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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

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Any developer working on a mascot kart racing game knows that there's one title their game will always be compared to. That isn't to say that Mario Kart is untouchable; merely that it represents the genre benchmark, the standard that all others have to aspire to. Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing made a decent fist of taking Nintendo head-on two years ago: though it fell just short, the game proved popular enough for its struggling publisher to bankroll a sequel. SEGA & All-Stars Racing Transformed is its name, it's coming later this year, and we spent a bit of time putting it through its paces at Sumo Digital's Sheffield home.

 

If the game was unlikely to escape Mario Kart comparisons in the first place, its new central mechanic makes it impossible not to discuss the similarities. As with Mario Kart 7, Transformed doesn't just restrict its vehicles to the track, instead sending them skidding across water and soaring into the sky. Sumo's game had already been conceived before Nintendo's E3 conference, and the developer watched in horror at the airborne and aquatic sequences in the trailer. SEGA had been all but gazumped by its former rival.

 

In practice, however, the two games play quite differently. In fact Transformed has the edge in one very obvious regard. In Mario Kart 7, plunging beneath the waves made little meaningful difference to how the game played; this was merely a cosmetic change. Similarly, gliding, while more involved than underwater racing, wasn't so much about flying as falling with style. Hit the water here, however, and you'll immediately notice tweaks to the handling – it's closer to something like Hydro Thunder Hurricane than a land-based arcade racer. And on the occasions you zoom above the track, there's a fully-fledged flight model, as you guide your now-winged vehicle through floating boost gates. Better still, there's a brief pause and satisfying mechanical whirrs and clunks as your kart morphs into its new form, in a manner reminiscent of a certain Hasbro toy franchise. Robotniks in disguise, anyone?

 

Whether you're travelling across land or sea, or through the air, there's a robust and convincing physics model that generates a sense of weight all too rare among racers of this kind. Handling is still that same blend of Mario Kart and OutRun, but with a little more heft to it – perhaps down to the involvement of lead designer Gareth Wilson, who worked on Blur and Project Gotham Racing during his time at Bizarre Creations. The water may not cause you as many problems as in something like Wave Race – in fact, occasionally you'll be able to trick off waves for a boost - but you'll still need to watch out for whirlpools that can slow you down or drag you under.

 

Indeed, it isn't just the vehicles to which the Transformed of the title refers, as roads you raced on in the first lap may have crumbled into the water by the second, while elsewhere terrain steepens to form ramps that send you skyward. These scripted events aren't a match for the explosive destruction of something like Split/Second, but they help keep you on your toes, and the effect further invigorates the already smartly-designed tracks.

 

The two stages we played through were packed with shortcuts and alternative routes. A Panzer Dragoon-themed course naturally has you spending a fair bit of time in the air, while the Monkey Ball track allows you the choice of winding, narrow, barrier-free strips of track up above, or the wider stretches below that are slower but easier to negotiate. One particularly neat touch is a shortcut which sends you leaping onto a numbered target lifted from the Monkey Target mini-game. Sumo has been careful to ensure that the tracks fit the IP, though in the case of Monkey Ball, the studio had to get special permission from SEGA Japan to include water, before then entering into discussions about how water should behave in the Monkey Ball universe. It's heartening to witness that kind of meticulous focus on fine detail, and Sumo's near-fanboyish enthusiasm for the characters and worlds featured here show that these SEGA favourites are in safe hands.

 

If the track design is easy to admire, the graphical overhaul is even more attention-grabbing. Sumo is using a bespoke engine for Transformed, and the improvements over its predecessor are startling. It still has those same glorious SEGA blue skies, but there's much more detail in both environments and vehicles, while the whole thing runs at an exhilarating pace. Even in its unfinished state, this demonstrates surprisingly strong production values for a kart racer, and the graphics can only improve between now and its autumn release.

 

As for the soundtrack, popular composer Richard Jacques has contributed a number of tracks that remix classic SEGA tunes from yesteryear, while some players will be delighted to learn that the polarising commentator from the first game has been removed. Instead, an announcer only occasionally interjects to relay the most important race information, while crowds clap, cheer and chant the name of their favourite racer.

 

Which brings us to the character roster, and there are a few surprise names on there. Naturally, there are some familiar faces, too – Sonic obviously returns, though this time he's driving a Koenigsegg-style supercar, part of a conscious decision by Sumo to make the vehicles a little cooler. But Dreamcast owners will be particular thrilled to see Skies of Arcadia's Vyse, in a vehicle based on the Delphinus. Golden Axe's Gilius Thunderhead – who was originally planned for inclusion in the original – gets to ride a Ray Harryhausen-esque bronze creature that morphs into a turtle and an eagle. We're sworn to secrecy on the later stages, but suffice to say anyone who didn't think the first game was enough of a SEGA love-in is in for a treat. The fan service here is phenomenal, and the final unlockable in particular is one that will delight long-term Sega acolytes.

 

Other aspects have been refined, so now instead of SEGA miles you earn points for your chosen character that feed into a levelling system, unlocking various trinkets and vehicle mods. Though the focus is still on split-screen multiplayer, there are now online races, supporting up to eight players, with a range of modes and options to customise your race experience. For lone players, there's an extensive Story mode with 16 new tracks spread across a number of different SEGA worlds, represented here by floating islands. Four favourites from the original game also return, including Jet Set Radio Future's Shibuya and the Death Egg track which was released as downloadable content.

 

There are plenty more secrets to be revealed, no doubt, but even at this stage, Transformed is bigger and better-looking than the original and with a neat central hook that has a significant impact on the way the game plays. If rest can live up to what we've seen so far, then Mario might finally have a genuine challenger to his karting crown.

Source - IGN

 

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So there's sonic, Dr Robotnik And I think I can notice the guy from Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi style vehicle too.

 

More Shenmue characters please :)

Edited by Murr

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I loved the first one, so I'm looking forward to this. Hopefully the track variety is a bit more varied this time.

 

There will apparently be some platform-exclusive characters, so perhaps Banjo will return.

 

 

I would guess that the Wii U version will be announced at E3.

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I LOVED the first one ( no stupid rubber banding AI :bouncy: ), so I will be all over this.

 

But Dreamcast owners will be particular thrilled to see Skies of Arcadia's Vyse, in a vehicle based on the Delphinus. Golden Axe's Gilius Thunderhead – who was originally planned for inclusion in the original – gets to ride a Ray Harryhausen-esque bronze creature that morphs into a turtle and an eagle.

 

AWESOME!!!!

Edited by Hero-of-Time
Automerged Doublepost

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Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing will always be one of those titles I remember for catching me completely off guard. I remember seeing the demo and thinking it was going to be massively shit and boy was I fucking wrong. Ended up picking it up Day 1, so I'm looking forward to this. Saying it looks similar to Mario Kart 7 is a bit of an understatement, but hopefully it can fix where Mario Kart 7 went wrong.

 

One thing nags me a bit. Either there was a ridiculous amount of post production for those screen shots and the game play footage or what we're seeing currently is being rendered on a next gen console or PC. The shader quality is just far too good for any of the current systems.

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One thing nags me a bit. Either there was a ridiculous amount of post production for those screen shots and the game play footage or what we're seeing currently is being rendered on a next gen console or PC. The shader quality is just far too good for any of the current systems.

 

What if it's Wii U footage?

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What if it's Wii U footage?

 

It's definitely possible considering how likely the release of both of them are going to coincide. The main reason I stated it is because none of the systems they've so far announced for it seem to me to be able to render it like shown.

 

I've got my bets on PC though as I'm still feeling people are over estimating the graphical capability of the Wii U because much like the 3DS, there's a vast amount of resources going else where during gameplay.

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But Dreamcast owners will be particular thrilled to see Skies of Arcadia's Vyse, in a vehicle based on the Delphinus

 

Day one. The first game was really good, but this alone makes it a must buy for me!

 

Nice to see them doing something different this time around (with the boating/flying mechanics being very different from MK7 and DKR).

 

The lack of a Wii version is a dead giveaway of a Wii U version incoming (there's your 60FPS console gameplay :D )

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The lack of a Wii version is a dead giveaway of a Wii U version incoming (there's your 60FPS console gameplay :D )

 

That's a pretty big claim dude! You've got to remember that the console also has to render what ever is on the screen controller.

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That's a pretty big claim dude! You've got to remember that the console also has to render what ever is on the screen controller.

Yes, and you also have to look at all the developers gushing about how powerful the Wii U is

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Yes, and you also have to look at all the developers gushing about how powerful the Wii U is

 

And there are also developers claiming it isn't as powerful as existing consoles such as the PS3. I believe it is more powerful than the current generation of consoles, but much like the 3D feature on the 3DS taking up the majority of the resources available, the screen controller will do the same to the Wii U but to an unknown level as we're still not exactly sure of the resolution the controller will display in.

 

It'll look as good if not better than 360 and PS3 games, but 60 frames per second is a long shot IMO. It can be done of course, but let's factor in the price the hardware would need to be in order to turn a profit and whether or not people will be prepared to pay that much for a console.

Edited by Debug Mode

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And there are also developers claiming it isn't as powerful as existing consoles such as the PS3. I believe it is more powerful than the current generation of consoles, but much like the 3D feature on the 3DS taking up the majority of the resources available, the screen controller will do the same to the Wii U but to an unknown level as we're still not exactly sure of the resolution the controller will display in.

 

It'll look as good if not better than 360 and PS3 games, but 60 frames per second is a long shot IMO. It can be done of course, but let's factor in the price the hardware would need to be in order to turn a profit and whether or not people will be prepared to pay that much for a console.

Yeah, and those developers are anonymous and could just as easily be NeoGAF users deciding to troll. Why are you more inclined to believe a couple of anonymous sources rather than the dozen or so third parties who are gushing over it, some of whom haven't worked with Nintendo much, if at all. Oh, and I believe it was announced the screen runs at 480p

 

On topic though, this looks interesting.

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Looking good!

 

And now that I have a PS3 I've a chance to pick this up (though I imagine a lot will be getting it for the 360... unless people hold off and get the Wii U version for hopefully exclusive Nintendo characters?).

 

I wonder if the game always changes your vehicle automatically, or whether at any stage you have a choice?...

 

There was that bit at 0:49 in the trailer where it looked like you might have the chance to choose either boat or plane, but everyone seemed to transform into a plane! :hmm:

 

How did that IGN article go the whole distance without mentioning Diddy Kong Racing! :D

 

---

 

Video Preview

 

 

"Not been done before"

 

... Well yeah, Diddy Kong Racing basically did this... and you're annoying.

Edited by Retro_Link

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That's a pretty big claim dude! You've got to remember that the console also has to render what ever is on the screen controller.

 

Which could be a few 2D images for a map, menu, etc...

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Why are you more inclined to believe a couple of anonymous sources rather than the dozen or so third parties who are gushing over it, some of whom haven't worked with Nintendo much

 

I find it incredibly amusing that you say this despite the fact that I claimed:

 

And there are also developers claiming it isn't as powerful as existing consoles such as the PS3. I believe it is more powerful than the current generation of consoles, but much like the 3D feature on the 3DS taking up the majority of the resources available, the screen controller will do the same to the Wii U but to an unknown level as we're still not exactly sure of the resolution the controller will display in

 

Which is what said developers were using for their basis any way! They were comparing it to current systems!

 

So, let's try returning that. Why are you inclined to believe that the Wii U is a graphical power house capable of producing 60 frames per second based on some very unspecific feedback regarding how powerful it is from developers rather than it just generally being more powerful in a processing sense considering the resources it will need to simultaneously render games at a minimum of 720p on the TV screen and 480p screen via wireless?

 

You're jumping a massive gun by doing so. Look at the 3DS. It is incredibly more powerful than people realise because it needs to be able to render the game image twice for the 3D effect. But, it's not strong enough though to have consistent 60 FPS during 3D gameplay. It can hit it, but from my experience I'd guess it averages around 40.

 

Which could be a few 2D images for a map, menu, etc...

 

There's all the chance that is all it will be, but it's still a drain on resources.

Edited by Debug Mode

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The name doesn't make sense right?

 

I thought the same. Should be something like 'SEGA All Stars Racing', the grammar is a little off as it is. Why not the same title as the first?

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Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a bit long winded...not to mention that the 360 version was officially called Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie so they probably didn't want to make it any longer with the Transformed.

 

They could have called it SEGA All-Stars, but Sonic is a very marketable name.

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In that case 'Sonic All Star Racing' would have been better. T'is a strange decision.

 

Of course people could mis-interpret the title as a strictly Sonic only title and potentially lose sales.

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LOVED the first game. So am very excited about this.

 

Need more Mario Kart rivals so Nintendo can see what others are doing and learn. Coz I personally found the first All Star racing game really refreshing compared to Mario Kart. Some tracks were a little bland but that's easily fixed!

 

And a game with Billy Hatcher in (even as just a cameo) is always win. :grin:

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I will not lie. This game looks more interesting than any Mario Kart I've ever played.

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I will not lie. This game looks more interesting than any Mario Kart I've ever played.

 

..and yet I look at it, with my love for Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing, and see a dull and uninspiring clone that I can already tell will be missing the ingredients that work for me :hmm:

 

Maybe I'm just too set in my ways but I just can't seem to see the promise that some of you guys can see or feel any of the joy that you may have felt with the overrated original ::shrug: My general dislike of the visual style certainly isn't helping..

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The thing that puts me off visually is the cars. I don't like it when you have these big, long or hulking vehicles, be it in this, or in Mario Kart... but seeing as this focuses on them much more.

 

Also I think it would have been better if they'd outright copied Diddy Kong Rcaing and had it so that you could choose either a car, plane or boat, and all could have raced together.

 

Either that or given you the option to choose which vehicle you turned into when you came to water (Boat/Plane), or land (Car/Plane), instead of by the looks of it, it all happening automatically.

 

Still I'm interested enough at this stage to see what else the game has to offer.

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"Not been done before"

 

... Well yeah, Diddy Kong Racing basically did this... and you're annoying.

 

TBH, this game is actually closer to Mario Kart 7 than DKR in how it handles the different vehicles.

 

..and yet I look at it, with my love for Mario Kart and Diddy Kong Racing, and see a dull and uninspiring clone that I can already tell will be missing the ingredients that work for me :hmm:

 

Maybe I'm just too set in my ways but I just can't seem to see the promise that some of you guys can see or feel any of the joy that you may have felt with the overrated original ::shrug: My general dislike of the visual style certainly isn't helping..

 

I'm not expecting a Mario Kart/DKR beating game here, but the original was a good game. With them actually bringing something new to the table this time around (Yeah, MK7 did the transforming vehicle thing as well, but this one features actual water/flight handling like DKR, which makes it stand alone) I'm much more interested in this than I was in the original.

 

Rather than compare it to MK/DKR (which it will never beat honestly), why not just appreciate it for what it is? It's not just a poor man's Mario Kart this time around.

Edited by Dcubed

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