Ah, Sonic. A game series that I have a soft spot for for no real reason as the games themselves lately kinda suck. With that said when I heard about Sonic Superstars I was quite happy and eager to play it and this is my review after playing it. This review is spoiler-heavy.
Without the comic they released the story is a bit confusing and this is common in many of the 2D Sonic games from what I can tell Dr Robonik is on a new island and he is searching for a black dragon or something on those lines and has hired Fang to capture animals. Fang has an assistant known as Trip (more on her later) who is your classic careless sidekick although she doesn’t want to be there.
For reasons that aren’t clear within the story, Dr Robonik has started to capture large flickies, which are used for the bosses, although not much else is said about it. The story is pretty basic but it is a Sonic game and to be honest, people barely play it for the story.
For what it is worth I enjoyed the different levels that the game had to offer but to be honest I doubt I will remember any of them. The levels are mostly a rehash of existing levels but they do have the things they bring but all of them have one problem in common – they focus way too much on the platforming rather than speed. Adding to this the levels have a massive focus on traps where you will suddenly lose all of your rings and die. I think this is the first time in a Sonic game where I was grateful it had unlimited lives as the game doesn’t teach you as you go – it just outright murders you in a way you can’t predict.
In Sonic Superstars they have added different powers for every Chaos Emerald and honestly outside of trying them once to see what they were like I didn’t give a crap about them afterwards. Only two of them I find useful and thought they should have just been added as a feature of the game. The ability to slow down time should be one of the major things that Sonic should have is to “slow down” time so you can have the feeling of going fast while being able to react quickly. The second one was the power which gave everyone an extra skill such as Sonic having a homing attack, Amy throwing a hammer and Trip blowing out fireballs. All of these SHOULD have been usable within the game even if they have something such as using the ring counter. It is hard to explain how these skills feel like something that has always been there but they ran out of ideas for powers (then again all the rest of them are meh) and then just took them away.
Just like in Sonic and Knuckles when you complete the game you play as Knuckles where an Eggrobo comes after you and you replay the game with a different story that this happens as well in Sonic Superstars. The major difference is you play as Trip … and the story doesn’t make much sense as you fight Fang in places where he has already been defeated it is fun enough to play but it is far harder than the original mode. As much as I welcome how hard it was I do feel this would have been better to have this as an option.
When I played the game I primarily played as Amy and it is quite clear many bosses were designed with the idea of playing as Sonic but playing it as Sonic I found the game worked as intended. Playing as Trip it was quite easy to break the game at times by getting out of bounds but nothing game-breaking.
One thing that annoyed me during this was the super forms. In Sonic Superstars the super forms feel nerfed and fucked. It might just be me but it doesn’t feel like they move that fast nor jump high and when you do get them they are pretty useless against bosses as you only get a hit in or two and run out of time and will transform back. Something that did annoy me is how they have changed it so no one beyond Sonic gets the “Super” title but instead, everyone gets “superpowers”. You might think this is okay and I am just being a bit nitpicky and honestly I might be but Trip turns into a literal golden dragon that can fly around and breathe fire. Tails don’t have his flickies and Knuckles doesn’t seem to even glow but that might just be my eyes. It is also worth commenting that as much as I had fun playing Flip in her dragon form it is clear they were lazy with the form and had no running animations, spinning animation etc and just turning into light. Still Sonic Superstars Trip was my favourite character to play and I do hope she appears in the main rooster in future including in the 3D games.
The bosses are where I start to become disappointed with Sonic Superstars but I also understand why they were created in the way they were. The main problem I had with the bosses is you spend so long just waiting to do something. When you do finally get to hit it you often either die due to the hitbox being weird or some other reason and then you have to spend ages to get back to the part of the fight you were just on. I had this with the final boss of the main story where you would defeat phase only die in phase two due to unfairness and then have to re-do it all just to get back to where you were. Trip’s final boss had the same problem and the last story’s final boss had the same. The game doesn’t reward the player for being skilful and doesn’t teach the player what to do as most of your progress happens via trial and error or outright dying a few times to see what is happening.
Trip’s final boss brings something that shouldn’t exist in a Sonic game (outside of environmental deaths) and that is one-hit kills. In both phases of the final boss, you can die in one hit simply by touching a laser slightly or getting trapped in a web that you think you are unable to escape from. These by themselves are fine if the game set it up for these and super forms to avoid this but no they don’t.
The Special Stages
They were shit. Moving on.
I have seen a few people moan about the graphics but I like it. I much prefer the 2.5D style that they were going for rather than the pixel artwork of Sonic Mania. I don’t mind them using pixel artwork but it doesn’t have to be based purely on the old design of the classic era. I also preferred if they moved over to the more modern designs rather than the classic ones – it feels like Sega ain’t sure about what they made.
I am in two minds with the music. When I first played the game I hated the music but after listening to them on YouTube I came to enjoy them. I think all of the other sounds within the game playing with the music ruined the experience. Upon replaying the game for Trip’s story I didn’t mind the music as much as I did originally. I think it is worth having an open mind when you play the game with the music but do be aware it isn’t up to the quality you would expect.
Sonic Superstars, in my opinion, is a good game but not a great one. I enjoyed seeing many characters returning and I am happy that Amy is playable in a modern game. I love Trip’s gameplay and her character and I do hope we see her join the main rooster in future games. The levels were okay but I won’t remember them and the music for them when you listen to them by themselves are great. The bosses I did have fun with but learning them wasn’t fun and replaying them I will just remember why I hated it.
Overall it is clear that Sonic Superstars was rushed due to the glitches and minor issues it has but it was fun I don’t think it will be a game I will replay again in a hurry as there is little to no replayability and the bosses were annoying enough.
Need to reference?
Ellis, M. (2023). Sonic Superstars: My Review. [online] Snat's Narratives & Tales. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/reviews/video-games/sonic-superstars-my-review.html [Accessed 11 Dec 2023].
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