|System: Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, PS Vita|
|Dev: Sumo Digital|
|Release: November 20, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Animated Blood, Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Language|
by Josh Wirtanen
Sonic the Hedgehog and racing. It’s a combo that seems like a fairly obvious goldmine, right? Well, SEGA figured this out with a title called Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing a couple years back. Now they’re doing it over again with the brand new Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
You see, the “Transformed” in the title is appropriate, because not only do the cars transform into boats and planes, but the courses are continuously transforming as you take your laps around them. It’s a great idea complimented by some incredibly well-designed map layouts, as I stated in my review for the Xbox 360 version.
With the launch of the Wii U, though, Transformed steps up its feature set. Yes, the Wii U version packs in quite a bit of stuff you won’t be able to get in the other versions of the game.
The most obvious comes in the form of the tablet functionality. With the Wii U’s GamePad, you can see a real-time top-down map of the course as you’re racing on it. If this doesn’t sound like a game-changing feature, you obviously haven’t tried to use it.
Let me explain: I spent a good dozen or so hours with the Xbox 360 version. With that amount of time already invested, I figured I had the course layouts pretty well figured out. But once I got my hands on the tablet, I started discovering alternate routes and shortcuts in places I never would have even thought to look for them. I have to applaud Transformed’s map designers once again; those guys are devious.
Another feature available on the GamePad is that you can bring up a rearview mirror without blocking your television screen. This is admittedly something that I am less excited about, as it’s more difficult to look from your TV to your tablet than it is to just have some sort of display right on your TV. In fact, that’s the downside of the map feature as well; when you’re taking corners and dodging obstacles at top speed, looking away from the screen for even half a second can completely throw you off. While this makes the GamePad’s neat features much less viable during intense racing situations, they still come in handy during practice laps.
Also, you can choose to use the GamePad screen as your main screen and turn off your television entirely. I adore this feature, as it lets me be slightly more mobile with my gaming. I can play Wii U games while in bed now, even though my Wii U is in another room entirely. A complaint, though, is that the game is really bad at letting you know about this feature. You’d think they would put some sort of toggle in the options menu somewhere, but instead, you have to flick your finger across the touchscreen. This will bring up a menu that lets you swap to the GamePad screen option. It’s completely counterintuitive, and I have a feeling most players won’t even know they can play the game this way.
The Wii U version also provides motion controls. Instead of using the traditional control scheme, you can tilt your GamePad as if it were a steering wheel. But don’t do this. The gyroscopic controls feel under-sensitive during boat and car segments and oversensitive during plane segments. Seriously. Every time I felt I was finally getting used to piloting the plane via the motion controls, I’d be forced to take a tight turn and would oversteer, then overcorrect, then overcorrect once again until I was either flying straight up into the sky or straight downward into the ocean. Also, the motion controls feel a bit choppy, which is especially noticeable during flight. Still, it’s nice to have additional control options, even if those options are made for crazy people.
But the standard controls actually feel incredible. I found the twin-sticks controls of the Wii U GamePad more responsive and better tuned than those of the 360. To prove to myself I wasn’t imagining things, I went back to the 360 version and took some additional laps. Yes, I will confirm that the Wii U definitely feels better.