Team Sonic Racing Review: Switch shows how it should have been done on Xbox

Team Sonic Racing was a little disappointing when it was originally released. The “All Stars” element of Sega’s previous two mascot racing games was dropped and the decision was made to focus solely on Sonic and his somewhat dubious entourage of friends.

It was also a bit choppy on some systems, particularly the Xbox One X, which was supposed to be the most powerful console in the world at the time but struggled to maintain a consistent frame rate in 4K. Well, Nintendo Switch certainly can’t do the 4K part, but the game feels much better on Nintendo’s hybrid console.

In case you didn’t guess from the name and screenshots, it’s basically a Mario Kart clone with multiple vehicles racing on wide racetracks dotted with power-up boxes and Sonic’s trademark floating gold rings.

You can fire rockets at your rivals, hit boost pads, and zoom around corkscrews just like in Mario Kart 8, except here it’s all dressed in gorgeous blue-sky vintage gaming iconography.

It also sounds fantastic with guitar rock remixes of classic Sonic tunes. It’s a joy to watch and hear on the sunnier tracks, which is a fundamental facet of racing games that many get wrong.

It’s also worth noting that the graphics on the OLED Switch screen absolutely stand out. Vivid, colorful and full of details and special effects, it is a showcase for the system.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The game tries to reinvent the wheel by having a team element. You’ll race two wingmen/women/pigs, glide after them, charge and share power-ups, and perform a team boost move that grants you tremendous speed and invulnerability for a few seconds.

In theory this should be great, but the slingshot feature isn’t powerful enough to be really useful, and there’s not much you can do about a sick teammate if it’s an elimination race and you’re 1st, 2nd and 7th.

Split screen

Of course, there’s fully voiced trash talk between the characters and a lengthy story involving a new character named Dodon Pa, who sends out invitations across time and space to bring everyone together to race his technologically advanced race cars.

It’s not an entertaining plot and the plot scenes are rather static with stills and dialogue between some of the more niche B and C tier characters.

BigTheCat

You can unlock mods through a simple loot box system that can be attached to your car to make it faster, grippier, or just shinier.

Some of these mods are necessary if you want to get 3 stars on every event, which is annoying when skills alone just can’t beat the clock. But it means there’s a lot to unlock and keep playing if you can’t afford many games.

Team Sonic Racing fails on many levels, especially when compared to its predecessors, although in fairness they’re not available on Switch.

And the truth is, that actually helps a lot. Viewed in isolation, viewed purely as a Switch racing game, curling up on the sofa is a very nice experience.

It’s less great on the big screen, and the multiplayer is surprisingly boring while technically very strong, but on this small screen it’s fast, frenetic, varied, spectacular, and generally enjoyable to play.

It’s less refined than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but what isn’t it? We would have preferred to port Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed to Switch, but “I want” doesn’t always work.

So, eat your Team Sonic and be thankful.

The Traxion.GG review's verdict: Consider it

developer Sumo Digital
release date May 21, 2019
Available Platforms Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch
version tested Nintendo switch
Best played with it Nintendo Switch handheld mode

Full Disclosure: This game was purchased for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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