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Team Sonic Racing

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: May 21, 2019

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PS4 Review - 'Team Sonic Racing'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 27, 2019 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Team Sonic Racing combines the best elements of arcade and fast-paced competitive style racing as you face-off with friends in intense multiplayer racing.

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It's difficult for any kart-racing game to compete with Mario Kart. The franchise that started the concept has consistently been among the best on the market. Oddly enough, one of its closest competitors has been the Sonic kart-racing franchise. One may question why the world's fastest cartoon animal needs a car, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is easily one of the high points of kart-racing games. As a result, Team Sonic Racing had quite a reputation to live up to.

On the surface, Team Sonic Racing is what you'd expect: a fast-paced kart racer in the vein of Mario Kart. That means a lot of focus on drifting, shortcuts and, of course, a wide variety of weapons (in this case, Wisps from Sonic Colors) that you can use to either gain an advantage or trip up enemies. Everything controls well, and while it feels a hair slower than Mario Kart 8, it's still a solid combination of faced-paced and accessible.


Kart-racing games tend to be defined by their gimmick, and in the case if Team Sonic Racing, it's ... well, teams. Rather than individual racers, you have teams of three, with up to four teams on a track. The winner of the race is the team that scores best, not the individual racer, and as you might imagine, that has a huge impact on how the game plays. Rather than focusing on winning, it's important to help your allies and work together to come out ahead. It doesn't matter if you finish first if your friends are last.

This can work in a lot of different ways. You can trade items between teammates or aid a teammate who is about to crash. Sometimes it's even worthwhile to drop out of first place in order to better support your allies. For example, you can drop back to allow an ally to drive in your slipstream, which gives them a boost and helps them get further ahead. Perhaps most importantly, aiding your allies builds up an Ultimate meter, which you can use to overwhelm enemies for short periods of time, so it pays to help.

Honestly, I love the team dynamic. It's something that adds a ton to kart racing and gives the game its own distinctive feel. It takes away from the individual spirit of kart racing, but that is pretty much every other kart racer on the planet. (Of course, Team Sonic Racing has a single-player-only mode for those who don't wish to bother with the gimmick.) One of the best things about kart-racing games is playing alongside friends, and this offers a cooperative element that is rare, while still retaining the competitive excitement that's at the core of kart racing.


The tracks aren't as engaging as Transformed or Mario Kart due to the focus on the team gameplay, but it's still a perfectly respectable lineup of Sonic-inspired levels, ranging from desert pyramids to spooky mansions. The levels shine with the team gameplay by having areas that are designed to emphasize player-vs.-player more than straight obstacles. Even in single-player mode, they're still darn fun stages to play.

Each character in the game can be classified as one of three types: Power, Speed and Technique. Power racers have the strongest weapons and can bust through certain obstacles. Speed is… well, speed. They go faster than anyone else at top speed. Technique racers aren't slowed down as much by terrain, so they can take shortcuts that others can't without losing a ton of speed. Each team in the game has one Power, one Speed and one Technique character, so it generally works out no matter who you decide to play.

With that said, I'm less thrilled about other parts of the game. For one thing, the cast is weak. Moving away from a Sega all-star collection to only Sonic characters feels like a misstep in a lot of ways. The core Sonic cast is fun, but it's tougher to get excited about some the deeper cuts. In particular, the inclusion of drastically unmemorable Sonic: Lost Worlds villain Zavok to round out the "villain team" feels deeply uninspired. Sega may not quite have the absurdly popular lineup that Nintendo has, but while Mario Kart can thrive on its core cast, All-Star Racing Transformed showed that Sega could do a lot more with a wider net.


I also did not like the lootbox-based upgrade system. You earn credits (in-game money only) while racing to unlock parts to upgrade your kart for both cosmetic and minor technical changes. It's not necessary, but it helps to optimize your gameplay. The bad part is that it's slow and grindy. Everything from getting the credits to unlocking the parts feels glacial, and it actively makes me not want to bother with the system. It's fine on paper, and it's something that could easily be patched to be faster and more snappy, but we'll have to see.

Team Sonic Racing both looks and sounds great. The graphics are bright and pop well, and the frame rates are even smooth in multiplayer. There's a lot of charm in the colorful Sonic cast, and it comes across well, with the little bits of personality and flavor in the designs. The soundtrack contains some fantastic mixes, both new and old, which reinforce the game's peppy style. Perhaps the only downside is that the voice clips get annoying after a while, but those can be customized for people who don't want to hear them for the thousandth time.

All in all, Team Sonic Racing is a good, but not exceptional, kart racer. It fails to meet the heights set by its predecessor, but it's still quick, peppy and a delight to play. If you're a fan of the characters or kart racers in general, Team Sonic Racing is absolutely worth a shot. Most of its flaws are nitpicks or easily overlooked, and it's hard to dislike such a charming game. Now if only we could only get some non-Sonic characters next time….

Score: 8.0/10



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