If ever there’s a discussion about characters from several different games combining together to partake in one big racing event, then Mario Kart is the title that definitely comes to mind. However, Sonic & All-Stars Racing is perhaps a little underrated when compared against the franchise led by the overweight Italian plumber. Those who have actually tried out the game can argue that the racing games led by Sega’s main mascot Sonic is actually good – although not better – when compared to the Mario Kart series, and although Sonic & All Stars Racing is not as mainstream as Nintendo’s take on the cross brand raging game genre, there’s probably an underground minority out there somewhere that prefers the former rather than the latter.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was the latest in Sega’s racing series featuring the blue haired hedgehog and his friends. It was released a little over a year ago across multiple platforms, and has just been recently released for mobile devices. Don’t think that it’s an outright straight port, however, so owners of the original game can still get a fresh kick out of this release. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features a roster different from the console version, such as Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki, as well as local multiplayer, online time trials, and tons of new content to unlock.
Graphics within the game are, of course, not comparable with the console versions due to hardware limitations. Still, the animation is pretty smooth without a trace of lag time. The game also supports controller connectivity as well as tilting and virtual controls. This gives players the option to choose on whether they would like to enjoy the game within the confines of their own device or to play through the races console style.
Players can also go through several events, which can be used to unlock more characters and tracks available within the game. This translates to hours upon hours of gameplay that is both enjoyable and challenging at the same time. Sadly, one of the main changes for the mobile version of Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed is its blatant use of the in-app purchase model. The game in itself is not free, Additional characters, though not required, can be played out by shelling out $4.99 for each pair. Even higher difficulty levels would need to be paid for using in-game currency called rings, which are earned within the game. For the full unlocked and unlimited version of the game, players would have to choke up an additional $9.99.
That translates to about 20 dollars for all content, and that does not even include the initial $4.99 price tag. This feature is a pretty disappointing fact since the people behind the game could have just easily increased the game’s price and just provided everything for free. To them, it just seemed that this model is a ploy to get more out of fans who would like to access to harder levels, as well as to play as characters like Metal Sonic and Wreck-It-Ralph. There are also in-app purchase packages for additional stars, which can be used to purchase powerups or even additional rings. Should you decide to not go down this path, then you should expect to do a lot of racing and grinding in order to get the currencies that you need.
Purchases are not required within the game, however, and players would definitely still get to enjoy the racing and transforming action across the different tracks and environments. Different characters that may be unlocked for free can bring replayability into the game, and the ability of players to compete with others will certainly bring out the best drivers within us.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is, at best, an arcade game rather than a pure racing simulation game. Here, being able to bash at your opponents and likewise avoiding their offense is even more important than getting from point A to point B within the fastest time. If that’s what rocks your boat, then this game can definitely be a potent and very acceptable substitute to any Mario Kart game that has ever been released in any console.
Excluding the gripe about in-app purchases, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a pretty solid game that can be really addictive and fun. Those who are pretty much saturated with Mario and Bowser can now race as Sonic, Knuckles, and other Sega staples. It’s a great alternative, and even if the purchase system can be both frustrating and offensive to well meaning and good paying gamers, you can still get a real kick out of the title even without paying an additional cent outside of the original price tag.
Tested on iPhone. Final Score: 8/10
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was developed by Sega America. It was released January 2, 2014 on the Apple iTunes store, with an Android version release to be announced.