Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed 3DS User Review
As portable game systems like the 3DS become more and more powerful, and developers want to keep game creation costs at an absolute minimum, porting home console games to handheld game systems will become more and more common, and while it can be fun to play the exact same game on the road that you play all the time at home, more often than not there can be some serious problems involved as well.
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed for the 3DS certainly falls into the "problems" category of these home console ports. What was a fantastic kart racing game on consoles has been ported to handhelds with very little modification whatsoever. When I first picked this game up, I was excited to play through all the tracks again and unlock all the characters... but then I had a run-in with the game's performance. To be blunt, the game's framerate is horrific and its graphics are terrifying. The game was clearly not scaled down enough to work properly on the 3DS, and it shows. You can squeeze a bit more performance out of it if you turn 3D down or even completely off, but if you're going to pick this up for 3DS, be prepared for an excruciatingly low framerate and extremely low quality graphics.
So how is the game itself? Still absolutely fantastic. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed uses the entire SEGA back catalog (Even more obscure titles like Billy Hatcher) to create a wide variety of tracks and racers that are not only visually distinctive, but immediately recognizable as long as you are familiar with their source material, most of which is obvious.
Mechanically, the game is a kart racer through and through. There are items that hurt people both ahead of and behind you, there are boost pads, and perhaps most importantly, an absurd amount of drifting around corners.
The game's main addition to the existing formula of the previous Sonic game is its transformation mechanic. At specific points along the track, players pass through a ring that turns them into a more appropriate vehicle for the upcoming terrain. The three transformations (kart, boat, plane), all control more or less in the same way, with minor differences in how things like drifting handle.
This leads us to perhaps the biggest problem with the gameplay. Every kart feels more or less the same. While I applaud SEGA's efforts to try and allow players to play the character they like the most, every character can be turned into any other kart stats-wise thanks to the modifier system, making the unlocking of new characters ultimately meaningless.
As much as I love the core gameplay of All-Stars Racing Transformed, I cannot in good conscience recommend the 3DS version of the game. It's graphics are sub par compared to other 3DS games, and the framerate is just absolutely inexcusable. If SEGA only intended to make a half-hearted port of a console game, they should have at least made it playable.