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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Rejoice for the SEGA All-Stars (and, again, that bloke from Shenmue)

After railing against console-brand-biased fanboys earlier this week, it is time for me to be a big hypocrite and don my SEGA fanboy hat. Last night I played the 360 demo for “Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing” and loved it. I know Sonic’s track record for spin-off titles isn’t great, with lacklustre games like Sonic Riders and All-Stars Racing developer Sumo Digital’s previous effort SEGA Superstars Tennis scoring poorly with reviewers. However, from what I played, this new Sonic racing game was pretty good fun. In the same way that Sumo’s Sonic tennis game was based around the principles of SEGA’s Virtua Tennis franchise, All-Stars Racing seems to have been based on the driving mechanics of the arcade series Outrun, in that you must drift to turn corners. As a pretender to the Mario Kart throne, the game seems to be a lot better than it has any right to be and may provide PS3 and 360 fans with the opportunity to enjoy a decent game of that type without having to go cap in hand to Nintendo.

As I said, though, I am a bit fanboyish about this topic. Most of my time playing the demo was spent gawping at the references to other SEGA games, most of which come from the Dreamcast era and pointing them out to my girlfriend (who couldn't care less). There are playable characters and stages from Space Channel 5, Shenmue, Jet Set Radio and Samba Di Amigo and nods to other neglected games like Chu Chu Rocket. I also loved the fact that the music for the Sonic-themed stage of the demo was taken from directly from Sonic Adventure. I hope all the stages take their music directly from these old games. I couldn’t tell from the demo whether Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki is voiced by the legendary Corey Marshall, but I remain hopeful (despite the fact his IMDB entry doesn’t list the game).

Basically, as you can tell from that last paragraph, a fair slice of my enthusiasm for this game comes from loving many of the franchises which it is cynically cashing in on. I knew I’d like that aspect of the game when it was first announced (it had me at “hello”), but what surprises me is that the game seems playable enough for me to actually buy it. It seems off though that this game should be released now and continue the Sonic Adventure-era branding of Sonic, seeing as SEGA are trying to bring the franchise back to its roots and put an end to this kind of crap. Anyway, enjoy the video of Shenmue's hero getting his race on below:

Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing is rated '7+' by PEGI and comes out in Europe on February 26th... which come to think of it, clashes with the release of Heavy Rain.

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