Team Sonic Racing was a touch disappointing on its original release. Dropping the ‘All Stars’ element of Sega’s two previous mascot racing games, it elected to focus solely on Sonic and his somewhat dubious entourage of friends.
It was also a bit flaky on some systems, notably Xbox One X, which was supposed to be the most powerful console in the world at the time, yet struggled to maintain a steady frame-rate in 4K. Well, Nintendo Switch sure can’t do the 4K part, but the game feels way more at home on Nintendo’s hybrid console.
In case you haven’t guessed from the name and screenshots, fundamentally this is a Mario Kart clone with multiple vehicles racing on wide circuits littered with power-up boxes and Sonic’s trademark levitating gold rings.
You can fire rockets at your rivals, hit boost pads and zoom around corkscrews just like Mario Kart 8, only here it’s all dressed up in gorgeous, vintage, blue sky gaming iconography.
It also sounds fantastic with guitar rock remixes of classic Sonic tunes. It’s a joy to watch it and listen to it on the sunnier tracks, which is a fundamental facet to racing games that many get wrong.
It’s also worth noting the visuals absolutely pop on the OLED Switch screen. Vibrant, colourful and dripping with detail and special effects, it’s a showcase for the system.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The game attempts to reinvent the wheel by having a team element. This sees you racing with two wingmen/women/hogs, slipstreaming behind them, requesting and sharing power-ups and performing a team boost move that grants you a few seconds of massive speed and invulnerability.
In theory, this should be great, but the slingshot feature isn’t powerful enough to really be useful, and there isn’t much you can do about an ailing team-mate when it’s an elimination race and you’re first, second and 7th.
Naturally, you get fully voiced trash talk between the characters, and a strung-out story to do with a new character called Dodon Pa who sends invitations across time and space to bring everyone together to race in his technically advanced race cars.
It’s not an entertaining plot and the story scenes are rather static with art stills and dialogue between some rather niche B- and C-tier characters.
You can unlock mods through a simple loot box system, which can be applied to your car to make it faster, grippier or simply look shinier.
Some of these mods are necessary if you want to get 3 stars on every event, which is annoying when skill alone simply can’t beat the clock. But it does mean there’s loads to unlock and keep you playing if you can’t afford many games.
Team Sonic Racing misfires on many levels, especially compared to its predecessors, though in fairness they aren’t available on Switch.
And, truth is, that actually helps a great deal. In isolation, judged purely as a Switch racing game, it’s a very nice experience to cozy up with on the sofa.
It’s less great on the big screen, and multiplayer is surprisingly dull though it’s technically very strong, but on that small screen it’s fast, frantic, varied, spectacular and fundamentally enjoyable to play.
It’s less refined than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but what isn’t? We would rather have had Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed ported to Switch, but ‘I want’ doesn’t always get.
So, eat your Team Sonic and be grateful.
|Release date||21st May 2019|
|Available platforms||PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch|
|Version tested||Nintendo Switch|
|Best played with||Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode|
Full disclosure: This game was purchased for review purposes. Here is our review policy.