ASR: Counting the Courses

ASR: Counting the Courses

by February 11, 2010

Are 9 Sonic courses Too Much for an All-Encompassing Game?

Outside of battle arenas, there will be 24 tracks to race through in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.  The problem is, as observed by those playing the demo released to XBOX Live this week, those 24 tracks will only represent six Sega IPs–while the 20+ strong roster carries support from well over a dozen Sega IPs.

For pure Sonic fans, that’s not necessarily bad news–it is his name in the marquee, after all.  Demo observers noted three Sonic specific areas have been broken down into three courses each–but they’re all from Sonic Heroes.

Seaside Hill has three tracks: Lost Palace, Ocean Ruin, and Whale Lagoon.  Casino Park is divided up into Roulette Road, Bingo Park, and Pinball Highway.  And Final Fortress is composed of Turbine Loop, Thunder Deck, and Dark Arsenal.

Barring DLC offerings, the buck stops there.

Perhaps the largest point of contention involves the Sega franchises, and how some get a ton of love, with others left out.

For example, there will be three House of the Dead related courses in ASR: Deadly Route, Sewer Scrapes, and Outer Forest.  The Samba de Amigo, Jet Set Radio, and Super Monkey Ball franchises will also get three each, as will Billy Hatcher–bringing the grand total to 24 courses.

This, while representation of other storied Sega franchises like Fantasy Zone, Space Channel 5, Shenmue and others appear only limited to characters and perhaps music selection–though even hopes for the latter are to be determined.

Some fans are scratching their heads at this decision.

“(It’s) very disappointing,” said New the Chameleon on the Sega forums.  “Especially for the Sonic tracks, they could at least put another franchise!”

“That’s 3 tracks too many for Sonic alone,” said Starlight Rage Zone on the same board.  “I’m not picky about it as I’m sure there is good reason to it but 9 stages?”

There is a method to the madness.

“There are multiple tracks of the same IP for a very good reason,” saidSumoRex, who is a Sumo Digital employee, on the same Sega forum thread.

Ultimately, the same budget and time constraints that fans have been hearing about for weeks now are again to blame for such a limited amount of track representation.  Assurances were made that more variety would have meant more fans waiting–and likely a price tag double the expected price of $49.99.

“There is some sharing of assets between them, which means we can get more raceable tracks but without having to develop entirely new content,” SumoRex said. “It’s not laziness, it’s the only way to keep to schedule, and budget.”

With that in mind, the community is now anxiously awaiting any DLC prospects–prospects that has repeatedly said not be guaranteed by Sumo personnel, despite signs to the contrary.

And with so much being made of costs and budgeting, those looking to DLC for variety may want to consider this: Each DLC pack of Sonic Unleashed–much of which made playable previously existing but inaccessible areas in the game–ran more than $3 a download.  Typically, such DLC costs more in Europe.  If DLC happens, there’s no indication as to whether content would be released in packs–as was the case with Unleashed–or individually.  Depending on Sega’s strategy, that extra money could rack up quickly via DLC sales.

So, what are your thoughts?  What price range would be fair for you to purchase any DLC for ASR (assuming you can?)  And if you can’t, are you satisfied with the track roster, including those 9 Sonic Heroes tracks?  We invite you to start a conversation below.