It was always only a matter of time but we're surprised it took Sega so long. Fresh from tackling Mario's racquet love with Sega Superstars Tennis, developer Sumo Digital has been tasked with besting the Nintendo mascot's biggest spin-off series, Mario Kart.
Sonic Racing isn't likely to introduce any surprises to the karting fold. Just look back at Sega Superstars Tennis and you'll see exactly how this one will play out: a clone of the Nintendo favourite with Sega-flavoured backgrounds and characters who each have their own special move to uneven the score. But what Sonic's new racer lacks in originality it makes up in potential. Well, sort of.
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A decent Xbox kart title is long overdue, but next to Nintendo's line-up Sega's 'stars' are an embarrassment. On the other hand, Sumo Digital does have the advantage of a clean slate. As much as we love the series, Mario Kart is stuck in a rut of cheating AI and overpowered weapons. The infamous rubber-banding behaviour that plagues Nintendo's karter has ruined countless races and the stream of blue shells often ensures that the best driver never wins.
We're not daft, we know Sega's effort isn't going to oust Nintendo's classic from our hearts, but hopes for progress where Nintendo has languished aren't unrealistic. Of course, if Ryo appears avec forklift, Chris Parton in a firetruck or BD Joe complete with kerrr-azy taxi we'll be ripping out this page and washing it down with the office crate of Pisswasser while bowing to our new Sega overlords. Failing that, a racing model which doesn't decide winners by random dice throws should suffice.
It's destined to be a cheap knock-off of Mario Kart with crapper characters but we're fine with that; so long as the power-ups and short-cuts are balanced there's always room for karting games. All hail the return of split-screen racers then, and it'll have a functioning online mode too...