Sonic has among the most interesting legacies in all of gaming. After the iconic trilogy, and handful of spinoffs at the time, Sonic has remained a relatively hit/miss experience. Titles like Sonic Adventure have endured, whereas most want to forget the shooter and werehog were a thing. With Sonic Superstars it looks to be a return to Sonic’s roots, something that has consistently resulted in adventures players enjoy. With higher expectations, is this another winner or a weak entry?
Sonic Superstars foregoes recent attempts to give Sonic a complex narrative in favor of a small handful of interactions. These are often fun, animated, and gives each character some much needed personality. Even if the scenes are not the most impactful, I could easily see myself watching them a couple times without immediately feeling the need to skip. Naturally, this means gameplay needs to carry the overall experience.
What a Friendly Face
At its core I think Sonic Superstars does a good job of capturing what makes a Sonic game good. Levels are fast paced, vibrant and expressive, with plenty of alternate paths. The ability to play as Miles, Knuckles, Amy, in addition to Sonic also gives each location a different feel. These are helpful for finding alternate paths, obtaining specific items, or just trying to maximize speed/points.
Perhaps my favorite thing about these levels is the thought that went into them. It isn’t just five or six different ways to each the end, there are multiple events happening in the background. Sometimes you’ll one of the bosses flying around causing havoc, whereas another stage will show Miles or Knuckles forging their own path forward. It’s a nice touch where even after a couple attempts there will be things to find.
Chaos Emeralds take on an interesting new role in Sonic Superstars. Instead of being an optional collectible that is usually required to reach the true end, each emerald gives a specific power up. These help deal with one problem or another through certain powers. It’s an interesting addition, one that I could see being divisive among loyalist. Thankfully, nothing requires these additional abilities, they’re just an optional thing to spice up the typical stage.
Despite the positives, there are some distinct negatives as well. One thing that immediately wore thin are how many optional stages there are. I could do the first act of the first stage and there is a teleport to obtain a Chaos Emerald, later there are two different optional stages for coins, and between these are mini-games that give additional rings. It’s nice adding things to do, they just lose their charm the more frequently they appear.
Special stages can also be very hit/miss. The stages modeled after the original set can be fun, provided you don’t try to do nine in a single act, it’s the bubble stages that remain consistently enjoyable to play. For these stages a collectible is set out of reach and a you need to propel yourself forward to collect it. They’re not too bad if it’s a race stage, though anticipating where it will be, randomly targeting bubbles, with other quirks make them tedious. Not even in a hard way, just more annoying than it needs to be.
Thankfully, a lot of the things mentioned are entirely optional. Only the Chaos Emerald stages need to be completed, which are given a simple visual indicator. There is no way to mistake these stages for something else, though once successfully completed they give coins. While getting coins might not be the most exciting part, they do unlock cosmetic items for online modes.
Sonic Superstars Review Verdict
Sonic Superstars: There is only so much that can be said about Sonic Superstars. It's very true to what Sonic tends to be, while also taking as few risks as possible. Some might be put off by the nostalgia heavy experience or lack of content, but for the right price I think it's one of the better entries. Add in the optional online mode, different characters, not to mention all the weird additional stages and it's the type of experience Sonic fans will likely enjoy. – Mark
Editor’s Note: Sonic Superstars was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.