Sonic Superstars Preview - Co-op Chaos

Published: August 29, 2023 4:00 AM /

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sonic superstars preview four leads walking through bridge island

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most recognizable mascots in gaming, perhaps only second to Mario, and with a movie franchise going strong, it’s no wonder Sega decided the time was right to release another installment in the Sonic franchise. So, we sat down with Sega for a Sonic Superstars preview, to see what all the hype is about for this upcoming game.

Sonic Superstars Preview Starts With Bridge Island

The last 2D Sonic game released was Sonic Mania in 2017, a whopping six years ago, and followed Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles on their quest to defeat Doctor Eggman. It was released to positive reviews and commemorated the 25th anniversary of the landmark franchise. With two poorly reviewed 3D platformers released in the years since, Sonic Superstars is a welcome return to the side-scrolling genre for the series.

sonic superstars bridge island loop the loop
Go forth and SPARKLE, Tails!

Sega’s demo of the game included four levels - Bridge Island, Speed Jungle, Pinball Carnival, and Cyber Station. After sitting down for the 2D animated opening, which was a nice introduction, I hopped into playing Bridge Island. All levels can be completed as either Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Amy, and I chose to embark on Bridge Island as Tails.

As someone who is not a Sonic mega-fan and doesn’t have extensive experience with the franchise as a whole, I quickly realized that picking the easiest level was definitely the best option for me. Gameplay was smooth, though there were a few sections where I got stuck and had difficulty literally getting out of the hole I had fallen into.

Even with the difficulty, it never felt unfair, and I didn’t find myself sitting there lamenting poor level design. Rather, I lamented my terrible platforming skills and the fact that Tails couldn’t fly just a teeny tiny bit higher, please dear God, why.

Co-op Chaos, Now With Emeralds

After meeting my demise multiple times at the hands of a giant mechanical robot shark and then losing almost all of my gold rings to Doctor Eggman, I felt I was ready to take on a more challenging level in co-op mode. Sonic Superstars is set to be the first Sonic game with local four-person co-op, and considering how many characters the series has, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before.

sonic superstars start of pinball carnival level
No thank you, no clowns for me.

Due to my personal fondness for Idris Elba, I decided to take a turn playing as Knuckles, while my Sega supervisor/gameplay partner snagged Amy and we headed off into the Pinball Carnival level. Co-op is played on a single screen, rather than split screen, and forces you to keep in time with your partner or partners. If you do fall behind, it’s easy enough to catch up with a literal button press, but if you and your partner(s) are out of sync, it can easily turn into a game of leapfrog.

With two people with co-op on a single screen, it was a fun experience even though it was a challenge to keep together, however, I’m not sure four people on a single screen would have quite the same effect, as it could quickly devolve into chaos, and not the emerald kind.

If you’re in tune with your partner(s) and not leapfrogging, it can be a great exercise in synchronicity, and the catch-up button still keeps it fun even if you’re not at the same level. That being said, would I want to play the entire game in co-op mode? Definitely not, it’s still designed as a single-player experience.

sonic superstars octopus in cyber station
Man, Pac-man sure has changed a lot since the 80s.

I greatly enjoyed my Sonic Superstars preview, even as someone with little experience in the franchise. Being able to work with your friends in co-op is a great addition to the series, and the smoothness of the level design was fun to work through. While I could use a little less of Doctor Eggman stealing all my gold rings, I can see this being a great new addition to the series.

Sonic Superstars was previewed in person at an event in NYC with Sega.

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