Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Review for Wii U

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Review for Wii U

So Close, But So Broken

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.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Screenshot

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.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Screenshot

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.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Screenshot

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.

And as long as I had both versions running, I decided to compare the visuals. The Wii U’s visuals look a tiny bit better due to some better quality lighting. Glowing objects look slightly glowier on the Wii U. But don’t get too terribly excited about it; had I not been swapping back and forth between versions on the same TV, I wouldn’t have even noticed the difference.

Additionally, the Wii U includes some minigames that utilize the GamePad. Of course, these minigames can only be played multiplayer, and thus this feature becomes slightly more depressing to the perpetually lonely.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Screenshot

And speaking of multiplayer, the Wii U will allow up to five players to play simultaneously—four on the TV’s splitscreen and a fifth on the GamePad. So that’s one more player than the PS3 and 360 versions.

So all these additional features make the Wii U version seem like a no-brainer. It just has more stuff.

But there’s one drawback, and this is actually major enough to be game-breaking. The Boost races are completely broken. See, this game mode has you race against a countdown timer, which will freeze whenever you are boosting. You will go through a series of checkpoints, which add time to the clock. Pass through a set amount of checkpoints without the clock hitting zero and you win. Unfortunately, the checkpoints are missing from the Wii U version. That’s right, they’re completely absent. This means that these races are literally impossible to finish.

It’s a shame, because this one flaw is so game-breaking that I can’t recommend this version of the game until that’s fixed. And otherwise, this is by far the superior version of the game. It looks better (though just barely), it handles smoother, and it has features that the other consoles legitimately can’t even support.

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a patch, but until then, you should probably hold off on the Wii U version.

A slight touch better than the other versions, though you won’t notice unless you compare them side by side. 4.2 Control
The standard controls just feel better than the other versions. Unfortunately, the motion controls could use some work. 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Same great sound as the other versions. 2.0 Play Value
There’s so much potential here, but the broken Boost races make some of the races completely unplayable. If this gets fixed in a patch, this will definitely be the superior version of Transformed. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • This is no ordinary race. Each character is equipped with their own unique vehicle that can transform into a car, boat, or plane to take advantage of the changing terrains. Each vehicle handles differently and players must master all three to triumph.
  • Over 20 legendary All-Stars are back. The starting line-up has been transformed as new iconic characters from the world of SEGA join the race. What other game sees a hedgehog battle it out against a monkey, a sky pirate, and an axe-wielding dwarf?
  • Take to land, sea, and air as you race through 16 dynamically changing courses inspired by SEGA’s illustrious gaming history. Discover alternate routes, find new power-ups and avoid emerging hazards as you race to victory; every track feels different.
  • The All-Star Moves also return, this time the more daring and stylishly you race, the more your All-Star meter increases, allowing you to unleash carnage on your opponents!
  • Old rivalries can be settled and new ones created in up to 8-player online. Journey through the All-Stars’ world to take on a huge range of modes and challenges, including Grand Prix, Battle arenas, and an incredible world tour.

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