The Sonic series has had various racing games, some good like Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed and others not so good like Sonic Riders. So how does the newest Sonic racing game, Team Sonic Racing compare to past Sonic racing games and other kart racers in general? It actually compares pretty well for the most part, especially with its team-based racing mechanics, customization options, and story mode makes it different the Mario Kart series which it takes inspiration from. The controls also feel slick and responsive. That’s not to say that Team Sonic Racing is without its flaws though.
Team Sonic Racing’s gameplay is actually different than most kart racers as it actually prioritizes teamwork. This isn’t a bad thing either as it brings a whole new layer to the kart racing genre of video games. 12 racers compete in a race, the racers are split into 4 teams each comprising of 3 racers. The racers on a team must work together in order for all the racers of a team to place as high as possible at the end of a race. Racers on a team do this by following in each other’s slipstreams which give the following racer a boost and allows them to slingshot in front of the racer leaving the slipstream. Racers on a team can also send items to each other. For example, if a racer is in first place and they pick up rockets, instead of using the rockets yourself you can pass them off to a teammate that is further behind in the race so they can hit some competing racers with the rockets and catch up, and that is just one example of the various different kind of situations that can happen with this team focused gameplay mechanic. Teamwork and item sharing are further encouraged by the fact that each type of racer can only pick up certain types of items. So some of the items that a speed racer type like Sonic can pick up are different than those that a power racer type like Knuckles can pick up and the only way they can use items of a different type of racer is when they share the items with each other. Also just because you win first place in a race that doesn’t mean your team will win as each placement wins a racer a certain amount of points and if you place first but your teammates place eleventh and twelfth, your team will not win the race as the goal is for you all to place well so you can win the most points at the end collectively. It’s a great concept that works well and actually sets Team Sonic Racing apart from its kart racing competition.
Another gameplay feature that sets the game apart from its competition is the kart customization options. Every racer has a kart that is unique to them but features like the front of the kart, back of the kart, and tires can be customized. The customizations always make the kart look different enough while still always matching the look of your character. The way you customize your kart changes the racers stats, so if you want more acceleration, you can customize your kart in a way that gives you that, if you want more defense you can get that too. It all just depends on the way you customize your kart. Outside of team racing and kart customization.
Team Sonic Racing also features an adventure mode where players move around a map and go to different stages which usually are a variety of different race types like the standard team race, daredevil race, survival race, destruction race, and ring challenge. Daredevil races require you to compete against the clock by getting the highest score possible from skimming or drifting past star posts. In survival race, every lap a certain number of racers get eliminated and your goal is to not be eliminated and be one of the last racers racing. Destruction race has your shooting rockets at targets and ring challenges will have you collecting the most amount of rings possible within the given time. There are a variety of race types for you to enjoy, unfortunately, most of them are only available to enjoy in Adventure mode as outside of Grand Prix, team race, standard race, and time trial all other race types are unavailable in local play and online multiplayer
The game’s controls well enough and the controls themselves feel responsive. It’s hard though for me to choose if I like the whole teamwork aspect of Team Sonic Racing more than the Transformed aspect of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed more, which saw karts transform into boats that could sail on water or planes that could fly depending on what part of the track you’re on. If Sumo Digital combined these two ideas, they could’ve potentially had the perfect racing game. Because both ideas are good and different in their own right, it’s hard to choose which idea is better and if the teamwork gameplay aspect is a step back from the Transformed gameplay mechanic. Hopefully, in the sequel, they just combine both of those gameplay mechanics since they are both so good and different but could still work well together.
If you’ve played any 3D Sonic game whether it’s a racing or platformer you already know what you’ll be hearing. Music tracks that are sometimes really memorable and others that are forgettable. Characters who have voices that are okay while other characters have voices that are really annoying. Team Sonic Racing follows this formula that has been accidentally established in 3D Sonic titles very well. Unfortunately, that clash in quality with some of the music tracks found in the game overall just make the soundtrack average. Thankfully though the characters in Team Sonic Racing don’t talk as much as they do in other 3D Sonic titles which makes the more annoying sounding character like Vector a little more tolerable.
On the visual side of things, Team Sonic Racing has clean and crisp graphics which should be expected in a kart racer during 2019. The visuals of the tracks, on the other hand, are hit or miss. Some tracks like all the tracks from Sandopolis look great and the creativity in both the design and layout of the tracks further adds to the visuals of those specific tracks but other tracks like Ice Mountain while not bad looking does seem somewhat uninspired,
For $39.99 you’re getting a kart racer with 15 racers, 21 tracks and kart customization options. For the price, it’s a decent amount of content and as of right now it’s the only amount of content you’ll be getting as there are currently no plans for DLC to be added. There are a few noticeable Sonic characters absent from the roster like Espio the Chameleon, Charmy the Bee, and Cream the Rabbit but most of the other Sonic mainstays are here. With such a large selection of characters that have appeared over the years, it is a shame that we didn’t get an additional team or two. Another thing that would’ve been nice to have additional different types of race tracks. From the large number of Sonic levels and stages they had to choose from it’s kinda disappointing that only 7 stages from Sonic’s past are represented in this game, and each stage represented has 3 tracks dedicated to it. The stages chosen to represent the Sonic series isn’t bad either, stages like Rooftop Run and Sandopolis make an appearance in this game. I just can’t help but think that they could’ve added a few more stages even if that meant lowering the number of tracks dedicated to each stage. It is nice to see through the number of different race types even if a majority of them are restricted to Adventure mode. For the price, however, you will be getting a decent amount of content with no in-app purchases or DLC.
If you’re looking for a game where you’ll spend hours trying to unlock new racers, karts, and tracks by playing and then replaying races. This isn’t one of them as outside of kart customization options and a few tracks there isn’t much to unlock. Kart customization options are unlocked via mod packs which are like loot boxes. You win points to buy them at the end of each race but due to all the characters being unlocked from the beginning, you won’t keep racing for much longer after you beat Team Adventure as there just isn’t that much to keep you coming back. The online matchmaking is fun for a short time if you enjoy the half of the racers you compete against being Shadow. If online matchmaking had more race types like Daredevil, Survival, and Destruction it would’ve boosted the replay value as these modes were all fun to play and would’ve been a blast to play online with other players. While Team Sonic Racing may keep you coming back for a short time, outside of occasionally playing with friends it won’t keep you coming back for long.
Team Sonic Racing is the newest game in the Sonic racing series of games. It’s done away with all the characters from other Sega series and got back to focusing on strictly the Sonic series. Unfortunately with that though Team Sonic Racing did take away the transformed element of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed which saw karts turning into boats and planes, fortunately, they added a teamwork mechanic that is really different than anything that has been seen in a kart racer before. Teamwork is crucial in this game and helping your teammates and them helping you is your key to winning races. The Adventure mode contains a variety of racing types which keeps the mode fresh and fun, it is unfortunate though that you have to play these different race types in Adventure mode as they are unavailable in Local Play and Online Multiplayer. Both the race tracks and music tracks found in them have hits and misses but that never halts the teamwork mechanics from being a good time. While Team Sonic Racing doesn’t have the most racers or tracks, it’s gameplay is a fun time that makes the game worth checking out if you like don’t have a Nintendo Switch and enjoy kart racers.