Sonic Superstars Review

Sonic is a franchise that holds a special place in my personal gaming history. The original Sonic The Hedgehog was the very first video game I played when I got a Mega Drive as a kid, swiftly followed by the rest of the Sonic games including Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic Superstars is a return to that classic 2D Sonic style, with a sprinkling of modern ideas. Sonic Superstars has the potential to be a great trip down memory lane, but it doesn’t recapture the rush of the original games like it should.

One of the most obvious changes is the new locations that form the zones of Sonic Superstars. Gone is the iconic Green Hill Zone replaced by the very similar-feeling Bridge Island zone, while Pinball Carnival zone gets some clear inspiration from Casino Zone. There are 11 zones in total and they become more unique as you progress. The other thing to note is that most of the acts in each zone are large. This is to account for the fact that you can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy, each of whom can discover different paths to get from one end to the next. Sonic has speed, Tails can fly for short bursts, Knuckles can glide, climb walls, and break through walls, while Amy has a larger range of damage that can be dealt to enemies. They bring a variety of playstyles but not everything feels as smooth as it should. For example, once you start flying with Tails you can’t cancel it unless he gets tired or you land somewhere, and with Knuckles the latching onto surfaces to climb can be worringly temperamental.

In terms of visuals, Sonic Superstars looks good with the move to 3D side-scrolling being implemented well. You’ll notice that the background of each act repeat quite obviously though. While Sonic games have been known for their obstacles to get players to anticipate and change paths, in some levels they seem so close together that it actually slows the flow of the game down. The level designs are decent but there was only one act that really stood out for the way it changed things up, and that comes towards the end of the story mode. Aside from that, while the levels look good and offer some enjoyment there are moments of frustration and everything seems a bit too by-the-numbers.

The most frustrating parts are the boss battles. They range from impressively mediocre to downright uninspired. One of the boss battles in particular is a dull repetition of the same encounter, split into two parts, and if you lose you have to begin the whole battle from the start. At least the bonus stages are decent and can be found through levels, each giving the opportunity to earn coins and catch Chaos Emeralds. There’s a good reason for grabbing the emeralds as they unlock powers that characters can use. These powers include being able to turn into water, summoning copies of yourself to help in fights, and a vision power that reveals hidden objects. There are seven powers in total and in order to gain them you have to find the giant rings that access the special stages.

Sonic Superstars also has a battle mode too that can be played online or offline. You can customise your own robot with different parts, with more unlocked as you make progress. The different parts, which are all cosmetic, take Sonic coins to unlock. You will need hundreds to unlock every item as they can range in cost from 10 coins to much higher. One decision that is perplexing is that when you purchase a colour you can only customise one piece with that colour. If you want the head, body, arms, and legs to match you have to buy the same colour four times. The mini games include zapping others with electricity, surviving on platforms as they get destroyed, and racing to a goal.

Sonic Superstars is a decent Sonic game, but it is not the return to former heights that some would expect. It offers entertainment and fun, but is marred by the action being slowed down quite a lot, interrupting the flow, and boss fights that drag on and feel like a throwback instead of an evolution.
  • The level designs are good
  • Each character has their own path
  • Chaos Emerald powers add a fun dimension
  • Uninspired and mediocre boss battles
  • Frustrating difficulty spikes
  • Too many obstacles that keep slowing things down
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From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.