Review: Team Sonic Racing is Sumo Digital’s best kart racer yet

Reviewed on Xbox One X

Team Sonic Racing isn’t so much a sequel to Sumo Digital’s Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed as much as it is a spiritual successor. Instead of including the varied cast of SEGA’s entire library, Team Sonic Racing instead opts for a purely Sonic-focused approach. While many SEGA diehards may be put off by the abandonment of classic characters—as a Shenmue fan, the exclusion of Ryo was a blow to my personal hype—but don’t be afraid: this is the best SEGA racer yet.

Just as its name suggests, Team Sonic Racing does divert from the traditional kart racing formula. Instead of having you gun for that precious first place position on your lonesome, most races in TSR put you in a group of three. It’s reminiscent of Sonic Heroes—in fact, most of the team presets are directly lifted from that title—wherein each team has to work together in order to win.

During races, your teammates will be able to lend you a helping hand, and you’ll be able to help them. Team members in front leave a striking gold racing line which allows others to slipstream, gaining speed off the wind you leave behind.

As with every kart racer, boxes on the track include a multitude of items which can be used to gain speed, attack players or defend yourself. However, in TSR these items may also be sent to your co-operative racers in order to give them a leg up in the race. If you find yourself in a pickle, a simple tap of the B button will request an item from your teammates too.

Utilising the help of your team is the best way of acquiring a top place, but remember, all of your team have to finish at a respectable rate to win a grand prix. Those who both help and are helped by their teammates are able to fill up an ULTIMATE gauge which’ll allow you to let off a powerful attack and decimate the competition.

If you’re not a fan of the whole team mechanic, Team Sonic Racing does allow traditional single-player races to take place. In fact, despite enjoying the team mechanics a fair bit, most of my time spent with the game was spent playing traditional matches. Just like with Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed before it, Sumo Digital’s racing mechanics are some of the best in the business. If you want a brilliant kart racer, you come here, as long as you don’t have Mario Kart.

Unlike Nintendo’s plumber-focused karter, TSR does include a staggering amount of content for you to stick your teeth into. There’s a full story mode, including optional varied challenges that focus on specific mechanics, such as drifting. There’s a gacha-based (microtransaction free) parts system which allows you to customise each and every vehicle within the game. It’s content rich, a kart racer that’ll definitely last you a long time.

It also helps that TSR is a stunning-looking kart racer. While it does suffer from some unfortunate framerate issues, especially in split-screen multiplayer, it never gets in the way of gameplay. Returning tracks from previous games look drop-dead gorgeous with some of the newer, more creative, inclusions benefitting from gorgeous lighting effects and a large draw distance.

Team Sonic Racing is one of the best kart racers you can get, outside of the obvious Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It’s a brilliant entry in the genre, and a fantastic effort from Sumo Digital. While the exclusion of classic SEGA characters outside of the Sonic franchise is a bit of a let-down, this is the best Sonic racer money can buy.

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