Team Sonic Racing has finally hit consoles. While it may not face much competition on PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One, when it comes to the Switch, it has to compete with Mario Kart. So, the question is, which kart racer is in pole position? Can Team Sonic Racing cause a surprise and slipstream past Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Let’s take a look.
Of course, one of the first things you notice in a mascot racer are the characters. Team Sonic Racing has a perfectly respectable roster of 15 Sonic alumni. Pretty much every character you can remember (and some you probably won’t) from the series is playable. It is restricted, though, as it just sticks to characters from the Sonic universe.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has the advantage in that it draws from the whole Nintendo game library. There is a reasonable amount of repetition with four versions of Mario alone (Mario, Baby Mario, Metal Mario, and Tanooki Mario). However, there are lots of favorites among the 41 characters on offer in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It’s for this reason that it darts ahead of Team Sonic Racing.
Every racing game is judged, to some extent, on the tracks that it features. You can have the best racing mechanics and the most realistic physics, but if the tracks are rubbish, the game will suffer.
Team Sonic Racing has 21 tracks. Some of these have featured in previous games, but the majority are new for this title. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has 48 tracks. The split between old and new tracks here is around 50-50. The tracks in Team Sonic Racing undulate a lot more and there’s also a lot more going on around them. The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe circuits have more memorable layouts. There’s also a lot more variation of theme within the Mario Kart tracks. This category is closer, but once again, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the honors.
In a kart racer, there are two main components to the racing/gameplay: the karts handling and the weapons. When it comes to how the karts handle, Team Sonic Racing has the upper-hand. You can drift the karts for days. It feels so intuitive and natural. Obviously, you can drift in Mario Kart but it’s not such a core-component of the racing.
When it comes to the weapons, Team Sonic Racing falls a little flat. They are all done through Wisps. While they do work, it takes quite a while to learn which wisps do which actions. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the weapon pick-ups are really clear and obvious about what they do. However, I almost feel like it should lose a point just for that Blue Shell, which is the bane of every player’s existence! This is one is too close to call.
It has to be said that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe really is multiplayer focused. The way you play single player is by just being a character in an event against a load of AI racers. There are cups that you can play through, sure, but these can be done in multiplayer just as easily as on your own.
The single player component of Team Sonic Racing may just be a load of events cobbled together, but it’s done with a story that ties them all together. The whole story is a little trite, true, and the cutscenes could have done with some proper animation. However, it does provide a purpose and gives players a nice sense of progression through the game. For this reason, I have to give the win to Team Sonic Racing.
Ah, multiplayer. The core of any kart racer. These games are designed to be played with others, but which comes out on top? Well, Team Sonic Racing adds a new element to the multiplayer aspect with its team mechanics. You play as part of a team, and because of that, you need to work together.
The Deluxe version of Mario Kart 8 adds a battle mode, which changes the play up nicely. It makes a nice change of pace compared to the rest of the racing. Ultimately, though, it’s not enough to beat Team Sonic Racing.
Visually, both of these titles deliver. They’re big, bright, and brash. There’s always lots happening both on the track and off to the sides as well. Team Sonic Racing probably edges it in terms of visual interest.
However, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe wins big in one aspect: the framerate. While Team Sonic Racing does a good job of maintaining 30 frames per second, Mario Kart manages 60. When it comes to racing games this higher frame rate makes a huge difference. It just makes all the action feel so much smoother.
For this reason, the winner has to be Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
It’s a closer call than you might think, but the overall winner has to be Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Team Sonic Racing pushes it harder than expected, though. The single player and multiplayer components offer some decent content. The tracks have a nice visual polish to them. However, at the end day, the array of characters and tracks of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe along with that gloriously smooth framerate help the mustachioed plumber to come out on top.
Which kart racer is your favorite? Do you prefer Sonic or Mario? Are you a solo driver or sociable racer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section down below. And if you haven’t already, why not check out Jeffrey’s brilliant review of Team Sonic Racing.