Sonic Superstars (PS5) REVIEW – Decent, Nostalgic Fun

Not all of its ideas work, but when they do, Sonic Superstars is good fun.

Sonic Superstars
Sonic Superstars
Sonic Superstars
Release Date
October 17, 2023
Arzest, Sonic Team
Our Score

It’s probably old hat at this point to start a review of a new Sonic game talking about the franchise’s checkered history. Some of the games have been great, others have been terrible, and the fanbase has been arguing about which ones are which for decades at this point. Still, any new Sonic game has the potential to swing one way or the other, so when SEGA announced Sonic Superstars, people were cautious. Fortunately, Sonic Superstars finds itself on the positive end of the scale, with imaginative gameplay design bursting through the seams, but there’s some clear issues with the overall package too.

Sonic Superstars takes the series back to basics in a lot of ways, with the Blue Blur and his friends (Tails, Knuckles and Amy) joining forces against Dr. Robotnik and Fang The Hunter as both sides try to find all the Chaos Emeralds. So far, so every 2D Sonic game ever made, but it’s what Sonic Superstars does with its levels and its gameplay that makes it quite the treat.

Spread across 11 different zones, each area introduces its own obstacles and gimmicks that set it apart from the rest, ensuring that the entire playthrough is varied even if you’re mostly running to the right and jumping on the heads of enemies. Some classic gimmicks make a return, like a couple of pinball levels (as is Sonic tradition), or some 3D Sonic-inspired grind rails, but there are others that are way more involved, especially in zones like Press Factory, Cyber Station and Egg Fortress. Granted, not all of the ideas shown in Sonic Superstars are winners, especially in Press Factory where you’re either forced to jump at set intervals, or need to keep pressing buttons to stop a bomb from insta-killing you. Not the most fun, honestly.

Sonic Superstars
Sonic Superstars

Each of the game’s playable characters, including the hidden playable character, has their own abilities that many players will likely be familiar with already. Tails can fly, Knuckles can glide and wall climb, Amy uses her hammer to clear obstacles and enemies, while Sonic has retained his drop dash ability from Sonic Mania. Even the new hidden character, Trip, has abilities that act like a blend between Amy and Knuckles, making her a versatile character to play through the game again with.

Powers are the biggest new addition to the Sonic Superstars formula, offering new ways to play Sonic while also giving you more incentive to actually collect the Chaos Emeralds, and it’s possibly where Sonic Superstars is the most imaginative. The powers range from the ability to summon copies of yourself to damage enemies or collect rings, to revealing hidden platforms and rings so you can reach new areas. Some other powers are a bit more situational, like being able to navigate water by becoming a little blob, or growing a massing vine to climb to new areas, but each power has their own uses.

What makes the powers great is that, for the most part, they’re completely optional. If you want the classic 2D Sonic experience, you can just avoid using powers completely, and the game doesn’t penalize you or force you to adopt a playstyle you’d rather avoid. In a way, the powers give Sonic Superstars its own in-built difficulty system, as you can make the game as hard or as easy as you like.

Sonic Superstars
Sonic Superstars

Boss fights in Sonic Superstars are also a far cry from Robotnik swinging a ball and chain from his Egg Mobile, as they throw out way more attack phases and require more nuanced solutions, making them a lot more challenging. Of course, that comes with the trade-off that if you die during the boss fight, you have to go all the way back to the start, and with some bosses taking a few minutes to defeat, the process can be somewhat frustrating. Powers help make the bosses feel less , but having to go through the same attack patterns again and again, especially against the final boss, becomes extremely tedious.

Unfortunately, the real flaw of Sonic Superstars is the fact that it’s marketed as a co-op experience, with up to four players locally able to play the game’s Story Mode together. As you can imagine, trying to corral four Sonic characters on one screen is a nightmare at the best of times, while even just two people can struggle playing the game properly. Anyone who ends up off-screen is promptly despawned and forced to hop back in, and in a game that moves as fast as Sonic, that can be a nightmare. Really, it means that Sonic Superstars is best enjoyed as a solo game. It’s a shame that one of the core concepts of the game doesn’t really work, but there’s still fun to be had playing on your own.

While Sonic Superstars might not reach the same dizzying heights of Sonic Mania, it does chart a course for a more nuanced and inventive 2D Sonic franchise going forward. Once SEGA and Arzest stop focusing on co-op, a follow-up to Sonic Superstars would be fantastic, but as of right now, this game is still pretty good.

A code for the digital deluxe version of Sonic Superstars was provided by PR for the purposes of this review. 

READ MORE: 15 Best Sonic the Hedgehog Gifts for Sonic Fans

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Sonic Superstars
Sonic Superstars is full of ideas, and while not all of them land (especially the co-op), the inventiveness on show and core gameplay makes it worth checking out.