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

Blue shell blues?

As for that standard arsenal, only five weapons were available to try in this demo, but we’re assured that there will be 'many more' in the final game. There is currently a speed boost, a homing rocket, a 'Puffer Fish' mine, an opponent-slowing three-shot ice projectile, and a beehive. The beehive is the equivalent of Mario Kart's blue shell, but with an important difference. It can be avoided, praise the heavens.

When fired, it zooms ahead to the front of the pack, where it creates three bubbles of (what will likely be) bees. The graphics for it are yet to be completed, but the concept is already in place. Unlike the accursed Blue Shell though, you can drive around the three bubbles if you're good enough. And refreshingly, that's true of all the weapons. Everything can be countered if you have the skill and the right item. Which is exactly as it should be.

While such advanced tactics mean that expert players are likely to zoom off ahead of newcomers at first, our extended play-time revealed what seems to be a pleasingly fair degree of balance. Even when playing against the devs - who were using all their multi-barrel-roll tricks and mysterious, arcane 'secondary drift' throttle feathering techniques - we still managed to keep up and even win. It's close, it's competitive and many a race ends with a couple of tenths of a second covering the top two or even three finishers.

We played the two tracks on multiplayer over and over again for several hours, learning the tracks, the intricacies of the weapons' advanced techniques, and how to do the tricks. There are also said to be extra secrets, like special power-ups hidden in trackside objects that you can find by blasting them. And we got royally trounced when one dev used an ultra-secret hidden shortcut to beat us on the Super Monkey Ball track. Meh. But when we find it, we reserve the right to change our reaction to ‘Awesome’.

Everybody's Supersonic Transform-o-racing

In-keeping with the traditional ‘fun for everyone’ philosophy of the noble kart racer, there will be several tiers of engine class. We tried the highest (we know what we're doing, after all), although there will be slower tiers for the less experienced, with the suggestion of more hidden beyond the top level if you're good enough to unlock them. Currently, all the characters' handling attributes are the same, which we actually like, but we're told there will eventually be some differences between them with regard to top speed, cornering grip and even how quickly the All-Star meter fills up.

The game is still early in development, but if this rough and ready preview code can keep us playing for hours (and it can), engrossed in learning its hidden depths while enjoying the sumptuous visuals and pleasant sensation of speed, things are looking very promising indeed. 'Easy to play and deep to learn' is the classic Sega philosophy on show here, and developer Sumo Digital obviously love the game’s subject matter just as much as we do.

Look out for more on this one in the coming weeks.

Topics

Sega Sonic

11 comments

  • 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.

Showing 1-11 of 11 comments

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