Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (is what Mario Kart should be)

(Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2023)

I first played Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed (which I’m now just going to call Sonic Racing Transformed for my own sanity from now on) years ago around when it first came out and was blown away. The sense of speed, the bright/colorful aesthetic, the homeage to a TON of Sega franchises really sets it apart. In my opinion Sega Racing Transformed is what Mario Kart should have evolved into years ago. Lots of different game modes, lots of variety of tracks, not limited to just Sonic inspiration, and a great focus on mechanics and making sure you’re having the most fun for entire ride.

tldr Ratings:

First Time Playing No
Play Time 8hrs
Difficulty Hard/Expert
100% Completion No (skipped some Expert but opened all career mode)
Fun 10 / 10
Transforming 9 / 10
Jank 4 / 10
Joe Musashi on Monkey Ball


Sonic Racing Transformed takes notes from Mario Kart, obviously, but I think it takes even more notes from Sega’s arcade roots (and a little from Diddy Kong Racing). The main theme of the game is transformation, this is both for the vehicles and in most cases the tracks themselves. Every character’s vehicle auto-transforms into a Car/Boat/Plane depending on the situation on the track.


It’s INCREDIBLY important to master and figure out all the ways you can boost at any given time, espeically if you want to start clearing the expert difficulty tracks. Every kind of boosting has a risk reward system with it. Ways you can boost are:


The transform mechanic reminds me a lot of Diddy Kong Racing with having land/sea/air vehicles. Granted you’ll be spending most of your time in the car/land vehicle, then air, then boats. All vehicles can drift/get boosts as well.

The boats in particluar are a little janky/unfair just because you have to deal with Wave Race-esque water physics jank. Not enough that you’ll throw the controller, but if you hit a wall or take a turn too tight, you will slow down a lot more than the other vehicles. This is sort of balanced out a bit, since a lot of the water sections in the game don’t force you to boost to get around (though you absolutely should try to on higher difficulties).

The air vehicles are super fun and control exactly how you would think. The main difference compared to the other ones (aside from flying obviously) is that you can flip/barrel roll at any time. I’ve read in the game tips that there’s a mechanic around doing a flip/roll before something hits you/you run into an obstacle can give you a boost, but I’ve never been able to pull that off. Overall I’d say the air vehicles are the easiest to control in the game.



All the stages are amazing and I don’t think there are any “bad” tracks, though I will say I really didn’t like the track based on “Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg”. The 90 degree turns didn’t always work well with the drift mechanics, and the last S-turn before the finish line kind of forces you to break which you don’t really need to in any other part of the game didn’t sit well with me. There were a few other tracks where I had ‘collision jank’ where I would be going so fast in the air that I would hit a ‘roof’ and lose speed. But then the reverse would happen where theres some parts of the map where you just clip right through the walls as if they want you to go fast.

SO I DON’T KNOW. Jank aside, all courses are very unique and have their own themes and colors schemes that everything always feels fresh and exciting. My favorite track is probably the one based on House of the Dead. Every lap (one single race) the track transforms in some way, with the last track pushing you into the wine cellar basement before turning into a boat and driving in acid pools. Really creative and fun stuff.

Career Mode


The “career” mode had a LOT of variety and is not just racing other carts. I didn’t even touch the Grand Prix modes until I was done the main career mode. The career is just a set of challenges where you can choose your difficulty for each event and be awarded stars. After X many stars, you can unlock new characters, different career paths, different car mods, etc. My favorite game modes were:


The weapons you can pick up in the game are very Mario Kart esque/nothing too special. There’s a couple of fun mechanics they added:

Casino Zone


Honestly this is what Mario Kart should have turned into, a celebration of franchises with a very rewarding system around skill. The game looks incredible, so much that you can’t tell it’s a game from 2012. I played this over again on Xbox Series S through backwards compatibility and it looks like it could come out today. There’s just so many great design descisions that came with this game, and Sumo Digital had no reason to go THIS HARD THIS WELL. I’ve heard the sequel Sonic Team Racing isn’t AS good but still good, so that’s next on my list to see if I like it the same way I love this game.

So yeah please go play this if you haven’t yet.