Sonic Superstars brings back the energy of 2 and sets up an exciting new pathway for the franchise

If Sonic Mania was the return to form and Sonic Frontiers gave us a glimpse at the future, Sonic Superstars is the direction SEGA need to keep steering toward.

I’m absolutely in love with this one. Like I haven’t been with a game in this franchise since Sonic 2. It’s the best Sonic Team game in years and easily the best Sonic outing for a long, long time.

Review over, right? You should just go buy it. No, no, I’m not done gushing.

So, let’s rewind a bit. I really enjoyed Sonic Mania. After years of confused entries and attempts, this one felt like a true, honest to goodness sequel to the original series. It was a dedicated throwback, with a killer soundtrack, and every inch of it felt authentic and true to the original vision. And that’s brilliant. It’s like a modernised reboot for the series in a way, while also sticking to what brought it to the dance.

Then we get Sonic Frontiers which is easily the best 3D outing since Sonic Adventure. It’s by no means perfect, but at least it finally shows that SEGA  and Sonic Team know how to keep the Hedgehog relevant and interesting in the open world space, using modernised mechanics but keeping those classic concepts alive.

Which brings us to Superstars. And from the announcement, this one immediately got me when multiplayer was talked about and I got a first look at this gorgeous 2.5D art style. There was something instantly captivating about it all, but nothing quite prepared me for how good it plays and the ways it stays compelling and fun.

SEGA have thrown absolutely everything at this one. Every inch of every act and level feels necessary and important, nothing wasted. You’ve got the fast-paced tracks where you travel at high octane speed, whizzing past traps and hazards, gathering as many rings as you can at pace. And this is actually something I appreciate about Superstars because often these sections feel kind of automated? Like, you’re just travelling, coasting, watching, as Sonic or Tails just keep going and going until they suddenly stop.

But Superstars gets a bit more bold and daring. Sure, sometimes you’ll get those wonderful spectacles to watch. Sometimes they’re even accompanied by dynamic action going on in the background, like pieces of scenery floating towards you or explosions popping off around you. It all adds to the thrill ride. But you’ll also sometimes have to be paying attention, otherwise you’ll get caught out by a bomb, a gap in the ground, a robotic frog who holds onto you with its tongue, pulls you back and takes all the rings with it.

This all feeds into the real key differentiator here and the reason why I say this is what SEGA need to lean into. They’re finally starting to gamify Sonic, get creative, thrust new, exciting environments with their own distinct personality and mechanics. And it’s just the most perfect and wonderful thing.

Take Pinball Carnival Zone. I did not want to leave. Of course, it’ll feel extremely familiar to those who played Casino Night Zone or Sonic Spinball, but Superstars also manages to do its own things. Like make you ride a Robotnik styled ghost train and play mini sessions of pinball where you have to flip bonus cards over to collect a host of rings.

And the game also really taps into its clever, smart ideas with the bosses, having them feel appropriate to their environment and even encouraging you to use the skills you’ve learned during the game. Also, these aren’t just your standard, hit them three times after you learn a pattern and you’re done with them. These bosses have phases, they take more hits than usual and you can’t just mindlessly bash your way through.

The Generations esque art style is a perfect fit for the game. Everything is so stunningly coloured, each world just comes to life in its own ways and you’ll really want to spend the time looking around, admiring the detail and experimenting with the different elements of play while doing it.

In so many other Sonic games, I’ve been quite happy to speedrun through them. Whizz to the finish line and not look back. This is the slowest I’ve ever worked through level and it’s purposeful because I don’t want to leave anything behind. It’s also partly enforced by the game by the amount of extra things contained within each zone.

You’ll get your standard bonus stages at each checkpoint, provided you have enough rings. But there’s also Chaos Emerald sections and even super secret sections where you get more rings and collect neat items. Each Zone even has its own specially themed character level, provided you have the fruit to unlock it. And these present not only a great challenge but also some of the best levels in the entire game, so miss out on them at your peril.

Speaking of bonus stages, they’re an interesting advancement upon Sonic’s original bonus stages where you navigate a jewel bordered maze. But rather than finding a Chaos Emerald at the center, you’ll advance through several stages to collect medals which are then spent at a shop to grab new cosmetics for your characters.

As for Chaos Emeralds, they’ve got their own unique implementation here, by actually giving Sonic and co unique, special powers which can be used in levels on top of their existing abilities! It’s such a smart, clever new idea that keeps Sonic modern, allows you to get around environments in different ways and helps the game play stay fresh. One such ability lets you throw out various mimicked versions of your character to attack enemies on screen. Another lets you grow a vine on screen to reach new areas.

While I didn’t always find a use for these – and being honest, forgot about them even being there at times – they do add another dimension to Sonic games and I think leaning more into that in future games could present some really interesting possibilities and directions.

And on top of that, you’ve got each of the characters with their own ways of playing, which lends itself to wider replayability and multiple runthroughs, something which Sonic games have always been well-regarded for in the past.

The stop-start of jumping between checkpoints does get a little tedious at times. And Superstars does run out of ideas a little bit toward the second half of the game, leaning a bit more on what’s come before. But there’s just magic here at almost every turn and it feels like a culmination of years of waiting, wondering and hoping that Sonic may just get a game that captures the imagination of a whole new generation.

Let me put it to you this way. As someone who lived through the original Sonic era, has seen and played probably every game, this is as close to the feeling I – and probably many others – had when Sonic 2 first got announced and dropped. There was this cascade of excitement around the Genesis/Mega Drive that didn’t really exist before. The hype around Tails. That powerful, original marketing campaign. The evolution in design and how it greatly influenced the entire franchise for years to come. Nothing has really matched or come as close to that until now.

And I haven’t even talked about the Battle Modes or the local co-op, four player mode, which is yet another evolution for the series and just makes absolute sense. For so many players in co-op, it doesn’t always work in execution, particularly with the teleportation system which can get a bit frustrating when you’ve got one person speeding one way, another going another way and someone getting stuck, then someone has to keep bouncing around between characters. For a fast-paced game like this, you’re probably already sensing the anarchy.

Battle Modes also have some decent variety to them, with options for you and your friends to keep playing in Smash Bros esque environments, races, and even collection battles. With all the cosmetics and new items you can unlock over the course of the game, purchasing them with the medals you gather in special stages, you can really expand and grow your experience over the long term.

Sonic Superstars is such a wonderful surprise. It’s Sonic at his best and presents a whole new exciting direction for a franchise that has struggled to stay relevant over the years. While some of its concepts aren’t fully realised here, they represent a gateway of possibility and push toward an exciting future.


Sonic Superstars is slick, smooth and the best Sonic game in a long, long time. It captures the spirit of the original series, modernises it in a way that will connect with today’s audience, and finally sets up an exciting pathway for the future of a franchise that has struggled to stay relevant. Not all concepts are the finished article, its ideas do run a bit dry late on and there is some stop/start gameplay here that can get a bit frustrating, but the creativity, energy, vibrancy, and thrill-seeking that permeates throughout will ensure this is one adventure you won’t soon forget and one you’ll want to replay again and again. 


+ Gorgeous, vibrant, energetic aesthetic
+ Slick, speedy and effortlessly entertaining
+ Clever new mechanics that modernise the gameplay
+ Creativity in abundance
+ Highly replayable


– Some ideas don’t quite hit the mark, such as local multiplayer
– Ideas run a bit dry late on
– Stop/Start gameplay in-between stages might irritate some players

Sonic Superstars is out now on PC, PS, Xbox and Switch

Code Kindly Provided by SEGA for review purposes

Played on Switch

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