Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is an awesome racing game. Even with the release of Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 it remains my favorite mascot racer thanks to its balanced, more skill-focused game play, well-designed transformation mechanic and spectacular track design. Sonic Stadium already has a pretty awesome, in-depth review which you can read here, so I’m not really going to go too in depth about the game itself. Instead, this review will be focusing on how well (or poorly) the Vita port realizes a game meant for considerably more powerful hardware.
In terms of speed and game play, All Stars Racing Transformed is a nearly flawless translation of its console counterparts. The creative, huge courses are all here with their epic set pieces and scripted moments unblemished. If anything has been compromised during porting, it certainly isn’t noticeable. The NiGHTS stage is stilled filled with enemies and rings, the Skies of Arcadia stage still finishes with an epic fleet battle and they are still sights to behold. All of All Stars Racing Transformed’s racing mechanics have always been faithfully brought over, with all the speed and drifting mechanics from the console versions intact. Still, this game isn’t a one-hundred percent accurate conversion, as there are some minor issues and noticeable downgrades from the HD versions.
In terms of controls, things can get a little cramped thanks to the Vita’s small form factor. All Stars Racing Transformed is a game that relies heavily on drifting for building speed and getting around turns, so you may be reaching for those trigger buttons a little more than you’d like to. Still, after logging dozens of hours on this version of the game I found this to be only a minor issue. The game’s physics have always taken a serious hit, especially in the water stages. Waves are no longer as large and bouncy in this version and areas where huge waves once tossed racers are now nothing more than minor nuisances. The loss of wave physics make the races a little less chaotic and exciting than they used to be.
The most noticeable difference lies in the graphics. The textures have been downgraded significantly. They now look much flatter and contain less detail. Lighting and various other effects have either been severely reduced or removed entirely, making it a little more difficult to see in some of the darker stages and making the entire game look considerably less flashy overall. I am happy to say that as of this review the frame rate is no longer a problem: even in the busier stages the game runs smoothly and the hiccups that were prevalent in even the HD versions are nowhere to be seen here.
Though really, the downgraded visuals are not only expected, but they do very little to damper the fun. The game runs well on the Vita and nothing of value has been lost. What you trade in visuals you gain in portability, as this is pretty much the same exact game, shrunk down to a device you can take anywhere. If this is the price for a portable All Stars Racing Transformed, I am more than willing to pay it.
All Stars Racing Transformed for the Vita is far from the definitive version, but it is worth owning if portability is attractive to you. It has to cut some corners, but in the end it provides the best portableY mascot racer money can buy, cutting out some of the flash while leaving in all the meat. So whether you want to fight off the boredom during summer travel or if you just want to be able to play this awesome racer any time you want, this game comes with high recommendations. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t quite live up to its HD brothers.
- Portable All-Stars Racing that plays just as well as on the consoles
- Solid frame rate
- Creative courses and a roster that will make many a SEGA fan squeal
- Graphics have received a significant downgrade
- Constantly pressing the Vita’s trigger buttons will make your hands hurt
- Isn’t receiving any DLC from the PC version, including Ryo Hazuki