Sorry for the bad opening pun on the Topic Description. Couldn't think of anything else. Anyway, my review of the latest kart racer and SEGA outing, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing! I would say it's a fun game and worth a play, but it still has some flaws and problems. Yes, the image is sourced externally and has a logo on it, boo-hee-fucking-doo. I liked the picture and couldn't find an alternative. Anyway, kart racing has been a genre that can be sourced back to Mario Kart on the SNES and has since become quite a large subgenre. Instead of having the realistic, balls-to-the-wall racing that we were previously accustomed to, we were instead racing around in little go-karts throwing turtle shells at each other all of the sudden. I know, innovation. Since Mario Kart SNES dropped, we've seen kart racers with other franchises and names, although most of them are crap, especially compared to Mario Kart. As SEGA releases its own take on the genre, using its extensive library of characters, ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog and his cohorts to Beat and the Jet Set Radio crew, I can say with confidence that they didn't fail at all, but there's still some pretty noticeable problems that put it below some of the best kart racers. First off, many people off the back mark this as a Mario Kart clone. Really though, any kart racer can be a "Mario Kart clone" since Mario Kart created the genre. I just don't feel the term "clone" does this game justice. It's like marking every turn based RPG as a "Final Fantasy clone" or every first person shooter as a "Doom clone". It does take some aspects from Mario Kart, yes, but it also takes parts from other racers, notably Crash Team Racing and F-Zero, to make it more than a clone. Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the characters. SEGA did a nice job of using their full library, not just the Sonic one. Yes, there are a large majority of Sonic characters, but there are others. It's got more character diversity than simply using the Mario library in Mario Kart. You'll have characters from Jet Set Radio, Super Monkey Ball, Samba de Amigo, Sonic the Hedgehog, and more. It's a nice bit of diversity that helps throughout the game. You won't be racing constantly through the bright and cheery Mushroom Kingdom like in Mario Kart, but you'll be racing through Tokyoto, Blizzard Castle, and many of the Sonic Zones. All in all, SEGA did a nice job of using their licenses, even though there's a heavy leaning towards Sonic. Gameplay wise, I wouldn't say it's spectacular by any means, but more than enjoyable. As I said before, it's not a straight-up Mario Kart clone. If anyone played Crash Team Racing on the PSX (which is personally one of the best kart racers out there), you could say its closer to that than Mario Kart. The weapons are practically dead-on duplicates most of the time. The Bubble Shield, Missiles, etc, all from there. There's also some Mario Kart-type weapons like the KO Glove (green shell) and whatever the fuck Sonic's sneakers are called (Mushroom). There's also the "cheapo" weapons you get when you're in a bad spot, mainly the All-Star Move one. This is probably most comparable to a Bullet Bill in Mario Kart, since I have on many occasions shot from 8th or 7th place to 2nd or 1st using these. They're different for each character, but in the end they'll have you racing past the competitors. Tails can summon a tornado to woosh people out of the way, Amy can use her big hammer, Beat can zoom around with his spray can, etc. They're a little gimmicky, but I guess it gives people who are quite screwed a chance to get back in the race. Weapons are overall what you'd expect and work well. As for the courses, my main criticism draws here. The F-Zero aspects I mentioned before come here. Some may disagree, but it felt very similar to F-Zero when you were zooming across the courses, doing loop-de-loops and high speed areas. There's definitely a huge sense of speed here, more than in any other kart racer. Still, a lot of the tracks seem to be confusing and full of blind turns, namely Super Monkey Ball courses. If you play the Monkey Target level on Pirate Ocean or whatever, you'll know what I mean. Turns on it are at times impossible, and it becomes incredibly easy to go in the wrong direction. It's beyond gimmicky, it's borderline impossible to make a good turn. I've used the highest handling characters and I'm more than adept with the controls and I'll still fly off the courses. This was never the case with Mario Kart or CTR, really. Other courses are designed pretty well, but aren't quite too memorable compared to stuff Mario Kart's courses. No big Rainbow Road type course here. As for the controls, they're pretty much spot on. Drifting takes a little while to get used to, but after a few tries you'll master it pronto. Vehicles/characters have a decent balance, except for one thing I noticed... What is the point of AiAi? His stats are exactly the same as Sonic's except he has a lower Turbo Boost stat. Maybe he has a better All-Star Move, I don't know, but to use a character with clearly inferior stats just to use a move that requires you to be in a crappy spot is just stupid. Other characters have their pros and cons and mainly comes down to the usual speed > control, control > speed, or control = speed type of balance. They also introduced in here Sega Miles and a minor Achievements system. Sega Miles are basically used to unlock characters, courses, and music. You'll earn them every race, regardless of how good/bad you do. The Achievements are what you'd expect and don't really do much except say that you have them. It's a nice touch. Graphics and audio wise, it's pretty decent or good in both areas. Graphics definitely take a hit compared to its HD brothers, lacking great lighting effects or textures, but they still look more than decent for a Wii game. It also runs at a smooth framerate constantly with no dips. The audio samples a lot from the respective games, which is nice. There's also a commentator for the matches who makes some witty and funny comments. They can get a little repetitive from time to time, but they aren't just random comments. They'll reflect what's happening in the race. There's nothing in these areas that will blow you away, but they're definitely pleasing. Overall, S&S Racing is a good kart racer using SEGA characters, but still has a few problems. It uses quite a few licenses, although it's still mainly Sonic. Racing controls are spot-on and most courses are decent, but none are really too memorable and some a few (namely the Super Monkey Ball courses) are just full of awful blind turns and near-impossible turns. Graphics and audio are good, but nothing game changing. If you're a fan of kart racers and/or SEGA franchises, it's definitely worth a play. Presentation: There's quite a lot of SEGA franchises here, but there's still an overwhelming amount of Sonic. Most franchises will be lucky if they get 2 characters in compared to at least 5+ from Sonic. Menus are nice looking and presented simply, but I would've have preferred some easy access with the Wiimote pointer controls. 7/10 Graphics: It definitely pales in comparison to its Xbox/PS3 versions, but that's pretty much expected. It does run at a smooth framerate though. Nothing dazzling but it still looks nice. 7/10 Audio: There's music from quite a few franchises here. I would've liked some of the licensed music from Jet Set Radio, but that was kinda a far cry. The commentator sounds great and makes nice, funny quips about the race, kinda like a family-friendly version of the commentary from MadWorld. Sound effects are pretty nice. 8/10 Gameplay: Controls are as perfect as you'd expect, although drifting is quite a bit harder to get used to. However, once you've gotten it down, it's just as easy as in Mario Kart or CTR. Course designs are decent for the most part, if pretty unmemorable. Some courses are full of tons of blind turns and otherwise gimmicky difficult ones (namely Monkey Ball ones). Weapons are nice although pretty run-of-the-mill. A lot of the gameplay designs are a combination of Crash Team Racing, F-Zero, and Mario Kart, which works most of the time. Not a bad kart racer by any means, but not nearly as good as Mario Kart or CTR. 7/10 Lasting Appeal: Like Mario Kart Wii, there's a lot to do. There's a few Grand Prixes to do and three difficulty levels, as well as a slew of special missions to do. There's also unlockable content to earn with Sega Miles. You've also got 2-4 player local splitscreen and a fully functional online mode. If you like this kart racer, you'll be playing for a while. Still, Mario Kart Wii has more to unlock and more to do. 9/10 Overall: 7.5/10 Some good, some bad, but still fun overall.