It’s been quite awhile since a great Sonic game has come out. The first three games in the series are iconic titles for the 90s and Sonic CD is arguably the best in the series. But where Sonic fell off is the jump to 3D. While Mario and Zelda excelled in 3D gaming, Sonic didn’t hit the high notes. With the exception of Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, most of the 3D Sonic games have been terrible. While they do a great job on establishing nostalgia, they are riddled with clunky controls and bad level design. Some of them are even just straight up boring (looking at you, Sonic Adventure 2).
It seemed for the longest time Sega forgot what made Sonic so great. The 2D Sonic games were praised for their soundtrack, great level design, and had tons of interesting secrets that help you out with some of the harder levels. And while Sega tried to do that with Sonic Generations by combining the old and the new, the 3D sections were still not great. It seems as if creating an amazing 3D Sonic game is borderline impossible with the only great title being Sonic Colors as it kept things fresh and exciting with the level design and gameplay mechanics.
Enter Christian Whitehead, a major name in Sega who has helped bring the older Sonic games to newer platforms such as iOS and Xbox One. He is the head of Sega’s
newest Sonic game: Sonic Mania. Whitehead is a major Sonic fan, and it is evident in this title as Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game since Sonic CD and it might even be the best Sonic game of all time.
“Gotta go fast!”
Sonic Mania feels like a Sonic game made for the Sega Saturn. It is such a natural progression from the Genesis games and is the proper Sonic The Hedgehog 4 that we never got.
First things first, the visuals. Sonic Mania is beautiful. It has such a nostalgic look with the 2D pixel art style and every level, object, and enemy pops out in a positive way. Although the familiar old levels such as Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone are
back and better than ever, the new levels such as Studiopolis Zone and Press Garden Zone are beautiful and are brimming with style.
That’s not even to mention the music, and every single track in this game is fantastic and fun to listen to even outside of the game. The music for the brand new levels is quite spectacular and the remix’s of old tracks like Chemical Plant Zone keep the homage to the old games fresh and make you want to keep playing the levels rather than feel putting it down because it is something you’ve already experienced before.
Sonic Mania’s presentation is superb, but how about the gameplay? On your adventure to defeat Dr. Eggman for the 70th time, Sonic Mania never feels dull. That’s because the gameplay is classic Sonic, from the controls to the physics of Sonic’s movement, it’s all fast and fluid. What I love most about Sonic Mania is that every single level has multiple
ways of getting to the end. There were many times that I died and decided to take another route to change things up a bit and managed to not only prevail, but also obtain secrets that I might have never witness if I kept going on the same path. Sonic Mania has secrets, hidden power-ups and mini games sprinkled in every level. Because of this, it makes the replay value of the game outstanding and gives you more than what you paid for.
There are three sections of gameplay within Sonic Mania. The first is Mania Mode, which is basically the main story of the game. In it, you get to choose whether to play as Sonic and Tails together, Tails only, Sonic only, or Knuckles. There’s also Time Attack which allows you to beat your own time to finish a level as fast as possible while playing as either Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles. Lastly, you have a two-player co-op mode called Competition which allows you to face off a friend locally with various objectives and games. There is enough content here to keep you playing for hours on end.
Also, there is a true ending when you 100% the game, giving you a more intense and menacing boss fight than the regular end.
Overall, Sonic Mania is beautiful, fast, packed with content, extremely stylized, and incredibly nostalgic. It is evident that Christian Whitehead cares so much about the Sonic legacy because of the amount of detail and homage to the older games he has put into Sonic Mania. For a Sonic fan, Mania constantly reminds you of all the amazing things about the Sonic games such as classic levels, bosses, music, and even great spinoff games like Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Despite a couple instances where the levels might have felt too gimmicky or when levels have a minor tedious section, 95% of the game is fantastic and is arguably the best Sonic game ever made. If only Sega can create more content like this.
CGG Rating: Marvelous