Sonic Superstars is giving us classic 2D platforming with a twist, in the form of the new Chaos Emerald abilities. Whether it's slowing down time or sending a bunch of duplicates to go and take some hits for you, there are now a bunch of new ways to approach stages and boss battles. Well, there are exactly seven ways to mix things up, because there's one for each Chaos Emerald - something that created a problem during development.

Turns out, there were more ideas for abilities than there were emeralds to assign them to. In an interview going over these new powers, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka explains that they had loads of "interesting ideas" for other abilities, but had to "whittle them down" to just seven because there weren't any more Chaos Emeralds to go around.

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"Simply recreating gameplay isn't enough to excite new players. And that's why we designed the emerald powers, to make new interesting action in Sonic," says Iizuka, hyping up the emerald abilities that players can activate mid-game.

"We had multiple ideas about abilities we could put in the game. But there are only seven emerald powers and we need each to be associated with an emerald," says Iizuka. "Unfortunately, we had to whittle down all the ideas to only seven. We did have some interesting additional ideas, but we couldn't implement them because they would have gone over that threshold."

This raises some questions, to be sure. The emerald powers are a completely new concept, so they didn't have to be associated with the seven Chaos Emeralds at all. They could have been attached to a new magical object that our heroes collect in the main story.

But in any case, we now have some info on every ability in Sonic Superstars. As explained by Iizuka, they are:

  • Avatar, blasting loads of copies of your character all over the screen.
  • Ivy, giving you a ladder to reach new heights.
  • Water, allows you to swim up waterfalls and run around underwater.
  • Bullet, shoots Sonic through the air.
  • Vision, lets you see hidden platforms and rings.
  • Slow, slows down time, making it easier to predict enemy attacks and handle platforming segments.
  • Extra, unlocks an extra move. Each character has their own.

Judging from this, Sonic Superstars looks like it will mix up the 2D formula for the first time in years. This seems to be a conscious effort to try and get younger fans who grew up on 3D games interested in giving it a go. It remains to be seen if this stray from the usual 2D game design pays off, particularly after the largely faithful Sonic Mania went down so well with fans and critics alike.

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