Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed hands-on: The OTHER mascot kart racer with transforming vehicles

Track listing

The sunshine aesthetic of the Super Monkey Ball world looks superb already, even though the game’s code is at pre-alpha stage (ie. 'not even slightly finished'). The shades of green used for sunlit leaves are spot-on, and the glistening blue water looks cool and refreshing. And when you see the surging whirlpool looming at the end of the track and realise you're going to have to navigate around it, the drama is palpable.

There will be a total of 16 different tracks, each themed around a different classic Sega game. We know Super Monkey Ball and Panzer Dragoon are in, plus we get the inkling from talking to the devs that there will be a Space Channel 5 stage set in space. We also know that Bug and Space Harrier will not be present, although we couldn't get an answer either way on Burning Rangers or Shenmue. Still, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia is a playable character, as is Gilius from Golden Axe, so it makes sense that they'll have their own tracks. A 3D Death Adder was also mentioned by the devs…

But for all the impressive new water tech and lovingly detailed audio-visual fan service, the most important question is about how the actual racing feels. The answer in a nutshell is ‘very enjoyable’. While a new game engine has been built from the ground up, a definite effort has been made to replicate the basic feel of the first game. And it works, although there have been a few important and welcome tweaks.

For instance, the drift mechanic has been loosened slightly in order to avoid the first game's habit of causing unexpectedly tight turns to collide with the barrier on the inside of the corner. Also, when you're hurtling towards a track divide, this game would much rather let you keep moving forwards if you accidentally hit the split dead-on than stop you dead in an embarrassing crunching halt. It wants you to get round the track. It wants you to have fun.

Homing attack

A kart racer wouldn't be a kart racer without weapons, and this is no exception. This time round, a lot more work seems to have gone into the weapons, arguably one of the weakest areas of the last game. For starters, the powerful All-Star moves aren’t simply handed out for being at the back of the pack now, which is great for keeping things exciting for players at the front. If you were good at the first game, you hardly ever saw your All-Star move because the original approach to game balance meant that you simply never had gained the ability to use it.

This time round, you have to earn your move by collecting All-Star tokens that are littered around the track in hard-to-reach areas. They can be anywhere, from the apex of very tight turns to the more devious, less accessible short-cuts. Sadly, while the coins were present the build we played, the All-Star moves themselves weren't, as they're still being made. 

What were available however, were super versions of the game’s standard weapons, earned by driving particularly skilfully in designated areas.On the Super Monkey Ball track for instance, this involves finding a route that ends in a ramp, that in turn carries you over the barriers of suspended walkways and down onto – and we love this bit – a Monkey Target landing area. Hit the middle and you get to pick up the special bonus weapon. These are currently triple-powered versions of the game’s existing arsenal, but could well be entirely bespoke pain-tools by the time the final game arrives.


Sega Sonic


  • LEGOMatrix - April 30, 2012 8:44 p.m.

    I enjoyed the first one. It's as close to HD Mario Kart as anything got, although I did enjoy Blur for a bit. Sega actually has quite a decent range of characters, they could make their own SSB clone!
  • IceBlueKirby - April 30, 2012 6:20 p.m.

    The first game was good, nothing fantastic, but solid fun at it's core. Judging from this preview alone the sequel is looking to be even better, so I'm looking forward to playing it. It sounds like they want to do a lot more with the transformations than Mario Kart 7 did, which should offer more variety and a good reason to play this over MK7. That and the beehive is avoidable, so that automatically gives it some cred. Also, Gilius Thunderhead and (presumably) Knuckles are in it...what's not to love?
  • tehtimeisnow - April 30, 2012 4:27 p.m.

    wow anoter horrable cartoon gane for littel kids yawn stuped nitedno fanbabys like bad games i play real ganes insted like on ipohne
  • ani12 - April 30, 2012 3:36 p.m.

    I loved the first game, so I'm definitely getting this when its released!
  • Cyberninja - April 30, 2012 3:07 p.m.

    looks pretty good
  • RareHero - April 30, 2012 12:52 p.m.

    Is it strange that the Panzer Dragoon track is what has me most excited about this game? And I really enjoyed the first Sonic & Sega All Stars. Much better than Mario Kart Wii.
  • BDubs1085 - April 30, 2012 12:38 p.m.

    I know this may seem Juvenile but did anyone else catch the part about gigantic monkey balls? Just me? ok
  • Gazanator101 - April 30, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    The first S&ASR game was pretty decent for a kart racer. Alex the Kidd was my favourite to drive with, he's like Toad from Mario Kart haha. And he better be in this one. Diddy Kong Racing was one my favourite racing games ever, and I'm getting that kind of vibe from this, and he's hoping it will be a decent follow-up and stand-alone kart racer. If not, I can always go back to Mario Kart 7.
  • Rub3z - April 30, 2012 11:41 a.m.

    Wow. A thorough preview. Nice to see one of these up... for a kart racer, no less. This actually sounds quite good. I like it when you guys give a preview that extends to three pages and goes into detail about all the great things you experienced. Good stuff.
  • Braken67 - April 30, 2012 11:38 a.m.

    I'm always very skeptical when it comes to racing games, but this one looks awesome already and I haven't even played it. I'm really looking forward to this game, but I think that 16 tracks are too little xD I would love to see more :)
  • Turtman - April 30, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Crash Team Racing is, and will forever be, the best kart racer ever made.

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