By Graham Smith on January 20th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.
I thought I could let this pass without posting about it. It’s just a bit of character DLC for Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, a kart racing game few people other than me seem to love. But… it’s too good. It’s Shenmue’s Ryo Hazuki driving a transforming car/boat/plane modelled to look like an OutRun arcade cabinet. It’s beautiful. It’s the Sega singularity. I’ve recorded a video of me racing that OutRun arcade cabinet around an OutRun track while the game’s announcer calls out phrases like “Football Manager has gone All-Star!” and “Stickers unlocked!”
It’s rare that there’s a kart racing game worth playing, and it’s even rarer that the game is on PC. It’s rarer still for that game to have the invention and personality of Sonic Racing Transformed, in which each track and character is plucked from Sega’s back catalogue of videogames. That means you can race as Space Channel V’s Ulala on a track inspired by House of the Dead against other drivers based on Sonic, of course, but also Company of Heroes, Shogun: Total War, Football Manager and more. It’s joyful, and the next best thing to digging out an old copy of Diddy Kong Racing.
Developers Sumo Digital – also responsible for the PC port of OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast – have been occasionally adding new characters to the game as DLC. The previously added character, Simon from Yogscast, was released to raise money for charity.
Aside from being a really good kart racer, I love the game for the way it celebrates Sega history, with a healthy disrespect, or at least careful cherry-picking, for character canon. Ryo Hazuki wants to avenge his father’s death? Not anymore! Now he wants to hit boosts and fire ice blasts from his magical arcade cabinet. Because, let’s face it, being able to play muck around playing Space Harrier within Shenmue was what that game was about.
As always when writing about this game, I’m obligated to link to Dead End Thrill’s gallery of screenshots.