Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Multiplayer Hands-On

We rev our egg and put a banana in the tailpipe with a look at multiplayer in Sega’s familiar-feeling arcade racer.

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We know you’re probably going to ask, so we’ll get this out of the way right off the bat. Yes, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing shares more than a passing resemblance to Mario Kart with Sega characters in place of troublesome princesses and brothers in primary-coloured ensembles. Now that we have that out of the way, the obvious follow-up and, indeed, more important question is whether it’s fun. The answer is yes.

If you thought the arcade racing genre was about ripe for a new contender, then based on our hands-on time with a PlayStation 3 version of the game, we’re pleased to report that though the experience as a whole is as familiar as a home-cooked meal, All-Stars Racing adds a few new ingredients to an already tasty recipe.

We’ve taken the game for a spin a few times in the past, but to date, we haven’t had a chance to experience one of its most crucial elements--multiplayer. Online friend games and network matchmaking races are both supported, though we opted to grab a few controllers to go head-to-head in local split-screen play. After all, it’s much more satisfying berating your buddies and watching their reactions as you blast them out of first place with a giant boxing glove then zoom across the line to claim victory.

Offline matches support two, three, or four racers and divide the screen equally among the players. Though the final version will give you a choice from more than 20 classic Sega characters, our build offered fewer than half that number. Our roster featured: Tails, Amy Rose, Shadow, Dr. Eggman and the series namesake from the Sonic family, as well as Billy Hatcher, Amigo from Samba De Amigo, captive simian Aiai of Super Monkey Ball fame, and Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki.

All of the characters have their own unique and personality-appropriate vehicle. Aiai races a banana car, Ryo straddles a motorbike, and Billy pilots a giant egg with wheels. As you’d expect, each vehicle has a performance and handling rating. You’ll also need to trade top speed for acceleration or speed for improved turning response. Even with the small selection of karts on hand in our version, each ride managed to offer a distinctive feel.

Why the world's fastest hedgehog needs a racing car is beyond us.

On top of the common power-ups that litter the circuit, each character also has an exclusive all-star ability that is triggered by using an item. They’re dolled out by the cosmos by picking up mystery jars on the track, and once activated Dr. Eggman’s monster truck sprouts arsenal-laden wings that allows you take pot shots at other racers ahead of you. Ryo’s bike transforms into the world’s fastest forklift to barge other players out of the way, while Billy rolls a giant impenetrable egg like he’s competing in a log-rolling championship.

The intended function of a power-up item isn't always so clear. While boxing gloves, red rockets, and Sonic’s shoes have fairly obvious uses, it took us a few tries to work out what others did. For example, rainbows obscure the vision of the road for other players, while using a star causes the other player’s screen to reverse and flip the world upside down.

Courses for multiplayer are recycled from the single-player and mission modes. The tracks are spacious and sprinkled with some subtle yet not-so-subtle nods to Sega’s previous works. These include red bounce-pad bumpers to steer you back on route and a giant leaping killer whale. With the pack clumped together, background visual animations, and power-ups spewing out of vehicles, we noticed a slight frame rate dip. We’re hoping this slowdown and some minor clipping issues will be corrected before the game ships later this month.

If you like your racing arcade-y, brightly coloured, and frenetic, then Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing might just be the game to get your engine running. Stay tuned for the full GameSpot review shortly.

Discussion

29 comments
Vokality
Vokality

Can you play multiplayer online with a friend. Like if you and your friend are in the same room, can you play online with them playing on the same console with you, like in mario kart for wii?

ButtonBasherBW
ButtonBasherBW

Demo seemed like it was pretty good - I'm agreeing with the Mario Kart feel. Good to see something like this on other consoles popping up. On my wish list this goes!

Xenoxion
Xenoxion

I just played the demo with one of my friends and it was great fun.

Coojy6
Coojy6

I've been looking around and aparantly there is a shop where you can buy you're unlockables, such as music and racers. Simply cannot wait for this release

Chester950
Chester950

i'm not gonna lie the demo is pretty fun..though getting first ain't that easy..which means it's challenging

itchyflop
itchyflop

it would have been good to have a micro maniacs (ps1) style sonic runner/kart game. But still its fun with 4 players up i mean i thought mario kart was hit or miss.

godoo
godoo

sonic could run faster than those cars...whats he doing handicaping himself?

BigStik
BigStik

wish they would ditch the cars and get straight to speedy 3d platforming... but thats just me.

EricShadow366
EricShadow366

Looks intresting, i'll check it out when its released.

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

If it has easy achievements, I'll give it a shot. It looks polished enough.

ausgamer529
ausgamer529

i still dont understand why sonic needs to be in a car if he's so fast... cant he just out run everyone or is he afraid of becoming roadkill

kbaily
kbaily

I downloaded the demo and it is fun. Unlike Mario Kart Wii is has character specific moves a more robust roster though it lacks drafting and bumping so the good news is there's more winning based on skill as opposed to luck. This also makes it a lot harder to nab first place.

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

lot of characters to choose from I think this is gonna be better than Mario Kart

puddingpiler
puddingpiler

Hopefully it'll be £5 in a bargin bin in a years time. Could be a fun multiplayer game if its cheap. Only bad thing about mario kart is that it doesn't depreciate. Saw mario kart 64 at a gamestation for £25 the other day

luvtext
luvtext

hmm... I think this is just me-too marketing (like Mario Cart)... I want contents of Sonic itself.

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

excellent - we're getting a great sounding new 2D Sonic, and also something that sounds like a worthy adversary to Mario Kart. It'll never sell as many as Mario Kart, but as long as the game plays as good, I'll definitely be buying it.

Mr_Tweedy
Mr_Tweedy

Sonic's nipples are sore from all this milking.

SonicBullet
SonicBullet

Well Sonic needs a car so he doesn't pwn the competition :D Can't wait for this game and I too liked Sonic R, played it yesterday and still remember the secret routes ^_^

Gaz9000
Gaz9000

I hope to hell this DOESNT turn out to be like sonic R...and controls more like mario kart (preferably the snes version)

dzimm
dzimm

So it's basically Mario Kart for everybody who doesn't have a Wii.

dragonfly110
dragonfly110

Im so hyped for this game, I think I was one of the few that loved SOnic R, and this is looking to be just as good for me :D plus it features 2 of my favorite video game characters of all time, Beat and (well the 360 version at least) banjo :D

otanikun
otanikun

I was hoping they'd do something along the lines of Sonic R, now that was a fun racing game

Realacide
Realacide

Sonic is a free spirit if he has the impulse to get a car and drive it he does just that.

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

Not them too. "Why the world's fastest hedgehog needs a racing car is beyond us." UGH!

Schwarte
Schwarte

Sounds awesome, especially since Mario Kart won't ever be available on the PS3