Review: Sonic Mania

How do you solve a problem like Sonic? The spunky blue hedgehog has been a staple of video game heroes and treasured gaming memories for years. There have been numerous titles, related to the Sonic universe, so many that people may not remember them all. But quantity does not breed quality for this franchise sadly, with Sega’s brand mascot becoming a meme of poor game-play and questionable character design changes. has been in need of a shake-up.

As new generations of consoles came out, games had to keep up and evolve. Sonic has had a tougher time than Nintendo’s Mario and that could be down to simple mechanics and trying too hard in the wrong places.

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So along comes another game in the series and with that an expected groan of disappointment and threads of mocking memes and tropes. But has Sonic Mania actually turned the tide for the series and given hope?

In a slightly unusual origin story, Sonic Mania was created by a dedicated team of indie developers who then (thankfully) were able to officially pair up with Sega to make this a legitimate title in the series. This also meant that they would have the powerhouse of Sega’s marketing and a wider audience reach. For all intents and purposes, Sonic Mania to those that didn’t read much into the background of the game, is just another stab by Sega at reeling in and reviving the Hedgehog game.

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Sonic Manic is extremely similar to the first game that came out years ago on the Genesis. The first stage is called Green Hill Zone and if that’s all you saw in game-play videos you’d assume it was just a retro homage collection edition. But one of the great things about this game is that it also has its own bespoke made levels, with intuitive and fresh mechanics and means of traversing the topsy turvy terrains. If we’re implying there’s multiple good points already, then it’s safe to say the rest of this review is basically stating that this is a good Sonic game, at last!

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The game-play invokes the speed and skill that appeared in the first batch of games and the design is so intricate with lively details, colour and buzzing with life. Our favorite new zones were Mirage Saloon and Studiopolis, with pixel artwork that is just lovely to look at and really hits you in the nostalgia funny bone. Simple little animations when Sonic is just standing still on the edge of a platform stand out more than forced alterations of character and thankfully there’s no weird human/hedgehog romance plots to distract you and have you go for long walks to contemplate life.

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This is a game by fans for fans and to allow newcomers to see why the series is so beloved to begin with. There’s no need for extravagant 3D level designs or strange suped-up versions of Sonic, like the Werehog, for this to be enjoyed and replayed. Though we are treated to 3D bonus levels from Sonic & Kunckles to increase your ring count, but they’re less hassle to play these days thanks to better controls. 

If you’re a fan of Sonic and have wanted to get back into the series or see what the fuss was about, but are also wary due to the succession of poor games that have come out on various platforms for the past few years, we can safety say that you’ll probably really enjoy Sonic Mania. It’s the perfect game to play to test your skills, without frustrating you. Even Tails isn’t annoying, that’s a pretty big win there for Sega.

 

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