Tag Archives: Sonic

Team Sonic Racing Review

Team Sonic Racing Review – Written by Jose R. Vega

Product provided by SEGA.

It had been seven years since Sonic got the chance to go kart racing with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Since then, things have been dormant with SEGA putting their focus on other games. Last year, SEGA announced that Sonic would return for another round of racing. It would be known as Team Sonic Racing. Instead of Sonic racing alongside characters from other SEGA franchises, it’s between Sonic characters. Playing it safe but does this change translate to a good racing game?

Sonic Team Racing’s story goes like this. Sonic and his friends get an invitation to take part in the Ultimate Test of Racing Skill. It gets Sonic curious and before long, they meet a strange Tanuki named Dodonpa. Noticing his similarities to Eggman, they are cautious. Despite this, they take part where teamwork is the key to winning races. All the while, Eggman along with his team have plans of their own. He seeks to use Dodon Pa so he can obtain the Ultimate Energy Engine and use it to become an unstoppable force.

It’s interesting that this game actually has a story but what I also like is that this one puts more focus on the Sonic characters and their world. It’s pretty good. Sumo Digital gets props and it shows. Although I wish we had gotten much of the story in the form of animated cutscenes rather than what with we have here.

But if you wonder how the game plays, don’t worry. If you have played either Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing or the sequel, you will feel right at home with this one. The game plays very similar but with a few differences. Team Sonic Racing emphasizes on teamwork, similar to that of Sonic Heroes. You have a choice of 15 racers that follow in one of three classes: Speed, Technique and Power. Speed characters are well balanced and fast, they have a Radial Burst that protects them from projectiles. However they have poor defense & acceleration. Technique falls in the middle with good handling and acceleration. They also can attract rings while tackling rough terrain with no slowdown. Power is all about strength with strong boost and defense. They can also smash into obstacles or other racers. The only drawback is that their top speed and handling is subpar. Choosing the best racer in a team & working together is optimal for success.

Races have teams of 3 working together to win while contending against rival racers. The use of the slipstream allows teammates who are falling behind to catch up all while getting a big burst of speed. A useful feature. Items come in the form of Wisps and they provide racers many options. Some wisps though are exclusive to a specific character class but they can be used by any racer if it is acquired via Item Exchange. Item Exchange is another feature added to the game. It isn’t just limited to you. Even your teammates want to send items and accepting them can help turn the tide of a struggling race to your favor. Teams also have a Team Ultimate and depending on the character using it have their own individual theme. It’s pretty clever too. In terms of customization, there’s plenty with the various car parts you will acquire. You get them by spending coins in a slot-machine that will net you a different part. In some cases you’ll get a Legendary version that gives your ride a gold sheen. With 15 different characters, expect to spend a lot to get all the parts along with various items and decal to make them look to your liking.

The game has both single and multi-player. Single player comes in the form of the Team Adventure mode. You take part in various challenges such as single races, grand prix (a collection of 4 races) and there are also mini-games that require high scores to get the highest rank. Each challenge also comes with multiple objectives to complete. Some are simple like winning 1st place while others are a bit complex. Not only that but acquiring keys can help unlock more challenges. If players simply want to beat the game, it is not long. At Normal difficulty, it’ll take you roughly 7-8 hours to complete but for completionists, it’s twice as long. Replay value is plentiful with multiple difficulties, cranking the length up further. Winning races will net you coins that you can use on the slot machine to unlock parts. Online play is available where up to 12 players can race each other. Time trials are also available where racers can post their best times while trying to prove your skill to the rest. There’s much to do whether online or off.

With it’s presentation the game looks great. At 1080p it’s intense and colorful but depending on the console, it can run either 60fps or 30fps. For PS4, especially at Pro, it runs at a solid 60fps and it’s great. It’s amazing though on other consoles, especially at Nintendo Switch it runs at 30 fps. It could be due to limitations but you get what you got. Music is awesome with composers such as Jun Senoue returning to do the soundtrack and others such as Tee Lopes ready to make their mark in their own way. Voice acting is good too. No complaints there though Silver’s voice will take a while to adjust.

Although I do praise the game for its many positives, there are some issues. Some of the challenges in Team Adventure Mode can get repetitive. In a few instances, you race in mirror tracks and it’s probably to make up for the limited number of tracks there are. At higher difficulties, the game is brutal mostly since the AI doesn’t play around. It plays for keeps. At least the game is NOT a full price $60 game. At $30 now, it does give you plenty for your money’s worth though if it were full price and it offered so little that would be a different story altogether. I commend SEGA for not having it at that high a price. However if you are playing this on the Nintendo Switch, the opening movie is removed. Why they did that? I will never know.

Team Sonic Racing is an overall fun experience that is satisfying, albeit a challenging one. Presentation is pretty solid and the gameplay is really addicting. Not to mention having single and multi-player action is enough to get you hooked for hours. But some of its issues can hinder the game from reaching its full potential. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty awesome and I commend SEGA and Sumo Digital for pulling off a really awesome game. I only hope that they learn from this and that hopefully the next game where Sonic gets to race is even better. Team Sonic Racing is worth your time and money, I guarantee it.

I give Team Sonic Racing an 8 out of 10.

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Sonic Mania Review

Sonic Mania Review – Written by Jose Vega

Product provided for this review by SEGA. Special thanks to them.

For more than 25 years, Sonic the Hedgehog has been one of SEGA’s flagship franchises. It had humble beginnings during the 90s console wars between the Genesis and SNES but after SEGA went 3rd party, the journey got a bit shaky. 2006 would be the year Sonic would enter a dark age with many of their titles getting mixed to negative receptions. Things would pick up in the following years, despite some flops, and last year SEGA announced that Sonic would return with 2 more titles. One of them, Sonic Mania has been hyped for some time. Does the hype pay off?

Sonic Mania takes place after the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The plot centers on Sonic & Tails returning to Angel Island, learning that a strange energy source was sighted there. Unfortunately, a legion of Eggman’s robots has got there first, getting their hands on the Phantom Ruby. However, it whisks Sonic, Tails, Knuckles (unexpectedly) and the Egg Robots to a familiar locale. Seeing the danger & the evolved Hard-Boiled Heavies off with the jewel, Sonic along with Tails and Knuckles must team up to prevent the Phantom Ruby from falling into Eggman’s hands.

It’s simple Sonic storytelling. Eggman enacts another of his world domination plans and it’s up to Sonic and his friends to stop them. Surprisingly he’s not the only threat they have to deal with. Eggman’s personal squad, the Hard-Boiled Heavies are also involved. This makes things a bit intense but what do you expect in a Sonic game. I have no complaints with it honestly.

Sonic Mania brings Sonic back to its 2D side-scrolling roots and it’s one that works, taking inspiration from the 16-bit Sonic games that made Sonic what he is today. If you’ve played many of the old school Sonic games, you will feel right at home here. You have three playable characters: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. All of them play the same but with a few differences. They can jump, run, spin dash, etc. You get the idea. Sonic has a peel out move that lets him be on the move quickly. Tails can fly to avoid enemies and find hidden secrets and Knuckles can glide, climb walls, has a jump that isn’t as high & can access areas that Sonic and Tails can’t go through normally. You will need their strengths to conquer the game’s 12 zones. As far as length, you can beat the game in just a couple of hours and with three playable characters, it adds a lot in terms of replay value. There’s also Time Attack where you can race to get the fastest time and Competition where you and a friend can go head to head offline to see who can reach the end of a stage first. It’s great.

There are 12 zones in this game, each with two acts. More than half of the zones are classic levels from previous Sonic games but they’re given a revamp when it comes to level design. The rest are brand new to the game and offer so much to the experience. What’s interesting is that each level offers many paths for the player to come from. It’s still simple enough going from start to finish but how you go about it depends on the player. Sometimes there are secrets you can find such as item boxes or giant rings. Like the classic games, there are bonus stages and by hitting checkpoints or finding giant rings, you get access to them. Checkpoint bonus stages are of the Blue Spheres from Sonic 3 & Knuckles and completing them net you medallions and they’re used to unlock various secrets. The Giant Ring bonus stages have you chasing after a UFO that carries a Chaos Emerald. Your skills will be tested, as you must collect blue spheres to increase your speed and rings to extend your time. Beating them will be a challenge but worth it in order to get the Chaos Emerald. There are 7 of these and they get harder as you progress.

At the end of each act, there is a boss. Many pay nods to previous Sonic bosses. If anything SEGA really puts a lot of heart when it comes to the game and it shows. It also helps that Sonic Mania has a truly stellar presentation. The graphics are just what you expect for a retro 16-bit game and they did a job keeping it faithful to them. All of the levels offer something different and they are vibrant, full of colors and if you look hard enough, there are many nods and references to various SEGA related stuff. Sprites are detailed and authentic as well. They’re also expressive. Controls are very precise. Perfect would be too appropriate of a word to describe how good the game plays. I mean it. It’s perfect and easy to pick up and play. Whitehead Productions should be praised for giving us a Sonic game that feels like the old school games but in a new environment. I only hope SEGA can get him involved in a possible Mania sequel.

Although I want to praise the game for its presentation, what really nailed it in for me was the music. Tee Lopes went in and delivered a soundtrack that is godly. I kid you not. All of the music in the game is amazing to listen to. Whether it’s remixed versions of Green Hill & Flying Battery or songs from the new stages like Studiopolis and Mirage Saloon, this game has it all. A game that has a stellar presentation, topped with a superb soundtrack. What more needs to be said?

I do have one minor issue with the game and it can be quite a challenge. The game feels like the old school Sonic games and new players who may experience this can find it to be one that requires them to get good. The difficulty is a bit balanced but there will be some moments of unfairness. It shouldn’t dissuade anyone though. Sonic Mania has a lot of content and high replay value that anyone can be able to enjoy no matter what. But yes, it is challenging but there’s a good amount of reward for those looking to complete everything.

It’s surprising how fans of the Sonic franchise were given the go ahead by SEGA to produce a game that’s not only fun but serves as a love letter to the Sonic franchise, it’s fans and SEGA as a whole. Sonic Mania is a special kind of game. Being at around $20 is enough to convince anyone that it’s worth a definite buy. Everything about the game whether it be its presentation, controls, music, etc. delivers on all fronts. Sure it can be a challenge for those that have little idea but it shouldn’t dissuade anyone otherwise. If you haven’t played a Sonic game or if you feel you want something that reminds you of the good old days, Sonic Mania is THE game. The blue blur isn’t going anywhere and this game proves that he’ll be around speeding through for many years to come.

I give Sonic Mania a 9 out of 10. I want to make it a perfect 10 but I feel this rating is more than enough.