“Sonic Superstars improves the fundamentals of 2D Sonic design, but its new features don’t add much to the retro formula.”
excellent level design
Multiple characters to play with
Battle Mode is a fun addition
frustrating boss design
Poorly implemented power-ups
Sonic’s slogan may be “go fast”, but sonic superstar Shows the importance of slowing down from time to time. Last year, the blue blur moved boldly into the future Sonic Frontiers, leaving behind nostalgia with a radical “open-zone” pivot that focused on modernizing the series. This was a commendable move, although it moved Sonic even further away from his roots, with mixed results. This made me a little dizzy; I felt like I could no longer keep up with the series’ constantly changing identity.
thankfully, just in time sonic superstar This is a suitable remedy for motion sickness. Instead of rushing ahead with another chaotic reinvention, developers Arzest and Sonic Team slowed down the series’ roll to deliver the familiar 2D platformer that some fans were begging for. However, this is not just a simple game of nostalgia; It’s a return to the series tiptoes back to its origins and seeks wisdom from what was once a winning formula. It’s as much a retro revival as it is a research expedition to find out what made Sonic’s first adventure so special.
sonic superstar It hones in on the fundamentals of the best games in the series with pitch-perfect physics and robust level design. The blast from the past also exposes some old flaws along the way in the form of frustrating bosses and momentum-killing digressions. The groundbreaking new features don’t evolve the formula in any meaningful way, but Superstar is an important reset that lays out the best and worst qualities of the series for everyone to learn from.
blast from the past
sonic superstar Plays exactly like one of Blue Blur’s Sega Genesis adventures, only with the pixel art replaced with seamless cartoon visuals. The hedgehog and his playable friends go through a series of 2D stages filled with alternate paths, rings, and well-hidden secrets. Sonic Team gets the important parts of that formula right. This starts with its familiar physics, which allow players to easily traverse levels at high speed, while also being able to tackle a tricky platforming puzzle without having to stop rapidly and slide around. It feels exactly like I remember from my days as a Genesis kid, and it’s key to communicating what it was like to play those games in their heyday.
Superstars’ excellent level design is also important to capturing that feeling. Intricately designed platforming stages are filled with meandering paths that seamlessly weave in and out of each other as you explore. There’s also a good reason to jump back into stages after clearing them to try out new paths, as the stages are filled with collectible coins, fruits, and secret minigames.
Exploration is an act of pure childhood joy…
While exploring those stages I was reminded of what really made those original 2D entries so special. At their best, sonic stages capture the essence of a playground. In a minute I’m leaping down a slide-like ramp. The next thing I know, I’m thrown into the air on a vine or bounced off a waterfall like a trampoline. Exploration is an act of pure childlike joy, and curiosity is always rewarded, no matter what direction players take.
Although not every sector is a winner, many of them find success supper star An enjoyable platforming throwback. Pinball Carnival reclaims stylish fun sonic 2, while Bridge Island is every bit as bright and airy as the Green Hill zone. Admittedly, this game highlights the original ideas. Part of the zones are somewhat similar to the previous ones, only some feel particularly fresh. For example, Cyber Station includes a transformative voice art twist that makes it one of the most memorable moments. Those creative changes are few and far between, leaving many areas without much personality beyond their uninspired design cues.
The fast-paced platforming is at its best when I’m running through obstacles at full speed, as if I’m riding a roller coaster. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose momentum. Beyond some tricky obstacles that sometimes slow down the action, supper star Heavy on minigames which can kill the pace. There’s the series’ classic spinning maze bonus stage, a ring-collecting skydiving affair, and a Chaos Emerald minigame that has me angling for a floating jewel to unlock a new power-up. Each is a great addition in its own right, but the stages are overloaded with them. In the early levels, it felt like I was jumping into one every 20 seconds.
While perfectionists may find themselves tired of all the shiny distractions, sonic superstar It’s at its best when I’m just moving forward without a care in the world. Anyway, the best mysteries are the ones I stumble upon by accident.
out with the new
While the basics are clear, sonic superstar There are many obstacles on the way. For example, the boss fights are a mixed bag of retro design. There are some delightful throwbacks; I’ll always have a soft spot for fights where I’d have to satisfyingly bounce an oversized Eggman robot over the head a few times while avoiding some of the easier attack patterns. Others make the adventure a more frustrating moment. In a fight against a flying robot bird, I need to run on the conveyor belt to keep up with it and avoid attacks. The tight physics goes awry as it can be hard to get the speed right to actually hit the bird. An utterly disastrous final boss fight even had me ready to give up as I had to sit through 10 minutes of drawn out attack patterns, only to die repeatedly due to poor chase scene physics at the very end. Was.
The powers are largely not worth the effort to find them.
Other elements are more of a missed opportunity than an obvious problem. supper star‘The biggest addition are the unlockable powers earned through Chaos Emeralds. Sonic and friends can gain the ability to summon a swarm of clones to clear the screen or reveal invisible objects. It’s a fun twist in theory, but it’s poorly executed. For example, it’s actually difficult to draw them instantly. To activate one, I have to press down on my right joystick and select power one. It’s not that easy to do, especially when I’m going through fast-paced levels. If I want to use one that is another speed breaker I usually have to stop.
I’m more inclined to stop and use them if they seem useful, but that’s the fundamental problem with convenience. Since all powers are completely optional, the levels are designed without them in mind. It appears that you don’t need to use one to find any secrets, although it may make the task a little easier. A power that turns players into water, allowing them to climb waterfalls, is useless in most stages. When I first tried to use my Clone Swarm ability in a boss fight, I was disappointed to see that it had no effect on the boss I was fighting. They are largely not worth the effort to find them.
supper star‘The new aesthetic design isn’t much of a winner either. Sega tries to strike a balance between new and retro with a cartoony 2.5D art style, but it often lacks personality. The flat colors and bland textures don’t make for a platform like Sunny Lagoon City Justice, which is a shame considering the series’ history of meticulously detailed art design. The music similarly fails to stand out as it settles for a somewhat forgettable retro flavour.
I played the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which made matters even worse. Apart from a few sloppy scenes, I experienced frequent stuttering on stage. This made some of the boss fights especially those chase scenes even more frustrating, as I lost a lot of lives due to frame hiccups.
Modes and Multiplayer
sonic superstar‘The big back-of-the-box feature is its emphasis on multiplayer, although that’s not as much of a selling point as it seems. Up to four players can adventure together in local co-op. However, the camera only tracks the player who is furthest along the course – something that is quite difficult to predict in fast-paced, winding levels. This is the type of multiplayer implementation that will leave players who can’t keep up the pace barely able to play because they are teleported back to their friend.
Luckily, the inclusion of co-op makes the solo experience better. with a jump, supper star It features four playable characters, each with their own traversal gimmick. Tails can use his helicopter tail to fly vertically, Knuckles can climb walls, and Amy Rose has a double jump. Each ability completely changes how players can explore a stage, making otherwise inaccessible routes more easily accessible depending on the character. This is essentially the concept of the new Chaos Emerald powers, but presented in a more natural way.
A pair of additional modes are a bit more suited to that multiplayer design, though mileage may vary. Battle Mode is a cute minigame gauntlet that provides harmless entertainment. Here, players customize a mech avatar (by spending Sonic Coins earned during the adventure) and compete in three rounds of challenges. These falling platforms can be as simple as surviving longer in battle or collecting the most stars in a level. not this fall friendsBut character customization and tracked stats give players little progress to work with.
supper star One never knows the perfect side dish to bring to the retro table.
There’s also a Time Attack mode, which sounds like a slam dunk on paper. Race across a stage as fast as you can and put your time on the leaderboard – simple, right? Strangely, that easy win is complicated. If players get too far behind in any stage, they are suddenly returned to the beginning, with no hope of making up for lost time. The rules aren’t explained anywhere, so I’m not really sure what causes that failed condition. I expected that after completing the story I would spend most of my time trying to get the fastest time, but the only speedrun I achieved was my “time to quit”.
All these issues started adding up by the end of my time sonic superstar, I was immediately wowed as I moved through Bridge Island at a familiar pace, but those returns diminished as I got into the later levels and the dirtier and more extreme extra modes. Nostalgia is just a starting point, there are a few developers behind it sound mania Incredibly well understood. That game hit all the right notes, but still found ways to loop in the studio’s own creativity (who can forget the excellent one). mean bean machine Boss fight?) supper star One never knows the perfect side dish to bring to the retro table. It’s a fun stop to Sonic’s decades-long marathon, but I don’t think Sega will spend much time tuning the series here before moving on to the next idea.
Gotta go fast, as they say.
sonic superstar Testing was done on a Nintendo Switch OLED in handheld mode and on a TCL 6-Series R635 when docked.