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Team Sonic Racing Review

Edited by: John Gerritzen

Sega’s newest Sonic installment, Team Sonic Racing, once again capitalizes on mascot Sonic’s speed — but this time, Sonic, his crew, and other familiar faces from the franchise face off in an arcade racing competition. Now, if that sounds familiar — and it probably does — there’s a good chance you’re thinking of Mario Kart. You wouldn’t be wrong to do so, as, at first glance, the two titles are uncomfortably similar.

Is that you, Mario?

First things first, there are several pretty big differences between Mario Kart and Team Sonic Racing… but for every difference, there are also three similarities. The first few matches of the story mode, you may as well be playing Mario Kart; there are similar controls, similar gameplay elements (from the bright and elaborate tracks to the boxes that give us items), and even the items themselves are mostly identical between both.

After a little bit of gameplay, the differences become more pronounced though, with the major one being the team-play functionality. Rather than playing alone versus many, you play in teams of three. In addition to being scored as a team as well as individually, some gameplay elements require the player to work with their team.

Driving Mr. Sonic

There are several ways to cooperate in-game. From sending unwanted items to teammates, to giving them boosts if they fall off the track, there are multiple options. All these options help fill up the gauge for the team’s ultimate ability: a speed boost that provides invulnerability. It affects all three teammates at once and will often make the difference between winning and losing.

Speaking of affecting teammates, those items that can be sent to other players (or AI characters) can be a great help for characters stuck further back on the track. A lot of items are mostly useless to the lead character, so trading them away will not only increase the ultimate gauge but also help a teammate catch up to the top spots. As for the items themselves, once again, you see a lot of familiar things from Mario Kart. There are bombs, boxes, targeted bombs, and more, but also unique items that allow you to defend against other items and players.

Pimp My Sonic

Like in any good arcade racer, there are several different customization options, from purely visual aspects, like colors and decals, to functional elements like fans and wheels. A lot of things can be changed here. It’s a pretty fun system where players get new customization elements from little capsules paid for with coins that, in turn, are earned through regular gameplay. It’s not difficult to get coins, but it is fun to discover new customizations for the fifteen different characters.

Speaking of those characters — they are split up into five teams of three cars, one of each of the three different types. Sonic, Amy, Blaze, Shadow, and Metal Sonic each drive a speed-type car that focuses less on Handling or Defense, and more on, well, Speed. Tails, Chao, Silver, Dr. Eggman, and Rouge drive Technique-type cars which don’t suffer surface penalties and handle well, while the remaining characters (Knuckles, Big, Vector, Omega, and Zavok) each drive Power cars, which focus on Defense and destroying obstacles or opponents.

Hedgehogs… or Bugs?

Next to the somewhat extreme similarities to Mario Kart, there is really only one major issue with the game: the bugs. Specifically, at the time of writing, there were two that seriously affected gameplay. After roughly 30% of finished races, the game would crash and not actually count the win as a win. Curiously, this only happened to me when I took first place and the rest of my team took second and third. The second issue is far less serious — a graphics bug that occasionally lightly pixelated roughly half the screen.

Other than these two issues, Sega’s racer runs smoothly at high settings and its resolution scales well even on larger displays. However, the semi-constant crashing is extremely frustrating. Ignoring that for a minute, the title is absolutely stunning to look at, with lovely attention to detail, innovative cars, and well-designed tracks that feel distinct, interactive, and unique.

Setting the Stage

Yet another very Mario-Kart-inspired element is the level-select screen. While there are other game modes like local and online multiplayer, the story mode is set on different maps with stages that unlock stars and keys. After a certain amount, it’s possible to move on to the next world… exactly like in various Mario games.

As for the story, well, it isn’t quite “Your Princess is in another castle,” but it’s not far from that as far as creativity goes. Our beloved characters receive a suspicious invitation from a shady character and — although they are all 100% certain that it’s a trap — they go along with it, only to discuss at (literally!) every stage how very obviously it’s all a trap. As a player, you can’t help but wonder why they don’t call it a day, especially when their “host” starts summoning characters across time and different dimensions.

Putting the Team in Team Sonic

In addition to team-based, single-player modes like the campaign where the other carts are AI-driven, there is both local and online multiplayer gameplay available. Players can play both with other players on their team and against other players leading AI-teams. There is even a free-for-all mode where no team play is possible at all, which is more like the Mario Kart experience you are used to. Generally, multiplayer runs smoothly, and since it allows each player to select a car of their choice and assigns the remaining ones manually, there are sometimes some interesting team combos. For example, ones with only speed-type cars.

6

The Verdict: Good

Team Sonic Racing is a lot like Mario Kart, so if you're hoping for a unique racer, you’ll be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for a visually stunning and entertaining way to pass the time, this is a good choice. As far as arcade racers go, this is definitely a good one, though it isn’t entirely without flaws. Whether it’s single- or multiplayer, it’s a fun experience that’s ideal for some light-hearted and nostalgic fun. The fact that all of our favorite Sonic characters (as well as a few not-so-popular ones — looking at you, Dr. Eggman) appear makes it all the more endearing. Flaws aside, this is definitely one to pick up if you are a Sonic fan.

See About Us to learn how we score

Melanie Hawthorne
Written by
Tuesday, 04 June 2019 06:08
Published in Sport

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Mel is a London-based copywriter that has been writing about video games for a few years now. After growing up in Vienna, Austria she followed her dreams and moved to London. Said dreams took her through a few different jobs (which included working as a web developer, shopkeeper and translator) before she settled on what she really wanted to do – periodically anger video game fans by expressing her opinions on games through various online publications. When she’s not writing about video games, she’s probably playing them... or walking her dog in a park. Since that depends largely on the English weather, Mel has plenty of time to indulge in her favourite games. These include but are not limited to Ark: Survival Evolved, Skyrim, GTA V, and oddly enough, Amnesia: Memories. She loves Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. She thinks Star Trek is way better than Star Wars and isn’t afraid to admit it – Live long and prosper!

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