Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is the blue hedgehog's return to karting since Game Gear's Sonic Drift. While Sega's mascot has starred in some slightly odd racing games, such as the Sega Saturn's Sonic R or, most recently, Sonic Riders, All-Stars Racing puts the speedy hedgehog in a car and pits him against a cavalcade of familiar faces from Sega history (both good and bad). We had the chance to try out an updated version of the game on the PlayStation 3 to see how it's coming together.
What's New: We were able to try out two tracks based on Sega franchises, the Sonic the Hedgehog-inspired Pinball Highway and the Super Monkey Ball-inspired Treetops course. Pinball Highway is a classic Sonic casino-zone-inspired level that has you zipping through the innards of pinball machine complete with bumpers and launchers. The Treetops course was set in a Super Monkey Ball-inspired run through the trees that featured sharp angles and dramatic leaps over gaps in the course. Both courses featured an array of power-ups strewn throughout the track that would yield useful items to use during a race, such as homing missiles, turbo boosts, and punching gloves.
What's Different: The new courses showed off the game's whimsical design and Sega history influences. We noticed assorted little touches, such as cameos from Sonic and Monkey Ball characters in the background of the respective tracks.
What's the Same: The game still has a bright, shiny look to it, although we'd like to see better performance when the onscreen action goes nuts. The version we played stuttered when things got hectic and the camera got a bit odd. The action is still going for a Mario Kart feel, which suits the bright visuals, although you'll still have to accept the notion of the world's fastest hedgehog in a car. Power sliding is also still key to successful racing.
What Impression the Game Made This Time: The game has a nice look to it and will likely appeal to younger gamers. There's fun here, but we're hoping that the rough spots get smoothed out.