Sonic the Hedgehog was once the second most recognizable figure in gaming right next to Mario. Sonic single handedly leveled the playing field between Nintendo and Sega when his first game released in 1991; however, it has been a rocky road ever since then. Many consider the first main, three Sonic games to be of good quality, but with the departure of 2D platforming for 3D platforming, the quality in Sonic games has continued to decline except for a few cases. Therefore, how does the most recent addition to the Sonic Franchise, Sonic Mania, hold up to its predecessors? Very simply, it blows every other Sonic game out of the water.
Sonic Mania is the passion project made by Sonic fans that were hired directly by Sega to make old school sonic games; however, Sonic Mania, despite being based heavily off the first three Sonic games, feels refreshing. The biggest thing Sonic Mania does right is make you feel like you are going fast but not too fast. Its, in game physics, really make the sense of momentum feel impactful. You need to build up speed in order to clear certain obstacles, and when you reach the max speed, you can travel through a whole stage in less than three minutes if you know the trick to each stage.
Another thing the game does to make itself feel refreshing is its sprite work. For those not versed in the world of games, sprites are the foundation of every bit based game. Sprites include character models, backgrounds, enemies, and anything else you can see in the game. Each level is designed in such intricate ways. The whole stage and characters and enemies feel so alive as they move around the stage in unique ways, but the game never really focuses on this. It blends so smoothly into the background that you would not even notice it if you didn’t stop and look. It adds such a layer to the game that makes it really standout in comparison to all the other retro platformers.
The game seamlessly blends old and new levels together in such a way that it becomes hard to distinguish the difference between them. The old levels are repurposed in new engaging ways that add a level of depth that wasn’t there before. These old stages elicit nostalgia from long time gamers but still remain relevant to interest everyone. What is even better are the new stages. These new stages are some of the best parts of the game. They are perfectly executed with amazing backgrounds, fun music, and exciting mechanics; however, one of the biggest improvements for all the levels in Sonic Mania are the amount of branching paths. You can play a level five times and find a different path each time which adds levels of replayability that have never been in a Sonic game before.
Sonic Mania is a success in every regard. It’s clear level design, fantastic sprite work, and replayability make Sonic Mania one of the best Sonic games to have come out in recent years. It has sold extremely well so far and has been well received by many fans, so it is very likely we will see more games coming out from the same teams that made Sonic Mania. If you have 20 dollars laying around, you deserve it to yourself to pick up Sonic Mania.