Sonic Superstars PlayStation 5 Review

Sonic Superstars is simply another good Sonic title to add to the franchise.

By JustAnotherJake, Posted 19 Oct 2023

It is no secret that Sega and Sonic Team have been pushing content for Sonic the Hedgehog out like crazy lately. The series is on a bit of a comeback with the release of the movies, a new show on Netflix, several new merchandise lines, the release of Sonic Frontiers and Sonic Origins, and updates to both of those games. Still, it came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced that a new Sonic game was coming out, titled Sonic Superstars, especially given that Superstars would release only a few days after the final DLC for Sonic Frontiers would be released. It makes more sense knowing that Superstars is being developed by Arzet, the company behind games like Hey! Pikmin and Balan Wonderworld. Perhaps not the best track record, but Sonic hasn’t had the best track record either, so things match in a sense.

 

Sonic Superstars. Sonic the Hedgehog, PS5, Playstation 5, Review, Screenshots, Platformer, Robots, Dr. Eggman, Sega, NoobFeed
 

Sonic Superstars is the latest Sonic the Hedgehog title with a focus on the series' classic 2D style of gameplay. While the gameplay isn’t one-to-one with the original titles, or at least it doesn’t feel that way, it still manages to feel snappy and close enough to the point where adjusting shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Rather than sticking to the typical pixelated art style that the 2D games are known for, Superstars takes the 2.5D route with things. This allows for better uses of the foreground and background for segments that will go back layers or forward layers with the gameplay while still limiting controls to those two dimensions.

The only segments that aren’t 2D in Sonic Superstars are the bonus stages, specifically the ones used to obtain emeralds. In these segments, Sonic and Company will swing from blue orbs to catch up to a chaos emerald that slowly drifts away. The stages get harder with each emerald obtained, but none feel impossible. Obtaining all seven chaos emeralds allows each character to go super, where their speed is increased, and become invincible. However, that’s not all for the emeralds; for this game, obtaining a single emerald will grant the player with a new ability of its own. Most of them will allow for more platforming and combat abilities. This is an element that changes things up but isn’t necessary.

Most other Sonic titles have more of a focus on the single-player experience, with there being a couple of multiplayer options or the second player can control Tails while the duo of Sonic and Tails is being played in the main game. In Sonic Superstars, there is indeed a multiplayer mode where the players can build and battle with their own robotic creations, but the main game has a much heavier focus on the multiplayer aspect. Up to four players can play the main game as one of the four characters at the same time. This works relatively well, but during the core of the game, it doesn’t feel like it is the intended way to play. But during some boss fights, it feels like the developers were banking on there being more than one player.
 

Sonic Superstars. Sonic the Hedgehog, PS5, Playstation 5, Review, Screenshots, Platformer, Sky, Knuckles, Sega, NoobFeed
 

The boss fights in Sonic Superstars are probably the worst part of the game as a whole. Most take a long time for them to open up weak points, or they are incredibly difficult to deal with. With the arenas the fights take place in being very open, it leaves a lot of empty space, which is presumably for the multiplayer; it makes the fights feel less spectacular. Many of the later bosses throw a very large number of attacks at the player, not leaving much room for error, and then only at the end of an attack cycle reveal their weak point. It all comes together to form very infuriating bosses for single-player and pure chaos for multiplayer.

Aside from boss fights, most of the game is on par with the series' standards with the stage quality. Most of the stages have their gimmicks, but they don’t overstay their welcome and offer interesting ideas to spice things up for the players. The typical Sonic formula of finding the optimal route is here, and it rewards skilled and attentive players with silky smooth high-speed gameplay, where failing will often take players down to lower and more dangerous areas that are more difficult to conquer. It does feel like some of the later stages lose this route, placing a little in favor of sections that simply require more accurate inputs from the player to avoid harm or stay in a faster area instead of the whole separate pathing idea from the earlier sections.

While the quality of the stages is pretty good across the board, the actual visual design of them is something else to be discussed. Each zone and act feels very formulaic in nature, with most of them all following standard themes like an icy level or a grassy level. While that is standard for the early levels, as Sonic has always done pretty standard opening stages, they usually have a greater sense of environmental storytelling, like how with Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, the acts changed and evolved to tell a story of exploration. In Superstars, environmental storytelling is lackluster as the player goes from area to area without much context as to what things are or why they are here. There are transitional cutscenes that give some story, but it doesn’t really explain how things happened or how the player characters get to the next area.
 

Sonic Superstars. Sonic the Hedgehog, PS5, Playstation 5, Review, Screenshots, Platformer, Water, Slide, Sega, NoobFeed
 

Going into Sonic Superstars expecting a load of story is going to lead to expectations being crushed. The story is very minuscule here and doesn’t offer much to even intrigue the player as to what the lore of the islands the game takes place on is. There is something that eventually builds up to the final boss, but it is nothing more than a simple context behind the boss. Even then, it’s not mind-blowing. The lack of story isn’t something that really hurts the game, but the series has been known for telling at least a little bit of world-building story, as mentioned earlier with Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, so it is a bit of a letdown. Perhaps it was intentional, though, as Sonic Frontiers was extremely heavy in the story and lore departments, and two back-to-back story-driven Sonic games may be off-putting to some.

In terms of side content, there are a handful of options for the players in Sonic Superstars. The multiplayer mode is the big one and can even be enjoyed online. But the really cool ones are unlocked after beating the game for the first time. To avoid spoilers, too many details won’t be shared too much, but they are fun and definitely add to the overall experience, especially for those who enjoyed story mode. Aside from that, there really isn’t much else, as most of the content is stuffed into the story mode, and to be fair, there is a lot there for 2D Sonic game standards. There are character-specific stages to spice things up, as well as stages unlocked by collecting fruit that act as a quick way to get coins, the currency for the multiplayer robot mode.

The overall look of Sonic Superstars is pretty nice and is topped off with a crispy 60 frames per second. However, there are some places where the visuals falter. For example, the main character models look pretty good, especially for Sonic himself. They all have smooth animations, and the lighting fits them well in almost all situations. The real issues show themselves with more cluttered foreground and background elements, where it's obvious some textures and models weren’t given as much love as the playable characters. Even the bosses struggle quite a bit with the visuals as they look lower quality and clip into things very frequently.
 

Sonic Superstars. Sonic the Hedgehog, PS5, Playstation 5, Review, Screenshots, Platformer, Lego, Tails, Sega, NoobFeed
 

The visual design of Sonic Superstars isn’t the only part that struggles to stay on par with itself, as the audio is all over the place in quality. Some of the tracks in the game are genuinely great and fit the areas they are made to be played in perfectly, like in Speed Jungle or the special stages. But then some tracks are just bad, like the overworld theme or the boss battle theme. It is likely due to the different teams that worked on the music not being directly involved with each other, but regardless, the quality gaps shouldn’t exist.

To mix in with things, it seems a good amount of sound effects and jingles are reused, while this isn’t something completely new for the franchise, especially when some of the sounds are super iconic, such as the bubble shield sound effect or the ring sound effect. But things get weird when trams seem to use a sound effect from something like Sonic Riders or the drawing jingle being the same version from Sonic Mania. This sort of thing isn’t exactly a huge problem, but when factoring in the other oddities in the presentation, it seems like the team cut corners where they really didn’t need to.

It seems that the team that brainstormed Sonic Superstars had this huge goal of making the game the next big 2D Sonic adventure when it just feels like something akin to the Sonic Advance games. This isn’t to fully bash either Superstars or the GBA Sonic titles, and it is rather the fact that they similarly feel like lesser versions than the Genesis titles or Sonic Mania. However, that may be what the teams had in mind for Sonic Superstars, for it to just be another fun Sonic title, not something to blow everyone away but something that fans will enjoy and another spot for younger players or newcomers to join in on things. In that sense, Superstars is a good title; it just really isn’t the most amazing Sonic game there is.
 

Sonic Superstars. Sonic the Hedgehog, PS5, Playstation 5, Review, Screenshots, Platformer, Robots, Amy Rose, Sega, NoobFeed
 

Sonic Superstars is simply another good Sonic title to add to the franchise, and while it may not be among the best in the series, it is a fun little time to be had. The multiplayer focus hurts the solo experience a bit but makes it a fun game for a party. The new powerups aren’t a necessary addition but are welcome to spice things up in a similar fashion to the wisps did in Sonic Colors. The return of Fang and the addition of Trip are nice but simply feel like additions to make more merchandise or are introduced for them to be filler characters in something like Sonic and Mario at the Olympic Games. Overall, Superstars really does feel like just a neat little game, it's not bad, and it's not great. It just goes to prove Sonic’s franchise has the possibility to be great but keeps narrowly missing that superstar mark.
 

Jacob Cowsert (@TweetJAJ)
News Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): SEGA, SEGA of America
Developer(s): Arzest, SEGA, Sonic Team
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Speed, Puzzle, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2023-10-17

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