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Episode 3: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing





I gotta be so much more, but what could I be if not me?

Me and the Sumo Digital racing games have an interesting relationship. I really enjoy Transformed, but it was the only standalone title from the Sonic series I actually like, completed. And it is not an easy time, I'll tell you that much. Getting all stars is an unbelievably grueling experience, let alone on Vita. One I wasn't looking forward to do again on any other system. But the core gameplay is absolutely fantastic that I have double dipped often on SART.

Team Sonic Racing is a game I can vibe with conceptually, and in local play. It's a ton of fun and I love the team mechanic, but I can hardly progress in story mode.


Ironically the only other Sumo racing game I really clicked with to the point of playing religiously is Disney Infinity 3.0, technically. They developed the racing mechanics in that game, combining elements of SART with the Cars 2 video game. And it is smooth as butter.

But it hit me... I never actually really played the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Looking at what was needed to complete it, which is mostly grinding and very easy missions than anything, I decided to suck it up and dive right in for the first time. I tackled every mission, get A rank in all preceding ones to unlock them all, and made it to the very end. And what did I think?


It's a solid racing game, but it's clear that this is the first installment that was ripe for future refining.

All the basics are here in terms of solid, effective kart racing. But there are some kinks that are especially noticeable when you work backwards from TSR, SART and Disney Infinity. The drifting isn't as smooth, the startup boost is confusing, the items a lot more unbalanced, and the AI is a lot more brutal. There's a lot more apparent rubber-banding in this game than its successors, making it harder to gauge how good you really are at a race, even in the highest difficulties.

The tracks are also a bit barren. There are some unique ones, but some either are very uneventful with super basic layouts, or some that are absolutely rage inducing and don't belong in a game like this. There are some horrible tracks with very sharp turns that you can hardly perform flawlessly, while your AI opponents speed past you without problem.


Screw. This. Stage. In particular.

The missions are fun though, they are very forgiving and give lots of SEGA Miles for new racers and music tracks. Getting an A rank or higher on a mission nets you the next one, making a grand total of 64 different stages.

They challenge you sometimes, but you're often only need like 2 attempts at most to score the A.

That is, until you reach the end, where some stages suddenly whoop you with a very noticable spike in difficulty before suddenly slumping back down into the same level of manageable as before.


No way is that more egregiously apparent than the boss fights. They are AWFUL. The time limit is super strict, and taking the time to aim while being incredibly fast is nigh impossible.

You take too long to get the perfect shot on a moving target, and you're out of time. Try to speed around the track, you're going to be hit by obstacles until you lose your health. These fights don't feel tested and just don't fit in with the rest of the game. By far, the worst part of the experience, and no wonder we don't see them emerge in future Sumo titles.

Still, there are some things in this game I wish SART was able to take notes from. As I said, the missions in World Tour of SART were unbearably hard at times, and I don't feel accomplished and it doesn't feel fair to lock away so many characters exclusively to completion.

SEGA Miles was a much better system to reward players with characters, and there are some great additions I wish returned, like Banjo-Kazooie on the Xbox version, Opa Opa and especially the Bonanza Bros.


Overall, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is a solid kart racer, but isn't something that provides anything inherently unique and stand out to split it apart from other Kart Racers of its time. While SART introduces more intricate transformations which change the terrain and controls, TSR has the team gimmick, and Disney Infinity has rail grinding, weapons and a very unique boosting mechanic, none of that is present in the original.

It's really only something to play to experience the true start of a small, but staple legacy of SEGA crossover games... Or as a retreat to actually complete something without pulling your hair out.




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