One of Sonic the Hedgehogs iconic catchphrases, “Gotta go fast” takes a completely new meaning in Sonic Mania. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been an amazing Sonic game since the end of the 16-bit era. I’d argue that the best 3D sonic game is Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, but the original Sonic will always be the best. The only reason Sonic has stayed so popular throughout the years of mediocre games is because Sega uses him as their mascot. Sonic has cartoons and comics, but his rivalry with Nintendo’s Mario was almost a laughing stock, with Mario way in the lead of gaming and popularity.
Sonic Mania was created to change all of this. Sega and the fans really needed Sonic Mania to be a huge success and they have surpassed all my expectations. The game brings Sonic back to what made his games so great, Fast paced, side-scrolling action. The games mechanics and visuals truly made me believe this was the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic Mania builds up on what made the original sonic games so memorable: high speeds, intricate level designs, simple controls, and fun. That’s what I think is most important. As soon as I started playing this game, all I could do was smile because of how fun and blown away I was by it.
It’s honestly the game that long time Sonic fans have been asking and wanting from Sega. Sonic Mania was created by a team of indie developers who previously worked on Sonic fan projects. They finally partnered with Sega in order to reboot the franchise and they’ve done just that. As soon as the game loads, it makes you go back 25 years. The Sonic Mania opening is identical to the original games and they even start you off in the iconic “Green Hill Zone”. I did notice that when you stop moving, Sonic will begin to stare at you an tap his foot. This is amazing because Sega loves to incorporate Sonic’s attitude and personality in their games, and they executed it perfectly. Sega shows all of the things that make a classic Sonic game different from other classics and its just in their first level.
As you progress through the game, you can feel that each level is like a completely different world. Sonic Mania nails the speed down with every level, taking advantage of the pointy blue Hedgehog zooming through corkscrews and collecting rings. There’s so much happening in the game that you often can’t keep track of where Sonic is on the screen. Mania has him turning into radio waves traveling from satellite dish to the next, running through caged platforms, going so fast you run on water, and so much more.
Yes, what I just described has been in the classic Sonic games, but Mania builds up on the level design even more. Their are more secret passage ways hidden in walls which makes the game feel more open then just having one direct path to the goal. Levels have new interactions like wood chippers and Hedgehog eating plants you can bounce on. All of these things make it possible to play the game in different ways. It isn’t just a game about going fast anymore even though there’s plenty of speed in the game, and I mean PLENTY.
Besides the stages having new designs and ways to explore, they also look perfect. Manias stages are designed around the classic 16-bit art style, but add more depth and amazing visual ideas. The one that stood out most to me was a new are, “Press Garden. As I was playing the level, I couldn’t help but stop and just stare at the beauty of it. As Sonic is speeding through the stage, soft pink flower petals fall from the stage background while stone lanterns light up the stage. Press Garden is definitely a stage that you need to stop and admire.The evil Dr. Robotnik and his robot minions created some of the best boss fights in Sonic Mania. Each boss fight feels so different from one another. There are the boss fights from classic Sonic games where you jump and hit the robots to make them explode, but Mania brings in new ways to fight Dr. Robotnik. My favorite fight probably was when you are in a ship above water and Dr. Robotnik is in the water planting bombs. You have to suck up Dr.Robotnik to hit him, but you have to make sure not to suck up and bombs or you’ll get hit. The boss fight was actually challenging and made me have to be strategic which is always really fun.
Overall, Sonic Mania sticks to its roots. It takes the Sonic games that long time fans love and tweaks them for a new fast paced adventure. The game still follows the same basic mechanics where if you lose all your lives, you have to start the level over. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s hardly a problem. Mania still has the constant checkpoints and plenty of rings to collect so you don’t die, but it also makes the player slow down at times since you only have three lives. Besides the main story, Sonic Mania includes plenty of extras including a time trial mode, a multiplayer mode, and mini games. They aren’t necessarily big compared to the single player, but classic Sonic games are the same way. Sega did add some bonus content in the game like the ongoing joke of the Knuckles & Knuckles joke. It’s a game play mode where Tails is switched out for Knuckles to follow Sonic around. You can also have Knuckles follow Knuckles around if you choose to do that (which you definitely should).
Sonic Mania is exactly what the franchise needed. It takes what you love about a Sonic game and makes you remember that amazing feeling of excitement. It also helps bring a whole new generation of Sonic fans to enjoy playing as our favorite blue Hedgehog.