The Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing series served as enjoyable racing games that would distract you long enough if you ever got sick of playing Mario Kart. Unfortunately, that's all they can be: a distraction. When you're looking for a great party game to play with your friends, the All-Star Racing games are rarely to be brought up. They suffer from slippery controls, questionable game mechanics, and a poor online structure.
Fortunately, SEGA has a chance to make up for all this, as they recently announced a brand new Sonic racing game. The company has confirmed it won't be a sequel to any games they've released, so this is their chance to start over from scratch. But for SEGA to even dream of competing with the big dogs like Mario Kart, there are a few things they'll need to work on.
First off, SEGA needs to focus on making the vehicles unique above the characters. All-Stars Racing Transformed did a great job making each character special, giving them different power-ups and racing stats. Unfortunately, this means players have to choose a character based on their stats, rather than picking their favorite SEGA characters.
To some people, this may not be a bad thing. But in a party racing game, the stats should be in the vehicles instead of the characters. Mario Kart 7 and 8 do a fantastic job with this, allowing complete customization of any vehicle so you can play as almost any character you want. The easiest solution is to have multiple vehicles in the game with different attributes. Going the extra mile to add full customization to each car would make this even better.
Items are also an important part of any kart-racer. If the new Sonic racing game is going to feature items, they need to be cool. A lot of the items from the All-Star games are very similar to those in Mario Kart, but they're a lot less exciting. Getting an item in a racing game should make you feel awesome. On the other hand, if somebody behind you gets an item, you should feel worried and act cautious.
The All-Star games feature a variety of items, but only a few of them are actually worth anything. Most of the items don't do much, and they definitely don't give you the same satisfaction as throwing a blue shell to the front of a race. Even the signature All-Star Moves don't feel that great, and they're not that threatening to the other players. These special items need to have more of an impact on the racers and need to visually impress the player too. The All-Star Moves are a step in the right direction, but some of them just fall flat.
One item could be a ring that you throw at other players, either spinning them out or pulling them toward you to give you an advantage. A chaos emerald could slow down the rest of the players while you speed through them all for a short period of time. You could even introduce Wisp powers. Rocket could work much like the Bullet Bill in Mario Kart does, and spikes could temporarily surround your car with spikes, making it extremely dangerous to touch you. Make the items Sonic-themed, make them cool, and most importantly, make them different.
The last thing I would like SEGA to work on is the track design. Transformed had beautiful locations, but that wasn't enough to make each race interesting. Most of the races felt like a straight path, even when the tracks were transforming each lap.
The new game should have a multitude of branching pathways. For example, they could make a long way that's easy for anybody to go through and a shortcut that would be incredibly require precise controls to navigate through, making the payoff that much more rewarding.
The previous racing games had a fantastic sense of speed and adrenaline, and it would be really awesome if the track design supported it. Make tons of twisting pathways to weave the cars through so the speed doesn't feel like just an aesthetic, but also a challenge. Make plenty of Sonic-themed obstacles, like one of Robotnik's crazy machines shooting down at all the racers, or have the giant GUN vehicle from Sonic Adventure 2 chase everybody around. Keep it fresh and keep it interesting.
There's a lot that can be improved on in the Sonic racing games. What do you guys think the new title should be like? What kind of features or changes should there be? Let us know in the comments below!