Sonic Superstars Proves the Classic Formula Still Works | Review

We checked out Sonic Superstars ahead of its release to let you know if it is worth playing.

While I’ve been aware of Sonic the Hedgehog since childhood, I’ve only come to experience the games relatively recently. That’s why i was excited to hear that a new Sonic game was on the way and, even better, it was embracing the platforming roots that originally made the speedy hedgehog so popular in the 1990s. The issues with various Sonic games are hardly a secret, and I was hopeful Sonic Superstars would be a massive step in the right direction for the franchise.

Sonic Superstars

Publisher: Sega

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S

Release Date: October 17, 2023

I’m pleased to report that Sonic Superstars is everything we were promised and more. This game truly is a classic Sonic game with greatly improved graphics and it is bound to delight Sonic fans both old and new.

The Story

As you might expect with a Sonic the Hedgehog game, Sonic and his friends have to defeat Dr. Robotnik and keep his evil schemes from coming to fruition. In this case, the evil doctor is kidnapping animals on the North Star Islands to put them into his army. To this end, the player has to make their way across a series of islands, clearing levels and boss fights while also harnessing a number of iconic powers in order to save the day.

Everything about this game screams classic Sonic the Hedgehog, from the opening title screen to the first boss fight against Dr. Robotnik. And this isn’t a bad thing! It really feels like SEGA has recognized that with Sonic it’s best to go back to basics and the end result is so satisfying. Every little detail feels like it was lifted from the classic Genesis games, even the sound effects are exactly the same.

The Gameplay

It’s time for a confession: I’m actually not the best player when it comes to playing Sonic the Hedgehog games. To put it politely, I stink at it. That being said, Sonic Superstars is so much fun to play it’s easy to not think about skill level because you get lost in the joy of trying to complete the level. The levels can be tricky in places but aren’t overwhelmingly hard. Even if the player gets momentarily stuck, a little experimentation makes it clear where to go next.

Sonic Superstars has several main play options, consisting of Story Mode, Battle Mode and Time Attack.

In Story Mode, the player can start out playing as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles or Amy while making their way through the various levels. Each character comes with an iconic move set, so it’s worth while to experiment with different characters and see how they affect playing through the level. There’s also the option to play multiplayer with up to three other people, a first for the series.

As for playing through the levels themselves, there are a number of options available. As always the player can run and jump over or around obstacles. There are also springs that can be used to build momentum or jump up to a given point. On one level, there’s even jungle vines that can be pulled down like a rubber band to spring the player up into the air, the idea being to move from one vine to the next until a platform is reached. Some of these obstacles are really tricky to traverse. For instance, there’s one level where you’re essentially running through darkness so there’s only a small circle of visibility around you. That makes getting around really difficult, but fortunately those sections don’t last too long.

True to form with the resemblance to classic Sonic, the boss fights are not easy. Most, if not all of them are going to take multiple attempts, but don’t get discouraged. If the player is patient and willing to experiment with different approaches, you can get past these fights.

There are also special Chaos Emerald levels. In these levels, as the name implies, Sonic goes in to attempt to gain a Chaos Emerald and a new power along with it. The game even takes the extra step of showing you how to use the power before placing you back into the game. The player will definitely want to experiment with these powers as they can really come in handy, especially during boss fights.

Fun Mini-Games

Outside of Story Mode, there is also a series of mini-games available. In Battle Mode, you take the part of a robot competing against other robots in a series of mini-games. There’s the option to play against AI opponents or real people. These games are fun, but they’d probably be even better if you could play as different Sonic characters instead of generic robots.

The final section, Time Attack, is a section that lets the player race through an Act as fast as possible with a character of their choice to see how their time stacks up against other players.

The one drawback to Sonic Superstars, if it can be called such, is that there’s no way to unlock later levels without beating the previous one. That means if you get stuck, it might take a long time to reach the next island in the story. It’s worth it to keep going though, everything about this game is so much fun.

Whether you’ve played Sonic the Hedgehog since the beginning or you’re new to the series, Sonic Superstars is a must-have this fall. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and hopefully a sign of many good things to come.

Sonic Superstars
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Becky O'Brien
Armed with a PhD. in Musicology, Becky loves to spend their time watching movies and playing video games, and listening to the soundtracks of both whenever they have the time. Can usually be seen writing for Cinelinx though they also do a bit of work for Screen Age Wasteland too. Their favorite superheroes are Batwoman and Spider-Gwen.
sonic-superstars-proves-the-classic-formula-still-works-reviewSonic Superstars is proof that the classic platforming formula still works for this series. The game plays like a classic Sonic game but with all the polish and shine of a modern game. The levels are fun to play through, and the boss fights are tough but not overly so. This is the Sonic the Hedgehog game fans have wanted for years and it's sure to bring hours of enjoyment.