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Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing – Hands-on

It's been a few months since we last spent some quality time with Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing – and it's surprising to see how far it's come in that time.

Sega fans will be pleased to hear that Sumo Digital (who handled the console conversion of OutRun 2 and also developed Sega Superstars Tennis) have created something more than just a Mario Kart rip-off. How? Like this:

 

Drifting

Mario Kart has a drifting system, but it's nothing like OutRun 2's elegant powerslides. However, despite the latter's awesomeness, it wasn't exactly easy to get to grips with, so Sumo has simplified it greatly for All Stars Racing. Hold down L2 while you're turning and your ride's back end will step out, letting you powerdrift around the corner.


Above: Beat gets his slide on, powered by an insane stereo system

You'd think this would make cornering less precise but the opposite is true, with a much greater degree of control over your vehicle's line through the turn, and hugging the apex with the nose of your racer is highly satisfying. It'll also earn you a boost depending on how long you slide before releasing the trigger. Do it right and you'll look like a master, streaking along down the next straight with a rainbow in your wake.

 

Mission mode

While we didn't get to play around with Mission Mode (it wasn't available in the preview version we saw), we are told that you can expect similar challenges to those found in OutRun 2's Heart Attack mode. Expect to be hitting cones, drifting and 'not crashing' to earn more bonuses.

 

Sega Miles

Every time you race, you'll earn Sega Miles, which are used as currency in the in-game shop, just like OutRun Miles in OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast. You'll be able to purchase new tracks and characters (see below), some of which will come as a 'complete surprise' according to the Sega rep.


Above: Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki was a surprise announcement last month

Unlike Sega Superstars Tennis, which had almost all of the game tucked away behind locked doors, All-Stars Racing will have about half of the characters and tracks available right away. After all, nobody appreciated having to play Super Smash Brothers Brawl for days just to unlock Sonic, did they?

 

Characters

This is a Sonic and Sega All-stars game, so a large roster of Sonic characters is understandable - even if some of them are annoying. So far, Sonic, Shadow, Tails, Amy, Eggman (that's Dr Robotnik to us), Big the Cat and Knuckles from the Sonic series are all confirmed.

Then we've got Ai-Ai from Super Monkey Ball, Beat from Jet Set Radio, Billy Hatcher from Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, Ryo from Shenmue, Amigo from Samba De Amigo and Alex Kidd. There are also Zombio & Zombiko (who we haven't been shown yet) from the House of the Dead series - goodness only knows what their vehicles will look like.


Above: Billy Hatcher is in - this is his All-Star move in action

And then...? Who else could be in? We'd bet on Ulala from Space Channel 5 and NiGHTS being in there somewhere, but that's just a guess. Sadly, we were told the Daytona Hornet is almost certainly not in the game. Sigh. Oh, and seeing as Sonic becomes Super Sonic during his All-Star move, we'd wager that the Were-hog will be absent too. Fingers crossed.

 

Multiplayer

Online racing is pretty much a given these days, and All-Stars doesn't disappoint, with 8-player competitive racing. More surprising is up to four player split-screen offline racing, like Mario Kart on Wii. Of course, the difference here is in the HD graphics on PS3 and 360, which will come as good news to anyone who struggled to see Mario Kart's fuzzy tracks through standard-def screen quarters on a large TV.

 

Power ups

There are plenty of items to collect and use as you race, as you'd expect from a kart racer. Sonic's energy shield protects you from attacks for a short time, power sneakers grant you between 1 and 3 boosts of speed, plus there are bombs and rockets to fire off at your opponents. So far, so generic. But there are also some more unusual power-ups, like a confuse ray that leaves your opponent's screen obscured by rainbow colours.


Above: Watch out, Alex! You're about to get zapped by that flying bot

Then there's the All-Star move which is different for every character. Sonic dashes up the track, barging other racers out of the way, while Amigo from Samba De Amigo shakes his maracas, forcing everyone in the field into a dancing procession. Billy Hatcher summons a giant egg and runs along on top of it. Incidentally, Billy's voice sounds exactly like you remember it which definitely adds to the authenticity.


Above: Big the Cat's All-Star move summons his now-giant best buddy

The weapon system already feels well balanced, with the game feeding you the right kind of items to help you if you're way back rather than rubber-banding the AI opponents. And from our hands-on time, we didn't find any unfair first-to-last moments on the finish line. No blue shells here.

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13 comments

  • kingofspades94 - January 22, 2010 2:38 a.m.

    This game needs one thing to make it awesome: BAYONETTA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then I might consider buying it.
  • nyef - December 17, 2009 1:47 a.m.

    this actually looks really reaa;;y good! i can wait till its released! p.s. "We know of at least one more - it seems there's also a House of the Dead leval if this new screenshot's anything to go by..." ...level is spelled wrong :P
  • FanofSaiyan - December 5, 2009 2:57 a.m.

    Sonic finally learns of the joys of driving a motorized vehicle. Maybe all he needed to do to save his beloved franchise was to stop hoofing it.
  • FanofSaiyan - December 5, 2009 2:55 a.m.

    Sonic finally learns of the joys of a motarized vehicles. Maybe all he needed to do to save his franchise was drive a car.
  • GR_JustinTowell - December 2, 2009 9:30 a.m.

    @Cogglesz - it's definitely not a clone of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - they're completely different to play. But even it was, that would be no bad thing :) I want me some OutRun 3...
  • Hellwilder - December 1, 2009 11:43 p.m.

    SEGA all stars games are so... strange
  • CatrParrot - December 1, 2009 4:09 a.m.

    Sounds actually really good. If it lacks impossibly cheap rubberband A.I. and overpowered weapons, I'll have to pick this one up.
  • Cogglesz - November 29, 2009 3:29 a.m.

    hmm it would seem to me that its just an OutRun 2006 clone with better graphics, i'm not going to bother with this one
  • jnewco81 - November 28, 2009 11:22 p.m.

    Alis, Myau, Rolf or Nei from the Phantasy Star series please. Nice to see Alex Kidd back :)
  • wrapdump - November 28, 2009 1:10 p.m.

    ...But...Ryo...? Really? Do they have to? Still at least he's on a bike and not crammed into a tiny kart with his knees around his ears.
  • AuthorityFigure - November 28, 2009 4:58 a.m.

    Look out MarioKart Wii - this game seems to have better graphics, features and more varied characters...
  • Wafflez - November 27, 2009 10:51 p.m.

    I'm so excited for this game. Sega Superstars Tennis was game of the year and it'll be hard for this to beat it, but I have confidence in it. Day one purchase forsure
  • crumbdunky - November 27, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    MMM. With MNR on the way, MKWii alresy here and Split/Second also tying up the(more mature in it's case) power up racing scene will Sega be able to shoulder their way in to the crowded market? I dunno myself as the creation side of MNR looks a bigger hook than racing as Sonic when he shouldn't REALLY need a car in the first place anway! Also the DESTRUCTION side od S/S looks like a better hook than the list of Sega characters that fw really care about these days-though chuck in a few laps of a Valkyria Chronicles falvoured track and I'm possibly closer to being in! As it stands though this really does look like it's very much an HD Sega answer to MKwii-and will that be enough when other power up racers of differening methods are coming up fast with seemingly far more than cute and retro chracters up their sl;eeve? I love some non serious,no modding needed, no commitment karting on console, don't get me wrong, nut they really need to do a little more to distance themselves from the plumber and his mates on trackday. It's like-if GR is worried about 3D Dot Heroes being sued over similarities to LttP or whatever then just how much will Ninty be sending their lawyers after the former poacher turned spiky blue gamekeeper when it seems he's altered again and run off with Mazza's Karting blueprint? To me this is a LOT more likely to arouse a court case as Ninty STILL make a current game like this on two systems and haven't made a true 2D Zelda in an age and 3DDGH pays a ,lot wider homage too(and to other games) than this one looks to do, imo.

Showing 1-13 of 13 comments

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