The Scrap Yard

Review of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed for Xbox 360

This blog’s been up long enough for me to remember reviewing the original… good times. Now, two years later, does the sequel deliver in its attempt to best Mario Kart 7? The answer is a resounding YES.

Sound: The remixes are flipping fantastic. Playing through Seaside Hill (yet again…) is made tolerable by the Toot Toot Sonic Warrior remix, and that case applies for many other courses throughout the game. The voice acting is good, although Beat’s voice reminds me of Jet the Hawk’s (the original voice actor) and Shadow’s voice is… interesting. Sound: 9/10

Presentation: SASRT looks gorgeous in land, air or sea. It looks surprisingly sleek in normal race-car mode, topping even that of the previous Sonic racing game. The visual flair really spices up when the cars go boat mode, and wave after wave of randomly generated water sparkle to life on the screen as your boat flies off of them doing front-flips and barrel rolls. In the sky, the presentation is more of a sense of freedom. I didn’t encounter an invisible wall once in the game (I was too engrossed in racing, possibly), and that speaks wonders for the game’s development. The only issues would be a few peculiar glitches, such as Shadow’s chest fur changing colors and my car randomly clipping through the course (very, very rarely). Presentation: 9/10

Gameplay: The car gameplay is slightly looser (control scheme-wise) if not identical to the original game two years ago. So, that’s the standard drifting fair and nothing too intense. It’s when things go boat form, the physics make you feel like you’re on wild rapids without a life jacket. It’s fun, fast and furious, but be prepared to cuss in frustration if you bump into a wall because of a mistimed wave-stunt and lose the race.
When you’re in plane form, the only experience I can relate it to is Transformers. It’s intense and controls with enough precision that you actually get really engrossed in what path you’ll take and if you can afford to do a dare-devil stunt or not, all of these thoughts within a matter of seconds while in the air.
When all of these fuse together, the experience is phenomenal. The racing is fluid and fast, the power-ups are relatively balanced and the gameplay is really fun. Every single course compliments these transformations perfectly, and nothing feels tacked on or underdeveloped. Gameplay: 9.5/10

Multiplayer: If they had a proper lobby system, things might work better. But for the time being, finding a match is a somewhat tolerable excercise, with the longest wait-time for me being around two minutes. The actual racing is lag-free and is a surprisingly fun experience, and no one is ever overpowering which leads to some pretty heated races. Multiplayer: 8/10

Length: The world tour mode is a solid, lengthy single player adventure. My only gripe would be that you have to do EVERY course on expert difficulty to complete it, which requires two full playthroughs of world tour on the hardest difficulty to achieve. Grand Prix is fun, and same gripe as world tour, there are “mirror” courses which are exactly that, and they count towards your completion progress of the game. So pretty much, if you think doing something in SASRT is hard, realize you’re probably going to be doing it twice. Online is fun and provides a couple of hours in distracting races, but the meat of the game is in world tour and split-screen racing which loses its spark after the fourteen to fifteen hour mark. Length: 7.5/10

Overall: Sonic’s second racing adventure gets an 8.6/10. It is by far the most solid racing fun I’ve had in a while, and easily trumps MK7’s petty “glider” and “scuba” sections with its all-out intense and ridiculous courses and action. Even better, it costs the same as MK7 even as a full-fledged console release. So what are you waiting for? Go out and buy Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed!

The Scrap Yard

Review of Mario Kart 7 for Nintendo 3DS

With a lull in good console games, I decided to pick up a 3DS title. So is this handheld kart racer as good as its other Mario Kart brethren? Read on to find out!

Sound: Lots of classic Mario soundtracks and even some new are all compiled into the game, so the nostalgia factor is high. Sound effects are great too, making you sweat when you hear that blue turtle shell closing in… Sound: 9/10

Presentation: At first glance, the graphics don’t look like anything special. But play long enough, and you’ll start to see that these visuals rival quite a few Wii titles. On top of the impressive graphics, the 3D looks great. Not so great that it’ll be worth using enough to make you sick (read my Nintendo 3DS review for the full scoop) but good enough that it’s worth turning on once in a while. Presentation: 9/10

Gameplay: The gameplay of Mario Kart is identical to its past games, easy to play, hard to master. The controls are basic as can be, but that simplicity adds up to a lot of fun when you throw in the dangerous items and new underwater/sky gameplay elements. The hang glider is a fun new addition that adds a new level of depth to each track, and the underwater segments are always some of the best and most original parts of each course. New items have been added so that things are even more unpredictable during races, and there’s a fair amount of unlockable characters and kart customizations to get. My only gripe with this is that it takes forever to get new customizations/characters, so gameplay becomes a little stale before new unlockables are obtained. Gameplay: 8/10

Multiplayer: Coin battle and balloon battle are just as frantic as ever, especially on the new eight player online multiplayer. I encountered no lag and everything worked perfectly, my only real problem being how long the matchmaking took. But other than that, a great online experience that shows what MK7 is all about. Multiplayer: 8/10

Length: If you’re into grand prix mode, this game will keep you busy for a few hours. The online is great too, being the most addicting part of the package. If you don’t have an internet connection and don’t get a lot of fun out of versing AI through four-track competitions though, this game will be over within the first two hours. Length: 7/10

Overall: Mario Kart 7 gets 8.4 coins out of 10! A great installment to the series, and is a must-buy for any racing fanatics who own a 3DS.