You gotta go fast, and with Sonic Superstars, Sega hopes that players will quickly develop a liking for this modern take on the classic Sonic the Hedgehog gameplay packaged in a modern offering. After getting some valuable hands-on time at Gamescom 2023, we are more than confident that will be exactly the case.
Instead of adhering either too closely to the past like Sonic Mania or going too extreme in updating the formula like in Sonic Frontiers, Sonic Superstars gives off the feeling that it has found the sweet spot in terms of balance. Longtime fans will love the nostalgia in terms of the levels, the references, and the general feel of the game, whereas newcomers will marvel at how nice everything looks and the freedom of play here.
Sonic Team and Arzest have done a pretty good job in delivering speed and platforming that only this series can do, even if it can end up a tad bit chaotic at times, especially with co-op partners in tow. Having played the game with other members of the press, there will be confusion and panic at missing out on a potential secret or Chaos Emerald, but the underlying feeling is that we always had a good time going through the levels.
Losing control was not a problem at all, not when everyone was concerned about finding all the precious Chaos Emeralds, eliminating all the enemies, and grabbing as many rings as possible. For completionists though, it will require some adjustment to go slow and explore all the various paths that can be available in the different levels, which can be difficult when the game is clearly designed for literal speed runs. The combat in Sonic Superstars is also on a similar plane, with the timing required to destroy those machines not exactly in line with the fast speeds at which players can travel through a level.
At the very least, all of the levels available at the Sonic Superstars preview looked stunning in action, with distinct themes and level elements to match as well. The same applies to the various characters that can join Sonic for the ride, such as Amy with her hammer and Tails with the ability to hover and carry co-op partners to safety.
There are also Emerald Powers to think about, which further expand on levels and the potential secrets that can be uncovered. Vision can show you a different side of the level, while Water enables players to climb up waterfalls. With Sonic Superstars featuring all-new levels, there will be much for players to dissect and find.
Even with such limited time spent with the game, there is every bit of evidence to suggest that Sonic Superstars will finally crack the code in putting on a new coat of paint on the beloved formula without going too far off course. Time will tell when it releases this coming 17 October on PC, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One.
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