Sonic Superstars was at Summer Game Fest Play Days, where attendees were able to try out the game before its release later this fall. You've seen the gameplay footage, which we've already covered here on Sonic Stadium.
However, we haven't talked about what people's impressions were about the game after being able to play it. So, let's take a look at some previews!
Before I begin, I should probably mention one particular preview. it just so happens that our own Jason Berry was able to play the game himself, and he recently shared his own hands-on impressions of the game here on Sonic Stadium. His thoughts are the most passionate out of all the previews I'll be mentioning in this article. Oh, and he did enjoy the game too!
With that all said, let's get the general consensus out of the way, because this was probably the thing that stood out the most.
Let me take a moment to say that there weren't as many hands-on impressions for Sonic Superstars as Sonic Frontiers had, but the reason for that is likely because Sonic Frontiers had the advantage of being a completely new Sonic experience that was never seen before, so people were understandably much more curious. Other than the Emerald Powers and 2.5D graphics, Sonic Superstars is much more familiar to people.
Of course, it also helped that Sonic Frontiers was the first main Sonic game in 4-5 years, so people were extremely hungry for news. Nevertheless, the previews were overwhelmingly positive for Sonic Frontiers last June. There were only a few folks that didn't really care for it.
So, that minor detour aside, how did Sonic Superstars do? Well, despite the diminished quantity, Sonic Superstars can happily say that it, too, was flooded with positive reviews.
In fact, remember when I said that a few folks didn't really care for Sonic Frontiers in their hands-on impressions last June? Sonic Superstars didn't even have that! The game had absolutely unanimous praise from various outlets, with not a single person expressing any distaste in what they played.
This, needless to say, is absolutely incredible for a Sonic game.
Okay, so that's the general consensus of the game. But let's take a little more of a deep dive into the previews. Because, of course, there are some questions and worries that fans have about this game. It is worth noting that, for the vast majority of these previews, they only played a couple of levels. Some of them had a 15-minute playing session with this game, with others had a 30-minute playing session.
Let’s begin with Fadel, also known as GamesCage. Believe it or not, he was one of the first, if not the very first, to provide insight on what the game was like when Summer Game Fest Play Days 2023 began late last week. And he doesn't really have any complaints whatsoever, even calling it "perfect"! It can be argued that this may have set the tone for the previews to come.
Oh, and when the previews began to come in, they came in at a consistent pace. Andy Robinson of Video Games Chronicle offered his insight, followed by Game Informer. Easy Allies was next. And the previews just kept coming. However, all of them agreed that this was a very promising game, and the criticisms were very few and far between.
Of course, the physics have been a hot topic in regards to the discussions about this game. So much so that Iizuka was asked about it in every single interview he did. And even when he wasn't, he mentioned it anyway because he knew it was a big deal. A lot of the previews went into talking about the physics though, and they all loved it!
For example, Game Informer compared the physics of the game to being more Mania-like, saying that the game is "giving off a feel of picking up momentum that is loyal to the classic 2D entries in the series". Robinson said the game's movement "feels just like original Sonic". Steve Bowling of Good Vibes Gaming said it "feels like Mania's back". WorthPlaying said "this IS classic Sonic gameplay". Push Square says that "the 4 characters feel good to control, both on the ground and in the air".
There are reports that the physics are so accurate for Classic Sonic that you can jump loops, a speedrunning technique, and the characters will go so fast that they'll make it off the screen, just like in the old games! And that's just the physics and controls!
So, what about the level design? There was lots of praise for that too, but here's some examples. Game Informer praised the branching paths of the level as something that "encourage you to explore each part of every Act". Robinson said the levels have "tons of verticality".
Game Reactor mentions "the occasional switch to the background and the differently rewarding paths".
Prima Games noted that "there are multiple routes through levels and you’ll often miss most of what you’re looking at on your first go through. Replaying the stages as each of the different characters changes how you interact with the level, and the path you’ll take to the end".
And Push Square called the platforming "satisfying, with ramps and boosts making you question where you might end up".
Tech Raptor got really descriptive with the level design. They "had a blast exploring the absolutely gargantuan levels", called the environmental interactions in the levels "pretty fresh", said that the level design took the Sonic Mania route in "a focus on verticality and exploration" and admitted that "I’m sure if I replayed a level, I wouldn’t get to the end the same exact way". They even noted that there is precision platforming in this game on occasion, but the game "knows when to let you off the leash and just enjoy the ride".
Kinda Funny was probably the most positive out of all the previews I came across. They compared Sonic Superstars as being similar to Mania multiple times. The level design? They felt it was more like Mania than Generations. The gameplay? They called it "Sonic Mania gameplay". Oh, and they outright said "this is not Sonic 4" and "this is closer to Mania". Their only wish was that it was Sonic Mania 2, and even then, that was just out of personal preference and not even meant to be a complaint!
I think you get the picture. But the general consensus was pretty unanimous in just about every way possible. Probably the only preview of Sonic Superstars that was really critical in any way was Prima Games' preview, and that wasn't even a negative review! They loved what they played, and they're not even a Sonic fan!
They were the only ones that mentioned that "As with most preview builds, the game had some small frame drops and slowdown", though they also admitted that it was nothing severe or impactful. And they criticized the controls, saying that "it can feel a bit floaty at times, and I had trouble making some easy jumps. This was mitigate by using Knuckles glide, but the platforming doesn’t always feel crisp and can sometimes kill your momentum".
This is just a small chunk of the previews that we got from media outlets this weekend. I didn't even dive into Tech Radar's preview. Or Digital Trends' hands-on impressions. I didn't even mention GameSpot's! But, at this point, I'd just be repeating myself because, as I said, the general consensus has been the same.
Tech Raptor's perspective is probably the only one that didn't completely follow the vast majority's opinion, and even then, they praised the game! To say that media outlets are excited for Sonic Superstars may be an understatement at this point.
Of course, these are just previews. All the hands-on impressions only got to experience a few levels at most. We haven't seen all that the game has to offer yet. Obviously, the game isn't out yet either.
But there will likely be some more previews to come. And if there's one thing that really helps a Sonic game gain some traction, its hands-on impressions. Physics and controls are very important in a Sonic game, and its these previews that give us our first insight into how they are.
Later this fall, we'll be able to find out for ourselves. In the meantime, we'll just have to deal with interviews, previews and the occasional trailer and press release from SEGA to make the wait a little easier.
Meanwhile, Sonic Frontiers is supposed to get its second major update very soon, so it's not like we'll have nothing to do to pass the time.
Of course, we'll have much more coverage of Sonic Superstars here on Sonic Stadium as we get closer to the game's release.