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Review: A high-speed trip down memory lane with Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is one of those games that's on every conceivable platform, from the Wii U to the Vita to Mac and now iOS. Oftentimes, games that are spread across so many devices suffer in the transition to a small screen, but Sega's familiarity with the iPhone means that its character-based racing game completely avoids that fate.

Transformed is a cartoonish racing title in the vein of Mario Kart and the previous Sonic & All Stars Racing title, with characters from a variety of games converging on racetracks pulled from Sega's IPs. You can play as Sonic and race on a track from Super Monkey Ball, or play as Ulala from Space Channel 5 and race on a track inspired by Panzer Dragoon, for example. There's a ton of variety, and you're guaranteed to find a character and track that give you a pleasant dose of nostalgia.

As the title points to, the races are given a bit of a twist with transforming vehicles. Each of the characters' vehicles can shapeshift from a traditional road racer to both a boat and a plane. The tracks make good use of these changes, with flooded areas and long gaps that require flight.

The controls -- which allow you to steer with either tilt controls or the touchscreen -- are responsive and smooth, but the real treat here is the iOS 7 controller support. Using the Moga Ace Power or SteelSeries Stratus offers dual-analog stick control that feels fantastic. If you have the option, this is the way to play it.

There are a ton of different options for how to approach the races. You can play in single-player tournaments, take on tracks in a specific order, compete in daily challenges or play local and online multiplayer. In short, there's a lot here to keep you busy.

The only drawback of the iOS iteration of Transformed is its heavy emphasis on in-app purchases. You can skip just about every requirement, from paying race entry fees to unlocking new characters, simply by buying your way. You don't have to, of course, but when you're racing online against players who very clearly bought every racer in the game, it feels kind of cheap.

For US$4.99, I would have liked to see less in-game economy and more of an emphasis on the actual racing itself, but there's no denying that the high-speed battles are a ton of fun. If you're looking for a completely unrealistic racing experience -- and especially if you have an iOS 7 game controller -- this one is an easy recommendation.

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