It was the Christmas of 1992 when I was introduced to the first two titles in the Sonic the Hedgehog series courtesy of a shiny new Sega Megadrive (or Genesis if you prefer).
I’ve always held the Sonic series close to my heart despite its much publicised checkered past. However, there has been one Sonic-themed series which has been consistently solid throughout the years: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
After a strong series debut, the second game – Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed – became my favourite kart racing game of all time. After a frustratingly long wait of over six years, the spiritual successor is finally here. Will the latest Sonic kart racer make me fall in love once more or will it leave a bitter taste in my mouth?
Those expecting a direct sequel to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed may be left dissatisfied. Much to my disappointment, the general SEGA theme has been axed in favour of a purely Sonic-themed affair. The transforming vehicles from 2012’s Transformed title are also gone opting instead for an entirely kart-based experience.
It’s not all bad though. As the name suggests, the very latest Sonic kart racer has a focus on team-based action. Racing in teams of three, your combined race placings are scored and tallied to determine the winning party. Continuing with the team theme, a new ‘Slingshot’ mechanic – which involves slipstreaming a teammate – grants you a boost of speed, whereas gifting powerups to your teammates can create a more powerful version of that item.
Participating in these team-based elements enables you to build up your ‘ultimate bar’ which, when full, can be unleashed for a satisfying team-wide speed boost with the added bonus of invulnerability – something you may be familiar with from previous titles.
Making the dream work
The single-player campaign, known as ‘Team Adventure’, does its best to intertwine some semblance of a story to proceedings. The mode plays out across seven zones featuring three different circuits apiece for a grand total of twenty-one tracks.
Some of these tracks have actually been cherry-picked from previous Sonic karting games. Playing on a modernised version of a classic circuit really highlights the graphical leap forward we’ve taken in recent years. Environments are packed full of detail and whiz by at a mostly solid 60 frames per second (the Switch version runs at 30fps).
Events in Team Adventure range from standard team races to solo ring collecting events where you have to continually drift into rings to keep the timer from reaching zero. The difficulty of some of these solo events are harsh, trophy/achievement hunters will be in for a hard time I’m sure.
Following traditional racing game fare, Team Sonic Racing’s main campaign tasks you to complete events to earn stars, which in turn unlocks even more events. Earning stars requires you to satisfy a range of objectives ranging from winning as a team to finishing in a certain position as an individual. Some special objectives enable you to obtain keys which unlock additional events, predictably, these special objectives are usually quite challenging.
Besides the Team Adventure mode, you have the usual suspects of Grand Prix, Exhibition Race, Time Trial and various online multiplayer modes, the latter obviously being one of the main draws of the game.
Team Sonic Racing features a fairly comprehensive customisation mode for a kart racing title. You can change three sections of each vehicle (front, back and wheels) which alters the performance of the kart accordingly. Cosmetically, you can modify the colours of each part and add vinyls (patterns), there’s even the option to swap out your kart’s horn if you so choose.
All of the game’s customisation elements are unlocked via tokens (earned in events) which can be used to open ‘Mod Pods’. Thankfully, tokens are generously dished out during most events and I can confirm the game does not contain any microtransactions.
Team Sonic Racing features a decent single-player mode for solo players to revel in as well as an enjoyable multiplayer component. The new team-based mechanics beautifully compliment the excellent handling model found in previous games. Having said that, it doesn’t knock Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed off the top spot of the podium. While the title retains a lot of the things that made Transformed great, it has lost many of the elements that really made that game special, most importantly the transforming vehicles and tracks.
I suspect this may be down to a tighter budget but it’s still a little on the disappointing side. To make up for its shortcomings, however, the game is launching at a lower price point of around thirty pounds. For this price, it’s definitely worth taking for a spin. If you’re after a decent kart racing game, you could do far worse than this.
- Satisfying handling
- Lovely visuals
- A lot of value for money
- Tons of Sonic fan service
- Mixed bag in terms of track design
- Lacking that SEGA variety
- Weird difficulty balancing in certain events
- Online matchmaking a bit problematic
Team Sonic Racing features a decent single-player mode as well as an enjoyable multiplayer component. However, it fails to knock the sublime Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed off the top spot of the podium. A great start with lots of potential for future titles in the genre.