Sonic Mania Review: Gotta Go Fast

  • Playstation 4
  • Switch
  • Xbox One
  • Platformer
sonicccasas
Sonic Mania, running through your TV. Sega

Sonic Mania is an incredible game... that I really suck at. Sega’s return to the classic Sonic the Hedgehog, before the edgelord Shadow the Hedgehog existed, is a welcome sign for fans of the Sega Genesis-era games. There’s no 3-D (other than a vector based bonus game) to be seen, focusing on the tried and true gameplay that made Sonic Mario’s adversary in the ‘90s. If you’ve ever picked up a platformer and just want to relive the glory days of your youth, you need to pick up Sonic Mania .

I never lived through the Sega Genesis heyday, but I did play the original Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic and Knuckles on a Sega Classics CD-ROM. I spent hours, maybe even days, locked inside my room, addicted to the red echidna protecting the Chaos Emeralds. The way he soared through the air and climbed on walls was inspiring and captivating, I didn’t think I’d ever get to play a game again that captured that same level of challenging and enjoyment. That was until Sonic Mania sped its way onto my Xbox One.

Knuckles, Tails and Sonic are all playable, bringing their unique playstyles to 12 stages. Some  are reimagined classics, like Green Hill Zone, while others are entirely new, like Stardust Speedway Zone. The developers, a group of Sonic The Hedgehog lovers who made fan games of the spiny blue mammal in shoes before Sega picked them up, have an obvious love for the character and the genre. Focusing on what makes a Sonic game good, like giving players a real sense of speed, could only have been created by fans who care about gameplay over gimmicks.  

Playing as Knuckles felt eerily similar, like the gameplay was so perfect the first time around that it barely required any fidgeting. Just throw better sprites, new backgrounds, enemies and  levels into the mix and you’ve got yourself a highly-rated video game. There’s also the new Drop Dash ability, which allows you to spin dash instantly after falling to the ground. It’s a simple technique that makes spin-dashing your way through the levels just a tiny bit easier. Minigames, like the obnoxious “collect all the blue orbs while avoiding the red ones” and “chase a UFO” are a nice distraction from the game’s speedy atmosphere.

After playing for about eight hours, I still haven’t beaten the game.  Playing as the titular Sonic and his bottom bitch Tails, I managed to get to the eighth stage, where I am now stuck. My hand-eye coordination isn’t the best (there’s a reason I was always picked last in middle school kick ball), which really cuts into my Sonic Mania skills. Some of the bosses are extremely difficult and for a klutz like me, almost impossible. In VideoGameDunkey’s review, he said it only takes about two hours to beat the whole game, which has only made me feel slightly worse. I wanted to wait until I finished the game before reviewing it, but I feel like Sonic Forces is going to come out before that happens. That’s how you know Sega has made a good game, that it can fill me frustration and anger, yet I still want to keep coming back for more.

Sonic Mania relies heavily on nostalgia in it’s soundtrack which plays classic melodies from past Sonic games, and levels. If you liked classic Sonic, you’ll love Sonic Mania. If you’ve never played a platformer and don’t understand why people are so excited for a game with graphics that your electric toothbrush can render, you might want to skip it.

  • Platformer
  • Playstation 4
  • Switch
  • Xbox One
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