Sonic Superstars Review: A 2D Dose of Nostalgia (PS5)

SEGA travels back in time, with a fresh coat of paint.

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One of the oldest franchises still putting out releases, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog have been patiently waiting for Sonic Superstars since its announcement earlier this year. Last year SEGA tried something different with Sonic Frontiers, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, but with Sonic Superstars playing heavily on the nostalgia factor, I was eager to get my hands on it and see what was on offer.

Sonic Superstars’ Story Mode is… There

Sonic superstars
Sonic Superstars runs before it can walk.

Sonic Superstars is a love letter to the Sonic games of twenty/thirty years ago. There’s a strange simplicity to everything, from the story mode to the gameplay and much more. It works in some regards, and it falls flat in others.


The story of Sonic has always been relatively simple. Our favorite blue Hedgehog runs fast and attempts to better Doctor Robotnik, better known as Eggman. It’s not the most convoluted of stories, but neither is Mario and Bowser. Sonic Superstars does little to deviate from this, with the story mode being extremely bare bones. Gone are the long, exposition-filled cutscenes from Sonic Frontiers, replaced by… nothing really. There are very few cutscenes involved with Sonic Superstars, instead, the game focuses on forcing the next level onto you. One after another, just like the retro days.

This could have been a mistake, however, the gameplay is one of the shining points of the game, with the nostalgia hitting hard constantly. The speed of gameplay, the simplicity of direction, the platforming it offers… everything. The levels are beautiful to look at, with enough variety to keep your eyes stimulated and your brain in gear. No two levels are similar, and with the choice of four characters to choose from, there is some relative replayability on offer too.

Unfortunately, the pacing of the game comes to a crashing halt at every level, with the introduction of an irritating boss in the form of Eggman. Be it a giant drill or rocket, he’ll be in some sort of contraption which ultimately you have to avoid a few times, jump on him a few times, and watch as it explodes before he runs off. The utter lack of variety in the end-of-level boss will leave you wondering why they didn’t end up being a bit more sparse throughout the campaign. It quickly became a chore to get to the end of the level.


The story mode contains eleven separate levels each with two acts. The occasional one also has a separate, third area which will cost you a piece of fruit to access. These self-contained areas very quickly became my favorite moments of the game. Completely unique in their creation, they focused as much on the vertical traversal as they do on the horizontal, providing another challenge and forcing a new method of problem-solving. Unfortunately, though, these levels were few and far between. They do all contain a huge amount of unlockables though, allowing you to customize the four characters of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy with various colors, outfits, and more.

Battle Mode and a Lack of Online Co-op

Sonic Superstars
Up to four players can run together.

During my time at Gamescom, I went hands-on with Sonic Superstars, and for the most part, my thoughts regarding the game are similar, especially with regard to co-op. The local co-op adds a different dimension to the proceedings, with up to four of you able to drop in and out at a moment’s notice, and it’s this co-op mode where the gigantic levels come into their own. It is clear they were designed to be played with four players, as each level contains a multitude of paths, secrets, and pitfalls, but at the same time, having four players traversing the colorful levels can prove confusing and hard to follow.

The speed of the game can make the colorful backdrops and equally colorful characters melt together, resulting in you either losing track of your character or mistaking who you are in control of. This usually results in a death. However, the way co-op is handled in Sonic Frontiers means you’ll spend a considerable amount of time off-screen if you can’t keep up with the furthest forward player, and if you somehow do die, you’ll soon be resurrected at the all too regular checkpoints. The already easy game gets even easier with friends.


In a surprising move, the co-op is all local, with no online co-op play on offer. While many developers are ignoring couch play in favor of online multiplayer, it seems the inverse has happened here, which is disappointing, on this occasion. Couple that with the lazy, half-finished, and boring Battle Mode, which has both local and online play available, it makes the choice all the more puzzling.

Sonic Superstars is fun, there is no denying that. But for every part that relies on the nostalgia of the original games, there are modes or mechanics implemented that seem to forget we’re in the modern day. Give us more of a fleshed-out Battle Mode. Online co-op. A variety of end-of-level bosses. Either way, even with the drawbacks, this is closer to Sonic than the attempted deviation that was Sonic Frontiers. A little more polish, content, and depth would have made this one of the better modern Sonic games, but we got a reminder of how great the franchise used to and perhaps could be again.



Sonic Superstars was played on PlayStation 5 on a code supplied by Indigo Pearl. As featured on OpenCritic.

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Written by Luke Addison

Articles Published: 432

Luke Addison is the Lead Video Game Critic and Gaming Editor. As likely to be caught listening to noughties rock as he is watching the latest blockbuster cinema release, Luke is the quintessential millennial wistfully wishing after a forgotten era of entertainment. Also a diehard Chelsea fan, for his sins.

Twitter: @callmeafilmnerd