Concept, what concept? It's racing!
The Sonic franchise has spawned more or less twenty titles. By the time I had played Sonic Unleashed, I thought the creativity cycle had come to an end with the IP. Where could a beat up icon start over and give his career a new turn? Sega has found the answer, by making him host his own show. You heard me old-school lovers and Sega childrens, Sonic is back with the All-Stars of Sega for one hell of a wacky ride. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing landed on the retailers shelves last week with a loud bang.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing's best friend and worse enemy is its straightforward character: it is a kart racing game but it's very good at what it doeseven without a storyline or background to the game. Sonic and his Sega friends are racing in five different modes: Single Race, Grand Prix, Mission, Time Trial and Multiplayer. You can always go for a test drive, but there is no real challenge (or fun) to it.
Twentyfour characters from twentytwo video games are present on the race track. Most of them come from Sonic games (of course) like Shadow, Doctor Eggman, Amy Rose or Tail, but many great Sega IP's are represented as well like Shenmue (Ryo Hazuki and his amazing forklift), Crazy Taxi (B.D Joe, who is as cool as ever) and Virtua Fighter (Jacky Bryant & Akira Yuki look adorable sharing the same car). Some more obscure titles are also represented such as Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (Billy Hatcher) and Samba De Amigo (The little monkey Amigo is annoyingly fast).
What are these merry folk doing racing together?
I give it to you, they beat the hell out of each other on the racing track. There are only three modes where you can compete against each other: Single Race, Grand Prix or Multiplayer which consist of single races. Mission asks for you to complete certain tasks (drift for a very long time, collect stuff) and time trial are... time trials, you have to beat yourself. A nice touch from Sega, they added the ghost cars of the developers to give more challenge to the players. These two modes didn't really do the job for me as they are too short to have any kind of tension (Mission) or too empty (time trials). They are a nice addon, but the core fun of the game is to race others so they feel a little bit like Christmas decorations. Nice, but the game wouldn't have suffered much from their absence.
Racing in Grand Prix is as much fun as it gets though. You get six Cups of four races, three difficulty levels (which are very different from each others) and tracks that are very cleverly designed. The tracks themselves are taked from levels in the All-Star Games. There are almost always alternate routes, crazy jumps and inherent dangers. It is frantic, fun and the fact that you can bomb the hell out of the other players on the track makes it even more enjoyable.
Fast, frantic and simple
Gets repetitive after one Grand Prix in Single Player