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Episode 9: Team Sonic Racing (PC)


Failinhearts

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GAME 65: TEAM SONIC RACING (PC)

With me being able to complete Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, I got a taste of how the Sumo Digital racing saga began. But now, I got to work forwards to the next part of the bookend and discuss a game I was never able to beat until now: Team Sonic Racing.

And unlike most people's apathy towards the game, I really do think TSR is a unique and really fun racing title. Yeah, it's a bummer it isn't a SEGA crossover this time... But a team focused Sonic racing game where I can play as my favorite, more obscure Sonic characters? Why, sign me up!

As a kid, I, like many of you loved playing Mario Kart. But what I loved doing the most was racing with a team. Half of the racing roster on my side versus half on the other. I didn't often like feeling alone in a race, and lo and behold when Team Sonic Racing was announced... It looked like it was made for me, and me alone. A super niche concept combining high speed racing with teamwork with a particular emphasis towards Sonic Heroes. Crush 40 and all.

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Of course, I can see how hard it is to get used to such a novel concept. You are so accustomed in working to be the fastest one on the track. "Eat my dust!" is the normal philosophy. But you need to change that mindset of "eat my dust" to "eat OUR dust!"

Cause no matter how good you are at a race, if you do nothing to help your lagging teammates reach at a competent placement... Then brother, you ain't winning jack. And I think that's such a cool concept with all kinds of ways to master it.

You got skimboosts to give an instant speed up to your spun out teammates. Slingshots are crucial as if you coordinate with your team correctly, you have your teammate boost behind your slipstream, go past you, then you go behind THEIR slipstream, boost past them, and it becomes a rhythmic game of leapfrog to victory!

You can donate items to power them up and send to the other teammates... or do the ultimate exploit that saves your bacon during story mode: Play hot potato with a singular item between your teammates to easily rack up points to activate the invincible Team Ultimate at least twice a race! Coordinate, and you are unstoppable. And that is just downright satisfying to use these mechanics to cheese your way to victory.

And it only helps that the game, like the other Sumo Digital racing games before it control smooth as butter, being just as satisfying to play.

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Another underrated aspect about this game is the customization. Transformed fooled a bit with it with the mods feature, but TSR went all out in not just being able to swap out different engine parts to tweak a character's stats to your liking, but all kinds of cosmetic tweaks to make each car your own!

Whether making everyone wacky looking, or to fit a uniform theme to resemble their team, customization and Mod Pods provide a lot to bolster the game's replayability.

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The game isn't devoid of issues though. A common, and the game's biggest complaint is the lack of post-launch support and content. And yeah, comparing TSR to its Mario and Crash counterparts... It seems very lacking in comparison. I'm not even allowed to make my own teams manually, I am assigned to the pre-ordained teams, which dampers a bit on the game's emphasis on personalization and customization.

I just want a Sonic, Shadow and Silver team, dammit.

Also, the story mode. Miraculously, I was able long, long ago to complete SART on Vita during long college breaks and trips. It wasn't fun. It was awful. It was soul crushingly hard.

Team Sonic Racing doesn't help matters with its campaign. The story is very bare bones to start, and the challenges are downright demonic. I mean, PASSING most objectives with the mandatory Silver Medal is fine enough. Especially when you abuse item sharing and Team Ultimates, for sure. But even on normal, the standards to get a Platinum medal is INSANE.

And there's a HARD mode on top of that?

No, nuh uh. I'm not doing that again. No thanks. I got better things to do with my life.

It's a good thing nothing (as far as I know) is locked off to completion, but the standards to do so really needs to be looked it. I don't even know how some of these are humanly possible.

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But all in all, really solid mechanics, a novel approach to the genre, amazing music and satisfying customization is more than enough for me to encourage you to give Team Sonic Racing a shot if you have the chance. Get over the lack of online players and treat it as a single player experience, and you might find yourself having a ton of fun with learning to master a new kind of racing craft.

GAMES FINISHED: 65

GAMES COMPLETED: 58

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