Unbeknownst to many, the Olympic Esports Week had much more to offer than just Esports. That’s because tucked away in a little corner of the cavernous Suntec City Convention Center, was SEGA’s booth. For those who gave it more than a cursory look, it had a gem (or perhaps Chaos Emerald would be more apt?) hidden away inside in the form of the Sonic Superstars demo.

SEGA awesomely invited us down to try out the demo, and since I was in town for the Olympic Esports Week anyways, I decided to take SEGA up on their offer and try out the demo. Unfortunately, video or photo recording was prohibited…so there’s nothing visual from the booth.

All I have are my impressions and these captures direct from SEGA.

Sonic Superstars
This is the mini boss for one of the stages in the demo and he really reminded me of the whale chasing you in Sonic Adventure’s first stage. Image courtesy of SEGA.

The Sonic Superstars demo at the OEW had 2 stages…which I’ve forgotten the names to. I’m sorry…I was too excited to play to remember!

Both stages let you pick between 4 characters; Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy. I took Sonic, Tails and Amy for a test run but didn’t have time to try out Knuckles. Gameplay is pure old school 16-bit Sonic, with you running left to right, jumping on enemies, collecting rings and losing them with every hit.

Sonic plays like he does in the old 16-bit games (of which Sonic Superstars aims to emulate). He spin dashes, jumps on enemies and is fast as lighting. The momentum based gameplay that’s so beloved in the Mega Drive incarnations is back, which means Sonic starts off rather sluggish, but gets easier (and more agile) as he picks up speed.

Tails was the same, though he has the added advantage of being able to fly. His flight capabilities aren’t too disruptive though. Yeah he can help bypass a few sections but he can’t stay up in the air too long to make much of a difference.

Amy was the most surprising to play as. Her jump attack curls her into a ball too, but is much larger than the others as she wields her mallet while she spins. On top of that, Amy also double jumps too which is pretty cool!

Sonic Superstars
I kind of like Amy’s gameplay style in the demo! Image courtesy of SEGA.

I also managed to try out one of the new Bonus stages in the game. I don’t know what triggered it but I just found it as a giant gold ring floating in a hidden section of the first demo stage in Sonic Superstars. If you’ve played the Sonic games, you’d know what I mean.

Jumping into it took me to a weird space where I (as Sonic) had to swing around on floating stuff to reach a Chaos Emerald that was accelerating away. As Sonic Bonus stages go, it wasn’t too hard. It’s on par with Sonic 2’s if I had to compare it with something.

The tricky part was timing the swings so that you got the optimal speed boost, which enables you to close the distance faster. The Chaos Emerald wasn’t joking around too! That gem was buzzing along at tremendous speed and at times I thought I’d never catch up to it!

After nabbing the Chaos Emerald, Amy got the ability to create clones of her that dash on screen. I don’t know if the powers are different for the other characters but Amy’s was awesome to watch in action. Hopefully getting all the Chaos Emeralds still unlocks Super Sonic (at least for Sonic) because that’s always a high point for me in any Sonic game.

I came away from the demo pretty impressed. SEGA’s been on a roll with 2D Sonic titles recently and Sonic Superstars looks to continue the quality. Honestly? It’s about time SEGA and Sonic took the mascot limelight away from Nintendo’s plumber.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

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