And here we are, the final game I will be reviewing for the 16 Days of Sonic X-Mas! There will be one more post after this one, which will be a roundup of all my favorite tunes from the 15 Sonic games I’ve reviewed this month. It’s been a long road, but we got through it pretty fast? As promised last time, I am ending things on a high note: a review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed. What a mouthful!
This kart racer is a sequel to Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, which was basically a “Sega Smash Bros” for racing released on PC, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, and the DS. I have never played it, so I can’t comment on that. But I do own its Transformed sequel on the PS Vita, and as it turns out it appears to be a near-perfect port of the console version. The game looks fantastic, and I’ve never had any noticeable issue with the framerate or anything.
There is one thing I need to address before I dive into this review. Every time there’s a racing game that involves Sonic using some kind of vehicle, the internet without fail has a panic attack. “Why would Sonic drive a car??? Isn’t Sonic faster than cars??? This game makes no sense???” What the hell! So hedgehogs aren’t allowed to have any hobbies other than running? Come on, sometimes Sonic needs a change of pace. And look! It’s straight-up canon that he likes fast-moving things. It makes perfect sense for Sonic to like fast cars. There is a different kind of thrill to be had behind the wheel, compared to rolling around in the dirt. And even setting all that aside–if he’s entering a kart race, I imagine the first rule is you have to drive a race kart!
And in Transformed, it turns out the courses involve not only tracks on land, but a number of on-water and in-the-air segments as well. That’s right, the race cars in this game can turn into speed boats and jet planes in the blink of an eye. It actually looks really cool, and the transition is seamless every time your vehicle moves from land to sea, or from sea to sky, etc. And since each controls a little differently, each vehicle transformation requires a different skill set. Boats take wider turns and are harder to stabilize, and planes have inverted controls.
There is a great selection of characters to play as in this game–and they stem not only from Sonic games, but from many other classic Sega franchises. Play as Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, Joe Musashi from Shinobi, Beat from Jet Set Radio, and Gilius from Golden Axe. And… Wreck-It Ralph? Why not. Sonic was in that movie.
There’s also a nice variety to the race courses themselves, some of my favorites being fashioned from the likes of Panzer Dragoon, House of the Dead, After Burner, Samba de Amigo, and even Burning Rangers. Suffice to say, as a big-time Sega fan I was quite pleased with all the representation going out to lesser-known franchises! (Next time though, some others to include: Sakura Wars, Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers, ChuChu Rocket, and classic Phantasy Star?) Anyways, the tracks in this game are really well-designed and generally have a lot going on in them in the background. I’ve actually spent time not even racing, and just putting about to look at all the crazy stuff happening off to the sides. Also well-worth noting: To make the courses even cooler, many of them actually change in various ways from lap to lap. For example, the track might crumble apart in a later lap, making for an “impromptu” flight segment for the final stretch. It’s a clever way to keep the tracks from feeling monotonous, and a fun way to keep all the racers on their toes. I feel like all kart racers should be doing this!
This game also features a variety of your basic kart race items, though thankfully there is none of that ridiculous “blue shell” nonsense to be found here. You have stuff to shoot, a glove to catch things shot at you, a speed boost, etc. They take some practice to use well while on a boat or plane, but in time you will get the hang of it. My only criticism here is that the items don’t appear to be Sega-themed in any way. Instead of a glove, why not a column from Columns to block the attack? Why not fire a rocket from ChuChu Rocket? You get the idea.
All in all, Transformed is a really fun and solid kart racer that I’ve found easy to go back to whenever I’m in the mood for that particular subgenre. The game has an extensive single player campaign to work through, including three difficulty levels for every mission. The missions themselves have a nice variety to them, including races, time trials, vehicle dodging, and more combat-themed matches. On top of this, there is online and ad-hoc multiplayer to be had as well (as one would hope). Again, lots of fun to be had here. If you’ve got the kart racer itch but you’re suffering from Mario Kart fatigue, be sure to give this title a spin! I found it both a pleasant surprise and a nice change of pace.