Sonic Mania - Game Review

Source:Hella Average Gaming, Jeremy

       To say Sonic has had it rough would be an understatement. Past games have seen him as a knight, wielding a magic ring, and even a…ugh...werehog.  Sonic has fallen down the proverbial ladder further than the Banana Splits (Archer reference.) However, Sonic has also had his fair share of triumphs. Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations were undeniably good games, and the Sonic advance series was also quite well received. None of these could hold a candle to Sonic in his revolutionary Sega Genesis days. Now, with the release of Sonic Mania, I can safely say that like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the blue blur has risen again. Developed by Christian Whitehead (who was responsible for the fantastic IOS/Android ports of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD) and headcannon studios, Sonic Mania is a pure nostalgic love letter to the days of 16 bit sonic. Mania succeeds by realizing what made old school sonic work; running through well designed levels at high speeds to amazing tunes.


      

       Sonic Mania kicks off very similarly to Sonic 3, with our hero, and his immortal meat shield tails, jetting to Angel Island before running into Dr. Robotnik (I will never call him eggman.) Robotnik, using what appears to be a chaos emerald, opens a portal that sends him and Sonic to various locales from previous Sonic titles. It is now up to Sonic and pals to pursue Robotnik, and his Badniks, all while speeding through loops, halfpipes, and collecting magical macguffin chaos emeralds. While this does herald back to the old school days of barebone plot, it does leave me wanting a little more in the narrative department. However, while the story is lacking, gameplay and presentation are where Sonic Mania shine. One could easily make the mistake, and think this was originally released on the Sega Genesis back in the early 90’s. Everything from the background, to the character sprites, have been lovingly crafted to recreate that retro Sonic goodness. Whether he’s running at top speed through Green Hill Zone, or teetering on the edge of Robotnik’s Flying Battery Zone, Sonic has never moved so fluidly and been so expressive.


      

       One of the biggest problems I have with modern Sonic, is that he always feels loose when playing. Sliding into obstacles, or careening off cliffs, gives way to frustration and anger. Too many times, I am yelling at my TV, and just wanting Sonic to get to the end of the level. Sonic Mania, on the other hand, controls like a dream. With Sonic’s responsive controls, blazing through levels at top speed felt like a joy. Any deaths that occurred during my playthrough rarely felt like they weren’t my fault. In fact, the only complaint I have with the controls are in the checkpoint special stages. I swear I would press right, or left on the control pad, only to have Sonic run straight into a red orb, and kicking me back to the main game. This only seemed to happen at higher speeds, and not often, but still frustrating to say the least. Then of course, there’s the music. Sweet God the music! Sonic games, even the terrible ones, have always had consistently good music. Sonic Mania takes all that, and cranks it up to eleven. Offering both remix versions of classic stages (looking at you Chemical Plant Zone,) as well as new tracks for the four new stages, the music is phenomenal. If you haven’t yet, give Sonic Mania’s soundtrack a listen, and see for yourself.


 

      

       While Sonic Mania isn’t the best Sonic game I’ve ever played, it is by far the best Sonic game I’ve played since 1994. At $20 dollars, I can easily say Sonic Mania is worth the price for anyone who is even remotely a fan. I highly urge gamers to buy this game, and support Sega. As for Sonic’s future, I can’t tell what lies next for him, but if Sonic Mania gives us an insight into the future, then maybe we’ve weathered the storm. Give us your opinions, and feedback about Sonic Mania. As always, play on, and stay Hella Average.