SEGA has been re-releasing some of their popular Sonic titles on the Play Store lately, covering the platform genre nicely. This time however, it’s not about running and collecting rings. It’s about racing and wreaking havoc, collecting power-ups, piling up SEGA miles and improving your license.
The original Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was released for all major platforms back in 2009 and iOS users got their port in 2011. The Android version was released a week ago on the Play Store and looks pretty much the same as the iOS version, so yes we are about 2 years behind (as usual). Nevertheless, as a long time fan of the original game for the Nintendo Wii, I was looking forward to try this one as well, compare it and see how well can Android handle the dynamic gameplay. Let’s take a look.
What are we missing
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for Android had to undergo a few changes to match the touch screen playstyle and eliminate the need of physical buttons. That being said, manual acceleration has been stripped out, leaving the player responsible only for steering, braking and drifting the racer with occasional use of the power-ups collected. Sadly, SEGA decided to remove 7 characters and 10 stages from the original game, leaving only 13 racers and 16 stages for us to play with. Finally, the graphics had to be toned down a bit as well, at least compared with the Console/PC edition of the game, outperforming only the blocky DS version.
Gameplay and Controls
For those not familiar with the original game, let’s take a moment and explain what’s it all about. As soon as you start the game you will have to create your driving license where all your data is being stored. The game keeps track of pretty much everything you do including wins, loses, favorite tracks, time played, longest drifts, highest jumps and stuff like that. From here you can also visit the tutorial (Test Drive) if you really don’t know how to push the brake and drift buttons. Anyway, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for Android offers the standard Grand Prix mode where you can complete series of tracks on 3 difficulty levels and win trophies, the standard time trials and the single race mode. Once you get bored, you can enter the challenge mode and try to complete some of the 25 missions available. Every course you complete in every mode will provide certain amount of “SEGA Miles”, a type of currency that you can spend to unlock additional racers and tracks. Speaking of tracks, they come in all forms and sizes with plenty of variety between them. Some are nice, bright and colorful, while others (House of the Dead) will make you bleed from your eyes as you try to distinguish where the road meets the pitfall.
The big yellow button that you can clearly see on the screenshots is the drift trigger. Successful drifts around corners will reward you with turbo-boost and instantly push your kart forward, but keep in mind that you will have to take the corner perfectly without bumping other players (or walls). This is something that you will have to master if you intend to collect the “hard mode” trophies or win any online matches. Picking the right character is also important as they all have different pros and cons. Sonic for example will only reach half the speed of Dr.Eggman, but will perform around the corners better and has the highest turbo boost of all. The strongest signature power-up (that you can only get by failing hard) is also different for each driver, a reason plus to pick your favorite.
The reason why I didn’t mention the “Battle Mode” is because it’s not there. Well, at least in single player is not. That’s right, the game offers multiplayer as well. You can (or should at least) face up to 4 players in single race or the “Battle Mode” over the internet from around the globe. I was really excited to try this out and see how it goes, but unfortunately it didn’t work. Either no other players are playing the game online at all (and I kept trying for couple of days), or the online mode is horribly bugged.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing offers both tilt and on-screen controls. The first one makes use of your accelerometer, allowing you to tilt your device left and right to steer. It works pretty much like any other racing game on the market, except SEGA went step further by implementing the variable sensitivity adjustment option that will help you fine tune the response time to your liking. And it works just fine, no complains there. The other control type offers a slider positioned on the bottom left part of the screen that feels very awkward for some reason. It is supposed to simulate an analog stick, allowing you to make quick adjustments when taking over opponents or performing drifts, but instead it lags behind instead, feeling quite sluggish and unresponsive. The game doesn’t recognize external controllers of any type which is unfortunate, especially for nvidia SHIELD and Xperia Play users.
Despite all the cuts, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for Android offers solid racing experience that will keep you occupied for a while, because it really is a good game after all. The dynamic gameplay remains intact offering the same feeling as the original title, only in smaller package. Some players complained that the amount of “Miles” you get per race is also reduced and how it takes too long to accumulate enough coins to unlock all the stages and drivers. They are probably right as this is a direct consequence of the developers decision to implement the “Miles Shop” where you can spend real money to get more of the in-game currency, but rest assured it’s completely optional and you can get all the coins you need simply by playing.
Many users reviewing the game on the Play Store also complain about the game running slow and/or lagging occasionally. I must say I didn’t experience any of this, the game ran smoothly in both single and multiplayer modes, but I decided to measure the frames anyway. The results were shocking. The game hovers around 60 fps all the time, except when you take corners, when all of a sudden it drops down to around 35 frames per second. As this was not low enough for me to actually see the lag, slower devices can lose even more frames up to a point where you can clearly see (and feel) the game lagging. I do believe that this is a result of poorly optimized code since the very same game runs flawlessly on iOS devices couple of generations behind, or that it occurs only on certain GPU chips. Whatever the reason, it needs to be fixed by the developer and patched-up asap.
Should you get it?
I can safely say that this is the best kart racer on Android I played so far. Graphics (still) look amazing and the rock-solid music soundtrack cover the entire gameplay. It offers online play (or does it?), achievements and plenty of content to keep you busy for a while. Take the previously mentioned cons about the missing content with a grain of salt as the game costs $1.99 and for that price it’s a bargain.
by Martin J.
|Good graphics and sense of speed||Missing content from the original game|
|Iconic characters||Bugged multiplayer mode|
|Overall well designed kart racer||Questionable performance|
UPDATE: The version reviewed here was removed from the Play Store. You can still download Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing APK here.