Sonic Superstars takes a break from the pixel art and sends us back into 2.5D as we traverse the Northstar Islands to find that Dr. Eggman has teamed up again with Fang along with a new character, Trip.
Sonic Team decided to not go with the Sonic Mania development team (Christian Whitehead, Headcanon) for Sonic Superstars this time and instead collaborated with Arzest, another Japanese game development company which developed Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Yoshi’s New Island (2014) among others. Superstars is considered a sequel to Sonic Mania and is now available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
What do you get?
Sonic Superstars comes in 2 flavors:
- Base Game (Physical or Digital)
Digital Deluxe Edition
- Base Game (Digital Only)
- LEGO® Fun Pack
- Sonic Rabbit Skin
- Mecha Sonic Skin for Battle Mode
- Bonus Main Menu Wallpapers
- Digital Artbook & Mini Original Soundtrack
Sonic plays like you would expect if you’re familiar with the Genesis/Megadrive games or even Sonic Mania. The drop dash makes its return however elemental shields do not. There is a magnetic shield that will attract rings but that’s it. No double jump from it. Each every other character has their unique special ability you’ll also be familiar with. Fly for short periods with Tails. Glide through the air with Knuckles. Battle through enemies with Amy’s hammer along with a double jump.
Bosses offer some variety but also ramp up in difficulty in the late game and are largely a disappointment unfortunately. There aren’t enough openings to attack and in the late game having to repeat previous phases after suffering from insta-kill attacks quickly ups the frustration. Ten attempts? Easily about an hour of time.
There are no returning levels here and there are a total of 12 zones. I think Sega knows we’re a little tired of Green Hill and Chemical Plant. That doesn’t mean elements from previous games are nowhere to be found. Bounce around with the bumpers in Pinball Carnival. Avoid the sandpits in Sand Sanctuary. Level design as a whole is pretty solid here. There are multiple routes where the top-most will usually aid you in less obstacles while the lower routes will have more enemies and platforming.
Thankfully pits are not super abundant but do expect to be crushed. Sega loves their crushers and especially in one level. You’ll know the one. Unfortunately some levels just fall flat and feel like a burden to go through.
The special stages are brand new and involve swinging from point to point to close in on the chaos emerald that will “wonder” about the stage. You have a limited number of rings which deplete similar to Super Sonic but more can be collected as you traverse to the chaos emerald. The special stages are entered similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles with large golden rings scattered around. These are numerous and usually not hard to find however only 1 can be entered per zone. If you find another, it will be blue and instead of a chaos emerald as the award, it will be 5 medals. These medals are the currency for exchanging for accessories in Battle Mode.
Navigating previously played zones can be done with the world map and operates similar to Sonic Generations with each zone and its acts going along a horizontal line.
While elemental shields aren’t here, emerald powers definitely more than makes up for it. Too much going on at once? Slow things down with slow. Frustrated the boss is too high up or trying to get to a higher ledge? Use bullet. Each chaos emerald collected adds a new power which can be activated at any time and is shared amongst all the characters. One of the emerald powers is unique to each character, playing into their strengths. Emerald powers reset after passing each checkpoint (lamppost). Avatar is also really useful during boss fights.
Some zones contain special acts with a pear symbol to gain entry. Pears are another collectable found throughout the various zones. Within these special acts, you’ll be able to more efficiently grind out medals.
Not really going into story details here to avoid spoilers but you can probably guess Dr. Eggman is up to no good again!
We are once again treated to beautifully animated sequences by Powerhouse Animation. The prologue can be seen here.
There is an unlockable character after completing the story initially and requires completing a 2nd time to get the full story which we also won’t get into here.
Co-op Story Mode
A welcome addition but not without its flaws. You’re able to play acts locally with up to four players. While testing this, it can be a bit jarring when others dash ahead leaving you behind but you are given the option to “catch up” with a press of a button.
Battle mode allows for four players to play locally and up to eight online across four different play styles: Racing, Fighting, Star Collecting, and Survival. Each of these are unique but there isn’t really anything too earth shattering here. There is offline play that allows you to play against the AI if you’re not up to dealing with other people.
Time attack is what you would expect in a Sonic game. Your best time will be logged and even compared to other top players. This is per character per act.
Tee Lopes is also involved with the music once again, working with Jun Senoue, the music director of the game.
The music here is fairly average here. Think Sonic 4 like, however there are some good tracks here.
While Sonic Superstars is a decent entry into Sonic’s main series, it doesn’t quite stick the landing but borrowing from Rabid Rodent’s Sonic Origins review, it’s “good enough”. You will get frustrated with some boss fights that overstay their welcome and it can be difficult to pull off activating emerald powers in time to avoid certain deaths. With patience you’ll get there but definitely expect to die a lot. The music isn’t as good as Mania but there’s still a lot to enjoy here. If possible, we would suggest waiting for a sale as the $60 price tag seems a bit much.