Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo Consoles

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gotta Go Fast

This is review is going to be written in what I think is the ideal format - no numbers, no bullshit.

The other day, I was in Gamestop looking for something cheap that could hold me over until Smash Bros comes out on Friday. I just bought a brand new Limited Edition Smash Bros 3DS XL and I didn't want it to sit there while I tried to amuse myself with some outdated Wii games for the next week so after almost no consideration, and almost completely impulsively, I decided to try out Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed for the 3DS. 

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed - Nintendo 3DS 

Intro + Summary

Branching paths lead to the same end, but allow access to unlockables.

Although the idea of Sonic the Hedgehog, who can canonically run at the speed of sound, driving a car that tops out at 120 mph was originally offensive to me, turns out that I think Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is actually a pretty damn good game. I was seriously surprised. This cross-over racing game features 25 of SEGA's most famous or likable (which ever comes first) characters, of whom you might know 7 - this is totally not a bad thing, I'm just pointing it out. As of now, I only have about 12 characters unlocked, and I actually know about 10 of them, but only because I am kind of a video game buff. Anyway, single player features the racing-game-staple Grand Prix, where you race across 4 tracks and earn points based on your performance in each race individually, which get added up at the end with whomever having the most points being the grand wiener. I honestly have only done a couple of Grand Prix races because the game also features a totally separate Career mode. Career mode starts with a single challenge. You select the challenge and difficulty for the challenge. If you complete the challenge, you unlock the next challenge, rinse and repeat. Career mode = beat all of the challenges. I dumbed that down for simplicity's sake, especially since I am going to put a fucking picture right here, which will effectively obsolesce any wordy description, but it's definitely worth noting that each challenge features a different track, and different objective within the challenge. Sometimes you just have to place 1st in a race, other times you have to complete 1 lap within a certain amount of time, etc. Branching paths in the career mode challenge selection screen will allow you access to secondary objectives whose completion will award you with new characters and collectibles. Finally, EXP will be gained by the character you choose before each challenge should you complete it successfully. Every time a character levels-up, you unlock a "Mod Pack" for that character. Mod Packs allow you to select the same character, but apply different set of stats for his/her car. About to race on a track with a lot of turns? Use the handling Mod Pack. 

Good Things
I thought this game was going to be a blatant Mario Kart rip-off. It's not. It IS another mascot, kart-racing game though, a bit redundant in a genre dominated by the famous Italian plumber. However, there are certainly enough distinguishable features in Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed for it to earn a solid A for effort, and maybe even a little bit more. S&ASRT features extremely fun, bright and colorful track designs inspired by SEGA's most famous games of which you probably know more than you think you do, some of them being Sonic the Hedgehog, Monkey Ball, Crazy Taxi, Golden Axe, Nights, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, and Skies of Arcadia. The main attraction to this game is that even though each race features 3 laps on a track, the track changes (or transforms) each time you complete a single lap, offering track variety out the ass, and you can bet that same ass that when the track transforms, your vehicle transforms! The word "Transformed" in the game's title refers to the transformations made by your vehicle when racing. Driving on a boardwalk that suddenly gives out? Your car will turn into a boat! And does the river you're now trying to traverse give way to an enormous waterfall? Boat --> Airplane. Not every track uses all 3 forms of vehicle, but when your vehicle does transform, it is totally appropriate, feels good, and is really fucking fun. The Career mode is particularly effective in making me want to play more. I don't always have time for 1 more Grand Prix in Mario Kart, but another 4 minute challenge is seldom an issue with my personal schedule. Items in Sonic Racing are also fun and balanced. If You want to win in this Kart Racing game, you need more skills behind the wheel than you need Red Shells. I can truly say that no item in this game feels copied from Mario Kart (I didn't mean to spend this review comparing this game to Mario Kart, but I KNOW that's what you're doing so I'm just responding to how I know you're responding). The Career mode isn't too long, but earning the maximum amount of stars for each challenge means that you'll have to complete each challenge on HARD mode, as opposed to Easy or Normal, which is not an easy feat. You can only unlock certain characters by obtaining a certain number of stars, so although the Career Mode itself is a bit on the shorter side, obtaining every star to unlock every character will probably satisfy any need to play a medium-lengthed game. Finally, the 3DS's bottom screen is used to display an over-head live racing map. Having it on the bottom screen is nice, obviously because it doesn't obstruct the racing-action. It's also handy because occasionally the "track" during the boat or flying sections can be a tiny bit ambiguous, so having a map when you're threatened to get lost is un-ironically the perfect solution. This is a fucking fun racing game. 

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed on the Nintendo 3DS doesn't suffer from any lag technically, but like, it runs at what feels like 15 frames per second. Keep in mind, this is a straight port of a game that was originally sold for XBOX 360 and PS3, as well as the Wii U. The game performs impressively after knowing that, but ONLY after knowing that. My eyes immediately felt the difference between playing Sonic & All Stars and playing the Smash Bros. demo, but I would be such a bitch if I didn't admit that I totally got used to the frame rate after playing for, like, 2 minutes. You get over it. Also. perhaps 3% of the time, I can't tell what is 10 feet ahead of me in the game, which wouldn't be a problem if we weren't discussing a racing game. Remember though, I said this happens rarely, although when it happens, it totally happens. Graphics are also a bit pixely, but again, nothing a determined gamer wouldn't be able to brush off. This game is also out, like I said, for the 360, PS3, and Wii U. I plan on buying it for the Wii U when I get home from school. I played the demo and the graphics were appropriately gorgeous, and now that I know the rest of the game is awesome, I am confident that the Wii U version will hold up. I am playing this game on the 3DS XL. I cannot imagine this game on the small screen of the standard 3DS, and when I do try to imagine it, I imagine, like, a nightmarish, nebulous, chaotic, vague image of like, 10 guys driving play-dough cars through a guillotine testing factory. Not sure - never played it on the standard 3DS. I could be wrong, but I could be totally right.  

To Whom Would I Recommend This Game?
Of the 2 viable kart racing games out there, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is not definitely  the best one, but it could be. Though Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is hella fun, don't be surprised if you find yourself pondering this game asking yourself "Do I really need to play another Kart Racing game?" if you've already played Mario Kart 7 or 8. I admit though, I haven't played Mario Kart 7 and thanks to this game, I don't think I will anytime soon. I feel like the demand for kart racing games is strongest after not having played one for a long time. If you have played Mario Kart 7 or 8 recently, there is no pressure to play Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, but it is still a killer game. 

So to whom would I recommend this game? SEGA fans, die-hard kart racing fans, anyone who needs to play something on the 3DS and has already played all of its first party-titles (barring Mario Kart 7), and anyone who is opposed to playing this on a home console. 

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