Review: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

While it may have taken Sega a little longer than most to come up to their answer to Mario Kart, when they eventually did with the original Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing there was no denying that it was certainly well worth the wait, because despite it falling short of being brilliant it offered an amazing wealth of content for a kart racing game that put everything else on the market at the time to shame. Personally I picked up the original cheaply and then wondered why I hadn't picked it up sooner as quite simply it represented the most fun that I'd had with a Sega game in a while, so naturally when I heard news of the sequel there was no time wasted when it came to its release day, - except of course the two-week wait between the other formats and the release of the Wii U version - but was it worth the wait? Read on to find out!

Upon loading up the game for the first time you'll no doubt notice the copious but concise amount of modes available to you from the start, normally if this was Mario Kart you'd be heading straight for the Grand Prix, perhaps saving the Time Trials for later, but here your first port of call will most likely be the feature-packed World Tour mode as this is where most of the games content is. Structurally you have five main worlds full of challenges which you compete in to win stars over three difficulties - Easy, Medium & Hard - with a further world and Expert difficulty becoming available later on. You will want to obtain all stars as well because you need a certain amount of stars in order to unlock characters plus console mods, additionally you need enough to be able to unlock the gates which will allow you to progress to the next chapter of challenges.

SonicAllStarsRacingTransformed WiiU

Ranging from races where you simply need to do your best, to things like Traffic Attack which requires you to avoid crashing with cars in order to get to the next time extension, there are plenty of things to do in this mode which will keep you occupied for quite some time - even more if you tackle each difficulty individually should you not realise that they 'stack' which happened in my case - there are even challenges which revolve around just one mode of transportation, such as Ring Race which will have you flying through many rings in order to obtain boosts allowing you to get to the next checkpoint, which are often something of a highlight whereas the 'Drifting' based events can often be something of an annoyance. On balance though there's a decent assortment of things to do, plus the fact that as you play you will unlock more of the stages keeps you motivated because though you'll see stages such from such Sega greats as Panzer Dragoon early on, if you want to soar through the Skies of Arcadia track 'Rogues Landing' or blast through the 'Burning Depths' - inspired by the brilliant Burning Rangers - then you will need to work for them, but due to the uniquely rewarding feeling of success, you'll keep happily playing for a considerable amount of time.

Once you've finished World Tour - or given up on a particular challenge - you'll probably feel ready to take on the Grand Prix, which is of reasonable size containing ten cups in total - five of which are mirrored - which can all be tackled on any one of the four difficulties, these cups are all themed so you'll have for example the Dragon Cup where all the tracks seem to contain flying sections, or the Arcade Cup which comprises of tracks from the more 'classic' Sega games including Adder's Lair from Golden Axe - which unfortunately has a small glitch - so there's plenty to be getting on with. As if that wasn't enough you of course have Time Trials, which are very enjoyable as there are plenty of staff times to beat including some for the Outrun Bay track, which only appears in this mode due to it being an incentive for buying the limited edition, which is well worth picking up as you get Metal Sonic as an additional playable character which is a very nice bonus indeed.

You will find that the character roster is a larger, more well-rounded affair than in the first game featuring all the main Sonic characters that you'd expect alongside some pleasant surprises in the form of Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe plus Joe Musashi from Shinobi, then adding in characters such as NiGHTS & Reala, Vyse from the legendary Skies of Arcadia, Wreck-it Ralph as a guest character plus a Sega tribute character dubbed AGES; It's plain to see that you have a pretty formidable selection overall, though there have been some unfortunate exclusions which means we have lost Ryu Hazuki from Shenmue plus Opa Opa from Fantasy Zone but at least Alex Kidd has been included as a Christmas unlock but don't get me started on the inclusion of Danica Patrick... who? My thoughts exactly, to her credit though she is a professional racer but still her addition might not sit well with some, especially when you consider that she's technically taking up valuable space that could be allocated by a more deserving Sega character... but I digress, at least it's a nice bit of cross-promotion for the game. Naturally you can also race as your Mii, which is very nicely integrated feature that adds an entertaining alternative for when you just fancy a more whimsical change.


Power-ups come in a variety of guises including Blowfish, Drones, Ice, Rockets, Speed Boosts, Whirlwinds and more besides, they do the job nicely enough, though they don't feel as nicely 'rounded' when you compare them to what you get in Mario Kart but it's still a reasonable effort providing enough tactical uses for you to take into account as you race along at a steady pace. As you level up characters - up to a maximum of six times - you will unlock vehicle mods for your racer, these allow you to change tact for certain races perhaps making your chosen driver faster at the cost of acceleration for example, additional Console Mods are obtainable in World Tour which seem to favour the All Star stat more than anything else. There are also many in-game Stickers for you to proudly display on your license - which upgrades alongside experience - which are basically mini accomplishments, you get them for performing a variety of tasks throughout all the modes and undoubtedly it will take you some time to get them all adding that extra layer of incentive to keep on playing long after the credits have rolled. On a personal note I've put in well over fifty hours into the game mostly playing the World Tour mode just to give you an idea on the wealth of content that's available.

Speaking of extra content the Wii U version features additional multiplayer modes based around one player using the gamepad and up to four other players using Wii remotes, while they aren't really justifiable reasons enough on their own to buy the Wii U version over other formats, they are still fun but what does help to sell it is the fact that you have many options available to you including playing with the pad while being able to see where your power-ups go via a separate video stream, or playing the game on just the pad without relying on the TV, perhaps the best control scheme of all however is using the pro controller while still having those two screens in front of you, as it's the best of both worlds with the only downside to it at the moment being the baffling lack of rumble coming from the pro controller but this will no doubt be fixed in an update.

Multiplayer is a definite highlight, especially when you consider that the whole game can be played in split-screen if you decide to do so, this is at its most game-changing when there as just two players, because you both effectively have a screen each which makes things more pleasant, while having five players playing simultaneously is particularly brilliant which is felt even more if you decide to go online, as you can just keep playing with your party of five on your console and go straight into a ten player online race! Match-making is generally quite fast online as you can get into a game very quickly with the minimum amount of fuss, once you get going it's a total blast and you may even find that this becomes your favourite racing game for the time being, at least until Mario Kart comes out anyway.

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There are of course negatives including a few glitches akin to the aforementioned one in Adder's Lair, not to mention the way in which your vehicle can slow down more than should be allowed when getting hit by a power-up or colliding with the edge of a course but overall the pros still outweigh the cons, though it is worth noting that you will undoubtedly experience at least a few moments of frustration which can taint the otherwise very enjoyable experience. Regarding the handling of the different crafts however, I feel this is one area in which Sumo Digital have done rather well in as regardless of if you're driving on the road, cruising on the sea or even soaring through the skies, the level of control you have over where you're going always feels well balanced. I found the best setup seems to be using the triggers for accelerating, X button for power-ups and leaving the tricks to the right stick, of course there are many finer points to racing but I'll leave those for you to try out for yourselves.

Aurally the music just turns me on, as what's not to like when you have classic music tracks from such Sega greats as Jet Set Radio, Panzer Dragoon, Skies of Arcadia and NiGHTS into Dreams - all of which are known for their sounding spectacular - in the same game, couple that with the accompanying themes for each All-Star transformation, along with some amazing sound effects and you have a game which sounds as good as it looks; you can even mute the race announcer to hilarious effect in the options as a nice bonus. From a visual standpoint there is no doubt in my mind that this is certainly the best looking version of the game, showing that the Wii U is more than capable of producing graphics equal to any other HD system on the market, it also represents quite a leap from the first game as this time around it feels as though it has greater emphasis on the art direction, this is thanks in part to how much the tracks have been opened up to accommodate the new vehicle mechanics and although there may be a few frame-rate issues in online multiplayer, this is still one very nicely polished game; certainly not the rushed port that some were perhaps expecting it to be.

If you're looking for a game that not only shows off your new system in a positive light, but one that also gives a nice nod to the future while being an immensely enjoyable racing game in it's own right, then look no further as Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a spectacular celebration of all things Sega available on a console that showcases the best of Nintendo, which is a winning combination in my eyes and until another Kart Racing game shows up, then there are no other games more worthy of your money for the system right now than this. So if you're a fan of the genre or if you have a soft spot for classic Sega characters, then you should do yourself a favour and pick this up right now as you will almost certainly get much more out of it than you'd ever realistically hope for; this is easily one of the best mascot-based Kart Racers ever made.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Sega have done what comes naturally to them by redefining a popular genre in a way that only they know how, it may have taken them ages to create a truly masterful Kart Racing game but it was worth the wait.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



A wealth of content
Excellent multiplayer
Plenty of nostalgic Sega moments
Vehicles control really well


A few minor track glitches
Power-ups seem slightly unbalanced

Game Summary

N-Europe Score



Platform: Wii U
Developer: Sumo Digital
Genre: Racing
Players: Online

Release Date:





If you're looking for a game that not only shows off your new system in a positive light, but one that also gives a nice nod to the future while being an immensely enjoyable racing game in it's own right, then look no further as Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

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