Hooray for happy Wii U news! It's been a tough old week, in the opinion of some, for Wii U, with delays, technical specification revelations and veiled executive-level criticisms swirling around Nintendo's home console. That doesn't mean we need to fear the worst or join in the "Wii U is doomed" chorus, however, as there is still good and exciting news to be found for the system; we're happy to find it.
What we have is actually another multi-platform game comparison from Digital Foundry for Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, a bit of a critical hit both here on Nintendo Life and with Digital Foundry's masters, Eurogamer. The comparisons between Wii U releases and their equivalents on Xbox 360 and PS3 have gone through a fairly broad range of positives and negatives, but it's transpired that developer Sumo Digital was good to its word of giving Nintendo gamers a version of this game to match — perhaps even exceed — the experience on other systems.
We recommend you read the full article if you're interested in all of the thorough details. In summary Wii U fares well, with graphical fidelity and performance (such as frame-rate) holding up and, in some instances (such as a lack of tearing), outperforming both Xbox 360 and PS3. Microsoft's system does have the most solid frame-rate, but Wii U occupies a "happy middle ground" between that and Sony's console. Digital Foundry then takes account of the extra content and GamePad features to come to a cheering conclusion for the system.
Overall, the Wii U version doesn't disappoint with its generally solid frame-rate in solo play and its permanently engaged v-sync. Evidence of superior textures isn't in abundance, but there are occasions where it surpasses 360 - such as on the Panzer Dragoon stage - and the sub-HD resolution it operates at gives largely comparable image quality to the other consoles. Of course, a high watermark is planted by the PC version's support for superior textures, improved reflection mapping and grander geometry, but the Wii U offering is a unique beast in its own right.
Support for the GamePad, for example, at least works on a surface level, with almost every potential usage of the extra screen being broached. We have the inevitable top-down map display, a nifty rear-view mirror option, and capacity for up to five players. The Wii U exclusive modes are entertaining asides, but don't empower the GamePad user with quite enough privileges to justify the separate screen space. Even so, these are at least cursory efforts at trying something new, harmlessly adding to its overall value.
Side by side with the PS3 and 360 versions, which both suffer from tearing where water physics are involved, it's a strong performer too. Sony's platform suffers the most in this regard, and is also on record for the most severe plummet in frame-rates, though these are a very rare turns indeed. Performance holds close to the 30FPS goal on all three platforms, but it's ultimately the 360 that takes the crown here for sheer consistency. Alas, none of these versions can uphold this standard for split-screen play, with only a serviceable 20FPS available in each case.
Putting the strong PC port aside, we'd pin the Wii U version down as the console version to opt for based on flexibility alone. Despite being a launch title, the range of options it boasts above the competition is commendable, with support for all original Wii control configurations, plus the GamePad and Classic Pro. Once set, all five players can also be taken online as a group, and, best of all, the visuals and performance aren't noticeably cut down in the process of adding these new modes and features. However, if these extras aren't a factor for you, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is also an easy recommendation to make on 360 and PS3.
We'll put this one up with Trine 2: Director's Cut as a positive win in the performance stakes for Nintendo's system. If you've picked Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed up or tried it on multiple systems we'd love to read your experiences in the comments below.