It's hard to meet a discerning gamer who isn't a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, but part of this hero's appeal lies in the universe which created him. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features Sonic's extended Sega family, so running around the track takes on an entirely different, and deeper meaning.
Whether you are a fan of their ill-fated Dreamcast console or an enthusiast of their wide array of games, Sega has planted their feet firmly into the iOS world. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is a follow up to their mega successful Sonic & All Stars release, and since the latter took in 12 million downloads, one would assume Transformed is headed for a similar pot of gold payday.
The joy of developers, especially when considering successful franchises, is their commitment to high quality experiences, even though the money train keeps stopping at their station. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed gives us three methods of navigation, with each style offering up their own distinct, viscerally invigorating feel. Since my thrill seeking days are basically over, I prefer to stay on the ground and chase Sonic.
A major flaw with many racing titles centers on the inevitable monotony of spinning your wheels on the same track without any form of variety or continued excitement in the offing. After completing one lap of an all-stars match up, your vehicle will be transformed into a boat or a plane as your terrain changes.
You will also pick a certain character, whether its Sonic, Tails, or even AiAi, before your race begins, and your choice, if you're a rational and strategic gamer, will hinge on what kind racer fits your skills. For example, if Sonic's craft has amazing acceleration, it may not handle the same as AiAi's ride.
Although much of this kart racer's beauty is in the transformation, my continued love for this title hinges on the pure challenge of learning when to use my power ups and, more importantly, mastering my drifting talents. Pressing on the virtual steering wheel on the lower left side of your device and touching the button (the swerving car icon on the right), will put your ride in drift mode, and this command will either place you ahead of the pack or steer you completely off track.
Power ups are gained during the race or by playing a spin game before your match starts. Unleashing a swarm of bees, unloading an ice cannon, and throwing a blowfish are just some of the weaponized power ups available, but for my money I'll always prefer a speed boost when I'm trailing Amy Rose or Samba De Amigo.
Whether you prefer single player campaigns or the online experience, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed succeeds on both fronts. If you're a complete island unto yourself, there's enough achievements to meet and various races to enter (and eventually unlock), to keep you busy. Whether it's synchronous or asynchronous, I'm trying to be a more social creature this year, so the idea of playing with strangers into that great unknown is my preferred option.
Although my online escapade placed me far behind my two adversaries, I was still treated to pretty, neon lights of this Las Vegas inspired track.
Gamers may complain over the app's $4.99 download, but with 13 courses and 75 events in the midst, plunking down your lunch money for an all consuming racer is a no brainer. In-app purchases are obviously available for premium experiences, but many of your races can be unlocked with the various stars, rings, and basic experience points you earn throughout the journey.
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed hangs its hat on the variety of its game play and also tugs on our respective heart strings. The holiday season is over, but it's great to see a few familiar faces around the bend. They may drift away now and again, but the race, especially if Sega continues its winning streak, is far from over.