Monday, April 18, 2016

Better Late Than Never Reviews: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (iOS, Android) Review

Time for a new Better Late Than Never review, a review for a game that has been out for a long while, but not old enough to be a retro review. It's for a mobile version of a kart racer I absolutely adore, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. How does it handle on iOS and Android devices? Let's find out together (even though I wrote the review and already know the answer).

Why did the hedgehog drive a car? It's not a riddle. Really I don't know why.

One of my favorite mascot kart racers of all time is Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, which released on last generation consoles and even the Nintendo DS. This obviously made me want to experience the mobile version of the game, as my fan fever for the racing series is as high as ever. While the mobile versions of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing has more in common with the DS version than the console versions, the game is overall a pleasant kart racer for iOS and Android device owners to entertain themselves with.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing offers multiple modes for its relatively low price. The Grand Prix offers four cups and three difficulties that have to be unlocked. Thus, you start at the Chao Cup on the easy difficulty, and once that is completed, the next cup is available for you to play.

The graphics of this game are a compromise between the Nintendo DS and home console versions.
One really annoying part of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is its highly frustrating competitor AI, especially in later difficulties such as normal. The AI loves attacking you with homing missiles, and it seems like it happens so much that you can seldom get a good lead going because of this artificial means of difficulty. It makes races closer than they should be, and sometimes you'll be cursing the game and the AI because of how seemingly cheap it is. Thankfully, clearing all of the difficulties and cups in the Grand Prix mode isn't necessary to get all of the achievements of the game, if you're into such a thing.

The AI is highly aggressive in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing's mobile versions... and highly annoying.
Another mode offered in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is the Mission mode. This mode puts you in different scenarios with the task of earning up to ten stars based on how you do. For instance, you might have to drive through as many gates as you can in an arena before time runs out, or play as Sonic, carefully aiming and shooting at creatures resting on the track, hoping to reach the goal in a set amount of time. The missions are quite fun and add some nice twists to the otherwise standard racing formula.

The Super Monkey Ball tracks require the most technique with their many sharp turns.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices uses two methods of control. The first is tilting your smartphone and tablet to steer. The other is a virtual analog stick to drive about and navigate the game's many twists and turns. Either works well, though you get more precision with the virtual analog stick than you do with tilt controls, which feel a little loose. Item use and drifting are done by pressing buttons on the touch screen. There are three stages of drifting, and drifting longer around a turn or corner results in a bigger boost once you let go of the drift button. Just be careful to not crash into a wall while drifting, or the effects of your boost will be negated.

Sega Miles is the currency of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, earned from participating in races, grand prix events, and missions. You use this currency to purchase in-game items such as new characters and race tracks for use in Single Race and Time Trial modes. Compared to the console versions of the game, the prices are considerably higher, and that is probably as an incentive to get players to use real world money to buy Sega Miles. While this isn't necessary at all, it can be quite a grind to earn enough Miles to purchase everything the game has to offer.

Unlock new racers with the use of Sega Miles, the currency of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
Speaking of the tracks, there are sixteen from various Sega series, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Samba de Amigo, Jet Set Radio, Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, and The House of the Dead. A good number of tracks are taken directly from the home console versions, but the majority of tracks are specifically made for this mobile version. Some feature shortcuts, but this is rare unfortunately. Otherwise you're just speeding around linear tracks with very little to enjoy.

Use items like these boost-granting speed shoes to gain a slight edge over your tough opponents.
In the realm of multiplayer, what is offered is a bit limited. There is online play, but it's difficult to find any opponents, obviously due to how old this game is by now. There is also local multiplayer for multiple owners of iOS or Android devices to race each other.

Each racer has a chance for an all-star ability if they get too far behind the competition.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing isn't that much of a looker, using a lot more simplistic models than I would have expected for an iOS and Android game. The tracks and environments aren't too shabby texture-wise, and the draw distance is really good. It all runs at a firm frame-rate, too. Sound-wise you get all the same voice clips from the console versions and you get track music from other franchise games. The only difference here is that you cannot choose what song is played on a given track. This is because only one song is played per track. A disappointment, but understandable for this lesser version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.

If you don't mind the infuriating AI or the need to grind for Sega Miles to unlock content, what you'll get is a very capable kart racer on mobile devices that plays better than it looks. The online may be a ghost town, but the single player content you can enjoy is pretty loaded with things to do, whether it be the Grand Prix events, Mission mode, or the Time Trials. While nowhere near the caliber of its console bigger brother, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing on mobile is a nice port that offers a good deal of fun.

[SPC Says: C+]

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