How Sega Is Transforming the Next Sonic Kart Racer

The follow-up to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing brings new drivers, new tracks, and two new vehicle types.

by

When you hear people talk about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, you're going to hear a lot of references to Rare's 1997 kart racer, Diddy Kong Racing. Both are goofy racing games starring a host of animal mascots, and both put you behind the wheel of cars, planes, and hovercrafts. In Diddy Kong Racing, you had to choose which vehicle type to pilot before a race; while in Transformed, you can control all three. Recently, we got the chance to get our first look at the game and go hands-on with a multiplayer demo. There are a lot of exciting additions to run through, so buckle up.

In Transformed, each player controls a single vehicle that can alternate between three different modes: car, plane, and hovercraft. These transformations are triggered by driving through large blue rings, called "transformation gates" (see above), at specific locations along the track. Typically, these transformations are mandatory, and you don't control when they occur. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, one track might present a fork in the road, with one route leading to a hovercraft transformation and the other to a car transformation. Some tracks (and game modes) will even be mono-vehicular, with all players controlling a single vehicle type throughout.

Supporting these new vehicle types has led developer Sumo Digital to build an entirely new physics engine for this game. Compared to the automotive handling in the original, driving a car in Transformed felt more grounded. The cars are a bit more responsive when cutting corners at high speeds, and they emulate a better sense of weight on the track. The planes are much slower to turn than the cars, and travel the fastest of the three. Planes also have the added benefit of traveling along the z-axis, decelerating during ascent and (rapidly) accelerating during descent. Finally, the boat is the wild card. In shallow water it handles similarly to the car, but in deep water with heavy waves it's a challenge to stay in control while maintaining top speed.

Each vehicle felt distinct. They were challenging to pilot at times, but that challenge arose naturally from the track design, rather than poor handling. There were also a few new faces behind the wheels of these machines. Vyse, from the Dreamcast-era Japanese role-playing game Skies of Arcadia, and Gilius, from the late-'80s beat-'em-up Golden Axe, were playable (complete with their own unique vehicles). There are plenty more new racers to come, and each will handle a little differently from the others. Certain characters will even be better suited for one vehicle type over another, but these fine details are still in the works.

There is plenty more Sega love to be found outside of the roster. Track selection is just as important, with our session's opening track being modeled after Japanese rail shooter Panzer Dragoon. This track incorporated all three vehicle types throughout the different laps. During the first lap we started as the car and then later transformed into the boat. On the second lap a piece of the track was destroyed, and our route was modified to include a plane section instead of a boat section. Route alterations such as this will not be uncommon and will trigger automatically.

A Super Monkey Ball-inspired track followed. This track was all downhill (a teleportation pad transported racers back to the top) and started in hovercraft mode. Being completely downhill, it was naturally a lot faster than the previous track and gave us plenty of opportunities to try out the new trick system. Tricks in Transformed work similarly to the way they did in Mario Kart Wii--by successfully performing a midair trick in Mario Kart Wii, your character earned a speed boost upon hitting the ground. Transformed takes it a step further by introducing a risk/reward element: if you hit the ground before completing a trick, you take a speed penalty. There are more complex tricks characters can perform as well, but whether this will lead to a larger speed boost is still being determined.

The final point to cover is the all-star attack. These behave a little differently than they did in the previous game. These powerful attacks are no longer just a means for helping players jump from the back of the pack to the front; they are a reward for good driving. By collecting coins, performing tricks, overtaking other racers, and so forth, you gradually fill your all-star meter. Once this meter is full, you can activate your character's all-star attack, which transforms your character into an invulnerable, supercharged airplane with a unique weapon. This power-up is only temporary and can be activated at any time once the all-star meter is full. However, once the all-star meter is full, it occupies your weapon slot, meaning you can no longer pick up or use the other weapons in the game. That is, until you exhaust your all-start attack.

Sadly, the all-star attacks, along with several other features, were not yet implemented during our play session. Taking a hovercraft over lava, air-drifting alongside cavern walls, and exploring all of the different game modes will have to wait. Luckily, we won't have to wait for long since Sumo Digital is eyeing a winter release sometime this year. And when it's released, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita.

Discussion

70 comments
sawshadow
sawshadow

i dk but i like better the first part of this game i think this time they too much bould those cars but yea i love the grafic an music

Christian Jordann Kimbro
Christian Jordann Kimbro

I was just thinking about this the other day and now they're finally making it? Maybe if I think hard about a Bayonetta 2 it'll happen.

Tony Luckovich
Tony Luckovich

i liked the last one, the game gear versions were cool

Antoni Galloway
Antoni Galloway

Why are company's opting to do Kart Games.. There's just humping the guts out of there mascots now.

Harvest Hurry
Harvest Hurry

seems cool. I'd like to see them do something new with it, but even if it's a rehash of Mario Kart/Diddy Kong, it'll probably be good if not great!

Jackson Herd
Jackson Herd

If they completely ripped of Diddy Kong Racing I would be okay with that.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@Chaos_Dante_456 Are we talking about the same company? The SEGA I know has published most games by Platinum, which have largely been nothing but quality. And it's gotten Sonic back on track with Sonic Colors and Generations. Hell, even Sonic Unleashed wasn't that bad. Not to mention PSO2 around the corner. And contrary to your apparent view of things, Sonic and Sega All Star Racing is regarded as high quality. If people want to leave before the 9th inning is over, they'll miss the amazing comebacks. SEGA isn't doing that bad right now. Yes a few years ago they were screwing up Sonic and putting out some games that dishonored their prior legacy (like Golden Axe: Beast Rider), but that's in the past. Far as I'm concerned, anybody who actually plays the games they make instead of ridiculing them from the sidelines knows that things are different now. But you're entitled to your opinion.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

@cachinscythe yeah but SEGA has been missing a LOT of homeruns. right now it's just as sad as watching a team continue to strike out in the 9th after they have not made a hit since the 1st inning......more sad than noble...and at that point you just ready for the game to be over, while most of the crowd already left

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

Sega games always have mixed reviews seriously read below and you'll know what i mean XD

ZachMasta
ZachMasta

I want a new sonic riders that's like the first one. oh and YESSSSSSS NEW SONIC KART RACING!

cube-gage
cube-gage

Is Ryo Hazuki in this one? Havent played the first one yet but i always wanted to, but please make shenmue comeback! Anyone remember street racer on PSX? It was a cool ubisoft kart racer, and you could fly in one of the vehicles in that. Its alway overlooked in the kart racing world.

Dark_Arcitekt
Dark_Arcitekt

I absolutely loved the first one.I will happily be getting this next installment.Those who haven't played the first one...I highly advise trying it.I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Schwarte
Schwarte

Saved the bummer for the end of the article.. no love for the PC. I take it the predecessor didn't sell. Gonna have to stick with part one then, I guess

3KindgomsRandy
3KindgomsRandy

Loved the first game, excited for this one. Give us Toejam & Earl, Sega!!!

JangoF-76
JangoF-76

Just re-release Diddy Kong Racing in HD on all platforms and be done with it. I loved that game!

DarthLod
DarthLod

Sega needs to quit. Seriously. No good Sonic games since Sonic Adventure 2. Now I hear they cancelled Bayonetta 2, so just quit and spare us the headache.

benbonney
benbonney

Why not remake Sonic R? Most characters run faster than a car (unless its a Flintstones cars then it will be same speed LOL) and no one can claim this is copying ideas of mario kart or Diddy etc. which it pretty much is. Using a modified wipEout game engine could create a great game without any people claiming it copies wipEout, other than possibly Eggman.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

I thought the first one was surprisingly good so going to keep an eye on this one!

PunkerXBlaze
PunkerXBlaze

The first one was actually really good. Be willing to bet most of you who are down on it are just rolling along the baww sonic sucks bandwagon and didn't even play it.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I loved Sonic back in the 2D Genesis era and It was nice to see them release those HD Sonic games, that were also 2D. I would like for them to go back to the drawing board to create another 3D sonic, just use the same formula that worked for the Dreamcast version. I think they try to hard to come up with new ideas instead of just enhancing what was already proven, or good. Sonic with guns? Jetpacks? Just keep Sonic original, with a facelift, and we'll be fine. Not so sure I'm interested in a Kart racer though. Mario Kart yes, Sonic Kart....not so much.

ziproy
ziproy

Nintendo please make games again so we don't have to settle with these cheap knock offs

Axe_Armor
Axe_Armor

Well, at least it's not Sonic R.

lorider25
lorider25

I hope they have that kick ass soundtrack again. That girl could sing.

Syph26
Syph26

They keep doing this... God these games are always awful. It would be kinda neat if in all these racing games everyone gets a vehicle of some kind and sonic just runs... Because why would the fastest thing alive need a vehicle? Need to fly? Super sonic level! Bottom line, don't ever put Sonic in a damn vehicle.

WayneL23
WayneL23

more characters....more developed stages...better power up system.... if these areas are build upon from the base of the first game then im sold

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@Chaos_Dante_456 Same reason a baseball player doesn't quit playing the game cause s/he misses a home run. You don't give up just because something is hard.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

I agree. Honestly, I don't really understand why they can't call it "Sega All Stars Racing Transformed." Why add "Sonic" to the name? Just to sell more copies? Wouldn't putting him on the cover be enough for that? Love the games, love Sega, dislike the ridiculous name. :)

MegaPyroFlame
MegaPyroFlame

The boat part, from what I've seen in the trailer, seems reminiscent of the Hydro Thunder games. If the boat parts play similarly to that, then this game is going to be extremely fun. And to all of you who are complaining that this is too similar to Mario Kart 7 and Diddy Kong Racing, let me give you a comparison: MK7: Kart, Gliding (much smarter use of air-time, since you're almost always in descent), Underwater (a bit slower and floater version of above water driving) DKR: Car, Plane (the same speed and everything, but airborne), Hovercraft (horrible handling on the ground, but superior water handling). The only one of the three that doesn't allow interchanging throughout the course of the race. Transformed: Car, Jet (most realistic jet mode of the three games, with faster speed and barrel rolls), Boat (not a hovercraft, operates like car in shallow water and Hydro Thunder in deep water). This game is distinguishing itself, you're just letting your opinions get in the way of your judgment. Just because Sega is coming out with another racing game doesn't mean that they're going to rip off DKR and MK. They're smarter than that.

Coonfoot
Coonfoot

Looks to be even more fun than the first. ...And I'm hoping Banjo and Kazooie are back on the Xbox 360 version. This land-sea-and-air stuff is right up their alley (having been in both Diddy Kong Racing and BK: Nuts and Bolts).

mario-nin-freak
mario-nin-freak

Looks like Mario Kart has got some good competition. Might pick this up if it's on Wii U, but I won't buy the 3DS version. I want those HD graphics!

megakick
megakick

More then just a MArio Kart clone. Many improvements here. Imitate and Elaborate is what Sega did, many developers just Imitate and Replicate a shame.

Getbacktogaming
Getbacktogaming

Is it just me or the All Stars game was just way too hard? I mean when I play this type of game I expect something more along the lines of Mario Kart...

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

@halBU YEAH! I almost always play games on my laptop anymore simply because I can have great console quality titles that I can EASILY take anywhere with me. I think for some reason far too often PC gamers are sort of segregated compared to console players. Although I also don't think it helps when there are so many douchey PC gamers who always go on about PC gaming being the master race type bullcrap. I would think the fact that we all enjoy games should be enough to allow us to just have fun... THAT SAID...this new sonic Kart racer looks like some cool fun. :P

Da4biddenOne
Da4biddenOne

This game is gonna kill Super Mario Kart.

soulless4now
soulless4now

Can't wait for this. It's making me nostalgic about DKR now. :P

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

@S_Pac_316 Right?! That's quite a list you've got there, and I hope Sega is paying attention. I'd love to see Shou and Tillis (Burning Rangers), Candy (Fighting Vipers), and Yoko (Last Bronx).

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

If it's as good as the previous one, and not as short lived, with a wider selection of characters - like Blaze from Streets of Rage for example and the main lead of the first two early Phantasy Star games, as well as a wider selection of tracks all ranging from even more games like Streets Of Rage and more, and if the new Transformed system is well implemented then it could be a fun wee game. And hopefully Sega won't stop any new content within months like the previous game.

IceJester45
IceJester45

I was hoping Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing would get a sequel. The first one was great. By the way, I love the new Panzer Dragoon level.

S_Pac_316
S_Pac_316

I hope they get more classic Sega franchise characters in this game. Vyse and Gillius have been confirmed but I would also like to see someone from Phantasy Star, Streets of Rage, Ristar, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Burning Rangers, Shining Force, Clockwork Knight, Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Fighting Vipers, Last Bronx, Greendog, Kid Chameleon, Beyond Oasis and Vectorman.

gix47
gix47

looking forward to it

AdderD
AdderD

The title's a bit of a mouthful :P Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed or SASASRT!

orbit79
orbit79

@cube-gage I remember Street Racer on Sega Megadrive. Great game!