E3 2012 Interview: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

June 11, 2012

Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, the sequel to 2010’s Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, appears to be more than just another kart racing game. For one, while it appears to be following Nintendo’s lead in adding air and water-based sections to its numerous franchise-related tracks, it is far more committed to providing several distinct gameplay experiences in boating, racing and flying, that can be enjoyed on their own as well being combined through the new transformation mechanic.

At E3 this year, I got the chance to go one-on-one with Joe Neate, Executive Producer at Sumo Digital working on the game, and talk to him about what exactly makes Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed an exciting game to look forward to for both Sega and racing fans.

Rocket Chainsaw: “What do you think makes Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed stand out from other racing and kart games out on the market?”

Joe Neate: “Well, it’s the transformation, which is kind of the key hook for this game. So, the fact that we have the three surfaces, so we have driving, we have boating, we have flying all in the same tracks, and the vehicles transform, and the the fact that the tracks have a level of transformation as well. Bridges collapse, or in Golden Axe, a volcano erupts and trashes part of the track, so you end up flying in the next lap – it’s just that level of transformation between different game styles as well. The driving is very, very different to the boating, and the boating is very, very different to the flying. So, it’s basically like three games in one. And it’s what we always try to do – each part of the game, the flying, boating and driving – should be able to stand alone as its own game, with that level of quality, that level of fidelity. That’s the push that we’ve always had and I think we’ve been able to achieve it.”

RC: “So, what new IPs and franchises can people expect this time around?”

JN: “Well the tracks that we’ve shown so far are Panzer Dragoon, Monkey Ball and Golden Axe. Jet Set Radio has also been announced, so there’s a Jet Set Radio track. In terms of the characters, some of the new ones we’ve got in the game this time are Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, there’s Gilius, who’s the dwarf from Golden Axe, and there’s Joe Musashi, who’s basically Shinobi. Those are some of the cool new ones, but there’s obviously the classics such as Sonic, Amy and Eggman, Shadow and all that kinds of stuff. There’s gonna be quite a lot of new characters and tracks announced over Comic-Con and that kind of stuff as well. And there’s going to some really interesting ones. We’ve managed to get a lot of niche ones in there, which I think a the fans will really love.”

RC: “Since this is a crossover Sega title, can Sega fans expect any special unlockables or easter eggs?”

JN: “Yes, there will be. I don’t think I can talk about the details, but yes, there’s going to be lots. Our development studio is staffed by Sega nerds basically, so every bit of fan service they can possibly do, they will do and then some. So there’s going to be loads of hidden things. The final unlock in the game is like the biggest piece of fan service you could possibly want, so yeah – when people see that, they’re going to love it.”

RC: “I’ve noticed that the word ‘Sega’ has gone missing from this game’s title – is there a reason for the change in branding, for instance if characters from other companies will be appearing?”

JN: “There’s no real reason. Basically, there’s been so much discussion about the name internally with Sega and everything. I think the original plan was to shorten it, [laughs] because it’s so long right? So that’s why the ‘Sega’ word is gone, but then we added ‘Transformed’ on the end so now it’s even longer. There’s no reason as such for the ‘Sega’ going missing, because ironically there’s even more Sega characters and IPs in this game than there were in the last, so it’s a bit misleading.”

RC: “In terms of multiplayer, what would you say has changed this time around?”

JN: “Well, one thing we can do this time in the multiplayer is we can use the All-Star move. In the last game, the All-Star moves couldn’t be networked, they were too complicated, there were too many of them. This time, we’re getting them into multiplayer. So that’s one thing. The second thing is that we’ll have a much more compelling set of online game modes and features. Last time, it was a bit … well, not ticking the box, but it was just racing. Whereas this time, we’ve got loads more game modes and we’ve got the ability to do really interesting ones. Like this time, you can have a dogfight where there’s just an arena where the eight of you are flying around battling each other. No other karting game can do that, right? So, this time around we’ll have a lot more interesting online modes.”

Look for Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed later this year.