Sonic Superstars is the newest in an extended line of 2D Sonic titles, and it’s doing what it wants to face out. Co-op, Emerald Powers, and a set of all-new ranges should not simply nice back-of-the-box options for a sport like this — additionally they make this a Sonic sport that feels a bit completely different than the entire different 2D Sonic titles which have come earlier than it. And after going hands-on with Sonic Superstars at Summer time Recreation Fest Play Days, I can say this evolution is promising.
Though I didn’t get to attempt co-op, I noticed how the completely different playable characters may change the sport expertise, how Emerald Powers enabled Sega to go greater and bolder with degree design, and the way this sport’s boss fights are already among the greatest within the sequence. If Sega can ship on all of its guarantees with Sonic Superstars, this may very well be the best development of the 2D Sonic system in a very long time.
In 2018, Sonic Mania perfected the traditional 2D Sonic system with its wonderful degree design, silky-smooth controls, and boatloads of callbacks and fan service that solely served to boost the expertise. It’s exhausting to do higher than nearly excellent, so my feeling has been that if Sonic have been ever to return to 2D outdoors of a direct Mania follow-up, its builders must go for one thing that appears and feels a bit completely different. That’s why I’m glad to see that sequence writer Sega and Fantasian and Balan Wonderworld co-developer Arzest made some daring artistic choices with Sonic Superstars.
At its core, Sonic Superstars makes use of the identical level-based platforming system as most 2D Sonic video games, so it’s not reinventing the wheel in that side. Fortunately, operating and leaping really feel nice, due to wonderful momentum-based gameplay that rewards expert play with exhilarating pace. The primary important distinction is how a lot Sonic Superstars emphasizes its distinct playable characters. Proper now, we all know that you just’ll be capable of play Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. Throughout my time with the sport, I solely had an opportunity to attempt Knuckles and Sonic.
Every character has distinct talents and a barely completely different sport really feel. Sonic’s quicker and may Drop Sprint to get an enormous pace increase, whereas Knuckles can glide and climb over huge expanses of ranges. Within the remaining launch, I may see myself enjoying every degree 4 instances to see how the expertise varies from character to character.
Whereas Sonic has had a number of gamers earlier than, Emerald Powers really feel wholly unique to this sport. Emerald Powers are particular talents that can permit Sonic and his pals to work together with ranges in numerous methods after they gather a Chaos Emerald. Within the 4 phases that I performed, I may use the Water Emerald Energy to climb up waterfalls as any character. That’s a comparatively simple interplay, nevertheless it highlighted these phases’ stable degree design. The most effective Sonic ranges are massive, multilayered affairs the place gamers have numerous alternatives to go quick, but additionally should cope with distinctive stage gimmicks.
The 4 Sonic Superstars phases I attempted match that system and felt like that they had a bit extra verticality than the sequence’ pixel-based 2D titles. Emerald Powers enhanced how a lot I may discover, and in flip, I used to be sometimes rewarded with cash, a medal, or a brand new elevated path to progress on. The routes these Emerald Powers can open up then pair nicely with every character’s distinctive talents. I managed to make my manner up to a degree the place I may glide over loads of a degree with Knuckles, gained sufficient pace to clear sure obstacles as Sonic, and got here away completely satisfied that the sport enabled me to try this as each characters.
One other factor that stood out to me in the course of the Sonic Superstars demo was its bosses. I’d go as far as to say the 4 bosses I fought throughout my time with Sonic Superstars are among the greatest I’ve seen in a 2D Sonic sport. I outran a giant mechanical fish attempting to eat me because the stage fell aside, ran up a wire shot at me by a boss to break it, and prompted Eggman to assault himself as he launched projectiles at Sonic. None of those radically alter core gameplay, however they enthrallingly take a look at participant abilities.
It additionally felt good that every one of those boss patterns, and the phases for that matter, weren’t simply instantly copying concepts or sections from earlier video games. That isn’t to say there’s no nostalgia-baiting, although; some particular phases are based mostly on these in Sonic the Hedgehog 1, and Fang the Sniper is already being teased as an essential character. Nonetheless, I’m most excited by how completely different this expertise will really feel whereas enjoying with others. Sadly, I wasn’t capable of attempt that out.
Whereas Sonic Superstars’ cooperative play is the principle new characteristic of this sport and what a lot of the sport’s reveal targeted on, I solely had the prospect to attempt it on my own. Doing so did show to me that Sonic Superstars fully works as a single-player expertise, so there isn’t a want to fret about that. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see how among the sport’s methods may very well be enhanced in multiplayer. The concept of a Rayman Origins-like expertise with Sonic is attractive.
I noticed how characters like Knuckles and Sonic have completely different movesets, however I need to see how they complement or work together with one another. I’d additionally wish to see how issues just like the particular phases and the sport’s wonderful bosses work when a number of characters are within the fray. Whereas I don’t know the way that side of the sport will probably be within the remaining sport, this single-player Summer time Recreation Fest Play Days demo of Sonic Superstars nonetheless confirmed a ton of promise.
Throughout the 4 ranges I performed, Tremendous Superstars stood out with satisfying momentum-based controls, expansive and dense degree design, distinctive particular phases, and among the greatest boss fights I’ve performed in a Sonic the Hedgehog sport. Even when it doesn’t find yourself reaching the highs of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 3, or Mania, I’m glad that Sega and Arzest have some ahead momentum in terms of pondering of recent concepts about what a 2D Sonic sport will be.
Sonic Superstars will probably be launched for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Sequence X/S, and Nintendo Swap this fall.