Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed interview

When was the last time anybody got excited about a cart racing game? For me that was Mario Kart 64 which, in my opinion, has yet to be surpassed. While I haven't dabbled too deep in the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, after having played its successor I can tell you that my faith might possibly be restored. With what SEGA is doing, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed might very well be that mythical cart racer everyone's been looking forward to.

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed interview


At first glance, Transformed looks to be no different than all these other cart racers trying so hard to be the next great thing. However, after I sat down to play the game, something magical happened - I actually liked it. Transformed almost immediately reminded me of why I still consider Mario Kart 64 king of all cart racers and, while it's still too early to make that kind of assumption, it could surpass it when it releases this Christmas.

E3 2012 gameplay


Just like the previous game, expect a plethora of characters from all over the SEGA catalog, 27 to be exact. Sure, Sonic and his wide assortment of friends will be there but Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, Joe Musashi from Shinobi and even Danica Patrick will be playable. Yes, Danica Patrick is in the game and I'm glad the game's developer, Sumo Digital, is taking the exaggerated route by making her vehicle literally shoot fire from her tires. That's kind of awesome.

If you've never played a cart racer just know that it's an arcadey endeavor with tons of weapon pick-ups, boosts and colorful levels. Transformed does a great job with its environments and really captures that feeling of a world that's alive, even while you're blazing through to nab that first place trophy. What's unique about Transformed's tracks is that they're modeled after levels from some of SEGA's games. Expect to be knocking dudes around in a Golden Axe inspired stage as well as one from Panzer Dragoon. You might be wondering though, "How does a level from Panzer Dragoon work? Carts can't fly!" Oh, but you're so very wrong.

Think Sonic is also considered the fastest in the air?

One of the main features of Transformed is right there in the name - transforming. As you progress through the stages your cart will change, giving you a whole new perspective on the level you've been normally going through. It puts a whole new spin on the scenarios you encounter and can change the fortunes of a player almost immediately. For instance, I played as Vyse who has horrible turning if you can't drift correctly. But once I turned into a plane, that was all she wrote. I quickly fired back from third to first and maintained the lead to grab the victory.

I think gamers associate titles like this with kids and they aren't wrong. However, Transformed has skill based systems in place that definitely cater to adult players, allowing practically anyone or any skill level to pick up and play the title. For example, drifting and manually firing your weapons is an obvious skill choice, but if you time your moves correctly you can gain free boost by drifting and can even evade special attacks. Someone fired an RC car that tracks a target and I was its first choice. Since I was successful at drifting at the precise time, that RC car grabbed someone else and took them out, allowing me to easily pass them.

The tracks look fantastic and can kill you.

Flashy environments with hazards, special abilities, skill-based attributes, tons of characters to choose from, Transformed is looking rather great. I know it sounds insane to be saying this, but I really do believe that if the level of quality I played in that short amount of time carries over into the actual release of the product, SEGA will have done the impossible. They will have toppled the king of the cart racers in Mario Kart 64 and I surely want to be around when that happens.

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