When I was young mentioning Mario and Sonic in the same sentences was a surefire way to start an argument, but now the two seem to be friends. Which is fortunate, because were they not on such good terms there is a chance that the Italian-American plumber would have some pretty harsh words for the blue hedgehog after he rather openly ripped off Mario Kart to create Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Luckily for us, because Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is one of the best not-Mario Kart Mario Kart games out there - and we can play it on mobile for free.
You can take control of any one of Sega’s classic cast of characters, from Sonic himself to Space Channel 5’s Ulala, each with their own bespoke cars. In these they race laps around a series of similarly game themed tracks.
Each of these brilliantly constructed courses are dotted with all kinds of obstacles, pickups, and weapons to aid in the game's smattering of car combat. But what really catches the eye is how these are all based on Sega worlds, as you speed around mansions from House of the Dead and make your way between After Burner landing carriers.
Is it a bird? (No its a hedgehog)
But wait a second, I hear you say, how can a cart race around numerous landing carriers – well here in lies the beautiful twist of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, it actually includes transformations. Hit the rings dotted around the tracks and your car instantly shifts form from a four wheeled machine into a boat or aircraft. This allows for huge variety between tracks, as well as introducing completely different racing physics to master on water and in the air. It’s thrilling, and a great twist to the standard formula.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is now also free-to-play… yay. Unfortunately this has muddied the water on the value proposition of this once incredibly polished premium title as you grind to progress.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a great way to power slide your way through Sega's history, plus its a brilliant cart racer. It can be challenging, and on less powerful devices it can suffer from some hitching, but it’s certainly a great free alternative for Mario Kart fans to download and enjoy.