Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - Transforming Racing At The Speed Of Sound! by QB-sensei & Ryodo
QB-sensei: Ever since we discovered that we both love the Sonic series, we have been mutually fanboying about the Sonic games through the ages, from the first Sonic game all the way to the most recent platform game, Sonic Generations, while constantly sidetracking to facts and trivia about Sonic and various characters in the games. If there is one thing we agree on, it is that Sonic is (fictionally) the fastest thing alive.
Ryodo: Technically, game theorists from around the community have speculated Sonic's true speed and he was defined as being slower than Mario in their respective first games. Even though Sonic runs at the speed of sound (around 343.2m/s), game theorists confirmed that Sonic's fastest speed in his games is only 80m/s. All hope seemed to be lost, until someone commented that "Sonic's only slowing down for the sake of our entertainment, or he can't be seen", which I followed like a religion to this day.
QB-sensei: So, if he is the fastest thing alive, WHY ON MOBIUS DOES HE NEED TO RIDE A FREAKING CAR IN SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED!?
Developed by Sumo Digital and published by SEGA (obviously), Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a crossover racing game featuring Sonic and some of his friends (plus Eggman), with the addition of various other characters from other SEGA franchises.
You race through various racing tracks, with a few twists in between - all tracks have aerial and watery sections, forcing transformations of the vehicles to adapt to the changing terrain, and some of them even convert mid-race, offering different racing styles between each lap. The game was released for various consoles, so I will focus on the PC port, while Ryodo will look at the port for the Vita.
QB-sensei: There are 4 single-player modes in the Career Mode, namely World Tour (where you unlock characters, racing stages and mods), Grand Prix (just some series of cups you can win), Time Attack (to record your best times in various tracks) and Single Race, which Ryodo will describe in greater detail. In addition, you can also race with others online via Online Play or race with your friends through Create Game.
Moving on with the controls, I strongly recommend a controller for the PC port as the keyboard layout feels very awkward. For instance, in addition to the steering controlled by the arrow keys, there is also the stunt controlled by the W, A, S and D keys. Add the Shift key for acceleration and Spacebar for brake/drift, my left fingers are positioned quite awkwardly.
Ryodo: To add to what QB-sensei has mentioned, the 4 different modes offer different styles of gameplay, though everything is essentially the same: race to the finish to the best of your abilities. Personally I preferred the Grand Prix because it is the best mode in which you can quickly level up your characters in order to unlock different mods for them to suit your playstyle. You heard me, there's levelling up for this game.
However, the controls on the Vita seems a little awkward, as there is very little freedom in customising the controls and the button and analog stick placements on the Vita makes playing this game slightly more awkward. For example, when you are racing in the air, most of the time you'll end up performing an unwanted stunt that causes you to crash into the wall or get a Stunt Failed upon landing (giving you no boost bonus and slowing you down a little), all because you accidentally hit the analog stick.
Another thing I noticed is that the difficulty curve for this game is really weird. Even on the easiest settings, you can end up in any position other than 1st if you're unable to outsmart the other racers.
QB-sensei: On top of characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, various other characters also make an appearance, such as AiAi and MeeMee from Super Monkey Ball, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, and also Wreck-It Ralph, from, uh... Wreck-It Ralph (in exchange for the appearance of Sonic and Eggman in the movie of the same name). There are also PC-exclusive characters for the PC port, namely Football Manager (from the Football Manager series, also published by SEGA), Team Fortress 2 (in collaboration with Valve's Steam), and Shogun from Shogun: Total War (published by SEGA; not a SHAMEFUR DISPRAY there). Various characters offer different styles and feel to the race, which Ryodo will focus on more detail.
Ryodo: Each of the characters is geared towards one of the following attributes: Speed, Acceleration, Handling, Boost and All-Star. Speed determines the maximum speed of the character, Acceleration determines how fast your character reaches the maximum speed, Handling determines how well your character drives their vehicles, Boost determines the strength of your boost, and finally, All-Star determines how long you're able to utilize your All-Star Item, should you pick it up.
Needless to say, characters like Sonic are considered Speed characters, while Tails is more of a Handling character (you know, because he's a mechanical whiz?), and Knuckles is a balanced character. Sadly, there are no Vita-exclusive characters for the Vita port, which I find disappointing.
QB-sensei: I swore I heard some familiar tunes in some stages... the After Burner theme, Rooftop Run audio reference in the Galactic Party track, and also a couple of Sonic Heroes BGM. Ryodo, did you hear those?
Ryodo: Totally did. Fans of the House of the Dead series will also be greeted with a fresh remix of Magician Type 0's battle theme, called Graveyard Gig. Also, some familiar Sonic BGM remixes like Sky Sanctuary also make an appearance. Apart from the BGMs, though, I find some certain sound effects and voices rather annoying. For example, Aiai's voice annoys the heck out of me in this game as he'll make some whiny noises whenever he hits the wall. Sometimes, the voices are also delayed (possibly a programming oversight), so don't be surprised when you pick up a Firework only to hear the announcer say "FIREWORK!" 10 seconds later. By the way QB-sensei, does Shogun say "SHAMEFUR DISPRAY" in the PC port?
QB-sensei: I never got to hear him say that, but if I did, I'd have laughed out loud!
QB-sensei: I actually am not sure whether the slowed-down frame-rate for the PC port is due to my PC, or it is similarly bugging other ports. Frame-rate aside, the graphics are manageable for various PC that can handle Windows 7. I was lucky enough that my laptop met the recommended specifications for the PC port of the game. Going back to the frame-rate, I believe Ryodo has some issues with that as well...
Ryodo: Yes, and it bugs me to even this day. Sometimes when there is so much junk on the screen, the frame rate drops to a point where you can't even see anything happening properly. I believe that the Vita couldn't handle the frame rate of this game, but I had no problems with other games like Mortal Kombat, so I'm really not too sure what's going on.
Other than that, though, the graphics are okay, you can see the transformation of the vehicles rather well. However, there are some glitches that plague this game. For example, sometimes when you hit the side of the track, it takes you 9 million years to re-orientate yourself back on track, costing you a few precious positions. If not, the image posted above is one of the biggest glitches I've discovered so far.
QB-sensei: What can I say? This game is fun for all ages. If you wish to take your skills online, all you need is for your console to have an Internet connection, but if you wish to have fun with your friends, I would suggest the console ports, namely for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and the Wii U. Come to think of it, I would actually get a PS3 port so that my nephews can play!
Ryodo: The Vita port may be falling short of certain aspects, but overall it's a good game that you can play mostly when you're feeling bored. If you want a pure racing game though, this game may not be for you as there are lots of unfair challenges. Otherwise, this is a good game to pick up for your first few Vita games.
Thanks for reading our joint review, and may you Get Inspired Now!