Sonic & All-Stars Racing is essentially Sega’s take on the Mario Kart thing, and the second instalment - Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – quietly notched up tons of critical acclaim in late 2012.
Mario Kart fans will immediately feel at home with the Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed formula. Essentially, you’ve got a number of vehicles piloted by popular Sega characters, driving around tracks inspired by popular Sega games.
Dotted around the track are power-ups including a speed boost and various projectiles that can be fired ahead or dropped behind, and there are little dash markers here and there. You can also drift around – and boost out of – corners. Yep, it’s pretty much Mario Kart.
The major difference in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, in particular, is that the vehicles seamlessly – you guessed it – transform as the races progress through the air and across water. Shades of Diddy Kong Racing there.
In terms of characters, Sonic, Tails, Amy and Ulala (from Space Channel 5) are available from the get-go. Meanwhile, Gum (Jet Set Radio), Amigo (Sambo de Amigo), B.D. Joe (Crazy Taxi), Joe Musashi (Shinobi), Dr. Eggman, AGES (the car from Daytona, seemingly), Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph), Metal Sonic, Knuckles and Shadow are all unlockable.
Bringing us up to 15, exclusive to mobile, is Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki and “his incredible transforming arcade cabinet”. Brilliant.
As for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed tracks, they’re drawn from Sega games such as Sonic, Panzer Dragoon, After Burner and Golden Axe.
Right, so, good stuff about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. There’s a decent roster of characters (with “many more” “coming soon!”), various game modes and race types, and the vehicle transformations are pretty impressive.
On the poop side, it’s a wee bit cheeky that only four of the characters are available from the off when the game costs £2.99.
Some characters can be unlocked by blasting through World Tour or Grand Prix mode, though Ryo Hazuki, annoyingly, is only made available by completing a "full string of Weekly Challenges", so it'll take about a month to unlock him. WHAT?
Worse still, some of the characters are only available to buy in the store. There are two character packs at £2.99 (Metal Sonic and Ralph; Shadow and Knuckles), while a £6.99 “shortcut” immediately unlocks Gum, Amigo, B.D. Joe, Joe Mushashi and Dr. Eggman. That's £12.97 in total.
That gripe aside, I actually really enjoyed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and more so the more I played it. Initially it felt a tad frustrating, but it’s worth paying attention to the vehicle stats, as well as drifting at every opportunity. And heck, if all else fails, just drop the difficulty to easy.
- A decent roster of characters
- Various game modes and race types
- Race across land, sea and air
- Only four playable characters initially
- In-app purchases in addition to the £2.99 entry fee
- Occasionally a tad frustrating (i.e. brutally hard)
Summary: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed offers Mario Kart-style thrills in abundance. It’s frustrating that only four characters are playable initially, but otherwise it’s a ton of fun.
iOS compatibility: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Android compatibility: Requires Android 2.3 or later.