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  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Looks great
  • Classic Sonic fun
  • Multiple characters that all handle differently

Might Not Like

  • Single play-through is very short
  • Classic Sonic death traps
  • Boss battles can be frustrating
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Sonic Superstars Review

Sonic Superstars

Back in the early 90’s SEGA had a problem.

In 1985 they had released the Master System, a console they had hoped would rival Nintendo’s Famicom/NES They chose Alex Kidd as their flagship mascot, hoping the hairy, huge-fisted man-child could rival Nintendo’s wildly successful Super Mario.

Alex failed to conquer Nintendo’s plumbing prodigy, but in 1989 SEGA actually got the jump on their rivals and released an updated console first; The Mega Drive (or Genesis for the rest of the world.)

The problem SEGA had though, was that as good as the Mega Drive was it still didn’t have that killer IP to push it under the noses of discerning gamers of the time.

Nintendo launched the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES for short) in 1990, and bundled with it came Mario’s latest (and at the time greatest) outing in the form of Super Mario World.

But then in 1991, SEGA finally did it. They found their golden goose… or rather their blue hedgehog. Sonic The Hedgehog took the world by storm on the Mega Drive, a true rivalry was born, and the rest is history.

Admittedly that history is littered with mis-steps on SEGA’s part that ultimately led to them pulling out of the console market all together, and producing some truly horrific Sonic titles since then… but the last few years have seen a resurgence for the Blue Blur. Sonic Mania blew people away, demonstrating just how good a 2D Sonic game could be, and Sonic Frontiers was a passable starting point for a new wave of 3D titles.

But what happens when you mix the two together? You get Sonic Superstars.

Starry Eyed

You don’t have to look much further than the cover of the game to know a lot of love has gone into Sonic Superstars (even more so if you have the physical copy and reverse it for some old-school artwork.)

Everything from the opening video package, to the levels themselves, to the sometimes unnecessarily complicated bosses, pops off the screen with its vibrancy and gorgeous animation. It IS a bit of a strange art style to go for; putting a 3D Sonic and 3D environments in an almost entirely 2D game, but it does work quite well.

Aside from the odd bit of jaggedness around some of the sprites when played on larger TVs, everything looks great, particularly on a Switch OLED screen, which is how I opted to play.

All the characters look great, returning to their more ‘cartoony’ roots from the earlier 2D games (and Mania) rather than the ‘lankier’ grown up versions seen in the later 3D games. Knuckles looks like Knuckles, for example, rather than some 7ft hulking beast with his fists taped up as if he’s ready for an MMA fight.

A plethora of old enemies return too, with traditional Badniks such as Batbrains. Buzz Bombers. Crabmeats and Orbinauts all making an appearance alongside some newer foes.

Robotnik also returns as the main protagonist, and this time he has Nack the Weasel in tow… sort of.

Lost The Plot

I say sort of, because the plot isn’t the easiest thing in the world to follow. At its most base level it follows the same storyline as almost all the Sonic games do; Robotnik is causing trouble, Sonic and friends head off to stop him.

Nack features more as part of a sub-plot, using what at first appears to be a robot to assist him in gathering up the Chaos Emeralds; the same MO as he had in Sonic Triple Trouble, where he previously featured.

I’m sure there is a storyline here somewhere, and perhaps it becomes clearer if you play through the game with all of the characters in turn, but sometimes it’s a bit tricky to follow… not that it’s really needed in a 2D Sonic game, though!

Not So Fast

The game itself plays well enough, despite having some of those trademark Sonic ‘issues’.

Incredibly cheap enemy placement, areas where going fast (you know, the thing Sonic is most famous for) puts you at a massive detriment and will almost certainly lead to death, bosses that feel very cheap and take an absolute age to reveal a vulnerability…. It’s all here.

There is even a whole level full of crush hazards, that will kill you instantly no matter how many rings you have; an annoying bugbear many have with the older Sonic games.

The only real issue I had with the game is how broken up the gameplay can be by ‘bonus’ areas. Find a huge gold ring and it will whisk you off to a bonus stage to try and collect a Chaos Emerald (or some Sonic Medals if you’ve already grabbed one in the current stage), but then if you collect 50 rings and cross a checkpoint you can jump into a re-creation of Sonic 1’s Special Stages to collect Sonic Medals.

This wouldn’t be TOO bad (although both do seem to be more frequent than in previous games) but then completely randomly there will be ‘rifts’ in the air that can be jumped through to weird areas where Sonic/Knuckles/Tails/Amy will be falling or flying from one side of the screen to the other.

These rift sections barely last a few seconds though, and all they provide is a few extra rings so they feel pointless, and just serve to add more loading time where it isn’t needed.

There has also been a multiplayer mode ham-fistedly implemented in the main game, but it’s so chaotic and poorly done that it’s hard to imagine anyone enjoying playing the game that way, which is a shame.

But, despite all these points… Superstars is still a LOT of fun and a true ‘classic’ sonic experience. It doesn’t try to crowbar in any elaborate 3D levels, or any of the ‘future’ Sonic designs, it just sticks to the formula that made early titles such a joy to play.

Similar Sounds

Series veteran Jun Senoue returned to the Sonic series, teaming up with Tee Lopes (who created most of the music for Sonic Mania) to give Superstars that classic Sonic feel with music that is both new and familiar at the same time.

Each track suits it’s respective level perfectly, capturing the laid-back feel of Bridge Island to the abject urgency of Egg Fortress and everything in between.

Gems With Purpose

One of the biggest advancements in Sonic Superstars revolves around the Chaos Emeralds. Ever since the first title Sonic and his friends have been tasked with collecting the Chaos Emeralds as they journey through the various areas of Mobius and beyond.

That’s no different here, except this time they actually serve a purpose individually, rather than just being a macguffin required to transform into Super Sonic or achieve the ‘True’ ending of the game.

Now each gem gives you a new power, which range from incredibly useful to barely even a power at all.

The ability to clone yourself and take out enemies en-masse, or the option to turn into a water droplet, negating the familiar drowning sequence, are very handy.

Being able to see a selection of hidden platforms that you barely ever need, or the power to grow a vine out of the floor… not so much (although I was playing as Knuckles so perhaps the vine is much more useful when using characters who can’t climb walls.)

It makes collecting emeralds serve a purpose, but conversely it also feels like Sonic Team have made them much easier to obtain as a result.

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to truly judge Sonic Superstars as a standalone game in 2023.

If you’re only going to play through the game once, you probably won’t get more than 3-5 hours of fun out of a game that cost £60 at launch; not great value for money.

However, if you consider yourself a completionist and plan on playing through as all 5 available characters, there’s a lot more fun to be had.

There is also a multiplayer battle mode, which pits players against each other in Mario-Party style mini-games using customisable robots that can be altered using Sonic Medals. Some of the upgrades cost 100 medals, and considering you only earn around 20-50 in a normal playthrough, this could extend the replayability of the game if you really want to purchase all those outfits.

There are also whispers that there may be DLC eventually, but nothing concrete has been confirmed.

If you’re a huge Sonic fan that plans to squeeze every drop of playability out of Sonic Superstars then I’d recommend picking it up, otherwise I would suggest waiting until the price drops as it inevitably will just before or after Christmas.

Oh… and if you’re thinking about picking this up for a fun multiplayer experience… go and check out Super Mario Wonder, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge or The Cowabunga Collection instead.

Zatu Score


  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Looks great
  • Classic Sonic fun
  • Multiple characters that all handle differently

Might not like

  • Single play-through is very short
  • Classic Sonic death traps
  • Boss battles can be frustrating

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