Soapbox: SynMania & Dakiii’s initial thoughts on Sonic Superstars

It’s been almost six years since Sonic Mania released, and since then, we haven’t had any core Classic Sonic titles aside from the Sonic Mania Plus DLC in 2018.

Sonic Origins Plus is coming out later this month, which includes the twelve SEGA Game Gear outings Sonic and company went on, as well as Amy Rose as a playable character in the four main titles. Thankfully, that isn’t the last we’ll see of the Classic Sonic series this year, and ultimately feels like an appetizer for what’s to come.

A brand new 2D Sonic experience, Sonic Superstars was recently announced to be coming out later this year featuring the main four characters from the outset. While my fellow team members and I weren’t able to attend this year’s Summer Game Fest to experience the game firsthand, we’ve seen enough footage of it on the show floor to share our first impressions. Here are our thoughts on Sonic Superstars as of right now:

SynMania’s thoughts

The reveal of Superstars came as a surprise to me and many others while watching Summer Game Fest’s first-day stream. The wording of Geoff’s introduction to the reveal was a little vague on what game series he may have been referring to, but I’m not lying when I say that my Sonic senses were TINGLING. This is probably an ability many of you have too, right?

Anyway, the initial reveal trailer of the game had me super excited for what’s to come. The 2.5D approach feels like a natural evolution of the Classic Sonic formula, especially after already seeing Classic Sonic in Generations and Forces. The visuals are vibrant, and some of the level gimmicks are the most unique ones we’ve gotten in a while.

For the first time in a core 2D title, we’re getting proper co-op gameplay, and with up to four players to boot. According to the official website, there is no online co-op, which is pretty disappointing, seeing as this game is the perfect opportunity to implement it. I’ve played Super Mario 3D World online with friends, and it’s quite the fun experience. With the recent establishment of adding new modes and other kinds of content in a newly released Sonic game, I hope SEGA could possibly add online co-op in an update. 

The Chaos Emeralds will have a new unique twist to them this time around. Each Emerald has a different ability to grant, akin to the Wisps in previous titles. You can choose from a wheel of Emerald Powers, and unleash a unique ability that can help defeat enemies or traverse a path in the level. The first Emerald you can collect has an ability called Avatar that summons clones of the character. An interesting connection I can make between this title and Sonic Frontiers is that an Emerald grants the ability to summon doubles, while in Frontiers, Super Sonic summons clones to deal more damage. It’s possible that these abilities could add in more interesting elements to what Super forms can do, such as turning into water.

Regarding the gameplay itself, I was a little worried considering Sonic Team’s recent track record with 2D Sonic and controls. But thanks to other educated Sonic fans who have done their own analysis, played the game, and spoke to people who’ve worked on it, it’s safe to say YES. We have good controls and faithful physics.

I’m not a level design buff, but from the footage I’ve seen so far, it looks decent, and wouldn’t screw me over unfairly (I hope). The playable characters retain their abilities from past installments, including Amy, marking her first playable Classic appearance in a core Sonic title. The only nitpick I have regarding any of the characters is that Amy’s Piko Piko hammer animation while running feels a bit robotic in a way.

Overall, I’d say I’m optimistic about Sonic Superstars. This is something that I feel I should be cautious about for a franchise like Sonic, but I’ve yet to see anything that makes me lose hope in this title. It feels like the logical next step after Sonic Mania without it explicitly being Sonic Mania 2, similar to how most Sonic games evolve, expanding on what came before without being a direct sequel. The trend of doing an animated intro for Classic Sonic titles continues here and it’s amazing. Hopefully, we get animated cutscenes in the story mode, and a proper upload of the intro animation soon. C’mon Sonic Official, don’t make us wait months for that; we’ve seen it already through cam footage. 

Dakiii’s thoughts

This was such an unexpected reveal, I still find it hard to believe it’s real. The rumoured 2D Sonic game is here! But alas, it’s not in the form of Modern Sonic like we were led to believe. Personally, I thought this would be a big let down, as I wanted to see a return to something more akin to the Sonic Advance or Sonic Rush series with a 2D Modern Sonic game… but Superstars looks so good, I’m not even remotely upset at all, and that speaks volumes about how great and high quality this title looks to be.

You’d think you’d be on edge about a 2.5D Classic Sonic game, seeing as this format that began with Sonic Generations and Sonic 4 only got worse with each iteration. However, from what we know, see, and hear… this plays closer to Sonic Mania or the Classic trilogy than anything, which to me, is already the biggest hurdle this game had to surmount, and it seems to be doing so with ease.

It’s also incredible to see the visuals in this game. Everything from how the world looks to the way the Classic cast is animated in 3D is done in such a beautiful way that it makes the three-dimensional direction they’ve decided to go with all that much more appealing. Seriously, it could’ve very well been rough around the edges and make me question why they didn’t just go with pixelated 2D, as is tried and true with Classic Sonic. Instead, it makes this game feel like an original, natural, and fun evolution of those classic titles. Impressive!

Sonic Superstars is shaping up to be a fun, joyful experience to play through as well. 4-player co-op in a Sonic game (even if local only as far as we know) is something that, if executed well, will lead to tons of fun with friends.

Additionally, I’m looking forward to getting all the Chaos Emeralds, since each Emerald will reward you with a brand new ability, a gameplay concept which many, many people have had in mind for a long time. We know the Emeralds are powerful, mysterious gems filled with unlimited power, so it only makes sense to make a game where we get to explore more of their powers beyond Chaos Control or turning Super!

I can only hope that all the abilities these gems grant us are meaningful, well thought out, and most importantly, fun throughout the entire experience. We see you, Sonic Team, and we’re proud of what you’re doing.

[Editor’s note 11 June, 6:45 PM ET: While we originally believed Sonic Team to be the lead developer on this the game, we’ve since been made aware that Arzest, gamedev company founded by Sonic co-creator Naoto Ohshima, is leading the charge on the development of Sonic Superstars.]

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