Though I may not have said as much about it here, I’ve made no secret that Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is one of my favorite games– period. And in the kart-racing arena, I honestly feel that SEGA and Sumo Digital have managed to craft a product which actually surpasses Mario Kart in many ways, chief among them being the actual racing, item use, and how unlockables are earned.

So as you can imagine, I was absolutely giddy when it was revealed that they were now creating a sequel, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. In the following video (with some NSFW language), ConsoleCreature has one of the developers show us what’s new in this version:

We’ve heard about the additions of Shinobi star Joe Musashi and Golden Axe hero Gillius Thunderhead to the roster, but now we get to see them and their rides in action with three of the game’s all-new racetracks: Dragon Canyon from Panzer Dragoon, Temple Trouble from Super Monkey Ball, and Adder’s Lair from Golden Axe.

GameTrailers has another video, this one focusing on Sonic as the driver in Dragon Canyon:

Some observations on my part include the addition of rings to the track. Generally speaking, rings are to Sonic what coins are to Mario, and I have to wonder if they serve a similar purpose here. In some Mario Kart titles, coins are there to boost your top speed slightly, while Mario Kart 7 also uses them to randomly unlock new vehicle parts.

That leaves me to wonder if they will enhance your speed here? And will this in any way augment or replace the SEGA Miles of the first game, which allowed you to unlock new racers, tracks, and more by simply racing (the better you’d do, the more SEGA Miles you would receive, but you were always earning them). That was far preferable than Mario Kart 7‘s “get top rankings in all of the expert modes to unlock new characters” method– at least in ASR, you’ll eventually be rewarded for persevering, rather than left cursing because you were that close to unlocking Rosalina, if not for the triple-impact of a Blue Shell, a Blooper, and a Lightning Bolt… followed by perhaps another Blue Shell.

After all, these things are supposed to be fun, right?

We can see here that in addition to new items, the developers have also set out to create new ways to defend yourself, rather than to simply screw over other players as badly as possible. One instance is the use of a baseball mitt item, which will not only “catch” an item which has been sent at you, but allow you to claim it for your own to use against others. They also showed off a new dodge maneuver, which will hopefully be expanded on soon.

What initially set Mario Kart apart from other racing games (besides the Mario theme, of course) was the use of such items to enhance your performance or foil other players’ advances. Unfortunately, those items have become something of a mixed blessing, even a curse at times in that series. More power to the developers here for keeping things more balanced, and in the GameTrailers video, you can even hear him say “no Blue Shells.”

Finally, we also get to see the title gimmick in play here, which is the change in terrain and your vehicle’s adapting to those changes. People have been questioning how it would work, exactly, and we see some of that here. Other early hands-on have cited instances where, for example, a bridge which would be driven over in the first lap would collapse in the second, necessitating a shift in vehicle mode.

One of the big questions remaining for me is the platform to get it on. It’s just been revealed that it will be coming to the Wii U, so that has an appeal, but I got the first one for the Xbox 360 thanks to the extra characters of Banjo & Kazooie (no one else had any guests), the ability to use your Avatar (or Mii on the Wii, and no unlocking yourself here as in Mario Kart), downloadable content (Metal Sonic and a Death Egg track), plus Achievements. Fingers are crossed that the Wii U can compete with that this time– though I have to say, if they can include Mario, that would seal the deal.

For more information, check out my article about the game’s announcement here. It comes out later this year for the Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo 3DS.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the original game– you can find it for under $20 new in some places.

Source: My Nintendo News, via GoNintendo for the ConsoleCreature video.