Sonic Mania review.

The story of how modern SEGA ruined one of its flagship series is worthy of a Hollywood adaptation. A series of wonderful 2D platformers with a good touch of a runner (classic, not mobile!) From the 90s, attempts to master 3D graphics on the Dreamcast … And then – failure after failure.

The worst happened in 2006 on PS3 and Xbox 360. Sonic the Hedgehog (simply, no subtitles), due to a deranged camera, a disgusting adventure part and a bunch of bugs, was not even good for the devil for a snack. However, in all this kaleidoscope of projects, there was also a positive feature. When SEGA tackled the time-tested 2D mechanics, it turned out decently, if not completely good.

“SEGA is proud to present …!”: Announcement trailer for the return of the legendary hedgehog.

Trample on Green Hill Zone

Aside from a few Game Boy Advance releases and Sonic Rush for the Nintendo DS, the neo-retro concept has been rolled out on larger consoles with the relatively recent Sonic Generation . The mega cabbage has brought together the Sonic of the old and the new formation.

Two heroes – two views on the question. The modern hedgehog was running around in a 3D pipe from Sonic Unleashed , sometimes looking into 2.5D perspective. The classic, without a twinge of conscience, cosplayed 16-bit imperishable films. It looked all the more ironic, the more modern the locations were before the eyes. Believe me, there is nothing funnier than the Sonic of the past at the 2006 level. And the game was opened, of course, by another variation of the Green Hill Zone. The hills are what must be in every new Sonic. No Green Hill? So, before you is some kind of pathetic fake.

Yes, another Green Hill Zone. So what?! Here she at least brings back memories.

Jokes aside, but Sonic Mania is perhaps the most correct 2D Sonic since the Sonic CD port on the last generation console. When we went through Sonic Generation a few years ago, we felt like … a fake Christmas tree toy. Yes, it was a very good game – with the right design, great graphics, decent speed. Almost like the good old ones.

The devil was in the details. The classic Sonic the Hedgehog challenged shoppers. It was not difficult to learn about core mechanics, the junction of the platforming and the runner brought difficulties. On the one hand, the developers seemed to be saying to customers: “Run forward, faster, faster, even faster!”, And on the other hand, the logic of the levels was such that already in the third or fourth zones, you had to think more than press buttons. All this – in combination with a system of secrets (no one canceled the search for chaos emeralds!) And several ways to go through the location – completely blew up the brain.

At this moment, the hearts of fans of the genre should be pinched. And this screenshot is not from Sonic & Knuckles for 16-bit Mega Drive!

Probably, every experienced console gamer will have his own memory of the 16-bit trilogy (plus Sonic & Knuckles !). Some evil boss or a very harmful segment of the level, which could not be overcome for months. My friends and I got together on cold autumn evenings and tried to pass the final reptile from Sonic & Knuckles over and over again. All the levels before him flew almost automatically – including a variation on the theme of Egypt. But the leader was not given in any way. It was banal that there were not enough lives. So we did not pass it at that time, but the memories remained for many years to come.

Sonic Generation in this sense allowed only partly to plunge into the atmosphere of childhood. The main thing was lost – the very sense of adventure. The developers recreated the mechanics and even outlined the facets that distinguished the modern from the classics, but did not go further. Generation turned out to be a rookie party, without the slightest hint of complexity.

SEGA drew ironic videos, collected the best (in her opinion) levels from the past, stuffed it all with a test system, and it turned out well. Just not what the old school fans wanted. The irony is that Sonic Generation has been the best part of the series in a very, very long time.

Before Sonic Mania.

We will not even comment on this moment. But you can be sure: you will be surprised, and how!

Fans and more

The history of the creation of this game deserves special attention. While big Japanese publishers like Capcom or Nintendo nip fan-made endeavors in the bud (banning a Metroid 2 remake with Game Boy is the best example), SEGA caters to enthusiasts.

A year ago, the programmer and future head of the Sonic Mania project, Christian Whitehead, presented the producer of the blue hedgehog series with a prototype called Sonic Discovery. Barely glancing at him, the Japanese manager gave the green light. Almost a fairy tale … if Whitehead hadn’t had time to work on the Sonic CD and the mobile ports of the first two parts of Sonic the Hedgehog earlier. So he had a certain credit of confidence.

Sonic Mania was officially announced at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con. It was there that SEGA announced that two new Sonic platformers are in development: 3D Sonic Forces and the classic Sonic Mania. Intrigue? Not at all. That summer, few people believed that another poking around in mothballs could bring any tangible benefit to a pretty rotten brand, mired in self-repetition and clichés. But a miracle happened.

And this is not a screensaver, but a very real gameplay! One of the intermediate bosses.

Was there a boy?

Sonic Mania isn’t SEGA’s first attempt to play on fan nostalgia. In addition to the successful Sonic Generation, two episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 saw the light . The problem with this broken-down game was not in the graphics, it was quite worthy – the developers broke the very basis of the 2D Sonic. There was no smell of a thoughtful balance in the “sequel”, and the cheating ability to call the enemy, taken from the three-dimensional releases of the franchise, nullified all attempts to make it difficult.

the debut trailer for the first episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

Never mind the abundance of pixels. Sonic Mania looks much better in dynamics. But this decision creates the illusion that the game was made for 16-bit consoles.

Something went wrong?

The main thing you need to know about Sonic Mania is that it works very well with the mechanics of yesteryear. Sonic rushes forward, collects rings, destroys bosses and obtains chaos emeralds in secret zones. We’ve seen this sequence of actions before, in the years when SEGA tried to wipe Nintendo’s nose. And this is where the fun begins. Ready? Exactly?

It so happened that the “fan” game about Sonic handles the source material much more carefully than all the “official” sequels from Sonic Team . And it’s not about blind copying. The levels that we know from the first three parts and Sonic & Knuckles are creatively reimagined. For example, the already mentioned Green Hill begins in an extremely classic way – green lawns, hills, thorns … But already at the end of the first level, an intermediate boss awaits you. There is nothing surprising here: it was the same in Sonic & Knuckles. Another thing is that you don’t expect to see such an opponent in the scenery of the first Sonic the Hedgehog.

For untrained gamers, these entertaining eggs will spoil a lot of nerves.

Act II, although reminiscent of 16-bit “Hills”, includes elements from the later games about Sonic. Remember the bungee from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 ? Then you understand what this is about. For especially impressionable fans, this approach can lead to cognitive dissonance. You can hardly resist the surprise of a feature purposefully taken from the Sonic CD and inserted into a location from Sonic & Knuckles. It is about changing the environment after certain conditions are met. We will not go into more detail, so as not to spoil, so just take our word for it. Let’s note the main thing – the levels created from scratch fit well into what is happening.

Despite the imitation of the two-dimensional classics, the monotonous Sonic Mania cannot be called with all the desire. She has a perfect rhythm. The developers are either driving Sonic into the conditions of a classic runner (one of the intermediate bosses), or even starting a retro parody session. When, instead of studying the pattern of another hellish machine by Robotnik, one has to remember the rules of one very ancient Japanese “Tetris”, the jaw itself falls to the floor. And this is not an isolated case! Sonic Mania is built around such contrasts. It is almost impossible to predict what else the developers have thrown out.

The screensavers in the game are served in this retro way. Remember how Knuckles pulled the switch?

Regime question

Like any self-respecting platformer, Sonic Mania offers several modes to choose from. Revelations, however, are not worth waiting for. In addition to the scenario campaign, gamers can set speed records and compete in versus fashion. Nothing out of the ordinary, you say? So that’s the point. The authors did not reinvent the wheel, but simply took a time-tested concept. And it works. Isn’t it great?

The problem of complexity was brilliantly avoided by Christian Whitehead’s team. If the player dies, the Game Over screen appears. It would seem that everything, but no. Sonic Mania has an autosave system. Therefore, nothing prevents you from entering the story campaign menu and trying to overcome the damn level again with this damn boss and all the craziness that is happening on the screen.

In theory, such a decision should seriously ease the fate of beginners, but alas, the system checks progress only after passing the entire zone as a whole, and not a separate act. Believe me, such a trifle can ruin the mood of those who sincerely believe that the game should run itself.

What’s in the bottom line? Three carriages of curses, a healthy passion and a feeling as if he had returned to the past. There, where the location had to be memorized literally piece by piece and after many hours with a desperate cry to pass. By the way, some moments from Sonic Mania will give odds to their 16-bit predecessors in terms of complexity.

But this is already a subject for a separate conversation, and we will postpone it for another time.

Do you understand what the humor is?

And who are the judges ?!

If the recent Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy was aimed more at newcomers to the genre, then Sonic Mania hits the very heart of those who remember and honor the classic Mega Drive / Genesis. The project team managed to create a concentrated charge of nostalgia that accurately hits all pain points. Sonic Mania has a place for both the classic bonus levels from Sonic CD and Sonic 3 / Sonic & Knuckles, and simply references to the iconic past of the blue hedgehog in red sneakers. At the same time, the developers did not cheat, breaking the expiration date of the old product.

Sonic Mania launch trailer.

Sonic Mania is exactly the “Sonic of the Future” that we dreamed of many years ago. This is a modern game that cleverly juggles the mechanics of the past and makes you look at the levels familiar from childhood from a different angle. Besides, she is simply beautiful. High-quality 2D, wonderful effects, impossible or difficult to achieve on the original hardware. It is enough to look closely to understand how titanic work the authors have done: it was on their shoulders to stay within the canon, but at the same time bring something of their own into the concept. Author’s handwriting.

And they definitely did it. By the way, about hedgehogs: no one will let you kill opponents with a homing jump (two clicks on the “cross” key). This feature did not migrate to Sonic Mania from the 3D episodes of the series – and that’s great too.

More screenshots from Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania is a great gift for all retro lovers. Difficult enough and extremely diverse, this game makes you remember why we loved platformers of the past. Sonic Forces will surely have a hard time competing with the product of creative genius Christian Whitehead.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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