Full disclosure – I didn’t even realize that Sonic Mania was a thing. I must have had my head in the sand or somehow I just tuned it out because of so many lackluster Sonic games in the past. I’m happy to say that I am fully aware of the title and have played the heck out of it.
Sega took a gamble with this project. They actually created a partnership with fan developers and handed the keys to the Sonic kingdom to Headcannon and PagodaWest games. People who hacked and ported previous versions of Sonic games to be able to be used on other platforms and what a gamble it was. This game is without a doubt the best Sonic game to come out since the Dreamcast.
The Eggman is back and up to his old tricks and only Sonic, Tails and Knuckles can stop him and his nefarious plans in ways that only that trio can. Fast platforming and it looks and feels great. Sonic Mania calls back to some classic levels from the Genesis-era games. Levels like the Chemical Plant and Stardust Speedway with some new levels. The flashy colors and themes just feel like we’ve come back home. The new levels are just superbly designed and laid out with multiple paths that often times make you feel like you’re going backwards but it’s all by design. Not accident. Even the old levels have been tweaked to include new enemies, traps and speed tunnels.
The graphics, though still sporting the pixel art, are much cleaner and more detailed than previous with even more animations. This extra level of detail just makes the levels and characters pop with so much more personality and it’s really something to behold. I simply love the look and feel of Sonic Mania. Controlling Sonic feels natural if you’ve spent any time with any of the old games but Sonic has a new move called the spin drop dash but in truth, it felt kinda like it was shoehorned in there just for the sake of adding something new but I didn’t find it to be particularly helpful.
Sonic Mania is a love letter to the days when Sega Genesis was tearing up the charts and selling like mad. This is a game with absolute universal appeal. If you haven’t yet picked this up – Do it. You can thank me later.