Three years ago, Sega surprised me with a good kart racer developed by Sumo Digital that was fast, fun, and full of great fan service for Sega fans. It was the first time in a while that there was a competent Kart racing game besides Mario Kart, and if you did not own the Wii, then Sonic and Sega's All Stars Racing was pretty much your only choice for a Kart racer, good thing it was a great game.
With Sonic & All Stars Racing for Wii U, Sumo Digital has once again tapped into Sega’s line up and brought 24 characters for the Wii U version. You Begin with 11 playable characters and as you progress through the game you unlock more "All Stars" with a few bonuses thrown in like Ralph, from the movie Wreck-it Ralph, and Danica Patrick, the American NASCAR race driver. The Wii U version also allows you to play as your Mii.
To live up to it's name, this game no longer sticks to just cars. You can now "transform" into Boats and Planes mid race, and this isn't just gliding like in Mario Kart 7, this is full control of a flying vehicle! The courses themselves also change as the races progress which creates a whole new level of game play possibilities for racers. All the courses are based on famous Sega titles from past and present that serves up the fan service. Regardless of the track, the transformations keep the courses exhilarating to race. There are 21 tracks in all in this game, and with the ever changing land-sea-airscapes it makes it much more compelling than just a standard 3 laps of regular racers.
The Vehicles are a big departure from the first game. Every form handles quite differently than the other. Transforming from a car to a boat and then to a plane will feel unique and will handle accordingly. Boats will feel heavier and bounce along the water, planes will control in real 3D space and fly in all direction. Make sure to let friends and family get some practice so you don't just beat them every time. These handling differences will also help in winning races. You can link drifting left and right to gain boosts, and that can make all the difference between first place and not qualifying.
There are TONS of weapons an they have their own spin on the whole "red shell","green shell", "blue shell". You get fireworks to shoot forward and backwards, ice balls to slow your opponents down, among many other weapons, and of course each character has their own special weapon called the All Star Mode where they transform temporarily into an invincible form that can produce a special attack and help advance your positioning.
There are many modes in this game with career mode being the main way to unlock most of the characters. Online multiplayer works wonderful on the Wii U. You can play up to five players offline thanks to the Wii U’s unique gamepad. You can even take all five online and play against others with up to 10 people in a race at one time. Added just for the Wii U version is party mode, that includes two game modes. The player with the gamepad becomes the star, as they play as a monkey ball and must squish the other contestants, or as a shinobi ninja and turn players into ninjas by tagging people who are then required to help the player find the remaining survivors.
The gamepad is used in its own unique ways. If you’re playing single player, the screen on the pad is displayed with a map. If you touch a character’s icon, you’ll see a small box pop-up on the gamepad’s screen that shows the race from the selected character’s viewpoint. You can also hold he game pad up to enable a small rear view mirror. It’s a nice touch, but I hardly used it since the visual quality on the pop-up window is pretty blurry... In fact, if you play this on just the gamepad, you’ll see that the game isnt very good. It’s still playable but the quality of the video being streamed to the gamepad is just not on par with other games in off tv mode.
Visually, the game’s bright and rich colors makes for some nice races. The game seems to run at 30 frames-per-second, and sticks to that for the most part. In multiplayer, the visuals are definitely reduced to keep the frame rate up as much as they could. The Music in the game is fine but nothing that I would catch myself humming when I'm bored.
Overall this game is a great hold over for anyone looking to scratch that itch that a game like Mario Kart can scratch, This game is quickly making the "All Stars Racing" series one of my favorites, this should be in every Wii U owners library.
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