Team Sonic Racing
|Team Sonic Racing|
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Release||May 21, 2019|
Team Sonic Racing is an upcoming kart racing game and a spinoff from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series. Controlling of one of fifteen characters from the series' cast, players compete in races using sports cars. They view gameplay from a third-person perspective while performing tricks, drifting, and collecting power-ups. Team Sonic Racing differs from traditional kart racers because of its focus on cooperative gameplay; the player is part of a team of racers and win races through efficiency rather than speed. Game modes include earning competing to earn points, time trials, customizing the racing rules, and a story-driven campaign that serves as a tutorial.
Sumo Digital, which worked on Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (2010) and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012), is developing Team Sonic Racing. Sonic Team head and game producer Takashi Iizuka conceived the cooperative gameplay, and Sumo Digital used the team-based Sonic Heroes (2003) as a point of reference. Unlike Sumo Digital's previous racing games, Team Sonic Racing only features characters from Sonic, as the team wanted to expand the series' world and character roster. They aimed to make the game stand out compared to other racing games and developed it using a modified version of the All-Stars game engine. Musician Jun Senoue composed the soundtrack, his first major work in the series since Sonic Generations in 2011.
Team Sonic Racing is a kart racing game featuring single-player and multiplayer modes. The player selects one of fifteen characters from the cast of the Sonic the Hedgehog series[a] to control and participate in races using sports cars on courses thematically based on locations from the franchise. There are three types of racing classes: speed, technique, and power. Each has their own unique abilities; for example, technique racers can drive over surfaces like grass without slowing down. The player views gameplay from a third-person perspective and runs over panels to get speed boosts, performs tricks in midair, and drifts to make sharp turns. Power-ups called Wisps can be collected from canisters with "?" marks and grant players temporary offensive and defensive advantages.
The game differs from traditional kart racers because of its focus on cooperative gameplay: the player is part of a team of racers and they must work together. While each player in a team still takes control of a single racer, they must also pay attention to how teammates are performing and share power-ups. Instead of winning races by finishing fastest, teams get points based on how they worked together. Thus, the most efficient team wins. Four teams of three compete, for a total of twelve racers at a time. Any character can be in a team; the player also has the option for each teammate to be the same character. Working together causes an "Ultimate" meter to be filled. When full, it can be activated to gain a temporary burst of speed. The meter's duration can be extended by hitting competing racers.
There are twenty-one tracks in total, including some returning ones from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (2010) and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012), each split across seven zones and based on locations from main Sonic games. Team Sonic Racing also features a wide variety of game modes, including Grand Prix, in which players compete to earn points; Time Trial, in which players race for the fastest time possible; and Exhibition, in which players can customize the racing rules. One mode, "Team Adventure", is a story-driven campaign that serves as a tutorial and provides an explanation for why the characters are racing. It is divided into chapters and players must complete missions like collecting as many rings as possible. Unlike the main game, the teams in Team Adventure are predetermined. Progressing through Team Adventure will unlock extras that can be used in the other modes. Players can customize their vehicles, with new parts unlocked as they progress through the game. The game supports four-player local multiplayer, up to twelve online, and up to three in Team Adventure.
The British video game developer Sumo Digital is developing Team Sonic Racing for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One. It will be Sumo Digital's third racing game featuring the Sonic intellectual property (IP), following Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Sega chose Sumo Digital to develop the game because of their experience with the Sonic IP. The majority of the staff did not work on the previous games, although some who did were contacted for advice. The lead designer of the game is Richard Acherki, while Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka is producing. Team Sonic Racing is Acherki's first game at Sumo Digital. According to Acherki, the proprietary game engine Team Sonic Racing runs on is a modified version of the one used to develop the Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing games, and allowed them to easily port the game across platforms.
Sumo Digital wanted to make Team Sonic Racing stand out compared to other racing games, and with the engine of previous games they had a solid foundation to build a new experience. Iizuka suggested that they design it so it was easy for beginners. Sumo Digital also wanted to build upon the gameplay of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed, which many players enjoyed. Iizuka conceived the team-based gameplay after watching his son play a kart racing game with his friends. He observed that they were not all happy and pondered how they could all enjoy the game. Observing other games, Sumo Digital found that team gameplay was popular; noting that racing games were largely single-player experiences, they decided combining the concepts would create a unique and exciting experience. Iizuka said Sumo Digital was not inspired by other kart racing games like Mario Kart 8 (2014) because they wanted to make a game that emphasized teamwork instead of "a network game". He cited Splatoon (2015) and Overwatch (2016) as examples of the cooperative gameplay Team Sonic Racing was designed to resemble. Sumo Digital used Sonic Heroes (2003), which features team-based gameplay, as a point of reference.
Unlike the Sonic & Sega All-Stars games, which featured various Sega franchises, Team Sonic Racing solely focuses on Sonic. Sega's community manager Aaron Webber said that Team Sonic Racing is not a sequel to Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and is "very, very different" from previous Sonic racers. Iizuka explained that the team wanted to make a game that took place solely in the Sonic universe, which is why it does not bear the Sega All-Stars name. Webber added that they also wanted to expand the world and character roster of Sonic, and designer Derek Littlewood said setting the game in the Sonic universe allowed them use to the series' "full suite" of characters and elements. One of Sumo Digital's goals was to "provide plenty of fan service and also [give] people something new to look at and experience." Team Sonic Racing features several new versions of the Wisp power-ups from previous Sonic games. Sumo Digital worked with the Japanese staff of Sonic Team to get approval for their concepts. Designer Ben Wilson called working on a Sonic game "surreal" and said the team enjoyed working with Sega. The game does not support cross-platform multiplayer, which Iizuka stated is because of technical constraints.
Jun Senoue composed the soundtrack in his first major work in the Sonic series since Sonic Generations (2011), while Richard Jacques, Tee Lopes and the band Hyper Potions also contributed. The game's theme song, "Green Light Ride", was performed by Senoue's band Crush 40. Iizuka said the team needed "cool" music that would "influence the player's excitement", which led him to ask Senoue to compose the score.
Team Sonic Racing is scheduled to be released by Sega on May 21, 2019. It was initially slated for release in late 2018, but Sega delayed it in October to give Sumo Digital more development time.
Rumors of a new Sonic-themed racing game arose in January 2018, when an internal Sumo Digital memo mentioning an "unannounced karting game" based on an "established global IP" leaked. Sumo Digital's history with Sonic caused speculation that they were developing a new entry in the Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing series. Webber rejected this, saying he "saw rumors floating today about another SART game. Just wanted to confirm it's not a thing!" Despite his response, multiple toy production companies alluded to a future Sonic kart racing game in February 2018. In early February, a representative from one, Zappies, reported at the Spielwarenmesse toy fair in Nuremberg that a third Sonic kart racing game was in development and that Zappies planned to make promotional toy figures. Later in the month, a separate toy company, Diamond Select Toys, similarly alluded to 2018 toys based on a Sonic racing game.
Journalists noted Webber's comments just alluded to the Sega All-Stars name and did not discount the premise of a new Sonic racing game, and further rumors of a game without any other Sega IPs involved arose in the same month. Sega scheduled a Sonic-related announcement for its March 16, 2018 show at the South by Southwest convention. While Sega did not reveal the racing game there, the Sonic Twitter account teased it. In May 2018, after leaking in a Walmart retail listing, Sega confirmed Team Sonic Racing was in development for the Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One. Eurogamer expressed disappointment that Team Sonic Racing did not include any non-Sonic characters as playable racers, which they believed was one of the best things about Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing and its sequel. However, they remained optimistic, believing Sumo Digital's experience with Sonic would ensure the game would be a similar, "fundamentally brilliant arcade racer".
A demo version was playable at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The demo featured one track and six playable characters. Kotaku described the demo as underwhelming and unfavorably compared it to Mario Kart. They argued that it lacked ambition and called its character lineup shallow, especially when compared to that of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. A more optimistic opinion came from IGN: although they considered the power-ups generic, they felt the game still had a good foundation and that the team gameplay was satisfying. Hardcore Gamer nominated it as E3's best racing game, but it lost to Forza Horizon 4. Sega released a trailer to promote the game at E3, featuring the theme song and an in-depth look at the gameplay. Another demo was playable at Gamescom in August 2018. More details were revealed, including the new character Dodonpa, aspects of the story, and racetracks based on levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994) and Sonic Unleashed (2008). The game won the "Best Casual Game" award at the 2018 Gamescom Awards. Team Sonic Racing was also present at PAX West in August, where attendees were given an exclusive poster, and the Tokyo Game Show in November.
IDW Publishing released a promotional one-shot comic book, written by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scribe Caleb Goellner and illustrated by Sonic comic artist Adam Bryce Thomas, in December 2018. The story is set before the game's events and features Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and their friends traveling to a mysterious planet and preventing "an old foe" from obtaining new technology.
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Ocean View returns to Team Sonic Racing with a special instrumental remix of "Sonic -You Can Do Anything" by Richard Jacques and Jun Senoue!
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