, Big the Cat, moody Shadow, Ulala, AiAi from Super Monkey Ball, and Beat, among others (Banjo and Kazooie if you’re lucky to play it on the Xbox 360).
The demo only offers up one character to play (Sonic) and one course (a rather generic level). Driving is simple and fun, and getting Sonic to do his “all-star” move, turning him into Super Sonic, a speeding blue blur of death, is awesome. However, the track itself was very straightforward, and I never once felt like I would steer the wrong way or anything. Had an “on rails” sort of feel to it, despite not being that. The audio works well, with actual commentary happening live as you do stuff, but I did notice one of Sonic’s lines was taken directly from SEGA Superstars Tennis, which seems a bit lazy.
It’s not the worst thing to ever hit a console though it definitely lacks innovation. If you don’t own a Wii or dusty SNES, sure, give this a chance. Otherwise, you might want to stick with what you know already.
And of course, it’s still hard to wrap your brain around the fact that Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the fastest critters around the gamesphere, is racing in a car. And losing at times. Oh well…