- Sonic Superstars disappoints with dull levels, weak graphics, and tedious boss fights.
- The game’s music and physics are decent, but it lacks the spark of previous Sonic titles.
- Younger players might enjoy it, but it falls short of the Sonic legacy.
Sonic Superstars, the latest addition to the Sonic franchise, has left players and critics alike disappointed. Released in 2023, it has failed to live up to the expectations set by its predecessor, Sonic Mania.
Solid physics and gameplay
One aspect that Sonic Superstars gets right is its physics. While not perfect, the physics in the game come close enough to not hinder the player’s experience. The characters move as they should, providing an enjoyable 2D Sonic experience. However, there is one minor exception – Knuckles can’t use enemies to gain height while gliding.
Sonic Superstars music: a mixed bag
The soundtrack of Sonic Superstars is a mixed bag. Composer Tee Lopes, known for his work on other successful titles, delivers some strong tracks that enhance the game’s atmosphere. However, not all tracks live up to this standard, with some being downright awful. Jun Senoue, a franchise veteran, contributes to the soundtrack, but his themes in the game proper may not meet expectations, feeling like failed attempts at nostalgia.
Lackluster level design
The game’s level design is a significant drawback, particularly in the first three zones. Players are subjected to mind-numbingly boring stages with uninspired layouts and bland visuals. Additionally, unnecessary gimmicks disrupt gameplay by taking control away from the player at critical moments. Bridge Island Zone, for instance, combines an unpleasant main melody with an uninspired design reminiscent of earlier Sonic stages. Speed Jungle and Sky Temple Zones offer more of the same lackluster experience.
Tedious boss battles
Boss battles in Sonic Superstars are criticized for their tediousness. These battles feature lengthy animation sequences that feel more like in-game cutscenes than interactive encounters. Players have only a few seconds to hit the boss once before the game reverts to cutscene mode, reducing the player’s engagement in these critical moments.
Visuals: bright but lifeless
While the game’s graphics are bright and shiny, they lack depth and vitality. The visuals give off a Fisher-Price look, and stage backgrounds are predominantly plain, featuring large, flat textures. Characters appear lifeless, lacking the energetic and confident expressions typically associated with Sonic. The game’s attempt at a 3D look falls short, and the visuals desperately needed a major overhaul, possibly with a cartoon or stylized shader to improve their appeal.
Target audience and nostalgia
Sonic Superstars may find some favor with younger children, possibly due to its simplicity and nostalgic appeal. The inclusion of a Kanji-free Japanese language option tailored for early readers suggests a potential target market among young gamers. However, it’s worth noting that nostalgia alone may not be enough to sustain interest, as older players may find the game lacking in various aspects.
Multiplayer options: offline focus
The game offers multiplayer options, but the heavily-advertised 4-player co-op is available only offline. Additionally, the Battle mode, which can be played both online and offline, offers a collection of mini-games, including racing and platform survival. However, these mini-games fail to provide a genuinely compelling multiplayer experience, potentially limiting their replay value.
Story mode: lackluster execution
Sonic Superstars’ Story mode disappoints in its execution. The absence of voice acting and text bubbles makes it challenging for players to engage with the narrative. Instead, they must rely on character actions to understand the story, which diminishes the player’s investment in the game’s plot.
Sonic Superstars falls short of expectations. While it boasts solid physics and some excellent music tracks, it is marred by lackluster level design, uninspiring visuals, tedious boss battles, and a story mode executed in a lazy, low-budget manner. Despite its potential appeal to younger audiences and those seeking nostalgia, the game struggles to justify its asking price.
Sonic Superstars, though carrying the Sonic franchise’s legacy, fails to capture the essence of what made earlier titles iconic. The game’s inability to evolve with the times and deliver a compelling experience in 2023 leaves players and fans longing for the heights achieved in the past. While it may hold some nostalgic value for a select audience, Sonic Superstars is, unfortunately, nothing short of a major letdown.
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