Play Sonic Racing Transformed For Free This Weekend

Crazy Taxi Boat is enough to make me play this all on its own.

I explode through the door. You’ve barely time to register the splintering hinges before I’m upon you, gripping your lapels and hoisting you out of your chair. I start to scream something at your face, shaking you to punctuate each word. You can barely make it out. SONIC– TRANSFORM– EKEND–

God, I smell terrible. I’ve been beneath the floorboards, doing whatever it is I do down there. But I’m repeating it again and you hear this time.


When I calm down, I explain more.

Released in January on PC and last year on TV boxes, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a kart racer. It is the best kart racer in years, by far the best on PC, and it’s a dancing, colourful homage to Sega history.

Every track is an homage to a different Sega game. A Sonic-inspired track in space where your car tranforms into a spaceship to fly through an asteroid field and giant robots fire lasers at you. A Samba de Amigo track where the buildings around you bop and sway to the music. A House of the Dead track which takes place in an enlarged version of that game’s mansion, in which you steer and slide between the legs of a giant spider. Plus tracks based on Super Monkey Ball, Jet Set Radio, Golden Axe, After Burner… It’s glorious to fly between aircraft carriers, squashed between brilliantly blue sky and ocean, but the world design keeps surprising you with its invention and detail.

From Duncan Harris’ Dead End Thrills collection:

The drivers you control are also pulled from the roster of historic Sega characters. That means Sonic, Knuckles, Space Channel 5’s Ulala and so on. That’s all great, but Sega is a very different company than it used to be and they haven’t shied away from honouring all parts of themselves. The PC version also lets you drive a tank as General Winter, a World War 2 reference inspired by Company of Heroes 2, or as Shogun from Total War: Shogun 2.

My favourite is Football Manager from the game Football Manager. Depicted on the covers of the Football Manager box, Sonic Racing Transformed transmutes brand guidelines into a kind of personality. Football Manager’s mouth is always open and his helmet always cover his eyes. When his car transforms into its plane or boat form, the change sequence is covered by a giant football. It’s absurd and silly and warm.

I’m sorry about your door, but if you have any fondness for Sega games, you should play this. It’s a celebratory parade.

If you like kart racing games, you should play this. It’s difficult, but its boost and drift mechanics are impeccable.

If you’re a bit bored this weekend, you should play this. It’s free to play on Steam till the 9th, and £3.74 if you buy during that period.


  1. Vinraith says:

    Best kart racer on PC by a comfortable margin, absolutely fantastic.

    • Guvornator says:

      Yes, and makes Mario Kart look positively unimaginative. Some of the characters are…a stretch (Roman General from Rome Total War anyone?) but the circuit design is extraordinary – some levels literally tear themselves apart. I’m not a huge Sega fan, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I love the one with the airship battle.

        Not normally my kind of thing, but it’s just so wonderfully lush with non-brown graphics and Things that I took a punt on it last time it had a free weekend. Only problem is that I don’t have the skill to unlock the last few* levels.**

        And the music is excellent. Seriously. I don’t even have any nostalgia factor making me love this.

        (* Maybe. I have all the vehicles unlocked now, but it seems to like to have “just a few more” over to the right of the map.)
        (** Ok, very, very slight disappointment in that the “bonus” PC characters don’t have transform animations like the others, just obscuring effects like the football. That’s the kind of level of nit to be picked here.***)
        (***Edit: Oh, I remember now: it’s a pain to change keyboard bindings because they’re done through a buggy launcher and don’t even appear in the in-game settings. That’s one chink in the port’s armour.)

        This has come across sounding negative. It’s not. THIS GAME IS GOOD PLAY IT.

        • DrScuttles says:

          Yeah, I remember hitting something of a skill wall after having finished a good amount of cups and unlocking a load of characters.
          Some of the tracks just make me grin start to finish. That one you mentioned that ends with the crazy airship battle (Skies Of Arcadia) being one of them. And NiGHTS. Granted, I have a good deal of nostalgia for a lot of the games it references, but it’s just a joy to play.

        • bambusek says:

          (** Ok, very, very slight disappointment in that the “bonus” PC characters don’t have transform animations like the others, just obscuring effects like the football. That’s the kind of level of nit to be picked here.***)

          It’s not only PC characters, some standard one, like Musashi from Shinobi, doesn’t have animation as well.

    • bambusek says:

      And PC version actually get the most of love as there are currently six exclusive characters (counting with Yogscast from new DLC)

  2. stahlwerk says:

    Local coop? Sold.

    • Vinraith says:

      It even supports mixed multiplayer, you can plug in two controllers and then both of you can race with others online if you want.

  3. The First Door says:

    It really is excellent! And this is from someone who thought the original Sonic Racing was complete bobbins! They’ve made the tracks much more interesting this time around, the power ups are more competitive and fun to use (I think an ex-Blur dev was bought into help, but I can’t remember why I think that), and the character list is really quite good for the most part.

    The ‘retro’ tracks really aren’t as fun as the new ones though.

    • LXM says:

      You are correct, this game had a number of developers from bizarre creations working on it which would explain why it’s so damned good.

  4. Lambchops says:

    One of those games virtually nobody has a bad word to say about.

    Great fun, well worth buying.

    • Similar says:

      Well, the control options are pretty appalling if you don’t have a controller. Can’t use mouse at all, as far as I can tell. Have to leave the game to configure controls too and the configuration program crashed on me several times.

      Aside from that, it does seem quite fun.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I guess I should give it another try then. I bought it in a Steam sale a while ago – played it for a bit, but didn’t get hooked.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I just can’t pass up the opportunity to be called a virtual nobody.

      I dunno, I played this during the last free weekend and found the controls very peculiar. Floaty and spacey. The game didn’t grab me at all and I just wrote it off, but seeing all this positive feedback compels me to give it another try.

  5. DrScuttles says:

    Stop it Graham, stop it, you’re scaring the children.

  6. lautalocos says:

    does it come with a glitchy alien from aliens: colonial marines?

  7. Jad says:

    “Sega is a very different company than it used to be and they haven’t shied away from honouring all parts of themselves. The PC version also lets you drive a tank as General Winter, a World War 2 reference inspired by Company of Heroes 2, or as Shogun from Total War: Shogun 2.”

    Holy crap, I did not know this. I just figured the game would be totally console-focused, and would have Sonic and then a whole lot of characters that I’ve never heard of, since I haven’t cared about Sega since the Genesis days. And even then, I really only cared about Sonic.

    But including these kinds of properties in a kart racer sounds positively nuts. I also love the Football Manager take. I will have to check this out.

    Local co-op sounds ace as well.

    • subedii says:

      As is relatively common place these days, the TF2 crew also have their own cameo vehicle(s). One TF2 “driver”, which is actually a combination of the Heavy / Pyro / Spy depending on vehicle you’re in.

      Seriously I think those characters need to be in Smash Bros next. Well if it ever happened to hit PC (which is about as likely as ever with Nintendo: ‘Not’).

  8. EvaUnit02 says:

    I want to see Wacky Wheels on GOG already.

  9. MeestaNob says:

    I found the catch-up AI cheating a bit hard to put up with at times, but this overall is a really surprisingly good little game. It looks pretty fantastic too.

    I hope they continue to add more characters to it:
    – Altered Beast: announcer says “RWISE FWOM YOUR GWAVE!!” whenever you respawn back on the track.
    – Columns (I just think a Columns themed track would look nice)

  10. The Random One says:

    This is a good game and I thought that General Winter being added after Sega bought CoH from the THQ trainwreck was a pretty funny thing (and he’s one of my favourite characters now).

  11. FriendGaru says:

    I love the absurdity of the character roster. Knuckles, a shogun, Danica Patrick, and Football Manager racing around on an aircraft carrier? Sure, why not! It also does a fantastic job keeping the tracks varied, as the track on the third lap will be quite different from the first, alleviating the repetition of most racing games. It’s really quite good.

  12. satan says:

    Surprised how fun this is, and it’s overflowing with delicious Sega nostalgia from the mainstream to the obscure (Burning Rangers!).

  13. Culby says:

    I picked this up in the last sale, and I’m almost embarrassed at the amount of time I’ve put into it. It really is a ton of fun, and absolutely gorgeous to boot.

    Best part: NO BLUE SHELLS. The swarm comes close, but it’s at least avoidable.

  14. Notebooked says:

    Looking forward to the inevitable barrage of Football Manager/Amy Rose fanfiction.

    (Honestly. No, honestly!)

  15. Scurra says:

    Just wanted to join the throng saying thank you for drawing this to my attention – I d/loaded it last night and have been playing it pretty much nonstop today, with a minor detour to actually pay for it. Fun, frustrating and gloriously designed levels with something new almost every single time even within a single race.
    Plus, how can I not love a game in which I get to race as Wreck-It Ralph, perhaps my favourite animation of the last few years.