Friday, January 10, 2014

Ryo Hazuki In Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed: It's Not Pretty...

Alright, it's been a while since I talked about Sega racers so let's do this.

So we all know that Ryo Hazuki is in Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed.  Sumo inserted pics of Ryo in the Yogscast DLC trailers like a parent that says, "Don't open your eyes, I got a present for you!" and you open your eyes anyway.  Here, he's driving OutRun, Hang-On, and Space Harrier cabinets which is really damn clever and also a great ode to the classics.  It's a million times better then that Yogscast Charity DLC dreck.  Who knows about Yogscast?  I don't but then again, I'm not from the UK.

Your stats suck.

Yep, this is the guy who got his own character in Sonic All-Stars Racing.  Good work, Sega.

So what's my initial response to seeing the Ryo character?  This:

Now, it's not that I dislike Ryo but come on guys, Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed is OVER A YEAR OLD.  It's a great game, yeah, but the hype for this game has gone down drastically.  I let my Xbox Gold expire last month (and had to enter a chat room with a MS representative to disable it because MS is too lazy to put the button on their site, thankfully the rep was very polite to me) so I won't be playing online for a while now (assuming I do play again).  Had Ryo been introduced back in the game's heyday (while the fans were doing those stupid online petitions) then yeah, we'd be partying til the break of dawn.  But now it's sorta like, "Okay...thanks Sumo!  Glad someone there actually cares about the hardcorez fans and shiz."

Then things went from "meh" to "Oh Please God No" in a heartbeat:

In this situation, Ryo is vindictive of why we can't have nice things.  Simply cause Ryo is an iPhone-exclusive character.  You cannot play him on Xbox 360 and PS3.  You CAN play him on PC but not for a while now.  All I know is that Sumo/Sega saved Ryo for a year later just so they can convince us to buy the iPhone version.  In the ideal world, Sumo would put all the characters into one superior version (PC version) but now they're playing patty-cake with gamers to make another buck off the same damn game.

Sooooo...why complain?  The iPhone version can't be that bad!  Well, it's a mixed bag for a multitude of reasons.  They can be narrowed down to two:

1. Game's stripped of a load of content.  There's only 13 characters in this version and they are Sonic, Tails, Amy, Gum, Ulala, Amigo, BD Joe, Joe Musashi, Eggman, AGES (Thank You Lord Jesus!!), Ryo, Ralph, Metal Sonic, Knuckles, and Shadow.  That's right, they nixed Beat but kept Gum in.  Plus they didn't cut any of the Sonic characters at all, proving that Sumo is catering to the major Sonic fanbase out there and screwing the rest of us fans.  Gee whiz, I know this is an 1.0 GB iPhone game but it's really a downer.

As for tracks, well I don't have a clue.  There's no outright "pick a track and race," the game's sort of an amalgamation of Grand Prix and World Tour modes--not much flexibility in terms of single-player.  I'm guessing Ocean Hill (a track I'm really getting sick of), Skies of Arcadia, and Afterburner will get a shiatload of facetime so get ready for those.

2. Microtransactions.  Let me explain how this works.  You pay $5 for the game.  No big deal, sounds good.  But all of the characters (sans your one choice of Tails, Amy, Gum, Ulala, Amigo, BD Joe, or regular Joe) are locked from the start.  That's right, Sonic is locked from the very beginning of the game.  You unlock rings through races which allow you to unlock most things, just like any good iPhone game.  But with any race mode outside the Easy difficulty level (there's 4 levels), you have to pay rings to enter and restart the level.  That's also right, you can't just pick a Medium/Hard/Super Hard race and replay it over and over until you win.  If you run out of rings, you have to restock by doing the Easy races all over again.

So what does Sumo do?  Include a $10 DLC that removes this restart cost, allowing you replay the races without any entry fee.  It's pretty damn dirty to include extra costs on top of a game that's already not free to play.  I mean if you go into the game thinking $15 is a decent price for the game, sure that's not too bad.  But they just had to sneak that extra $10 in there.

The recoil from this decision was so immense that Steve Lycett AKA DarthS0L had to play Sumo PR Agent and take to the message boards explaining his decision.  Yeah, he's been scooting around the official Sega forums, Sonic Stadium, and NeoGAF which is kind of ridiculous cause if you need someone to actually explain a controversial decision to your face, odds are you f**ked up somehow.  He says it's entirely possible to unlock everything in the game without paying any more than the initial $5.  Which is reasonable because I've played a couple of the Nimblebit iPhone games and haven't spent a dime on 'em--Tiny Tower, Tiny Death Star, Pocket Planes, Pocket Trains.  Grinding works on these games.

But as we all know, these microtransactions are a HUGE shortcut.  For instance, I could unlock AGES by playing the game for 10-15 hours and saving up my in-game currency.  OR I can just pay $5 and unlock him right now.  $5 to skip 10-15 hours of grinding.  I honestly don't know how long it takes to unlock AGES but the point is by making Ryo an iPhone exclusive, it boosts the number of sales this game gets and Sumo can make an average of $15 for each person that invests in this game.  That can be huge considering how this game is a straight port with little gameplay changes.

Aside from these two things, the game looks okay.  You level up your characters' stats rather than unlock these stupid Speed/Accel/Boost/Console mods like in previous versions which is a nice touch.  It runs at a constant 30 FPS and the iPhone controls, while they look manageable, still look difficult and imprecise like playing Mario Kart Wii with the Wiimote.  Online play only includes 4 players max.   I just can't imagine playing any action-heavy game on an iPhone--I'd rather save that for consoles/PC, and even throwing Ryo into the mix doesn't change my mind much.

Also to unlock Ryo, you have to beat a bunch of Weekly Challenges.  He's this game's AGES--just a pain in the ass to unlock.  And I also know that Ryo has the words "Shen 3" written on his license plate.  Everyone knows that.  But think of the possibilities--perhaps Sumo/Sega introduced Ryo as a character to gauge the interest in a Shenmue HD port.  The likelihood of getting a Shenmue 3 from the iOS Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed is nil and odds are the Internet-savvy DarthS0L threw that on the license plate just to tease the Shenmue petitioners out there.  But Sega is just weird like that so I don't discount the possibility of a Shenmue 3 someday.  After all, if Yu Suzuki wanted to conclude the storyline, he could release a manga, satiate the fans, and call it a day.  But he hasn't spoiled it yet which leads me to believe he's still trying to persuade Sega to make that Shenmue 3 game.  I just hope he doesn't take it to the grave with him.

UPDATE: Ryo Hazuki has since then been added as DLC for the PC Steam version of Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed.  It costs $1.59.  This was a couple of days after this entry was posted.  While this is certainly good news, it leaves the console versions hanging (Xbox 360/PS3 are the plague and not worth touching), plus Sega/Sumo did play some of us into buying the iPhone version.  Take this news what you will.

I don't plan on buying Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed on the iPhone.  Does that make me a bad Sega fan?  Well, that's your opinion.  I just don't think it's worth the money.  I'll play the crap out of the the console & PC versions but the iPhone version needs to be better for me to consider it.  BTW, putting characters aside, it sure would be hella nice to get some track DLC too.  But no, we're stuck playing Ocean Hill, After Burner, and Hagia Sophia--I mean Panzer Dragoon for eternity.

One more interesting thing.  I do check the Sumo website occasionally for job openings.  Nothing that I can get, sadly.  But here's something interesting--"Vehicle Handling and Performance Specialist."  Yep, they're looking for people who know how to make race cars in video games!

We require a gas-guzzling, do-nutting Petrol-head for an exciting design opportunity!

Are you a car freak? Do you have at least three years of design experience on high profile console driving games?

Sumo is looking for someone with great experience and a passion for tweaking the physics and performance characteristics of a wide range of vehicles in a successful driving franchise to join our team of Stig Fantasists in Sheffield. A background of successful game design experience is important, as is an understanding of (and passion for) car handling, set-up and the console racing genre.

If you’re auto-obsessed and want to contribute to one of the most successful driving franchises of all time, get in touch ASAP – we want to talk to you.

Do I have a chance?  An infinitesimal one.  Here's why.  One, I'm a programmer and not a producer.  Two, I don't have three years of experience in ANY professional studio, much less racing game studios.  Sure, the yearly requirements can be stretched a little (i.e. you have two years instead of three and they accept you anyway) but three years is out of my reach.  Three, what am I going to cite--this blog???  Hell, if Sumo read this blog, they might recoil in disgust and not hire me.  Yeah, I'm a big fan of theirs but I'm too much of a hipster and am critical of everything and that might not bode well with 90% of the game industry.

It sucks but look at it this way--Sumo is still making racing games.  That's awesome and that includes the potential for a new Daytona game.  I just hope I can get on-board soon enough...

1 comment:

  1. Heya Eric, decided to drop in again. :)

    I really don't know about this game anymore, honestly. I remember being all hyped up for this when it was released, but it seems that every time I hear something new about the game, it's like a bad product placement and publicity stunts entirely from executive meddling. We get characters from franchises published but not developed by Sega and feel out of place, separate franchises that have nothing to do with Sega, non-gaming characters, many I've never heard of, and after all that, over a year after the game was released, after SIX characters were put into the game, we finally get a character created by Sega - Ryo. And with that, it's for mobile platforms. Ralph was fine, Danica Patrick I could let slide, but after that, the others had a question mark lingering over my head.

    I shouldn't blame Sumo, and while Sega probably feels this is a good path to go, I feel this game has become what I hate about the industry. The game was supposedly a racer meant to be an homage to Sega's past and racing heritage in itself, but now it seems like it's a racing game where they shoehorn in a character for publicity. I don't know. Then again, not being a PC gamer, I don't understand the hype or attention for any of the PC exclusives, save Team Fortress considering how popular that is. And I doubt we'll be getting any console support either. I stopped playing the game a while back myself, but I'd welcome new stuff that actually fit. Cripes, they could throw in Solid Snake, Samus, Zero, or Pac-man and it'd make more sense to me.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure Sumo is aware of how this game has been perceived as of late (and for all I know may agree), and I hope they are able to get off of this and bring another racer. I won an XBox One from where I work and I'm pretty notorious for not being interested in any of the games that have been released for it, or at least not willing to put down $60 for yet. I need something that'll get me excited for it...