You run, grab rings and smash objects, and Sonic the Hedgehog has been zipping around for the past 32 years, but the next entry in SEGA’s long-running series is looking to switch up the formula. Instead of speeding through loops alone, players can now invite friends along for the ride in Sonic Superstars, with friends joining in the fun all under one roof.
It’s hard to believe that with so many of Sonic’s friends introduced over the years, from Tails, Knuckles to Amy Rose, the franchise has never had a multiplayer option until now. The couch co-op feature in Sonic Superstars is designed to evoke a sense of group gaming, marking the franchise’s first foray into local multiplayer territory. There are some familiar genre elements here, such as split screen functionality, but the new warp tool is an interesting addition exclusive to the game, where when someone in the party enters a wormhole, it will see the rest also be pulled into it together, placing everyone just a little closer to the end goal of a stage.
For newcomers, the reduced reliance on moving together as a team allows for an added layer of fun and flexibility. Players are able to go at their own pace in Story Mode, having the choice of joining forces to beat a level, or speeding off to do their own thing. For longtime enthusiasts of the blue speedster, it serves as a refreshing break of pace, and also presents the appeal of playing as other beloved characters like Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose.
The two groups don’t have to exist separately either, since Sonic Superstars stands on its own and includes several accessible mechanics, allowing series veterans to just as easily drag their non-enthusiast friends into playing a few casual rounds. With enough luck, they might even end up as Sonic lovers!
Co-op playthroughs are also a great way for families to kill two birds with one stone. Apart from the opportunity to bond with one another, they are the perfect solution to bridge the cultural divide between different generations, ensuring the franchise’s legacy continues to hold up against the passage of time.
This collision between novelty and tradition carries over to other aspects of gameplay, blending nostalgia with the modern-day touch. The all-too-familiar side-scrolling action returns in a fresh coat of paint, making the leap to full 3D graphics while also retaining enough of its retro charm to still shine with personality.
Take, for instance, the new medal collection feature in each stage of Sonic Superstars. Similar to the original Sonic the Hedgehog, a bonus stage will be unlocked once players have collected the medals, which are placed randomly across different areas. On one hand, it’s a nice little throwback to the good old days and on the other, it promises a challenge for completionists. Fun is a given, and there’ll be plenty to go around for veterans, beginners, and casual gamers to bask in.
Bringing a fresh twist to the well-trodden formula are the new Chaos Emerald powers as well. Before Sonic Superstars, the titular character only had super speed at his disposal, but now, he’s able to summon multiple Sonic clones, swim up waterfalls, change forms, see through hidden platforms and rings, and more. Talk about your one-man army! The same goes for the rest of the crew – Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose – who will also be able to harness the gem’s powers, with each wielding different abilities.
In embracing the past and present, Sonic Superstars paves the way for a forward-looking future that isn’t too removed from its roots. It welcomes first-timers, entices returning fans, and charms the casual audience looking for some local multiplayer chaos. More importantly, the element of fun cuts through the nostalgia and modern sheen, ensuring a good time with even better company. The real treasure with party games is never the destination, after all, but the friends we make along the way – and Sonic Superstars promises that in spades.
Sonic Superstars is out now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC (via Steam and Epic Games Store). Visit the official website for more information.