Sonic Superstars – Game Review

Sonic Superstars

(available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S and X, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Nintendo Switch version used for this review.)

Sonic Superstars is the latest 2D Sonic game, having been revealed at Summer Games Fest back in June, that showed off the game as a brand new 2D entry with some 2.5D elements thrown into the level design and co-op multiplayer, with the option to play as one of four characters: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy.

This comes at a rather interesting time, as Sonic Mania was the last 2D Sonic game that was very well received and is considered not only one of the best 2D Sonics but one of the best Sonic games overall. I agree with that, but I think it also ties in with Sonic Generations, and I go back and forth constantly on which one I think is best. You can understand that not only am I a big Sonic fan in general, but those games are where my interest lies.

I don’t think it helped that this game came out the same week as Spiderman 2 and Super Mario Wonder. Plus, the fact that for what is a short game to reach the credits, it is a full-price release. I won’t go into whether 2D games can be worth a full-price release (personally I think that if they’re of top quality, then they should, but I also understand why some people would disagree), but I would say that Sonic Superstars is an interesting game as a whole.

It’s a very simple 2D Sonic, there are 2 acts in every stage, with some extra acts for finding collectables. You have several special stages to collect the Chaos Emeralds, but this time each of the emeralds has a different purpose. In the older games, you have to get all 7 emeralds to unlock the super forms of the characters, but this time around, it unlocks one of 7 Chaos Powers, which was highlighted a bit in the marketing campaign.

The other fact is that this game has the co-op multiplayer, which allows local players to play one of the four characters at once. Sadly, this game does not have online co-op, which is a shame, because I wanted to use some of my Good Vibes gaming Patron perks to play some games with people who are better Sonic players than me. While it is an interesting idea, I think the fact that it has no online multiplayer for playing co-op is a mistake. I simply can’t guarantee a player 2 that can join me at any time, let alone a group of 3 or 4.

So, I approached most of this game from the perspective of it being a single-player experience, and that’s where I think that a lot of the issues come from with Sonic Superstars. It doesn’t have that much of an identity; other than the fact it brings back Fang the Sniper as a secondary villain and introduces one new character. You might have seen them briefly if you watched the Sonic animated short that was put on YouTube prior to the game’s release.

As a whole, I feel like Sonic Superstars kind of lacks an identity, which is really an issue. It feels like a basic 2D Sonic, and it confirms a lot of worries the audience had when we found out who was developing the game. While Sonic Team is involved in the game, the bulk of it was done by Studio Arzest, and if you haven’t heard of them, you will have definitely heard of their previous projects, mainly the Nintendo DS game Yoshi’s New Island and most infamously the terrible Yujinaka Project, Balan Wonderworld. Personally, I wasn’t too worried about Arzest being on this project since I don’t really hate Yoshi’s New Island, though I will admit it doesn’t have much in terms of innovation, and if we go by what a lot of reports are suggesting, the reason why Balan Wonderworld turned out as bad as it did was because there was no real leadership and Square Enix were very hands-off with the project.

I went in with some hope for Sonic Superstars, but I will say that at this point it’s an okay game. It has a lot to talk about and does have some good highs, but it also has some really big lows.


  • Physics

I can’t fault the game for replicating the physics of a 2D Sonic. If you were ever unfortunate enough to play Sonic the Hedgehog 4, that was a game that really failed at being a 2D Sonic game. precisely because it failed at the physics-based gameplay that subtly makes 2D Sonic games so enjoyable.

I could also compare it to the brilliant 2D gameplay of Sonic Generations, to the terrible gameplay in Sonic Forces. If you mess with the physics too much you will ruin this. Fortunately, Sonic Superstars feels like it was directly taken from Sonic Mania.

In conversation with another Sonic fan, they also agreed with this point. I think that the team definitely knew why Mania was so popular. While this game doesn’t look like Mania, it certainly has an interesting image, I daresay it even looks good on the Switch, which had to make some visual sacrifices. It does still really give a small bit of the feeling of Sonic Mania, at least in terms of the gameplay aspect of it.

Also, yes, despite what some people have been saying about the Switch version, my experience was actually fairly good! I did experience some slowdown, mostly in the boss fights (believe me, we’ll talk about that later), but the game did run at a stable 60FPS for most of the game. Apart from a few instances, I never experienced a slowdown that actively ruined the game.

  • Level Design

I do have a slight negative on this one, which is that I think that most of the really creative level designs are reserved for the very beginning and very end of the game. While this game could be accused of playing it safe with its level design, it’s still really good and does encourage some replay value, particularly if you get some of the Chaos Powers. Not that I felt like it warranted gameplay.

The fact of the matter is that in terms of the levels, they are very well designed. Particularly the way that the game goes about the final level, which I felt was almost a stroke of genius. Some levels do have a few issues, but it’s fun to go back and try them with different characters, particularly if you want to play in co-op.


  • Co-op Multiplayer

I haven’t played the game in four-player multiplayer, but from what I can tell from the footage, it looks like it has the exact same problem that the New Super Mario Brothers has when you try to play in co-op. It’s too insane and too difficult to coordinate everyone. Two-player co-op is actually a pretty decent time and does work, you can also play with any combination of characters. There’s no bonus for playing with certain combinations of characters, but it is fun to mix and match them depending on their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Tail’s flight can take you to certain areas, and Knuckles’s ability to climb walls can come in very handy for some levels too.

The biggest problem is that everyone shares one screen, and they have to be teleported to wherever the first player is, meaning that a lot of the time you can’t take full advantage of Sonic’s speed. This is a big problem with one of the levels that is completely covered in mist and you have to use a firefly to move around- which is really bad in a game where you have to move really fast, and even worse when you’re playing in co-op and only one of your players has this firefly. If you want to see this in action, I recommend Jeff Grubb’s video, his playthrough of that level really highlights this point.


  • Chaos Powers

The Chaos Powers are fine, and this might be just a me thing, but I really didn’t like them. For a start, you have to get them in the special stages, which does the whole Sonic 3 method of several rings in the stages. Small problem here: You can only get 1 per level on a playthrough. If you get it in Act 1, you can’t then get another one in the same Act or in Act 2, which is very annoying.

The other fact is that getting them is terrible! You’re sort of doing this in a space vine-swinging mini-game, which was just impossible to navigate. I’ll freely admit that I didn’t get all of the Chaos Powers before doing this review, so I haven’t had the ability to try them all out, but that’s because this was such a nightmare trying to get them! I really hated these stages, they’re some of the worst in Sonic history, and I’m including some of the really bad ones from Sonic the Hedgehog 4 in this list.

Fortunately, the special stages that you get for getting 50 rings whilst reaching a checkpoint, are much better and are a great homage to Sonic 1, with a few puzzle elements added into the mix. You don’t get Chaos Emeralds for this, but you do get points to spend in the shop, for cosmetics for your multiplayer battle character, which considering how much I didn’t like the battle multiplayer meant that every time I went into one I was saying to myself, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t want to spend my coins on anything!’.

The Chaos Powers themselves come in several varieties. There’s one for a rocket launch, there’s one that creates loads of dummy copies of your character, there’s one that highlights different hidden paths, one that lets you go through water and so on. The problem is that they’re very cumbersome to get. You often have to get trigger buttons or move the right analogue stick to a certain location, which is quite hard to do when you’re trying to speed through platforms. If you want to be precise about it, you have to grind to a halt.

The biggest problem I have with them is that they’re so situational. The first level has a bunch of opportunities to use them, but even then, I kind of found that they were grinding my game to a halt, they were almost useless! They really don’t feel like they improve the gameplay at all, they feel like an extra thing that was tacked on, in place of something like the Wisp powers from Sonic Colours.

In short, I don’t find them very good, and I haven’t found many people who like the game talking about them.

  • Boss Fights

This is the absolute worst part of the game. With a few exceptions, the boss fights suck. Sonic bosses have a lot of issues with having cheap hit detection and putting you in situations where you’re bound to lose almost all of your rings, but they don’t pose as much of an issue because they are often very short, so it doesn’t feel like as much of a pain each time you die.

Sonic Superstars has all of the same issues, but the boss fights are pretty damn long! I dreaded getting to the end of a level because I knew I was in for a long boss fight with really cheap mechanics, and every time I was proven right. It doesn’t help that a lot of these boss designs are recycled from other Sonic games with minimal innovation.

There are two bosses that are the crown jewel of rubbish: mainly the second fight you get with Fang the Sniper, it took me over thirty minutes to beat, with how cheap it was and how much it changed up the gameplay in the worst way possible, but the final boss which has to be one of the most infuriating experiences I’ve ever had in a Sonic game. This took me over an hour and was rage-inducing… I won’t spoil it for people who are curious, but this thing will drive you mad with some of the cheapest mechanics in a Sonic game. This might be a contender for one of the worst Sonic bosses in any of the games.

  • Battle Multiplayer

I don’t know who designed this thing, but if the only reason you’re collecting coins is for this, then you’re wasting your time collecting the coins. I absolutely hated it.

The battle multiplayer comes in several varieties, you can battle with up to 8 people on your friend list because of course, you’re not allowed to play with random people. But it’s also the fact that I wouldn’t want to play it! It sucks. The mechanics are all over the place, the level design doesn’t work, and most of the time I have no idea what’s going on. You can play with CPU opponents, but that sucks too. This is really poorly designed.


Sonic Superstars is a perfectly okay Sonic game. I did enjoy going from start to finish on each of the levels, minus the terrible boss fights, and the physics and gameplay are certainly there. I wouldn’t mind SEGA going further down this path, since I think that the 2D Sonic games can complement the 3D ones- they just need to have better online multiplayer and let me play with random people online whenever I want!

I will say that this game at least looked and played well, and there was some fun with the co-op. I’ve not been able to play the 4-player co-op, so I can’t say for certain that it’s bad, but most people who have played this way have said it’s a bit of a nightmare.

Despite how negative I’ve been, this isn’t a terrible Sonic game. It’s perfectly okay, and in terms of the modern 2D Sonic games, I’d say that it is much better than Sonic the Hedgehog 4 which was awful to get through, but Sonic Superstars is nowhere near the heights of Sonic Mania.

I would say that I recommend this game if it was on a discount, but I can’t in good conscience say that you’d be better off getting this than just getting Sonic Mania Plus.


Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.

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The Next Axia29th May 2024
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