Thinking back to my childhood, I always had this one strong memory of little ol’ me sitting in front of my old CRT TV, controller in hand and eyes glued to the screen playing the original Sonic on the Sega Megadrive – Who would of thought that in 2017 that we would have another Sonic game that brought back the original feel of playing a fast paced, heart racing platformer; better yet this wasn’t even made by the original Sonic Team – Oh no, this game is completely fan made with the help of their lead programmer Christian “Taxman” Whitehead! While some argue this game is just a nostalgia trip, others say that this is a masterpiece that matches or even surpasses the original Sonic games.
Hey there lads and lasses, Clarice here in what seems like an eternity since I last reviewed something! It is my pleasure to bring you my full review of Sonic Mania.
Let’s jump back in time to an era of 32bit consoles, where games were much simpler but fun, Sonic the Hedgehog was born as Sega’s mascot and to this day he is the pinnacle of Sega, bringing us enjoyable fast paced action in the form of side scrolling platforming that engulfed it’s audience and got us begging for more; in 1998 on the Sega Dreamcast, Sonic soon was transformed into a fully 3D game titled “Sonic Adventure”, and from there onwards we were introduced to a world of 3D Sonic games, none of which brought back that classic, speedy feel, nor did it really benefit the Sonic series (But that’s another article altogether!), coming into 2015, Sonic Mania was born but under a different name, entitled “Sonic Discovery”. The idea of bringing back the old school Sonic was a passion of the teams which they then pitched it to none other than the producer of the Sonic series, Takashi Iizuka himself. Soon enough Sonic Mania had officially began and after two long, hard years they brought us the game that we have been craving and begging for.
Now onto the gameplay, Sonic Mania handles almost exactly as its predecessors did, slippery yet responsive, and although that sounds more like a negative point, to me it brings back my childhood – The question I have to ask myself when reviewing this is “Is my positive response to this due to nostalgia”? This is what we have to differentiate, do we as consumers love Sonic Mania because it’s a bloody awesome throwback to the original Sonic, or do we love it for the sake of being nostalgic? In all reality, it’s a bit of both. Sonic Mania has brought in some new mechanics, new bosses, and even revamped the old music making it feel more alive and fuller than ever before; the team over at Sega have really improved the original gameplay and brought in some fresher ways to play this classic game, but I can’t help but feel as if I am being biased with my feelings due to my love of the franchise, so let’s dive in deeper into Sonic Mania.
In Sonic Mania they have combined the original games’ playstyle into one big massive tribute, giving you the ability to play as Sonic, Sonic and Tails, Tails and Knuckles, and although each Zone is the same as every character, due to each characters unique abilities (Sonic is able to “Drop Dash”, Knuckles is able to glide and climb walls and Tails is able to fly), you can find alternative routes and portals to collect the various Chaos Emeralds and medals hidden in each bonus stage, meaning that each playthough is a different experience giving it massive replay value. It also brings in most of the powerups and shields from the Sonic franchise such as the Flame Shield, Water Shield and Lightning Shield back to their original effects, expanding the number of hidden areas and exploits – Each character plays and feels exactly the same as they used to, giving that more authentic feel to it, however to a more modern audience I feel that people would get bored or frustrated with Sonic Mania as they never grew up with old school platformers nor have they encountered a Sonic game that has gone back to its roots – This could be part of a growing issue with the recent return of older platforms as we saw with the release of Crash Bandicoot’s N Sane Trilogy, where people were either complaining it was too hard or repetitive, or bashing it for being “Too faithful” – I feel that this will be the same issue with Sonic Mania or any reboot of any retro games that will be coming out in the future.
When it comes to the graphics, they have retained the original pixel art style and it feels as if with the sprites they’ve added more frames to make it more organic and fluent; when watching the characters move you feel as if they are actually moving rather than being just pixel art and static, they’ve added all new animations to give Sonic and the gang more personality – Each element of Sonic Manias’ pixel art is extremely bright and incredibly detailed and that is not a bias opinion, I have always admired any form of pixel art and the look and feel of Sonic Mania sits up there with a sense of amazing artistic skill and a great sense of space and colour. From each facial expression to just looking up everything feels as if a lot of love has gone into each individual pixel and from an artistic point it truly is a sight to behold.
Now here are some negative points, although each individual boss is unique in every Zone and doesn’t rehash any elements (Especially since they even added in a boss that directly incorporated “Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine”, which was mind blowing), but for some bosses it felt as if it was just over complicated for what it was.
SPOILER ALERT FOR ZONE 3
If you haven’t played the game yet but in Zone 3, Studiopolis Zone Act 1, that goddamn boss, I absolutely despise it, the aim is simple avoid the red missiles and hit the blue ones, simple right? WRONG, due to the background and character both not being a static image and it being a continuous track, if you slow down and try to jump over the missiles due to the stage moving it pulls back causing some dickish moves such as not being able to completely jump over the missiles, and towards the last wave if you have no rings, oh boy you better be precise because on the last stretch there are no extra rings you can get; have fun with that, after numerous tries I finally beat the boss, however that whole segment just felt as if it was over complicated and wasn’t needed it and once I beat that I put the game down because I was so frustrated. Another boss appears during Zone 5, Press Factory Zone Act 1, who is similar in the essence of being drawn out and overcomplicated, however I’ll save on detailing this since I don’t wish to spoil any more.
Sonic Mania is one hell of a game and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to step back in time and see exactly how mine and previous generations used to play games as Sonic Mania is a great example of how retro games used to perform and feel, however if you didn’t like the reboot of Crash Bandicoot nor another reboots than you may feel unsatisfied with Sonic Mania.
- Amazing art and graphics
- A fluent and pleasant experience akin to the classic Sonic titles
- Combines the original sonic games into one solid game
- Amazing soundtrack
- Replay value
- Does lack some inspiration on some bosses or over complicates things too much
- Younger audiences might not enjoy this game
My experience with Sonic Mania has been a blast and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time playing my old childhood game so for that reason I will give Sonic Mania a score of 9.5/10.
I feel as if Sonic Mania is well deserving of the scores it has received and has brought Sonic back into its golden days.