Recently I got Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing for Xbox 360. It’s a racing game starring popular Sega game characters. Yes, it’s a Mario Kart rip-off through and through, but it’s a fun one. I don’t mind copycat games as long as they’re entertaining. So here’s a blog about all the characters you can race as!
One great thing about this game is there is no stupid Sonic Riders style storyline. Just like any character mascot-based kart game, there are weapon pick-ups on the track, and most of them will be familiar to Mario Kart veterans. There are boxing gloves (green shells), missiles (red shells), traffic cones (banana peels), etc. Luckily there are no cheap blue shell weapons. Each character can get an All-Star weapon if they’re lucky and lagging behind. Every racer’s All-Star move is different, and while it can help them get to the lead of the pack, it never feels cheap like Mario Kart’s Bullet Bill or Blue Shell items. Best of all, play control is solid and responsive. And with multiple skill levels and multiplayer modes, it’s a great game for the family.
The racing tracks are from classic Sega games and worlds, too! Haunted tracks from House of the Dead, dancing trippy festival town tracks from Samba de Amigo, and urban city streets from Jet Set Radio Future. Courses from Super Monkey Ball have sharp corners and turns, and Billy Hatcher has tracks based on his game, like the snowy castle and dinosaur mountain. And of course, there are tracks from Sonic games, too. I wish they had courses from other Sega games, like Space Channel 5 or Fantasy Zone. But at least the tracks in the same worlds are still varied. For instance, one of the Samba de Amigo tracks is on a roller coaster, and inside a tunnel it has a blacklit ‘Day of the Dead’ spooky yet cheery motif. And some of the Sonic tracks are from Eggman’s fortress or the F-Zero-like pinball casino worlds from Sonic Heroes—my favorite kinds of Sonic levels (Sonic Heroes had a lot of good ideas, but horrible buggy gameplay).
I’ve got some good news and bad news if you’re a NIGHTS fan, though. The bad news is that the NIGHTS character is not a playable racer in the game. But the good news is that he’s still in there, telling the racers when to go at the starting line and waving the checkered flag for the winner, just like Lakitu in Mario Kart. And chances are, if your favorite Sega characters aren’t in the game, they’ve got a reference in the game’s Achievement titles. Like “Streets of Rage” or “Golden Acts” as well as old classics like “Up N Down” or “Turbo.”
But the best parts of the game are the stars of the show, so for the rest of the blog, here’s a rundown on all the racers. Great thing is they’re not hard to unlock. Driving earns you Sega Miles that you can use to purchase characters.
I don’t like Sonic at all. I find his too-cool attitude annoying and I just don’t ‘get’ his super fast ‘blast processing’ gameplay. Running so fast that you can’t see the spikes and enemies and pits you’re about to hit. Not fun. With that said, there are SOME Sonic games I do like (Sonic 3, Sonic Spinball, 3-D Blast, and Adventure). And I’m always willing to give a new Sonic game a fair try. Who knows? I just might like it, too. Obviously, Sonic’s All-Star movie is using Chaos Emeralds to turn into Super Sonic. And before you start questioning why Sonic is driving a car instead of just running, remember the lyrics to one of the best shows ever on TV (MST3K): “Just repeat to yourself it’s just a show (game), I should really just relax!”
He’s my favorite Sonic star, and MUCH better than Sonic, character-wise and gameplay-wise. He’s smart, modest, honest, and innocent. And flying is much more fun with him in the games. Sonic games have such brilliant level designs, but you hardly get to appreciate them running so fast as Sonic. But Tails can fly and explore all those great levels. In the racing game, he modified his airplane into a car, kind of like Red Max from Wacky Races. He makes a tornado for his All-Star move.
He’s brother Jeff’s favorite Sonic character. At least he’s cooler than Sonic and his gliding and climbing moves make him more fun to play as in the 2-D games. Too bad his 3-D emerald searches sucked, though.
She’s Sonic’s girlfriend/stalker. She’s pretty creepy and annoying (just listen to the lyrics in her theme song). She drives a pink car and uses her giant squeaky hammer as her All-Star move.
Ugh. Sonic already had a rival with the much cooler Metal Sonic, so why did they have to create this totally unoriginal emo character? At least he’s better than Silver the Hedgehog (thank goodness he’s not in this game). One neat thing about this game is that some characters ride motorcycles and can do different tricks, and Shadow is one of those racers. He turns into Super Shadow for his All-Star move.
Big the Cat
He’s one of my favorite Sonic characters. I like big, stupid lugs, and most Sonic fans hate him. And whatever riles up Sonic fans is OK by me! I love how in Sonic Adventure, everyone’s quest is about running fast except for Big’s. He just goes fishing! Ha! In the racing game he drives a motorcycle shaped like his pal Froggy.
Us old-schoolers know him as Dr. Robotnik, the bad guy in the Sonic games. His plans to take over the world by stuffing animals into robots is almost as ingenious as Dr. Wily putting robots in garages for Mega Man to defeat. In the racing game, Eggman sits in his UFO with monster truck tires attached to it. There are a bit too many Sonic racers in this game to my liking, but oh well.
This kid in a chicken suit was in ONE game only and he gets race tracks, too? His game really wasn’t that good, but it came out at a time when the GameCube was starved for content early in its lifespan. So I played it anyway. The ‘egg rolling over stuff’ gameplay was trounced a year later with the superior Katamari Damacy for the PS2. Naturally, Billy’s All-Star move is rolling a giant egg.
Didn’t you know? Ulala is my pretend girlfriend! Just joking! There is a funny story behind why I just said that, but that’ll have to wait for another day. Ulala is from Space Channel 5, a Dreamcast music and rhythm game. The actual gameplay wasn’t that good, but I sure loved the characters, themes, and style. You can keep your stiff and stodgy Star Trek future. I wanna live in the obnoxiously bright and trippy future of Ulala’s world! She’s actually my favorite character to race as here, because her cornering reminds me of Toad’s from Mario Kart, and Toad has ALWAYS been my favorite in those games.
Before Taiko Drum Master came along, Samba de Amigo was my favorite music game. Too bad the Wii version sucked. I still have my Dreamcast maracas. Amigo’s car is a giant bottle of hot sauce!
The first two Super Monkey Ball games on GameCube were REALLY good, but the rest sucked after that. Ai Ai’s car looks like a bunch of bananas, and he rolls inside his ball for his All-Stars move. The Monkey Ball tracks are some of the toughest to race on because of all the sharp corners. One cool Monkey Ball track makes reference to the super fun Monkey Target mini-game, though!
He rides a motorcycle and he’s from Shemnue. I never had any interest in that game. And if I played it, I think the only thing I would do is play arcade games and collect Sega toys. But I think that’s what most other people did when they played the game, too.
Jacky Bryant & Akira
They’re from Virtual Fighter games and it looks like they’re driving the car from OutRun. I guess they kicked that guy and his weird girlfriend out! Their All-Star move cracks me up! Akira I-don’t-know-his-last-name hops out of the car and karate kicks it in the back real hard. Then the car goes super fast! I don’t know how Akira gets back in the car, though!
YES! I loved this game in the early 90’s. You play as a robber and sneak into museums and mints and steal stuff. It had a unique early CG look to it. I played this game tons in the arcade while my friends were all playing those new 2-D fighters I could never figure out. The Bonanza Bros. were also in Tant-R, a WarioWare styled arcade game that came out way before Wario was even a thought! I’m super happy and surprised to see them in this racer, though. Totally unexpected! They drive a black getaway car and ride in their blimp as their All-Star move.
Can I get another YES! Opa Opa is the spaceship from the awesomely cute yet extremely hard shooter Fantasy Zone! In his All-Star move, you go to a shop and pick a weapon for him to use! Only problem with him in this racer is that since he’s a living spaceship, he doesn’t drive a car. So it’s hard to tell if he’s really turning because he fidgets around so much. But he’s still awesome. I even have an Opa Opa figurine on my desk. I’m playing with it right now! Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-DOO!
Before Sonic, Sega had lots of other mascots like Flicky, Opa Opa, and Alex Kidd. I’m sorry, but Alex Kidd games suck. He rides a zippy motorcycle from his old games in Sega All-Stars Racing, though.
They’re Space Mice from Chu Chu Rocket. It’s a fun game, but I could never get into it because it was so fast and chaotic. I think a downloadable version of it on Wii, 360, or DSi would do really well, though. In the racer, the four mice pilot a heavy rocket. In their All-Star move, they send out a giant hungry Space Cat onto the track. And if he gets you…CHOMP!
Brother Jeff LOVES the Jet Grind Radio games. Beat drives a car in this game, but when he hops out, he’s wearing his rollerblades! How does he push the gas pedal then? Wouldn’t that be dangerous and hard? Ha ha! In his All-Star move, Beat hops out of his car and skates super fast. If he runs into you, he’ll tag you with graffiti!
Zobio & Zobiko
You know, I didn’t think House of the Dead even HAD characters! They kind of remind me of the Gruesome Twosome in the Creepy Coupe from Wacky Races. All kart racing games owe EVERYTHING to that classic H-B cartoon! In their super move, the guy zombie drinks a potion to make him super huge, and then he tromps on ahead and stomps everything.
He’s from Crazy Taxi, and even better, he was the character I always picked when I played that game! In my opinion, Crazy Taxi was one of the last truly original Sega arcade titles. Naturally, he drives his taxi in the racing game. And one of the battle modes is kinda like Crazy Taxi, in that you have to pick up a Chao and take it to a destination.
Cary is one of Sega’s most popular characters, and he’s been an important person behind the scenes in many of their games. For instance, he was the shop manager in Fantasy Zone. Cary also supplied the brawlers in Virtual Fighter games with cans of spinach so they can be really strong when fighting each other. And Cary also edited Ulala’s news stories before she went on air in Space Channel 5. Fans have been clamoring for more Cary in their games, and Sega finally delivers. Maybe this racing game will drum up interest and Sega can finally make what fans have been asking for so long: a video game with Cary Woodham in the starring role!
OK, OK, none of that is really true. I was just trying to think of a funny way to say that you can race as your Avatars and Miis in the game, too. So was my made-up story funny or just stupid? Wait, don’t answer that.
And finally, if you have the 360 version of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, you can play as a guest character! Sure, Banjo and Kazooie aren’t Sega characters, but they fit right in here. And hey, Sonic was a guest character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The bear and bird duo look just as they do in their super fun 360 game Nuts & Bolts, which I liked even though it wasn’t a true B-K 3-D platfomer. They make jiggies rain down in their All-Star move. Unfortunately, their car doesn’t handle very well and you can’t take it to Mumbo’s Garage for a tune up! And if you think that Banjo being in a racing game is weird, keep in mind that his gaming debut was in Diddy Kong Racing, and he even had his own airplane racing game on the GBA with Banjo Pilot. On the 360, the title of the racing game looks really long because the box reads “Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing With Banjo & Kazooie.” Wow!
Really the only problem I found with Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing is that the announcer’s commentary is REALLY annoying. Supposedly, you can turn it off in the options menu, but when I tried that, he STILL keeps on talking! Even worse, when Ulala wins, the announcer tries to hit on her! Grr! Why that little…!
All joking aside, it’s a really fun racer and I think Nintendo could do something similar to breathe new life in their Mario Kart games. They could have characters and tracks from other titles besides Mario, like Kirby, Zelda, Metroid, or Star Fox. Maybe they could call it Super Smash Kart?
Really, I’m pretty happy with the roster in Sega’s kart racer. My favorites are Tails, Ulala, Big the Cat, the Bonanza Bros., and Opa Opa. So I can’t really think of any other racers I’d like to see in it. Maybe Ristar, because I liked his game better than Sonic (and saying that makes Sonic fans even MADDER!). For a more modern Sega character, maybe Bayonetta? She turns her hair into a monster, so maybe she could also turn it into a race car! That would be funny! And finally, maybe Pengo could’ve shown up. But I’d rather Sega just re-release that classic arcade game. I loved it when I was a kid.
In the comments section, tell me YOUR favorite Sega characters and which ones would you like to see in this game?