Let’s face it, that podgy plumber has been leading the kart racing pack for too long now. And, just like the good ol’ 16-bit days, it looks as if he’s about to get some serious competition in the form of a hyperactive hedgehog courtesy of SEGA.
Enter (deep breath) Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the newly announced sequel to the under-appreciated Sonic & All Stars Racing from 2010 developed by Sumo Digital, a game that once again takes an assortment of iconic characters from your favourite SEGA licenses and plonks them into a pack of eccentric karts for some light-hearted, arcade racing action replete with advantage-gaining power-ups. Not the most original of concepts, you're probably thinking.
Indeed, there are obvious parallels between Mario Kart and SEGA All Stars Racing besides the fact they're both competing for the same genre crown. Case in point: like Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, Transformed strays away from the track by incorporating water and flying elements.
But unlike Mario 7, this is not merely a cosmetic change where you simply drive underwater – as you can see from the trailer, each vehicle has the ability to instantaneously transform into a variety of vehicles such as planes and boats to tackle the terrain, which of course results in significant changes to the handling to show off the new physics engine. The “transformed” part of the title is all starting to make sense now, eh?
I’m liking the look of Sonic’s new curvacious sports car, and Tails appears to have a new set of wheels too in the form of a vintage-looking racecar. Elsewhere, B.D Joe’s Chevrolet Impala from Crazy Taxi can be seen to be making a return, along with Amy Rose’s pink convertible from the previous All Stars game.
Judging from the trailer, Transformed is already looking graphically gourgeous, with lavish lighting effects and texture work that make the traditional SEGA skyline shine like never before.
Location-wise, Sonic's timeless Green Hill is of course a given, but themed tracks from other franchises such as Super Monkey Ball and even Panzer Dragoon are promised, making Transformed a real treat for die-hard SEGA fans.
It's a similar story for the cast of characters you'll be able to play as: expect the likes of Sonic, Dr Eggman and Super Monkey Ball's AiAi to return, along with new fan-favourites including Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, an Dreamcast RPG released back in 2001, and Gillius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, a side-scrolling beat-em up originally released on the Megadrive in 1989. Each character can also earn All-Star power-ups through their flamboyant driving and upgrade vehicles by ranking up.
The original Sonic & All Stars Racing had clear potential that was never really fully realised, so we’re hoping the new transforming mechanic is more than a throwaway gimmick that adds some depth to the gameplay and makes Transformed a worthy competitor to knock Nintendo's reigning champion off the podium.
Is it time for Mario to finally retire and make way for his faster, sleeker and slimmer opponent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or leave us a message on our Facebook page.
In the meantime, have a nibble on the newly released screenshots in our gallery below:
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