During my 24 hours SKSP gaming marathon I was set to play the Sonic games in order of release but couldn’t resist an early shot of Sonic and SEGA All Stars Racing.
I’ve always enjoyed racing games with a love of arcadey racing. A bit of chaos, giving it some welly through the corners and most importantly, speed. This is party why I love rally games and also karting games. However I’ve found great karting games hard to come by. Of course there’s Mario Kart but as fun as that could be, it also frustrated me. The courses can be great fun and it feels very good to drive, however in order to keep the group close together it has plenty carnage. A bit too much for my liking. Most other karting games haven’t had that fun of buzzing around. For a long while I made do with “Avatar Grand Prix 2”, which well… its very basic.
Thankfully I then found the Sonic and SEGA All Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie game and what a wonderful game it is (even if the name is ridiculous!).
The levels are colourful and vibrant providing the same level of visual stimulation as Mario Kart. The controls are solid and simply racing is good fun. It has everything that you’d want with a karting game but also a little bit more emphasis on racing than Mario Kart. The pack can spread out a little more, allowing you to have a bit more of a duel. You’re also less likely to see one minor mistake or getting shot to see you go from first to last within seconds.
A few of the levels are a bit irritating, although there’s a huge selection. Some of the Samba di Amigo levels are just absolutely excellent fun with their colourful graphics and carnival vibe. I also really like the Jet Set Radio levels and a handful of others. However during the marathon we played each level once, which meant some of the really horrible ones. Some levels can be a little “mean” in their design, making it hard to tell which direction to go. For example in one of the final levels that I played you could perform a series of jumps with a sharp turn straight after so you need to know where to position yourself and brake accordingly. Karting games shouldn’t require detailed track knowledge like this!
There’s also an absolutely delightful selection of characters with different dirving profiles (i.e. fast but hard to control, easy but slow, moderate etc). What I really love is that struggling players get that bump up the pack by using their star move (a rare pickup). This turns you into something special relating to your character as you inflict punishment on the way by. For example Amy will smash everyone with her hammer, Beat from Jet Set Radio skates quickly, spraying enemies and so on. It is a nice little injection of the characters and gives more identity to them, other than the kart and voice clips that other games may use.
So yeah, I’ll wrap up now. This game was great fun and despite being late at night (about 1am), I was really enjoying myself.