Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Hands-On Preview and Video

At E3 last week, we had a chance to check out an updated version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, and we’re pleased with the progress. The game now has online multiplayer for up to four players via Game Center, Retina display support, and improved controls. Check out our newest hands-on video, showing House of the Dead and Samba de Amigo-themed levels, after the jump.

According to Sega, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing will be a universal app, cost $4.99, and will launch in just a few weeks. So far, this game seems to be one of the better kart racers on the App Store, and there’s plenty of Sega nostalgia for anyone who owned a Dreamcast.

Just hours after Sega announced the game and released the first screenshots, we had a chance to play Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing for ourselves at GDC. Read on for the full cast list, plus our impressions.

Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing for the iPhone is based on the DS version of the game, but with improved graphics that make it look a bit closer to the Wii version. You pick one of ten characters from Sega’s heyday, then race them against others in either single race or Grand Prix modes.

The characters include Sonic, Tails, and Dr. Eggman from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, plus the main characters from Shenmue, Billy Hatcher, Crazy Taxi, Super Monkey Ball, Samba de Amigo, Jet Set Radio, and ChuChu Rocket. While some of these games are available on the App Store, most of them will only be familiar to Sega Dreamcast owners.

Five of these characters will be available from the start, while the rest have to be unlocked. There’s also the possibility of Sega adding new characters as downloadable content, but we couldn’t get Sega to confirm anything specific. We did spy a “Sega store” in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, though.

Like in any good kart racer, this game has both wacky tracks and helpful power-ups. In one track, based on Sonic the Hedgehog, we had to accelerate through loop-de-loops on the way to the finish line. In another level, based on the music game Sambo de Amigo, part of the track was made of a winding piano keyboard.

As for power-ups, they’re mostly variations on what we’ve seen in Mario Kart. You have homing missiles, missiles that shoot straight ahead, and obstacles that you can leave behind on the track for other cars to crash into. And the power-up that gives you a temporary speed boost is a pair of Sonic’s shoes, not Mario’s mushroom.

Overall, we’re pretty excited about Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. The graphics look very nice, and the tilt controls we tried were a cinch to get the hang of (there’s also an option for onscreen touch controls). It’s no realistic driving sim, but if you want a kart racer with recognizable characters (sorry, Konami’s Krazy Kart Racers) this looks like a good choice. It’s due out in the imprecise “Spring 2010″ timeframe.

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