Sonic Superstars modernizes a classic formula – hands-on gameplay report

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Sonic Superstars modernizes a classic formula – hands-on gameplay report

Sonic Superstars takes the positives of retro Sonic titles and adds a modern coat of paint.

Sonic is back and in a very familiar way. Sonic Superstars returns the speedy blue hedgehog to his 2D retro roots, complete with playable appearances from some of his best friends to defeat Doctor Eggman again (or Robotnik, if you’re feeling super nostalgic). But don’t let the classic exterior fool you. Superstars is here to show that an old hedgehog can still learn new tricks.

Sonic Superstars modernizes a classic formula – hands-on gameplay report

Four playable characters

Like most classic Sonic titles, Sonic Superstars features more than just the headlining hedgehog as a playable character. This time around, there are four heroes to choose from, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, and sporting her original Sonic CD outfit, Amy Rose.

In the retro Sonic spirit, each of these characters has their own abilities that make them perfect for different playstyles and types of playthroughs. Sonic has the speed, Tails has his high flying, Knuckles can glide horizontal distances and climb up structures, and Amy has her hammer, which can break walls and allows her to double jump with the widest damage radius of each character. These characters alone are reason enough to revisit the game more than once, but they aren’t the only thing that will keep you playing.

Four-player simultaneous co-op

For the first time in the series, four players can venture through the world of Sonic at the same time. You and your squad can pick from the four selectable characters and work together to collect the Chaos Emeralds and save the innocent animals from the mechanical clutches of Eggman.

Zones full of fresh air

Sonic Superstars harkens back to the series’ 2D origins, but there is nothing but all-new zones here. That means new-level themes, new setpieces, and a lot of new eye candy while you roll around at the speed of sound. These include things like a foggy jungle, a forest full of natural rail grinding, bungee jumping vines, and much more. It’s visually rich and contemporary but in keeping with the classic series vibe. But you better keep your eyes off the scenery and focus on where your feet are going…

A new roboticized rogues’ gallery

Zones aren’t the only thing getting an upgrade. Eggman has some new tricks up his sleeve that are sure to catch out the hedgehog and his friends. Those come in the form of tons of new enemies and a lot more obstacles that you’ll have to learn to avoid and defeat. Sometimes the job will take more than the standard Badnik bouncing. Expect to go toe to toe with mini-bosses as well as Eggman’s own mechanized concoctions intent on stopping your progress. Or so the doctor hopes.

Use the power of the Chaos Emeralds

Another feature new to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog is wielding the power of individual Chaos Emeralds. After finding a secret ring in a level, you’ll have to complete a grappling hook minigame where you have to swing through obstacles to grab the glowing gem.

Sega has revealed two. One turns you into water to traverse up waterfalls, the other lets you unleash a clone army to clear the screen of enemies. This means for the first time, there’s no waiting to collect all seven emeralds to give Sonic super abilities. Now each emerald is just as important as collecting them all and grants you new ways to play after every special stage. With seven to find, the possibilities of different powers are near limitless.

Physics-based gameplay galore

2D Sonic fans will be pleased to know that the physics-based gameplay is back and as glorious as ever. Use ramps to rack up your speed levels and jump long distances. Speed up and use your momentum to bounce on enemies, launching yourself over tons of terrain. Use character abilities in tandem with your propulsion to travel in unique ways. It’s all here and, as always, helps deliver a Sonic experience to remember and one that is prime to speedrun using all kinds of speed tricks.

A modern classic

Each of these new pieces to the Sonic formula comes together to make a classic title with a modern coat of paint. This new addition to the retro Sonic games isn’t just a throwback but an all-new experience for players from each generation of the hedgehog’s fans.

This is a no-brainer for those craving a new addition to the 2D Sonic series to follow up Sonic Mania. And for those looking for an introduction to the classic titles or the Sonic series at all, this is a perfect starting point that is looking to perfect the formula and turn each of its notches up to 10.

Sonic Superstars is set to launch Fall 2023.

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