I’ve played Sonic Superstars a couple of times over the last few months. I got to try it a bit at the Tokyo Game Show and before that, I played it at the Singapore Olympic Games Week.
Each time I came away really impressed…and hungry for more.
Well, it’s finally dinner time!
Sonic Superstars’ release date is nearly upon us…and with that comes its review!
What is Sonic Superstars?
Sonic Superstars is a single (or multiplayer) 2D action platfomer with 3D gameplay. It’s developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA. The game is available for all major platforms.
We’re reviewing both the PC and Playstation 5 versions of the game and will point of if there are difference between the two versions. Both our copies were awesomely provided by the super team at SEGA! Thanks so much!
Sonic Superstars is best described as 2D Sonic cranked all the way up to 11 with the power of modern hardware. This is simply the latest evolution of Sonic The Hedgehog from the earliest days of the Mega Drive. Incidentally, if you’ve never played the old school Sonic games before, read our Sonic Origins review!
Simply put, it is the best 2D Sonic game you can buy right now…yes, even better than Sonic Mania.
It does everything the classic games do (imaginative stages, branching paths, cool bosses) and expands them in every way possible.
Now you can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy…and you can even play the game multiplayer (4 player local co-op) or fight it out online via the game’s Battle Mode.
Imagine the moment in Sonic 2 when you realized that Tails could be controlled with another controller…and multiply that by 2!
The truly unfortunate part is that multiplayer is borked.
4 players sharing a single screen doesn’t work. It makes team work impossible (because the screen’s too busy) and the moment one characters goe out of frame, you lose that person until they respawn. Playing multiplayer also slows the game to a crawl because you can’t speed along without affecting other players. Why wasn’t a split-screen mode added as an option, at least for the PC and modern consoles (not puny the Nintendo Switch)?
Surely, the PC, Xbox Series X|S and Playstation 5 can handle it?
Play solo though and it’s a dream!
This is pure Sonic bliss, the momentum based Sonic gameplay we’re all used to. Bosses await at the end of nearly every level and each of them are awesome and require different tactics! They don’t die in 3 hits either, which makes them much more challenging and fun to fight!
Sonic Superstars also adds in new Chaos Emerald powers that you gain when you get a Chaos Emerald from the bonus stages. These powers range from creating multiple copies of your character, to being able to see hidden images to being able to use a special dash power.
You’re limited in your usage of the powers by a meter (which can be refilled every time you pass a checkpoint) but you can switch them on the fly to open up new exploration avenues in the stages. Since you can also return to previously played levels, you can also use these powers to explore them too!
Unfortunately, some characters don’t really lend themselves to exploration.
Sonic and Amy mainly.
Their move sets are mainly horizontal (though Amy does have her double jump) and can’t complete with Tails’ flying ability and Knuckles’ gliding. Sonic goes zooming past everything (which to be fair is his schtick) but that also mean you’ll be missing a ton of secrets. Amy’s double jump is great but it doesn’t have enough reach, certainly not like Tails or Knuckles have with theirs.
It’s really a shame, because the stages in Sonic Superstars are some of the best in the series. They branch all over the place, backwards, forwards, upwards, downwards. Hell, some routes even throw you into the background! I’ve never had so much fun exploring a Sonic stage before, and constantly discovering new Medals or Bonus Stage locations! It’s freaking awesome.
What’s even more awesome is that the game’s performance is rock solid. I played with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660M on 1080p and still had a rock solid 144fps.
There really isn’t a ton of options to tweak on the PC, which is great if you’re running a potato setup like my Aorus 15 gaming notebook.
It’s the same on the Playstation 5. You can’t even choose the regular Performance or Visual modes that are present in most games. Not that the game needs it. I didn’t notice any drops, even when Sonic (the fastest character in the game) is speeding around the levels.
The one thing however that I do feel lacking is the Battle Mode. Here you compete online with strangers (or friends) in various events. Some have you fighting it out, some have you racing and some have you running around grabbing the most rings.
They’re playable and fine on their own but playing online is highly unadvisable. I play on a 10gb/s connection and all of my devices are hooked up via LAN and I STILL get lag. Not slowdown (which is non-existent as I mentioned earlier) but lag.
I’d hit people (or collect stars) in the Battle Mode and only have it register a second later.
It’s like playing Quake 3 Arena on the 56K modem on the Dreamcast back in the day!
It’s a shame because you can earn medals that can be used to unlock customization options if you play Battle Mode online.
Then again, you can also earn medals via Story Mode (just at a much slower pace) so it doesn’t really matter.
The Bottom Line.
Sonic Superstars is hands-down the best 2D Sonic game…ever! It even beats out the seminal Sonic Mania in my eyes, despite the lackluster Battle Mode and local 4-player co-op. Sonic’s not really a co-op game anyways, so it doesn’t really matter.
It brings luscious visuals, a blazing framerate (even on crappy hardware) and numerous innovative bosses in one great package. The Chaos Emerald powers only add to the experience, though they’re certainly easily passed over if you don’t bother getting them in the first place.
SEGA’s certainly been on a roll with the 2D Sonic offerings, so much so that I actually miss their 3D takes on the series. Come on SEGA, give us a new Sonic Adventure please!
Or at the very least, a new Sonic Spinball?
The best 2D Sonic game yet despite crappy Battle and Co-op modes.
- Lightning fast.
- Multiple characters who all play differently.
- Awesome bosses.
- Fun, massive stages to explore.
- Battle Mode lags.
- Local co-op lacks splitscreen.