All you need to know about Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on DS is that it’s the same game minus the annoying commentary and with DS graphics. Lovely, now let us tell you all about where we’re going for our summer holidays… what, that’s not enough of a review for you? Oh okay then, you ungrateful beggars.
Like its bigger Wii brother, this has the specter of Mario Kart looming large in its rear view mirror. To call Sonic & Sega a direct clone is rather unfair, as every kart racer in existence has used MK as a template because it’s such a proven one. At least Sega has a rich heritage of recognisable characters to populate its effort rather than a cast of creatures with stupid voices from the latest Disney movie. Likewise, the 24 courses and 24 music tracks take inspiration from Sega titles such as Jet Set Radio Future, House of the Dead EX and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, lending it a uniquely Sega vibe.
But for all its famous names, the game is strangely lacking in character. It seems that it wants to be a celebration of all things Sega, as Smash Bros is to Nintendo, but it feels more like a natural extension of the Olympic Games franchise minus Mario and co. It’s not cheap – the production values are high – but it does come across as a slightly cynical cash-in on the Sega brand. There’s nothing fundamentally broken or deeply wrong with the game, it’s just so very… ordinary, adequate, middle-of-the-road.
There’s plenty to do, mind, with six four-race cups to compete in in Grand Prix mode, 55 missions to complete in the Challenge mode, time trials and single races, plus there are local and WFC multiplayer modes too. The racing’s perfectly acceptable (there we go again with the damning-with-faint-praise adjectives) in a powerslide- and powerup-centric kind of way, although there’s barely any difference in the way the various vehicles handle.
But is any of it better than the now-ancient Mario Kart DS? Nope. So unless you’re a massive Sega fan or you’re wholly sick of MK and want more of the same but different, there’s not much to entice you.
Feb 25, 2010