Overall - 90%
Those wondering if Racing Transformed is worth it for those who weren’t raised in the house of Sega need not worry: the racing found here is solid enough to entertain any newcomer and delight any longtime fan. Who knows -- it might even make an addict out of them too.
Who doesn’t like crossovers? Not only do they exploit nostalgia, they also offer fresh new content for diehard fans to enjoy. If the recent kart racer Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was a love letter to Sega fans, its beefed up sequel Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed is a full-blown serenade. Does this racer steal gamers’ hearts…or break them?
Rather than simply adding more tracks and characters and calling it a day, development team Sumo Digital changes things up with the addition of both boats and aircrafts in Racing Transformed. Living up to its “Transformed” moniker, each racer’s vehicle changes at designated gates mid-race. What would normally be considered a gimmick becomes a game changer, with each course designed to be air-, land-, and sea-friendly. The unique handling and top speed of each vehicle does lead to a higher difficulty curve (and the bizarre addition of mid-air drifts), but also provides deeper gameplay to those willing to learn.
Gameplay also becomes considerably deeper when utilizing the drifting mechanics of Racing Transformed. Much like its prequel (and Sega’s OutRun series), the hairpin turns and 90-degree shortcuts serve as a harsh reminder that mastery is absolutely required. Thankfully, it also makes for a satisfying risk-reward mechanic that encourages reckless driving with three tiers of boost and even faster gameplay.
Racing Transformed truly shines when all of these elements come together in each of the game’s 20 courses (downloadable courses notwithstanding) from Sega’s diverse library of games. Each outing is full of life, with courses changing mid-race (much like Disney racer Split/Second) and branching paths that promote exploration. As a result, every race feels more like a jaunt through each game’s world than a mere drive. One need not look further for an example than the Jet Set Radio-inspired track “Graffiti City,” which its vibrant subways, rooftops, and water towers of Tokyo-To and play-by-plays by series veteran Professor K.
It’s just a shame that so many of the courses in Racing Transformed need to be unlocked in the elaborate Career mode. While grinding for experience, racing mods, characters and courses can be downright addicting, it can also be an exercise in tedium for those looking to race with friends offline or experiment with each course on their own terms. Thankfully, each course can also be unlocked if somebody challenges you to a race on it in the game’s robust online mode.
Of course, the fan service in Racing Transformed is what gives this kart racer its distinct flavor. Courses from Sonic the Hedgehog are a given, but tracks from more obscure titles like Panzer Dragoon and Skies of Arcadia are welcome surprises that also stay true to their source material. Even subtle touches like the Daytona USA sound effects in menus will put a smile on any fan’s face.
Those wondering if Racing Transformed is worth it for those who weren’t raised in the house of Sega need not worry: the racing found here is solid enough to entertain any newcomer and delight any longtime fan. Who knows — it might even make an addict out of them too.