Last Updated on October 20, 2023 by SPN Editor
Sonic Superstars, the latest addition to the iconic Sonic franchise, delivers a refreshing take on the beloved blue hedgehog’s adventures. Unlike its predecessor, Sonic Mania, which focused on refining the 2D Sonic experience from the Mega Drive era, Sonic Superstars introduces an array of new gimmicks, mechanics, and challenges. The question that looms large is whether these innovations enhance or disrupt the classic Sonic formula.
Level Design – A Mix of Nostalgia and Freshness:
Sonic Superstars pays homage to its roots by revisiting and reimagining classic Sonic elements. Many familiar level mechanics and gimmicks from Sonic 1 to Sonic 3K make a return in this game. For long-time Sonic fans, this is a delightful trip down memory lane, as you’ll encounter iconic elements that defined earlier titles.
One noteworthy example is the return of the Sandopolis Act 2 gimmick. In this game, it gets a modern twist: instead of keeping lights on to fend off menacing ghosts, you now need to interact with switches to reset a giant robot that lurks ominously in the background. The robot becomes fully charged and instantly ends Sonic’s journey if not reset in time, adding an element of suspense.
However, Sonic Superstars goes further by introducing unique gimmicks for each individual level. Beyond the first few stages, each act relies heavily on a specific theme or mechanic, which sets it apart. This approach often works brilliantly, creating stages that are not just standout within Sonic Superstars but also within the broader Sonic series.
At the same time, some mechanics can feel intrusive, affecting the core platforming experience. While innovation is commendable, it’s crucial to strike a balance between introducing fresh elements and preserving the timeless Sonic experience. On the whole, Sonic Superstars’ level design successfully embraces nostalgia while injecting new life into the franchise.
Unlocking New Powers – Chaos Emeralds and Beyond:
One of the significant additions to Sonic Superstars is the introduction of new powers, unlocked by collecting Chaos Emeralds. While collecting all the Emeralds still provides a special reward, each individual Emerald now grants access to a unique skill. These skills can be activated a limited number of times and are replenished when passing checkpoints. However, they may not significantly affect the overall gameplay experience for regular players.
The main issue with these powers lies in the acquisition process. Chaos Emeralds are no longer awarded at predetermined points within the game. Instead, players need to discover giant rings and access special stages to obtain them. While the special stages are enjoyable, the lack of guaranteed access to the Emerald Powers may make some levels feel unbalanced. Additionally, some of these powers, while creative, tend to disrupt the game’s fast-paced momentum. For players who prefer a traditional Sonic experience, the powers may feel more like a distraction than a valuable addition.
Co-op Gameplay – A Mixed Bag:
Sonic has a history of including co-op gameplay elements, but it has never fully embraced the concept of a co-op game. In Sonic Superstars, the game attempts to introduce genuine co-op gameplay where all players share equal billing. While this is an ambitious endeavor, it can feel awkward and, at times, disrupt the core 2D Sonic experience.
The traditional Sonic co-op approach involved player 2 taking on the role of Tails, serving as a semi-active participant. The main player still led the game while the second player provided support. In Sonic Superstars, the attempt to provide equal gameplay opportunities for all players may be a step too far. The fast-paced nature of 2D Sonic isn’t ideally suited for this level of co-op interaction.
Battle Mode – Competitive Multiplayer:
Sonic Superstars introduces a Battle Mode designed for up to four players. In this mode, players have the opportunity to create their robotic Sonic character. You can acquire customization parts for your character by earning in-game currency during the main game.
Boss Battles – A Creative Challenge:
One of the highlights of Sonic Superstars is its boss encounters. These battles are generally creative, challenging, and add a layer of excitement to the game. While the difficulty may not be to everyone’s taste, some of the best bosses in the Sonic series can be found in this game.
Visuals – A Blend of Classic and Modern:
Sonic Superstars effectively captures the classic Sonic look in a 3D representation. While some fans may still yearn for a sprite-based 2D game, the 3D design holds its own. The key art and in-game moments manage to evoke a sense of joy and nostalgia. The world design aligns with this visual style, but occasionally, certain stages may appear basic and lacking in detail.
Audio – A Mix of Sonic’s Best and Less Impressive Tracks:
The audio experience in Sonic Superstars varies, offering a mix of exceptional music comparable to Sonic’s finest compositions and tracks that may fall short. Music quality fluctuates throughout the game, echoing the contrasting gameplay styles featured in the Sonic Adventure games.
In its core mission, Sonic Superstars successfully recreates the foundation of 2D Sonic platforming. It preserves the essence of one of the finest platforming experiences in gaming history. While some new elements feel like a hit-or-miss, they don’t significantly detract from the overall Sonic experience.
Sonic Superstars may not surpass Sonic Mania in terms of quality, but it still offers a solid Sonic adventure. The game’s potential to spark debates among fans about which game reigns supreme is a promising sign for Sega’s direction with the franchise.
Sonic Superstars is available on various platforms, including PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Signpost Games Reviewer gives 4 out of 5 Star.