Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Get Stoked For Sonic All-Stars Racing 2

This is the game.  You're able to drive a car, a boat, and a plane and that's...not a bad idea.  Sort of.  It depends on how Sumo Digital executes but assuming they improve what they did with Sonic All-Stars Racing 1, I have much faith in the idea.

I'm not going to rehash all the details of the game since that would be stupid.  The first thing that comes to mind is comparisons between this and Mario Kart 7.  Yes, Mario Kart 7 has water/air racing too.  But look at it this way.  Mario Kart has gliders, Sonic All-Stars Racing as planes.  Mario Kart has underwater driving (as in you don't drive on the surface, you drive on the ocean floor), Sonic All-Stars Racing has boats.  Big difference.  It would be better to compare this with Diddy Kong Racing which was a pretty good game.  If they add Banjo-Kazooie to this game too, it would put an exclamation point on that analogy.

Even if Sonic All-Stars Racing 2 is considered a ripoff, think about it this way.  Mario Kart is a mainstay racing game.  It's basically sterile in that you're getting the same damn thing every iteration.  And if Sega/Sumo Digital is gonna step in, then they ought to differentiate themselves from Mario Kart.  If they combine Daytona/OutRun speed & handling with lavish scenery & fun characters, it'll whip Mario Kart's ass--I believe it.

Sorry Miyamoto, you're about to get pwned.  Pic attribution.

Anyway, so SEGAbits linked to a EuroGamer article which is quite intriguing.  Here we have ex-Bizarre Creation employees working with Sumo Digital on this game. Gee whiz, it's about time Bizarre gets the picture!!! Anyway, some choice quotes:

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed Preview: The Saviour of Arcade Racers

Can PGR talent and Sega's mascot breathe life into a fading genre?

Damn straight, I've been hollering like a lunatic that the arcade racing genre has flatlined for friggin years. And now someone gets it. Thank you EuroGamer, I guess you gotta go across the pond to get ACTUAL GOOD RACING GAME INFO these days.

The designer, a veteran of the Project Gotham Racing series, was talking up his next game Blur, telling me how Bizarre wanted to escape the simulation niche and make racing games mass-market again. "I think we should be going back to the reason people play racing games," he said.

Yes, about time for this too!!! I think most want those colorful, fast-paced games but they've been forced down this narrow path of gritty, wreck-em, pseudo-sim racers cause that's all racing devs have been making these days. About time someone else steps up to the plate.

It did what Blur couldn't, what so few in this genre have managed to do in the last couple of years: it sold.

Thank you Lord Jesus that the arcade racing genre still has untapped potential! Common sense dictates that if you're going to develop a game, try to avoid competition from the "600 pound gorillas" in the room like Call of Duty, Halo, Starcraft, etc. since you will lose. Don't try making FPSes or RTSes.  EDIT: Like this:

Look guys, I made a new vidya game.

On the other hand, there's a glaring hole in racing games. Aside from Mario Kart, there aren't any "Sega racer" type of games out there. So Sega can slingshot the competition and take the lead. This I believe. It just takes SOMEBODY with balls to actually make the game and that's what Sumo is doing so mega props to them.

Also speaking of differentiators--this game'll have boats in it. Think about any water-racing games you've played recently...Hydro Thunder, Wave Race, Grand Theft Auto (that's right, hijack those boats & hoes), ...??? More undeveloped territory for Sega to invest in.

But Sega's had a taste of success in this area now, and it's deadly serious when it gives Transformed the much-abused "triple-A" label.

Success in quality racing games, definitely.

A rep tells me that it's being treated as "this year's big Sonic title", and Wilson confirms that Sumo's not knocking this one out on the cheap.

Not only is Sega reviving racing games, they're also reviving Sonic. You're very welcome, Sonic fans.

"This is a massive, massive budget title," he says, citing the expense of modelling three separate vehicles for each of 27 characters, as well as the transformations between them.

There were 20 characters in the Sonic All-Stars Racing 1, but 27 in Sonic All-Stars Racing 2. We now know that Gilius (Golden Axe) and Vyse (Skies of Arcadia) are added to the game. Also NiGHTS cause it would be asinine not to include him as a playable character this time around. Buy TWENTY-SEVEN IS BIG and it's nice to know that FOR ONCE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND a Sega racer is actually getting a big budget. So damn sick and tired of publishers like EA and Activision pumping millions of dollars into this misguided dreck that completely misses the point we're trying to get at here.

I have one concern about the changing characters and that is how are some characters going to derive boats/planes out of their asses? Like Ryo Hazuki on the motorbike--how does that that work out?  Get cracking, Sumo publishers.  We need more documents on what to do.

Sega's investment also encompasses new rendering and physics engines (created "with future platforms in mind," says Wilson - but no, he can't confirm or deny a Wii U release) and has allowed Sumo to take in some of the development talent from Bizarre and Black Rock, which similarly found itself shut down after the release of Split/Second.

Yes, we have beloved Split/Second people working on this game. Dammit, but good cause we've converted them to our side! Now they see the light of HAPPY, FUN RACING GAMES.

The demo looked lovely but suffered from a chugging frame-rate. Sumo's aiming for a solid 30 frames per second in the final game (the water physics rule out 60fps).

Damn, that really sucks. I'd kill for 60 fps but with the water, I can understand where they're coming from. If they make it 30 fps for no logical reason whatsoever then I'd be super pissed.

The budget's also visible in the lavishly mounted dynamic tracks that, just like the vehicles, transform from lap to lap. 

OMG you can change the race track via powerplays--is that right, Black Rock??? The article spends a lot of time talking about the Super Monkey Ball & Skies of Arcadia tracks so w/e, you get the idea.

Transformed's speed classes, which will range from easy C to testing All-Star, aren't in the game yet, but the demo is pitched around A-class and at this level it's already a thrill to link together the OutRun-style endless drifts.

Yes, YES! Heh.

But the great thing about Sonic & All-Stars Racing is that you don't really need to justify its existence alongside Mario Kart. The difference between them is as easy to grasp as the difference between Mario and Sonic themselves - one cute, slapstick and inventive, the other with a harder, brasher, more spectacular arcade edge.

That's the differentiator I'm looking for there! Thank you Sumo Digital for actually giving me faith in the future of games.

So it's fitting and welcome that Wilson and other refugees from the great arcade racing slump have found themselves working on Transformed. Here, they can subtly slip their race-tuned sensibilities into a game with good commercial prospects and genuine crossover appeal. And if it works out as it should, everyone wins - from kids, to Sega fanboys, to the dispossessed brotherhood of the drift.

Oh yes, the dispossed brotherhood...all it takes is a few good racing games and people will actually get back into racing games again and Sonic All-Stars Racing 2 is definitely a good start.

So SEGAbits wrote their own experiences/opinions on the gameplay demo and it's standard reading. I say check it out if you want. But there's this:

Just off the 101 freeway in good ‘ol San Fran is a Go-Kart tracing track which for one Tuesday afternoon, was taken over by Sega.

Yeah, I'd love to take over a go-kart track too. A subtle poke at Mario Kart nonetheless.

Now, I do have three concerns about the game and here they go:

1. I like the cars/boats/planes idea but the way the tracks are designed, all three may be mandatory at some point in a race.  Now I'm a big fan of cars so more often that most, I may just want to drive cars and that's it. Or if I do feel like driving a boat or plane, I want to do it for the whole race.  Mixing it up each race is a good idea but it can get annoying after a while.  We'll see.

2. The name just plain sucks right now.  "Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed"???  First of all, "Sonic and All-Stars Racing" sounds dumb.  The "all-stars" can mean just about anyone.  It's a given that it's Sega's all-stars but of the words that should be stripped from the title, I'd kill "All-Stars" and replace it with "Sega."  Also, "Transformed" is a weird word to put in a title--I'd stay away from verbs in a game title IMO.  I'd prefer something like "Deluxe" or even "Extravaganza" over "Transformed."  But that's just me.

EDIT: 3. Can this game at least run a consistent 30 fps?  I would love 60 fps but that's likely out of the picture.  But if this game runs at 30 fps and gets choppy at points, it would be a huge dent in the game. EDIT AGAIN: This is an early build of the game so please hold out on the early reports on lag.  Give it some time.

...that's about it.  I think Tails' car looks tight--like a F1 car/buggy hybrid.  TBQH, I'd prefer a new Daytona/OutRun to this but hell, right now Sega's arcade racing hopes hinge on this game so let us pray this game is a huge success.  Even if you don't like racers, Sega needs any boost it can get right about now.  The game'll be out in 2012 so I'm super stoked that we'll get to play it soon. We should learn more at E3.  Laters.


  1. I played a demo of the first game and I enjoyed it. I'm very excited for this game, but my only request in the sequel is for sega to make some references to Daytona USA, Outrun, Sega Super GT, etc. From a visual and thematic standpoint that's what the first game didn't have since Sega has great racing games under their belt. Hell if they brought the hornet car from Daytona USA as a character that would be pretty awsome. :)

  2. This does look like a very unique racing game. I don't remember playing any other racer where you had to switch vehicles during the race. I also noticed in the trailer, there was a character driving a taxi. Clearly a reference to Crazy Taxi (which I loved). I'll have to check this out sometime.

  3. I'd love if they brought the Hornet into the game but it seems very unlikely. To see the Hornet turn into a boat or plane? That's weird but who knows. Ever seen Fighters Megamix?

    And BD Joe was in the first Sonic & Sega Racing game so looks like he'll be in the second one too.

  4. Been waiting to hear the game's announcement, a bit disappointed that it won't run at 60 fps but it's understandable this time around. I hope the new characters of the roster are more Sega and less Sonic. But considering how awesome the last one was despite its flaws, I'm itching to have another racer in my library, and not one about simulation or hollywood thrills. And Sumo Digital has yet to let me down.

  5. Exactly. With Sumo Digital on the project, including guys from Bizarre and so forth, I have no doubts this game'll be good.