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Sonic Superstars Promises Classic 2D Thrills With 3D Graphical Flair

At the Summer Game Fest opening night livestream on June 8 — the first time the show has had a live audience since before the COVID-19 pandemic — host Geoff Keighley made a few surprising announcements. The show opened with the announcement of a 2.5D "Prince of Persia" game, we got another look at "Spider-Man 2," and then the world premiere of a new "Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth" trailer at the very end. It was an afternoon full of new titles that revisit some of gaming's most beloved classics, including the original "Sonic the Hedgehog" games. But the blue blur isn't getting a remaster or a remake — just a much-needed facelift.

The newly-unveiled "Sonic Superstars" looks to wow fans with its combination of the series' classic 2D side-scrolling gameplay with a few modern twists, like 3D graphics, to keep it all fresh. The fan-favorite (and fan-developed) "Sonic Mania" also hearkened back to Sonic's glory days, but threw in new levels and mechanics to great success. The tagline of "Sonic Superstars" is "New Thrills, Classic Feel," which seems like it summarizes what Sonic Team is trying to accomplish with this new title.

The "Sonic the Hedgehog" series has lost some ground in the decades since the series made the transition to 3D. The "Sonic Adventure" games are now regarded as classics, but until "Sonic Frontiers," few other 3D games in the series were quite as beloved. "Sonic Superstars" looks to change that.

We don't know exactly when "Sonic Superstars" will release except for a broad window of Fall 2023, but fans are already expecting a lot from this new title.

Sonic Superstars brings new visuals and mechanics to familiar gameplay

The short snippet we got to see of the game at Summer Game Fest gave fans a taste of what to expect from "Sonic Superstars," but there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the blue hedgehog's latest adventure.

In many ways, it'll be a classic 2D "Sonic" game with lots of running, pathfinding, and familiar friends and foes. It also brings back local cooperative multiplayer, which will allow up to four players to play through the entire game as one of the series' most well-known faces: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Amy. In addition to the villainous Dr. Eggman, Fang the Sniper also returns to menace these heroes. Fang has made intermittent appearances throughout the series, making this another pleasant surprise for longtime fans.

Two major changeups to the old-school formula (aside from the vibrant 3D character models) are the Chaos Emeralds system and the new game's location. "Sonic Superstars" is set in an area called the North Star Islands, which is totally new to the "Sonic" series. Additionally, the game's Chaos Emeralds give players new powers, like the ability to ascend waterfalls. It could be the game "Sonic" diehards have been waiting for, but fans will just have to wait until Fall 2023 to see if it stands up to the classics.