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iPhone  header logo

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, DS, Mobile, iPad

Speed trap

Product: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing | Developer: Sumo Digital | Publisher: Sega | Format: iPhone | Genre: Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
 
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing iPhone, thumbnail 1
Almost every publisher has lost its way with its biggest franchise at some point during its life.

The best games in the biggest franchise of them all - Star Wars - have come not from within the LucasArts stable, but from third parties.

By the same token, Sega's ability to make a hash of Sonic games over the years is well-documented. No surprise, then, that it should take Sumo Digital to master the one element that's proved to be the bane of Sonic's life: his speed.

Racing ahead

The one advantage Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has over Sega's own calamities, however, is that this is not a platformer. As a consequence, Sumo Digtial's inspiration is inescapable, and runs coherently behind almost every element of Sonic's stab at racing: Mario Kart.

The game is unashamed of the association. Instead of trying to banish each and every reference to Mario Kart – or, even worse, copying it pixel for pixel – the developer has taken the elements that work and adjusted them to fit around the Sonic mould.

First up, let's look at the similarities. For starters, the very structure of play – competing in three cups made up of four tracks each – is a familiar one. On track are five rivals, and your task is to bump and slide your way to the front of the pack.

Aiding you in your mission is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing's supremely balanced controls.

Acceleration is handled for you, but you steer by gently turning your iPhone like a steering wheel. In this regard, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is without equal: Sumo Digital has nailed the often delicate nature of accelerometer controls, and the rest of play flourishes as a result.

Destination Sega

Skill rather than luck determines your fate, and the courses – which reach out across the high points of Sega's library, from House of the Dead to Samba Di Amigo – do their best to stretch your talents.

It's this very range of settings that helps set Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing apart from the competition. Though arguably not as tight a package as Mario Kart as a result, Sumo has ensured the game has a nice sweep of circuits.

Short and sharp tracks, for instance, are hectic affairs that can be won or lost on the last corner, with pickups often deciding the outcome.

As you might expect, the game's question marked boxes contain a variety of treats, including those that boost your own speed as well as those that hamper the pace of your rivals, rockets being the most prominent example.

Long courses, in contrast, require a far smoother approach, calling for a knowledge of the racing line and an ability to drift.

It's this need to drift – and pick up the speed boost that results – that defines much of Sonic & Sega All Star Racing's play. It's a simple enough trick to pick up, assigned to a yellow button in the bottom right of the screen, and it works best in the deeper tracks, where it's possible to build both a healthy lead and gain much satisfaction when you pull it off perfectly.

Star billing

The biggest draw for many players, however, will not be the sublime range of courses, or even Sumo Digital's deft grip on the game's controls, but rather the cast of characters both the Sonic and Sega licenses bring to the starting line.

The inclusion of Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki and Crazy Taxi's B.D. Joe in a title otherwise dominated by Sonic and co. is as offbeat as it is shrewd.

Courses and characters combined, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is no shrinking violet, and the ability to take on both the game's brilliantly balanced AI controlled rivals as well as those in the real world (both local and wi-fi enabled multiplayer on offer) means there's reason enough to immerse yourself in it fully.

A nice addition is the game's mission mode, which hands out supplementary tasks like collecting coins or passing through gates on an open plan course.

Turn back the clock a generation and Sonic's latest wouldn't have looked out of place on PS2 or Xbox in terms of content, style, and gameplay. In fact, on almost every level imaginable Sumo Digital has surpassed all competition on iPhone, and placed Sega's much maligned mascot firmly back on the right track as a result.

 
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 30 June 2011
An exhaustive and, more importantly, finely balanced release, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing offers up a watershed moment for karting on iPhone
 
Have Your Say
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Joined:
Apr 2011
Post count:
13
DarthPaul | 21:36 - 4 July 2011
I downloaded this the other day - I found it a little difficult at first, but really took to it in the end. Can see why it's a top score.
Joined:
Dec 2008
Post count:
1338
klouud | 16:06 - 30 June 2011
For me, what makes or breaks a kart racer are these elements:

draw distance, track design, frame rate, camera angle, and controls.

Yes, you heard me right. Draw distance. Take Krash Kart 1 - the track would seemingly pop up at you so quickly that the hardest part of the game was just staying on the track. Seeing what is coming up ahead of you is something that Mario Kart has always done well - even on lesser systems like the GBA and SNES.

Track design is huge as well. Shrek Kart Racer did a poor job at this (so did Krash). Karts would collide with seemingly invisible obstacles and parts of the track that should have been more intuitive were klunky.

Frame rate - need i say more?

Controls. Mario Kart has set the standard in terms of... well everything. Controls are a huge part of the whole experience. If the karts are un responsive or too responsive then that can devastate the fun factor.

The price was right, so I struck while the iron was hot. Haven't loaded up this game yet. Still trying to figure out how to trick my iPhone 3GS on 4.1 to play Street Fighter 4 VOLT.

tim
Joined:
Mar 2011
Post count:
24
AbuJaffer | 13:43 - 30 June 2011
I have it on the DS so I'm not getting it (on my iPod) but ya, it's a pretty good game. Normally you expect spin-offs to be mediocre in quality, but All-Stars was a pleasant surprise in quality,
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