All Zones In Sonic Superstars, Ranked

Sonic Superstars represents yet another fabulous 2D outing for the beloved hedgehog. Coming off the heels of the universally-acclaimed Sonic Mania, it promises colourful, cooperative platforming across a variety of zones. So what makes the zones here so unique?

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While the majority of these worlds subscribe to the usual Sonic fare, like rolling green hills, seaside vistas, casinos, and so on, there are a handful of wildcards in there, too. Demonstrating some real creative chops and visual flair, they’re (mostly) a treat to be savoured. So which zones are ranked the best when it comes to Sonic Superstars? Let’s find out.

11 Egg Fortress

The End making a cameo in Sonic Superstars.

Egg Fortress Zone is the final area of both Sonic and Trips’ stories and as endgame stages go, it’s pretty miserable. With this series, speed is the name of the game – but here comes this little number, chock-full of cheap enemy placement and crumbling platforms.

Act 1 is dire enough as it is, and then Act 2 somehow manages to one-up it, tasking you with doing the entire first portion again in reverse. This is all without mentioning the truly appalling final bosses of both campaigns, which drag on for at least an hour on initial attempts.

10 Press Factory

Sonic revving up in Press Factory

Press Factory lifts the idea for its theming from Sonic Mania’s Press Garden Zone, but while that iconic world accented its industrialistic tone with a jaunt through a lush Japanese garden, Press Factory is drab machinery all the way. Visuals aside, it’s quite badly let down by its highly frustrating central gimmick. Every five seconds or so, the stage shakes, launching you skyward should you be so foolish as to be standing on terra firma. You better hope there are no spikes above you.

In addition, its second act is a contender for worst in the title. An Eggman drone stalks you from the background, ready to one-hit KO you if you can’t reach a series of buttons in time (or deploy an Emerald ability). Doesn’t everyone love the constant, encroaching threat of death?

9 Cyber Station

Mecha Sonic and his drones flying towards Sonic over a neon blue-and-purple city in Sonic Superstars

Every three zones, you’ll be tasked with navigating a world consisting of one ‘giant’ act, which separates the game quite neatly into chunks. One of these marathon zones is Cyber Station, and it’s essentially an extended exercise in trailer baiting. The entire level is spent morphing into assorted pixel creatures, which bog down the flow at best, and totally scupper the fun at worst.

Related: Sonic Superstars: Cyber Station, All Bosses Guide

There’s the squid, which handles floatily and is all too keen to rocket you into a deadly laser. The mouse is just heinous, turning the game into a twisted puzzle affair where you’ve got to dodge virtual cats in a maze. And just when your patience has been worn down, Cyber Station hits you with an atrociously long gauntlet of a boss. Mercy? What’s that?

8 Frozen Base

Sonic navigating Frozen Base Zone

Icy factories are nothing new in the Sonicverse, making Frozen Base, the penultimate zone, feel a bit hackneyed. There aren’t really any neat gimmicks to speak of here; from the outset, you’ll know what you’re getting into. Falling icicles. Instant-death crushing blocks. Irritating ice physics. The works.

Act 2 attempts a unique spin on things, however, by offering up a bullet-hell shmup stage. Riding one of Tails’ vehicles, you’ll fly into space and do battle with the Egg Fortress’ defences. It’s fun for a while, but then the minibosses just keep coming – all without any meaningful checkpoint placement. We’ll pass next time, Tails.

7 Sky Temple

Tails navigating Sky Temple

Another marathon zone, Sky Temple, represents the mandatory ‘ruins in the sky’ affair that 2D Sonic adventures are so enamoured with. There are some clever concepts on display: the stormcloud Badniks assist the feel of being high in the atmosphere, and the extended cinematic running sequence among the temple’s loops is a standout.

Sadly, a frustrating platforming segment near the stage’s dénouement that relies too heavily on bizarrely coded giant fans sours the experience. And once again, the boss is a stinker, forcing you to contend with unstable footholds and a bevy of buzzsaws.

6 Sand Sanctuary

Sonic battling Doctor Robotnik in the Sand Sanctuary Stage of Sonic Superstars

Desert levels are perhaps the single most overplayed trope in the platforming genre, but Sand Sanctuary fights mightily to distinguish itself within this crowded marketplace, and it does a fine enough job. The stage lifts iconography from Sonic Lost World, of all places, with colossal sandworms snaking among the dunes, beckoning you to go for a brisk jog atop their scaled coils. Meanwhile, Eggman lurks in an oversized drill.

There’s a lot of fun to be had leaping between grind rails to discover upper reaches, and, thankfully, Sega resisted putting in one of those damn sandstorm segments that impede movement. They could so, so easily have done. It’s the little victories, eh?

5 Bridge Island

Sonic running in a 2D stage with green grass. But it's not Green Hill Zone.

When Superstars was first announced, there occurred a collective eye-rolling from fans when it appeared the first stage would be yet another retread of that old chestnut, Green Hill. Well, you need not fear: Bridge Island carries itself marvellously, and is a worthy addition to the pantheon of inaugural zones.

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Everything you’d want in a starting level is here. Countless loops to zip around, minimal enemies to break your flow, secret items hidden just tantalisingly out of reach that demand a replay with certain Emerald powers. The Water form, in particular, comes in very handy for Time Attack. Top that off with a brief flirtation with 2.5D background action, and you’ve got a corker of a beginning.

4 Pinball Carnival

Amy navigating Pinball Carnival Zone

Sega loves a bit of pinball in their Sonic games, so it was a total inevitability we’d be getting such a zone in Superstars. Luckily, Pinball Carnival is a rapturous joy to play through, and succeeding at its various challenges is far from a gamble.

In the vein of classic stages like Casino Night, much of your time here will be spent not laying the smackdown on Badniks but forcibly inserting Sonic into a variety of slot machines. Ker-ching! You’ll soon be hooked on those ring payouts and on bouncing the poor hedgehog all over the shop with the stage’s array of flippers. Don’t worry, Sonic, at least you’ll now be able to afford the medical bills.

3 Golden Capital

Sonic battling the Piggy Bank and Fang, the Hunter, in the Golden Capital Stage of Sonic Superstars

And yet, funnily enough, there’s another zone in Superstars that’s even more financially-minded. The core gimmick of Golden Capital is simple: taking a leaf from New Super Mario Bros. 2’s playbook, every inch of this 24-karat paradise is flush with cash, just waiting to be hoovered up. Scrooge McDuck would be proud.

Bumpers that spit out rings; tunnels filled with rings; handles that, when pulled, dispense rings – it’s an avaricious wonderland. Even the miniboss is a giant piggybank who nicks your rings rather than attacking. Golden Capital is withheld from the top spots only by a genuinely awful auto-scrolling fight against Fang. Six-minute bosses are a huge no-no.

2 Lagoon City

A collage of images showcasing Sonic battling against the Jellyfish and Doctor Robotnic bosses in the Lagoon City Stage of Sonic Superstars

One of the most beloved Sonic zones of all time is Sonic 3’s Hydrocity (pronounced like ‘velocity’ to some and like ‘Hydro City’ to others.) Sega is evidently aware of this because Lagoon City repeats it wholesale, albeit with far less fussy pronunciation.

As with Hydrocity, it’s a stage of two halves. If you play well enough to keep in the top portion of the map, you’ll be treated to a joyous rollercoaster ride amongst water chutes and pipeways. Fall in the drink, however, and things get dicey. All of a sudden, you’ll need to watch your oxygen and deal with platforming slower than molasses. This gives you all the more incentive to replay the zone and memorise the layout.

1 Speed Jungle

Sonic grinds through Speed Jungle

Superstars’ premiere stage, then, bears a theme that’s been tackled only infrequently by the franchise in the past: a rainforest. Sure, Unleashed had Adabat, Frontiers the Starfall forests, and Adventure the Mystic Ruins – but Speed Jungle fully realises the concept and delivers a rip-snorting thrill ride.

From the off, you’re grinding on vines that grow beneath your feet and zooming through gargantuan tunnels bored into the earth. You’ll rocket at a supersonic pace through the treetops, hop between the foreground and background, and even face off against Fang (again) in a high-speed chase. It epitomises everything great Sonic stage design is all about, and you’ll be itching for a replay. Gotta go fast!

Next: The Best Sonic Games For Beginners

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