Sonic the Hedgehog is the fastest thing alive, right? Then I have a great idea: let's put him in a sports car! Cynicism aside, Sega has jumped the E3 gun with the reveal of next year's Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing for presumably all three major platforms, although I'm guessing this is the Sony PlayStation 3 / Microsoft Xbox 360 version we're looking at here today. It looks like we're in for a Poochie-fied Mario Kart for the other side of the 1990s console war featuring Sonic, Tails, Dr. Robotnik, Amy Rose, Amigo, Aiai, and other characters from the world of Sega. Here's the trailer straight from YouTube:
I know I'm being especially hard on this project mere minutes after learning that it exists, but it just seems like such an empty soulless cash-in of a game. I think I've been burned by too many disappointing Sonic games lately to muster any more enthusiasm, although I do think that Dr. Robotnik's monster truck fits his character perfectly. Mike Fahey over at Kotaku has this to say:
[W]hile some may rail about mishandling the Sonic property, this is exactly the sort of thing Nintendo has been doing with Mario for years. Our own personal feelings about the Sonic character aside, Sega is still a business, and if it sells, then by all means sell it.
He has a point, but this sort of thing still makes me shake my head in bewilderment. A decent Sonic-themed racing game should be a foregone conclusion, but it didn't work in 1994 as Sonic Drift or its sequel one year later, nor did it work in 2006's airboard-driven Sonic Riders or its 2008 sequel. The closest that Sega ever came to producing a proper and enjoyable Sonic racing game was, of all things, 1997's Sonic R along with the two Sonic Rivals titles for the Sony PlayStation Portable released in recent years. Those three games weren't perfect by any means, but it put Sonic on the ground and let him use his fleet feet instead of a focus-grouped and audience-tested X-TREEEM! mode of propelled transportation. Here's one more quote for you, this time from the European Marketing Director at Sega Europe, Ltd., Gary Knight:
"Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is no ordinary racing game. Its huge variety of characters and vehicles, plus the ability to play both online and off set it apart from other games of this type."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that is actually the definition of a racing video game. "This is no ordinary racing game. It has vehicles and multiplayer modes!" Do you think the vehicles will be steerable? Oh my, I really should go rest and work the remaining crankiness out of my system.