Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed hits this fall.
What's better than a hedgehog in a car? How about a hedgehog in a car that can turn into a boat ... and a plane?
Popular Sega racer Sonic & All-Stars Racing gets a sequel this fall with a game that delivers new characters, new settings for tracks and vehicles that seamless transform from car to boat to plane.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is set to hit the 3DS, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Xbox 360 this fall, Sega tells Polygon. The Vita and PS3 version will not support cross-play, the Sega officials said. No plans have been announced for an iOS or Android version of the game yet.
The game's namesake transforming is automatic, and kind of cool looking. In the tracks we checked out, all of the racers started out in their themed ground vehicle, but when tracks gave way to water the vehicles quickly transformed into boats. When tracks abruptly ended with blue sky, or crumbled under a car, the vehicle transformed automatically into a plane.
As with the original game, drifting is key to playing the game. Drift long enough and you get a turbo boost. When you catch air, in a boat or in a car, you can also use button pushes to do a barrel roll. If you manage two before you land, you also get a turbo.
The plane, we were told, may have both drift and barrel roll turbos, but didn't when we played the game.
While the key difference between the upcoming racer and the original 2010 title appear to be those transforming vehicles, Transformed will also swap out some of the original game's characters and settings with new ones based on popular, existing Sega properties.
Sega officials wouldn't release the entire character list, but they did confirm that returning to the upcoming game will be Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles "Tails" Power, Knuckles the Echidna, Doctor Eggman, Beat, Amy Rose, Amigo and B.D. Joe. The two new characters on display during last week's preview was Skies of Arcadia's Vyse and Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe.
During a short preview of the event last week in New York City, we had a chance to try out two courses in the game, one inspired by Panzer Dragoon and one inspired by Monkey Ball. A third level, inspired by Jet Set Radio, was confirmed, but wasn't shown during the preview event.
Developers Sumo Digital seem to have worked on spicing up the tracks' interactivity in the sequel, adding a lot more elements pulled from the game inspirations.
For instance, the Super Monkey Ball inspired Temple Tumble track runs players through a course that constantly twists down, ending in a teleporter that pops a vehicle back to the top of the course each lap. As the laps proceed, massive monkey balls begin to roll along and across the tube-like track, getting in the way of racers, and occasionally crushing them. When the balls hit the water levels of the maps they create waves that make going a bit slower, but also increases the opportunities for jumps and barrel rolls.
The Ruined Empire track, inspired by Panzer Dragoon, also had a lot going on while you raced through the ruins of the level. Overhead players will see large battleships and warring dragons. Where Temple Tumble had multiple paths to choose between throughout the course, Ruined Empire has just one. However, that single track changes as you lap it, creatures tear through parts of the level forcing your cars to transform into planes. In another section, the course dips into water, forcing a change into boats.
The two courses we saw seemed much more dynamic and attuned to their inspirations than the courses of the original Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
The weapons we saw and used included the ability to fire rockets, to shoot ice balls at other vehicles, a beehive that seeks out the front of the pack of racers and then litters the course in front of them with traps, and a pufferfish that can be dropped on the track behind you to expand and then explode when hit. Unfortunately, some of those weapons were using placer-holder art so it was hard to see how well they'd fit into the experience.
As with the original game, Transformed will include multiple modes, but the demonstration only gave us time with the Battle Race mode. Sega officials declined to say what other modes might be coming to the game. They also declined to talk about whether the game will feature split-screen gaming, but they did say it will support up to 8-player online races.
The early PlayStation 3 version of the game still showed some rough spots, including frame rates dipping a bit at time below the goal of 60 frames a second, but the Sega folks on hand said that would be sorted by the game's launch.
Overall, it feels like the blending of three types of racing, through that clever auto transformation, adds a bit of depth to an already fun series.