- Game: Team Sonic Racing
- Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sumo Digital
A Team Sonic Racing review code was provided by the publisher.
Sonic the Hedgehog’s history with racing games is unique, to say the least. Sega’s superstar mascot started out his career as a rearview mirror accessory in 1991’s Rad Mobile, then went on to grab the wheel himself in Sonic Drift. Once 2019 rolled around, Sega chose to feature the “Blue Blur” and a host of other icons from its vault in the supremely underrated Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing. The 2012 sequel, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed did an impressive job of improving upon everything that made fans flock to its predecessor. Now in 2019, developer Sumo Digital has chosen to deviate from the track laid down by its last two games and head in the direction of an all-Sonic roster for Team Sonic Racing. Sadly, this series deviation doesn’t live up to the high standards of its “All-Stars” companions.
First, the good. Sumo Digital has done a great job of showcasing the finer aspects of Sonic’s colorful world. The track selection provides players with a wealth of wonderfully crafted locales to race on, from the bright scenic routes of Planet Wisp to desert landscapes of Sandopolis. Along with the game’s impressive art design and graphical presentation, Team Sonic Racing is quite kind to the ears thanks to an amazing soundtrack. Sonic games have become known to include a lineup of delightful tunes from trusted composer Jun Senoue and his band Crush 40. Thankfully, that trend continues here – the rocking instrumentals and more cheery background tunes all make for a strong soundscape during intense races. Simply put, Team Sonic Racing looks great and sounds even greater.
When it’s time to hop on the track, however, Team Sonic Racing stumbles a bit. In order to set itself apart from the obvious king of kart racers (Mario Kart), this spinoff racer clings to a three-person team racing mechanic. You’ll need to share item pickups, push your teammates to higher positions via drafting, and know when to activate your “Ultimate” ability if you’re looking to put your team on top of the leaderboard.
While this mechanic is cool in theory, it hampers your progress even if you place high and perform better than your fellow racers. Having to constantly give up items and eat a loss even though you took 1st place is always deflating. The AI can be competent at times, but they’re not entirely reliable and can often cost you the win. This problem can also kill the fun when you hop online and have to carry the load for two human players who just aren’t up to snuff. There’s just far more enjoyment that comes from competing in standard races and relying on yourself to nab the big victory.
Team Sonic Racing’s modes suite is solid enough. The main Team Adventure mode tries to weave a cute tale about why this team racing grand prix is actually taking place, but it’s not worth getting invested in. The voice work for some characters is passable at best, while others remain insufferable to listen to (Big the Cat continues to be grating on the ears and one’s sanity).
Besides the unnecessary plot, Team Adventure presents a fun gamut of challenges to overcome that switches up the gameplay. Ring Challenge time trials, Survival races, and a collection of other fun objective-based tasks keep Team Adventure interesting and worth seeing through to completion. Victory often leads to the player getting rewarded with the credits needed to obtain new car parts, items to use at the start of a race, and fresh cosmetics. This reward loop does a good job of pushing you to do better in each challenge, obtain more credits, and unlock even cooler customizable gear.
While Team Sonic Racing has its shining moments, they simply pale in comparison to the Sonic & Sega All-Stars series. Sumo Digital’s decision to move away from a racer full of recognizable and beloved Sega characters to one full of Sonic’s less celebrated critters is disappointing. In many ways, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed is the superior game. Unlike Team Sonic Racing, Transformed features a more likable roster, a unique vehicle transformation gimmick, and a lineup of tracks that weaves through Sega’s storied past and present. A third installment in the Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing franchise would have been far more acceptable over this unwanted spinoff.
Team Sonic Racing Takeaways
Sumo Digital’s mission to craft a quality all-Sonic racing game is commendable. Team Sonic Racing is enjoyable when it comes to the speed/feel of the racing itself – the three car classes and customizable vehicles make speeding across each incredible track a blast. What kills some of the fun is the half-baked team racing mechanics, uninspired collection of weapons you’ll be forced to use during each race, and the waste of a story being told in Team Adventure mode. While this racer is passable to some extent, its problems will make fans yearn for a true sequel to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Here’s hoping Sumo Digital makes its way back to what worked so well in the first place.
Our Team Sonic Racing Review Score: 6.5 out of 10