Kart racers on Nintendo consoles have long been dominated by Mario and company. Other drivers have attempted to overtake the plumber’s position, but few have come close to even tasting his dust. Now, a longtime rival has come very close; Sonic has proven fast enough to draft behind Mario and churn out a solid kart racing clone.

Sonic Racing looks great on the Wii. While it lacks the stunning visuals of the other console versions, there is an impressive amount of action occurring in the extravagant courses. Vivid visuals and busy backgrounds offer track variety on par with some of the best Mario Kart titles; cruising through the lush ocean environments of Sonic Adventure and dodging zombies in House of the Dead tracks make each lap feel different than the one before it.

Steering your vehicle through the game’s numerous stages is comparable to any other kart racer you’ve ever played. Power ups are obtained, turns are drifted, and gigantic chasms are leapt. The fast-paced action can be controlled via the passable remote and nunchuk set-up, the ideal classic controller, or with imprecise motion control. Miming steering motions with the remote is a fun novelty when goofing off with friends, but you’re going to want an analog stick when it comes to nailing perfect drifts and winning tough races.

Sega’s “all star” cast ranges from obscure to absurd. Awesome drivers like Alex Kidd and Shenmue’s Ryo are joined by C-squad dolts like Big the Cat and a Crazy Taxi guy. Who you select from the plethora of unlockable characters also determines how your ride controls. For example, Tail’s airplane kart has great mid-air maneuverability, while Dr. Eggman’s monster truck is slow but bowls over adversaries. The options are many, but some key Sega franchises are absent. Where’s Space Harrier and Altered Beast?

Sonic and his crew can take the race online, but with less ease than the PS3 and 360 versions. You can battle and race with friends whose codes you’ve already meticulously added to your roster, or you can play with strangers. Random games feel limiting, as you’re unable to create a custom match for others to join. I was also booted occasionally while waiting for other players to join. Once you’re actually in a match, however, the game plays fine and without any serious server connection issues. For the best multiplayer experience, I recommend skipping the online and going for the splitscreen option, which works flawlessly and supports up to four players.

Up until now, all of Sonic’s best Wii titles have had him playing second fiddle to Mario. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing proves that the hedgehog still has the ability to star in a fun and functional game. Don’t go into Sonic Racing expecting tons of surprises or genre-redefining innovation. Rather, prepare for a Sega-studded interpretation of the classic kart racing formula.