Mario Kart dominates the niche genre of casual racing games. Sega had their first game in this genre with Sonic & All-Stars Racing, and now Sega is taking their second shot at it with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. We were given the opportunity to try out a few levels at E3 and see what this newest installment is all about.
You start of by choosing one character out of the cast, which so far seems to include the same characters from the original game. In addition to Sega mainstays like Sonic and Tails, you can also choose characters from other games like B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio‘s Beat. NASCAR racer Danica Patrick is also set to be an unlockable character though she wasn’t available in the build that I played.
The original included cars, bikes and planes, and Tranformed now adds speedboats to spice things up. One of the most unique features of the game however, is the ability to transform to these different vehicles within a level without a hitch. Some levels will be just a water race, while others will be just in planes, however some races will have a water portion as well as an aero portion. Furthermore, levels change after every lap, and what was previously a road portion the first lap could now be overtaken with lava on the second lap, forcing you to use your speedboat instead.
Even though the game has items and boosts, the game currently lacks a strong racing experience at its core. One of Transformed‘s key selling points is the use of different types of vehicles. At this point, however, the various vehicles ends up being more of a gimmick than a game changer. We’ll see how well it gets implemented when the game comes out towards the end of 2012.