Sonic games have seen a sort of resurgence as of late. With titles like Sonic Origins and Sonic Frontiers, old and new experiences have met both fans and newcomers alike. Summer Game Fest 2023 brought about the announcement of a new (old?) Sonic experience that’s been quite the surprise – Sonic Superstars.
Sonic Superstars pretty much came out of nowhere, to the surprise of many. It’s a new game that plays like an old game if that makes any sense at all. None of that open-world schtick, the game sticks to its old-school roots but presents everything in a superb visual upgrade along with cooperative play. It’s fantastic, and after spending 30 minutes playing it during Summer Game Fest, the game could be something to look out for.
Sonic Superstars is an upcoming game from Sonic Team and Arzest. If you’ve heard of Arzest before, the reason why they may seem familiar is that they did work on Balan Wonderworld, which went on to become quite the disaster.
In any case, don’t let that deter you, because my first 30 minutes with Sonic Superstars were fantastic, impressing with not only gameplay but also with its visuals. It looks like a blend of the iconic style of the past with a modern touch, with results in a colorful and vibrant world to zoom past.
In the game, players will be able to choose between 4 characters, each with their own unique abilities that add to gameplay variety. I spent my time with Sonic on the Bridge Island Zone level (the other level was called Speed Jungle Zone), and returning Sonic players will be glad to know that his drop dash is in the game, among other things. Amy can attack with her hammer, Tails can fly, and Knuckles can glide. Pretty standard stuff.
Throughout the level, I was able to gain an ability that let me swim up waterfalls to reach previously unreachable areas, uncovering new paths, secrets, and rewards. There are multiple abilities to get through retrieving Chaos Emeralds scattered around the levels, and while I wasn’t able to find the other Emeralds due to the limited time with the demo, I can only assume that other abilities will certainly help Sonic and pals progress and deal with challenges.
Speaking of Chaos Emeralds, finding one is just half of the challenge. Sonic Superstars will bring players to a 3D level filled with swinging points that requires timing, allowing Sonic to gain ground on the moving Emerald and finally capturing it.
The goal of the game is pretty much the same as old-school Sonic titles – reach the end of the level. Collecting rings will shield you from damage, and so on. In fact, Sonic Superstars is faithful to past games that it even feels and plays like classic games, physics and all. It’s a very good thing, and mixed with the graphical upgrade, the experience is refreshingly welcome.
Additionally, Sonic Superstars will feature a four-player cooperative mode, which we didn’t get to try, but seems to be a good idea. Levels are fun to explore, and will even be more enjoyable with a friend.
Overall, Sonic Superstars was another pleasant surprise from Summer Game Fest. I didn’t expect a new Sonic game would bring back old-school gameplay and mechanics with a twist, but it was a surprisingly good time and I’m looking forward to playing more of it in the months leading up to launch.