When people usually want a go-to multiplayer racing game, there’s usually just one genuine choice – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The Nintendo Switch re-release of the Wii U game has been a hot seller for the platform, with millions of copies flying off the shelves and online play keeping fans entertained for hours. However, there is a contender out there that makes an argument for a strong second-place finish. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is that game, loaded with all sorts of Sega fan service across beautifully designed tracks, a memorable soundtrack, and a notable roster of racing superstars.
To think, nearly ten years after its release (it came out in 2012!), it still hasn’t lost its luster. When people usually want a go-to multiplayer racing game, there’s usually just one genuine choice – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The Nintendo Switch re-release of the Wii U game has been a hot seller for the platform, with millions of copies flying off the shelves and online play keeping fans entertained for hours.
Take That, Diddy Kong Racing, Sonic is here!
Now, you might be saying, “Wait, a Sonic game that can keep up with Mario Kart? How is that possible?” It all comes down to the savvy designers at Sumo Digital.
The team not only put several tracks in place based on hit Sega franchises like Panzer Dragoon, After Burner, Outrun, and Golden Axe, but it also introduced a concept where vehicles could change into different formats – land, air, and sea.
Throughout certain tracks, vehicles would automatically transform to fit this new terrain, taking a concept that was introduced in Rare’s previously released Diddy Kong Racing for Nintendo 64 and pretty much perfecting it. As a result, some races were unpredictable and forced players to keep on their toes for turbo boosts and power-ups. At the same time, they also need to watch out for attacks from incoming players and environmental obstacles. Not to mention the game’s awesome drift system, which is fun in its own right – and easier than Mario Kart. (That’s right, easier.)
The gamble paid off big time as the game still offers racing thrills galore today. On top of that, Sumo Digital introduced a fun trick system that’s executed with the right analog stick. Players can pull off flips, barrel rolls, and other little stunts (while airborne) to gain turbo boosts. It takes crackerjack timing in some cases, but the result is a nice shot to get first place.
A variety of race types are also available in Transformed. This includes a time trial race with windows to drive through, a drift challenge in particular zones with curves, and an elimination race with AI opponents.
Multiplayer Is Where It’s At
Of course, racing against the AI across three difficulty levels is neat. Like the cc system in Mario Kart, you can decide just how grueling you want each race to be. That said, the real fun continues to be in multiplayer.
Several players can jump in at a time for a race. We even tried it recently on the Wii U and were amazed to find it still up and running. (How?!) The platform of choice, however, is the Xbox Series X.
That’s right, Transformed is a backward compatible title. Not only that, but Microsoft recently added a frame rate boost so it looks better than ever on the platform. Running at 60 fps with very little problems with performance is the best way to go.
That, paired up with multiplayer options (sadly, no cross play), makes it a fun go-to title for racing fun. There’s a good reason why copies sell for top dollar on eBay and over at GameStop. People still turn to this racing delight.
An All-Star Cast
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed benefits from a stunning array of racers to choose from. A who’s who of Sega favorites are here. This includes B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, Ryo from Shenmue (in a forklift!), Alex Kidd, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia (Sega still loves the franchise, aw), and Gum and Beat from Jet Set Radio. That’s not including others you have to unlock, as well as PC exclusives like Football Manager and General Winter from Company of Heroes 2.
Though it’s not as loaded as, say, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Transformed has guest racers as well. Danica Patrick, who was a big name in NASCAR at the time, is part of the roster. For good measure, so is Wreck-It Ralph from the film as the same name. They add to a glorious roster that’s packed with great racers. Though it’s not quite perfect (Ristar is sidelined and is simply hanging out at the finish line), there are a lot of faces to race with here.
Again, the track selection is outrageously good. Tracks based on the above franchises are included, along with Jet Set Radio, Shinobi and more. In fact, 16 in all are included, along with conditions that could change over the course of each race.
The tracks transform as well, with bits and pieces crumbling apart. New routes open up as well, and unpredictable changes can make things interesting. They even have a Burning Rangers track, people. Burning. Rangers.
A Return In the Future?
It’s unknown what the fate of Sonic Racing is at the moment. Team Sonic Racing came out a little while ago (from Sumo Digital). Even though it couldn’t compare with Transformed (it was based solely on elements from Sonic’s world), it wasn’t bad.
That said, maybe the time has come for a new entry in the series, preferably a sequel to Transformed. This is the year of Sonic after all, with Sonic Frontiers and a new movie coming this year. So…why not more racing love?
At the very least, an HD treatment of the game (for Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X) wouldn’t be a bad thing. Add more fresh multiplayer features, more racers (and tracks), and more bonus goodies, and you could have a winner for this generation. Heck, it might just be the release to put it neck and neck with the great Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Perhaps. (To think, crossplay can finally happen!)
For now, if you can, track down Transformed for Xbox. It’s available digitally, and you can purchase the physical copy for the right price too. It’s also available for PC, PlayStation 3, and Wii U, as well as mobile (in condensed form). Go on, give it a race. You’ll certainly be glad you did!
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast