Team Sonic Racing is a 2019 kart racing game and a spin-off from Sega‘s Sonic the Hedgehog series. Controlling one of 15 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, similar to the kind featured in Splatoon (2015) and Overwatch (2016)—players are part of a team of racers and win races through efficiency rather than speed. Game modes include competing to earn points, time trials, customizing the racing rules, and a story-driven tutorial campaign.
Sumo Digital, which had previously worked on Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (2010) and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012), developed Team Sonic Racing. Sonic Team head 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 Sonic characters, 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, who had not contributed to a major Sonic game since Generations (2011), composed the soundtrack.
Team Sonic Racing‘s existence came to light when a Sumo Digital memo leaked in January 2018, with Sega confirming it the following May. Its marketing campaign included appearances at trade shows, a one-shot comic from IDW Publishing, and a two-part animated series. The game was released for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows in May 2019. A simplified version for iOS developed by Hardlight, Sonic Racing, was released via Apple Arcade in September 2019. Team Sonic Racing received mixed reviews; its team-based gameplay, track designs, and music were praised, but the story mode and voice acting were criticized. Critics also considered it inferior to the Sega-All Stars games.
Team Sonic Racing is a Sonic the Hedgehog-themed kart racing game featuring single-player and multiplayer modes. After selecting one of 15 characters from the series’ cast,[a] players 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 type has its own unique abilities; for example, technique racers like Tails can drive over rough 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 gameplay differs from traditional racing games 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 simply finishing first, 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 21 tracks in total, including some returning 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 features a 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 also includes a tutorial, as well as an original story explaining 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. Customization options can be purchased using in-game currency called Mod Pods, which are earned by competing in races. Parts modify cars’ handling, boost, acceleration, defense, and top speed, and players can also make aesthetic changes such as paint jobs and horn sounds. The game supports four-player local multiplayer, up to twelve online, and up to three in Team Adventure.