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For a decade or so, Sonic’s sub-mediocre titles have gone from shelves to bargain bins (and, no doubt, regular bins) at supersonic speed. Sonic 4 promises to take him back to basics, but for now it seems Sega wants a slice of the potentially lucrative, mascot-based carting pie.

Sega’s latest hedgehog-filled slice of gaming pie certainly looks delicious, but when hedgehogs and cars meet, the result is usually fairly messy. Will Sonic’s latest outing bring his run of terrible offerings screeching to a halt, or will it simply be yet another bathetic blue smear of video game roadkill? Step inside to find out.

It’s apparent as soon as the chequered flag is waved that S&SASRWBK Sega Racing does not exude originality, but it would be audacious and difficult to create such a game without looking at the tried-and-tested formula of games like the genre-defining Mario Kart.

Thankfully, unlike many mascot racers, it doesn’t come across as a shoddy cash-in – whew! With 64 varied missions, 24 tracks and 22 racers, as well as various battle modes, race modes and collectibles, there’s enough to keep you interested for a very long time before you even consider its primary purpose: the online multiplayer.

The races themselves are blisteringly fast, which is to be expected. However, one of the most impressive factors is the ease and simplicity of the controls, despite this maintained speed. Before long, even the most inexperienced of gamers will be power sliding around the tightest of corners, earning boosts and racking up “Sega Miles”, which can then be spent on things like new courses and characters.

Other than the odd shortcut, the tracks are actually pretty linear, but they are nonetheless well thought out, and the themes mirror their respective games. For example, Sonic’s Green Hill-esque courses are punctuated with robotic piranhas, chequered loops and springs, which serve to extend the mythology of Sonic’s world – if it’s not grandiose to describe Sonic’s world as having a mythology – into the courses. Other tracks are derived from such classics as Jet Set Radio, The House of the Dead and Super Monkey Ball, making for a diverse racing universe.

In the weapons department there are stark similarities to Mario Kart, but the likes of shells and bananas become boxing gloves, traffic cones and other such unimaginative clichés. There are, however, a few staples of the Sonic franchise – bubbles and speedy shoes, for example – as well as the almighty “all-star” move.

Each character’s all-star move is unique but relative. To name but a few of the fun, if sometimes overly potent, specials, Sonic becomes Super Sonic, which blasts him through the pack, Amy has her trademark giant hammer, and Samba de Amigo uses his Latin rhythm to entrance the other racers into a conga line.

The game looks like it borrows a lot of graphical influence from the likes of Viva Piñata; but that’s by no means a bad thing, as the lustrous, often plasticine-like visuals give the game a solid, pseudo-three-dimensional feel. However, some of the courses are more colorful than a clown barber’s shop floor (zing!). In fact, the colors can be so garish that they make you feel you should perhaps turn your TV’s contrast down before you burn a permanent rainbow into your retinas.

In credit to Sega, they often garnish their games with some pretty tasty soundtracks, but Sonic’s have a tendency to err on the side of cheese. The music in Sega Racing steers away from the typical child-oriented cartoon audio found in games of this ilk, and we are presented with contemporary, funky tracks that complement the courses’ themes. You can even spend you hard-earned Sega Miles on collecting these original and remixed musical numbers from the many featured Sega classics.

With 20 classic characters making up an eclectic cast from Sega’s epic history, there should at least be a few that milk the ol’ nostalgia gland for you. On top of these, the Wii and 360 versions allow you to race with your miis and avatars, but lucky 360 owners will get the addition of Banjo & Kazooie, meaning there are 22 characters in total.

Rather than generic karts, the vehicles they operate are a clever extension of the characters: Tails flies his plane, Banjo & Kazooie drive a car that looks like it’s been lifted directly from a Rare title, and Shadow sits astride a mean-looking Harley, making for some exciting ‘hog-on-hog action.

With a questionable track record of recent years, it’s difficult to lay our trust in the Sega brand as easily as we used to, but thanks to Sumo Digital, Sega Racing has approached the genre, improved upon it and set some new benchmarks.

In fact, dare I say it, it has better character variety, it is more polished and ultimately more fun than Mario Kart. Oh God, what’s that noise? Ah yes, it’s the thundering stampede of Nintendo fanboys heading my way!

With its multitude of references to Sega games past and present, Sega Racing will be most appreciated by those who are familiar with the company’s rich history, dating back to the Master System. But as a generic racer it is nonetheless heaps of fun even for those who just about recognise Sonic, let alone Billy Hatcher!

Rating Category
8.5 Presentation
Characters from various eras and formats are faithfully rendered in crisp and seamless HD, and the courses range from haunted house to snow-capped peaks, all of which look stunning, even when playing 4-player split-screen.
How does our scoring system work?
8.5 Gameplay
Within minutes you will be racing like a pro, but mastering drifting and boosting is crucial for the more advanced difficulty settings. A varied arsenal provides plenty of excitement as you frantically aim for first place.
8.0 Sound
Familiar tracks from Sega classics, as well as some contemporary originals, complement the courses brilliantly, although the race commentator can get a bit annoying and repetitive.
8.5 Longevity
With 64 varied missions, and plenty of Grand Prix modes and endless fun to be had in multiplayer, you could easily be playing this for many months.
8.5 Overall
Bursting with modes, missions and mascots, it is easily the most polished kart racer of recent years, enhanced by Sega’s rich history and simple, fun gameplay.

  1. Nice review, Steve. I have only played the demo, but the full game sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Thanks! It’s much better than my expectations – reviews have been pretty mixed, but if you like this sort of game it really is good fun and very well executed. Try renting it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    • avatar Jovan

      Two problems with your list. Crash Bandicoot would not rpeersent Sony, he hasn’t been a Sony exclusive character for over 11 years now. He was only exclusive to the Playstation for a mere 5 years. You may wanna replace him with Jak & Daxter with their car from Jak2/Jak X. Or Ratchet and Clank, at least they have only ever been on Sony systems.Second, way too many Sonic characters, I know we are all Sonic fans and all but it’s Sonic and SEGA All-Stars racing. Adding 11 new Sonic characters and 2 Sega characters and only mentioning Sonic related tracks doesn’t make for an even distribution. This isn’t Sonic All-Star Racing 2 lol.

  3. What I love about MarioKart is that I’m playing as these awesome Nintendo characters whose franchises I adore. As fun as this game sounds like it is (excellent review, btw)… I have no interest in playing in anyone other than Banjo Kazooie or that weirdly hot chick from Sonic.

    If I see it in a bargain bin, I might grab it… otherwise, it would just be supporting a franchise that has survived on happy memories of better times and by churning out awful sequels and unoriginal games/stories year after year.

    • I also loath the superfluous Sonic characters, but there are only 6 of them – the other 16 characters are a pretty good mix, including the awesome Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue!

    • Good to hear. Maybe I’ll check it out… MarioKart’s online was pathetic. But then again… the beta for ModNation Racers was damn fun. That’ll probably take my Kart racing priority.

  4. avatar Ethan Hunt

    nice review…..i am very much fascinated by the game and i just wait to see the action by myself..

  5. avatar Anonymous

    this is mad game.

    from annonamus

  6. avatar monica

    amazing game…just love playing this game….

  7. avatar monica

    hey David…just play the full game and i am sure you will love it….

    • avatar Aqira

      Hm You know I dont remember last time I leokod at gameplay (seriously!) but I think that was somewhere around E3. I am busy lately so its easy to me. Hm I know! Register on SSMB! I really like discussions there and they take some time so days go fast. Same for you C.J and unknown and Truesonic. Its really nice place.Other than that. I have no idea besides what I mentioned before. But when I am hyped I play some Sonic games.

    • avatar Milton

      Did I just double post? Sorry if I did so.Anyway, seems solid (even if these are just sephpid to retailers numbers, not actual sell through).Wii Sonic games aren’t front loaded, they are slow burners. We saw that during the christmas period, and on the UK chartsAnd despit never charting high, it sold very much, and I think it will continue to do so.

  8. avatar Bechir

    exactly all the time .It was also the gameplay tooVA is not as imrptoant as others elements but I liked The previous Cast a lot than the Original and Storylines I had no problem with well there may have been some problemsI don’t really care what reviewers say ..most just brag about how good the past was .I liked the past 3D games because they brang a lot of different features which were never used before .and some worked well Sonic will always be Sonic to me no matter what happens

  9. avatar Karlton

    I don’t really care if there aren’t any hhnadeld levels in the 3DS version after all, the levels are supposed to be memorable ones and not many people have played the hhnadeld games besides the Rush series of games and Colours. What would be smart would be if instead of using a Heroes stage, they used a stage from one of the Advance games (the Advance series is part of the Dreamcast era since it introduces characters like Cream, Emerl etc.), then the Modern era is made up of Rush, R. Adventure and Colours. Better yet, if it turns out that the 3DS version DOES have 8 levels, then it can include a Heroes stage plus the ones that I just named.And I love how some of you are acting as if there are 9 levels in this game without even noticing it.

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