Review: Sonic Racing (Xbox 360)

Posted on October 23, 2017

The Game Truck is always about offering the most awesome, inclusive gaming experiences possible, meaning that we favour games that players of any age or level of experience in gaming can pick up and play and have lots of fun with friends. In this regard, Sonic Racing is perhaps the single best option for parties in the truck: yes, it’s even better than Minecraft.

The banner of ‘Sonic Racing’ actually covers two games: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Banjo-Kazooie, and Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed both if which are rated ‘G’. They are best described as a mascot kart racing game: in gameplay they are probably most similar to Mario Kart. In fact, when we are asked if we have Mario Kart in the truck we have to say no, as we have no Nintendo consoles, but we can happily say that we have Sonic Racing which is very similar. The racers themselves are mascots from the Sonic and SEGA worlds – Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles, Tails, Banjo-Kazooie and so on.

If you’re not familiar with Mario Kart, this genre of games offers an accessible and forgiving arcade racing experience, meaning that the gameplay is very unlike real car racing. It has cartoonish graphics and levels/tracks based on iconic SEGA franchises. Most importantly it is quite easy to play: if a player hits the edge their car bounces off and puts them back on the track with a slight speed reduction, and falling off the track or driving in the wrong direction for a few seconds makes the game recover your car and kindly place it back on the track. This means that the game is playable for even quite young players, as the focus is on finishing the game and doing the best you can rather than ‘beating’ your opponents.

In the kart racing tradition, one button allows you to ‘drift’ and get around corners quicker, and it is also possible to pick up items that can be used with a press of the ‘A’ button. These items include a guided rocket that will blast ahead to hit an opponent, a special boost that will make you race much faster to get an edge, or a freezing puffer fish that you can lay behind you. This element of gameplay is entirely optional though and many players have a great time without using these items at all – this means that when we explain the controls we can just say ‘this button to go, this joystick to steer’ and that is all anyone needs to know.

The main difference between the ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ version and the ‘Transformed’ versions of this game is that the latter has players automatically transform from a car into a boat, and then a kind of plane, to traverse different types of terrain. This makes the vehicle handle very differently, and the great thing is that this allows us to customise a gaming experience depending on players’ age and level of experience. For younger and less experienced players (to be honest, most of them), we just put on Banjo-Kazooie, but for slightly older players (say 10+) or those who have played Transformed before, we can offer a slightly more challenging game that will keep them interested and make the most of their gaming skill. It must be said that the flying mode shifts the racing into three dimensions, which can make it significantly more challenging for younger players, but managing these levels of challenge is exactly what we do in the Game Truck to make sure that everyone has a great time.

With its accessibility, customisability, potential for 4-player ‘couch co-op’, and just pure fun, this game is not only a top option for Game Truck birthday parties, it’s highly recommended for any young families or friendship groups. It doesn’t require particular skills; it’s not overly competitive; and it’s just a great deal of fun for almost anyone who can pick up a controller. It’s a top alternative to Minecraft for when players are a bit bored or not really into it. With it’s ease of play and pure fun for groups of friends it captures exactly what the Game Truck is all about.

– Chad

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