Hey now, you're an Allstar.
The iPhone has whole host of good games, but some will be quick to point out that it doesn't have a killer kart racer to match the likes of a certain plumber. Enter Sega and their blue spiky mascot; Sonic.
Sonic & Sega All-stars Racing is a port by Gameloft of Sega's racer that first appeared on consoles last year. It has a host of stars from some of the best loved Sega franchises including Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind Radio, Super Monkey Ball, Samba Di Amigo and the Sonic games, all racing to beat each other on tracks inspired by their games.
The tracks themselves provide different obstacles and strategies based on their theme. The Sonic based tracks have loops and high speed runs while the House Of The Dead tracks have ambling zombies which litter the track and make you swerve, usually just at the wrong moment. Some courses are wide and allow for higher speeds, while others contain narrow corridors that need to be timed just right to avoid a fatal crash.
The racers, too, have their quirks. Each character has a car with slightly different handling and a special weapon based on their skills. Sonic can turn in to Super Sonic and dash around the track, while Ulala from Space Channel 5 can get everyone dancing, slowing them down in the process. These are set off in the same way as with any other weapon, by hitting the capsules littered around the road and waiting to see what item you get.
Other items to be found are sonic shoes to speed you up, traffic cones to place in the way of racers behind you and boxing gloves that act like the red shells in Mario Kart. In fact the whole weapon system and even some of the track design feels like it could have been lifted right out of Nintendo's famous kart racer, but to me that's more of a compliment than a criticism, especially considering that Nintendo's franchise can't be found on iOS.
Modes on offer range from the standard Single Race and Grand Prix (in Easy, Medium and Hard flavours) to the interesting Mission mode where you are required to take on 25 specific challenges from driving through rings and elimination races to drifting as far as possible. Each Mission scores you in stars, either by adding them or taking them away. The Openfeint Achievements help to make this competitive and should provide a fair amount of replay value. A time trial mode completes the set for single player.
But multiplayer is where the game shines the brightest. Choosing between a straight race or a battle game, local or internet based matches are easy to set up and a joy to play. Playing the battle game is just as much fun in a local match as on a single TV and even the iPad vs iPod Touch matches we set up worked perfectly.
Along the way you'll earn Sega Miles for winning races and generally playing the game. These can then be used in payment for new drivers and tracks. In total there are an impressive 10 racers and 15 tracks. It wouldn't surprise me to see Sega releasing a few more along the line as later updates.
Visually, Sonic & Sega All-stars Racing is your typical Sega game, all blue skies and bright colours. The detail and design of the tracks and cars is up there with some of the best games on the App Store, albeit in a more cartoony style. On the iPad 2 this is all the more evident as the bright detailed graphics really grab you.
The control options are either tilt to steer or using a slider. In my experience the slider is slightly more accurate, but my thumb felt like it was dropping off as I completed the Grand Prix. Tilt mode is much easier on the digits! You can even play with tilt sensitivity to get the setup just right. Buttons are used for stop and reverse, plus a drift button which will give you a boost out of the corner and, if you're playing with the slider control, a fire button for your weapon. They feel perfectly placed for the game and I never had a problem with finding them at the right moment.
What Sega have done here is amazing. They've certainly created the best kart racer on the App Store by far and Sonic & Sega All-stars Racing is truly a fitting gift for Sonic's 20th Anniversary.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 10
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