Sonic’s latest adventure sped onto consoles this summer. So what’s our take on Sonic Mania? Old. School. Glory.
Do you, like millions of other Sonic fans, remember the character’s best days? You know, on the Sega Genesis? There are more than a few gamers, I’d go so far as to say the majority, who vastly prefer what what came before to what Sega has done with Sonic since.
Sure there were a few standouts, and Generations was great, but past that, what’s Sonic really starred in that’s been any good? If you’re in agreement with that, then hang on, because Sonic Mania is the absolute best kind of throwback/retro game that you could imagine.
Gotta go FAST
Sonic is, more than anything else, about speed. The platformers that appeared on the Genesis were built with that element in mind, and exemplified fast gameplay. Heck, the platforming was almost secondary to getting through a level as fast as was
humanly hedgehog-idly possible. And the rings? Meh. I personally didn’t care a whit about collecting rings, I just wanted to race through.
Mania knows this all too well, and the game is absolutely bursting with speed. Now, there are platforming elements too (plenty actually) and even segments that you’re “forced” to play through. But the speed runs are the star, and they’re gloriously fun. In most stages too, they’re plentiful. If you’re a Sonic fan, I find it impossible to believe you’d do anything but love the brilliant mix that Sega has built for Sonic Mania.
As for the boss battles, they do include the traditional Robotnik battles.
Those fights between Sonic and his nemesis are series staples, and continue to be fun and occasionally pretty challenging. But there’s much more here.
New robot sub-bosses are included and present Sonic with unique challenges. Each is set up differently, and how Sonic has to knock them over the head varies. The Metal Sonic fights I found to be particularly difficult (you have to knock other baddies into him). There’s even a fight (SPOILER ALERT) that sees you battling Robotnik in a round of Mean Bean Machine. Too much fun.
Like the gameplay, which is 100% old school Sonic if that wasn’t clear, the graphics look like they bounced right off of a Sega Genesis. Well, maybe right off of some kind of “enhanced” Genesis.
The looks are gorgeous – sharp, clear and colorful. They’re clearly made to resemble the Genesis’ graphics set for Sonic, but they look a good deal better, with little graphical tricks here and there.
Levels differ greatly in design too, with the traditional Green Hill Zone, and plenty more locales from Sonic’s history. As I mentioned, they have some neat effects too. I particularly dug the Oil Ocean levels, which catch on fire and have Sonic venting smoke at regular intervals in order to see.
Oh and yes, the music is excellent as well. A killer soundtrack is something that Sonic fans have come to expect, and Sega did right by them yet again. Though really, that’s something that could be said about the whole game.
Release date: August 15th, 2017 on consoles, August 29th on PC
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Pagoda West Games, Headcannon