Interviews// 'OutRun With Weapons': Sumo on Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed

Posted 30 Apr 2012 17:00 by
SPOnG: You mentioned your history at Bizarre Creations. Obviously itís a studio known for its pedigree in the racing genre, did you take any of your experience from Project Gotham Racing and inject that into All-Stars Racing: Transformed at all?

Gareth Wilson: Absolutely, yeah. I think one thing that we were really good at, at Bizarre Creations, was that we were good at tuning games. Really good at tuning games. So Platinums were hard, and Steels were easy in PGR. And they were consistently hard and easy. We had a very good process and method of making the game well-balanced. And I think thatís one thing Iíve been able to bring to Sumo.

So, what Iím hoping is that this game will be very well balanced. Of all the vehicles, there wonít be one thatís particularly better than another - thereíll be some that are good on certain tracks, some that are good on other tracks, some that are good if you like drifting, some if you like to go for All-Star coins. And hopefully thereíll be a better balance to the game.

If there was one criticism I could level at the original ASR, it would be that some of the balancing was a bit mixed up. For instance if you go through the Missions mode, one level would be really easy and the next would be really hard, then the one after that would be easy again.

Weíre adding a lot more proper physics to this version of the game. You might not notice too much when you were playing, but it is a little bit more involved than the first game. Weíre not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything, because everyone loved the handling in ASR, and loved the drift and all that stuff. You know, itís OutRun, basically, so weíre not going to move its DNA. But we did want to just give it a little bit more of a longevity really.

Itís a really great game, but Iím not so sure youíd play ASR as long as youíd play Mario Kart. Mario Kart is like an 80-hour game. We know people play it for hours and hours, and we wanted to add just a bit more hidden depth to ASR, and make it a bit more fun to play.

SPOnG: Speaking of Mario Kart - youíve probably been asked this so many times already, but how difficult is it to promote ASR as something that... obviously there is a Kart genre, of which Mario Kart is kind of the pinnacle of...

Gareth Wilson: This is my second stab at this as well! I was in the exact same situation with Blur at Bizarre Creations! So Iíve already been up against Mario Kart once [laughs]. Iím up against it again [laughs]!

SPOnG: Itís a shame, because I absolutely love Blur as well. But that game in particular really got compared to Mario Kart and never really escaped from that shadow. Even the American adverts made it look like Mario Kart but with real-life cars.

Gareth Wilson: Yeah. They were a mistake, those adverts. But, nothing to do with us unfortunately. But yeah, generally itís a tough one.

I think All-Stars Racing: Transformed is genuinely different though. It was a crying shame for us, when we had already started work on this game about a year before Mario Kart 7 was launched, and then we saw the gliding and the underwater rotors. We were like, ĎNooooooo! I donít believe it!í But, that aside, I think we are offering something genuinely different with proper water and proper flight.

It is tough to go up against Mario Kart. The thing is, theyíre only on Nintendo platforms. You have to remember that, and weíre doing this big multi-platform release. You just have to try and kind of... I don't think you wanna try and belittle them or have a go at them. I think thatís a bad idea.

SPOnG: Thereís enough room for co-existing games, right?

Gareth Wilson: Well, funnily enough, the original All-Stars Racing sold most on Wii and DS.

SPOnG: Thatís quite ironic in a way.

Gareth Wilson: Yeah! Considering thatís the platform that has got the competition on it. There are no real decent kart racers on any of the other platforms. So itís kind of weird, wouldnít you say?

SPOnG: Yeah. Or, it could be appropriate really. If Mario Kart is popular on Nintendo platforms, youíve already kind of got a market which would be interested in ASR.

Gareth Wilson: Yeah, youíre right. Itís quite interesting. So yeah... the Mario Kart thing... The only problem that Mario Kart has got for itself is that it canít really go too far away from what it is. If Nintendo tried to do what weíre doing, I think there would be a massive backlash on every Nintendo forum on the planet. ďYou canít make the karts transform into planes! Itís not Mario Kart! Rargh rargh rargh!Ē Everyone would just hate it.

SPOnG: I think there was a little bit of a pushback already--

Gareth Wilson: What, with the gliding?

SPOnG: Yeah, the gliding and rotor attachments in Mario Kart 7.

Gareth Wilson: Really? I thought it was quite cool.

SPOnG: Yeah, so did I. Thing is, once people started playing the game, obviously those people who were complaining had completely changed their minds. I think itís a result of certain people judging before they play - and I wonder if itís that mindset that judges games like ASR and dismisses them as Mario Kart clones before they launch.

Gareth Wilson: Itís quite a different game actually, once you get your hands on it. The drifting mechanic is very different to theirs. Ours is more of a... itís more of a proper racing game, I think, in the way that Mario Kart probably isnít as much. ASR is more like ĎOutRun with Weaponsí than Mario Kart. Thatís how I see it anyway.

SPOnG: When All-Stars Racing first came out a couple of years ago, there was a Metal Sonic and Death Egg DLC pack released shortly after. There was the suggestion that there would be more add-ons, but this didnít happen. Did SEGA have a change of heart in that area?

Gareth Wilson: I think itís about whatís profitable for the company, really. It costs a certain amount of money - thirty, maybe fourty thousand pounds - to make one of these cars. And if they know that only ten per cent, or even five per cent, of people who buy the game will actually get the DLC for this extra car... itís just not going to make them any money.

At the end of the day, SEGA has to make money. We would have happily built them, but the economics just didnít make sense.
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JayZeach 30 Apr 2012 18:39
Great interview! A very interesting read I thought, only thing i noticed was this-

"No-oneís done transforming vehicles - you know, [...]but itís never been able to fit it into one space, one track."

As a point - Hot Wheels Extreme Racing on the Playstation 1 contained transforming vehicles and multiple terrain types in one track! :) Careful careful Sumo, research! :)

Always enjoy seeing the Developers talk with passion about their work :)

headcasephil 30 Apr 2012 22:54
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing was a smash hit when it was released on Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo DS back in 2010 all so on pc
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