What do you think of when you hear Sonic the Hedgehog? For me, it brings back memories of playing Sonic 2 on the Genesis, sitting on the living room floor, screaming at the TV with my siblings. Sonic Mania has brought that memory to life, sitting on the couch with my husband, screaming as we try to defeat Eggman!
Everything old is new again with Sonic Mania. If you’ve ever played a classic Sonic game before then you know exactly what to expect. Run, collect rings, avoid obstacles and defeat Eggman. Classic zones come back with new twists and new ones enter the fray with their own quirks and hazards. It really feels as though it was a game made back in the 90’s to follow Sonic & Knuckles.
Level design is something I have to take a moment and gush over. Previous 2D Sonic games have struggled in keeping the fast momentum and slow paced platforming on a fair balance. Heck, I can recall some times older games where I would get disgusted and feel as if the game was telling me to go fast only for the level to intentionally slow me down. Sonic Mania has the most well balanced zones to date. Even in water-focused zones, I was never put off by platforming as there was always something fast and fun waiting for me to see just beyond the next ledge.
One of my favorite new features in Mania is that every act now ends with a boss. These all have their own puzzle to them and every time I finished an act, I waited with anticipation to see what was coming for me to blow up!
Multiplayer comes in two forms. Playing the main story as Sonic and Tails is the best mode as whoever wants to can just drop in and take control of Tails on a whim. Versus mode is exactly as I remember from Sonic 2 on the Genesis, horizontal split-screen with the view all stretched out and the focus of the gameplay being shifted to a race.
The soundtrack in Mania is an awesome blend of what I remember from old zones but remixed with something modern. They all have their roots clearly grounded in the old 16-bit music but just listen to them and you’ll hear the subtle changes that make them fresh and new.
Sonic Mania is by far the best Sonic game that has come out in a very long time…possibly ever! The feeling I’ve been having as I play is exactly what I’ve been longing for after decades of junk games. For the first time since I was a kid, I’m in love with a blue hedgehog and he’s broken the sound barrier as he chases off with my heart!
Review by: Lauren Rifenburg
Review copy provided by: SEGA
Total play time: More than 8 hours so far.
Played through all zones and tested all modes, still have a bunch to collect though…