Alright, let's clear something up: why does Sonic need a car to get around? He's the fastest hedgehog alive, after all. If anything, he should be forced to tow a caravan to even the odds. Of course, caravans prove problematic when the car suddenly morphs into a jet or takes to the sea as a surprise motorboat. No: the caravan is a bad call.
Speaking of bad calls, we've been accused of having made one ourselves, after scoring the Wii U version of SASRT (our fingers are too tired to type out the full name - but, strangely, not this side note...) with a 62%. That game felt a little flat to us, flaunting graphical wizardry without ever nailing the games it was trying to pay homage to and coming with a bland weapon set. The 3DS version, on the other hand, is less ambitious, but feels better suited to its host platform.
Fast And The Furry-ous
There's a lot going on in this version, mind. As well as the usual range of boost pads and items at your disposal, you have to keep track of a course that - in the flying stages, particularly - is not always very clear, as well as monitor the map for the position of your rivals. Action can get rather cluttered on the smaller 3DS screen and activating some abilities, such as the special 'All-Star' moves, can leave you wondering where, exactly, you're supposed to go.
This isn't helped by finicky flight controls that take some getting used to, especially when you've just switched out of the easier-to-handle boat and car modes. Too often you will switch from one vehicle to another and lose what lead you had as you fumble to adjust to a markedly different way of moving around. The key here is taking the time to learn its kinks.
It's definitely a game that rewards mastery, with the main campaign encouraging you to replay each track in multiple ways in order to earn more stars and unlock more characters as you progress. It's a far fuller single player experience than Mario Kart in this way. The game also nudges you towards favouring particular characters over others by enabling you to level them up and customise your experience by equipping boosts that unlock as you progress and gain levels.
Familiarity is a boon in the grand prix mode, a single-sitting series of races on maps you've already played. It's a nice change of pace to the campaign mode, though the lack of an option to restart individual races in the middle of a longer tournament may leave you gnawing your 3DS in frustration. On the whole, Sumo has worked hard to introduce variation, littering the Story mode with time trials and 'rival races' to mix up the formula. This smooths out a fairly steep learning curve and improves your abilities.
We're also certainly sold on the rich, colourful graphics, which complement the diverse cast and shifting backgrounds and show off the capabilities of the 3DS effectively. The eight billion different things happening on-screen render smoothly, making your stupid meat fingers the only hindrance to playing the thing. It hasn't got the zip or sheer graceful ease of ">Mario Kart 7, but as far as also-rans go, it's not half bad.
There's plenty here to reward dedicated play and given time, it matures into a fun experience. Just don't expect any answers to the mystery of Sonic's car dependence.