• Every year, there is a Sonic game, and the dreaded Sonic Cycle always seems to be self fulfilling. The game will either be decent but not great, or it will be a complete aberration like Sonic Boom for the Wii U. But this time, Sonic Mania has decided to completely go back to basics, and it mostly pays off. The problems it has are so few and will likely be fixed quickly. Sonic Mania is the realization of a dream for a great Sonic game, and hopefully means good things for the future of the franchise.

    The plot of this Sonic game, much like past Sonic games, is simple. Eggman(or Robotnik if you are sensitive about that sort of thing) is causing trouble again. Sonic quickly acts to stop his schemes, but before he can do anything, Eggman’s new minions use the power of the Chaos Emeralds to transport himself and Sonic to different eras in the past. As a result, this game pulls a ‘Mickey Mania’ by having sonic dash, jump, and platform his way through a collection of levels inspired by the first four games in the series. This is all presented in a 16-bit/32-bit graphical style to deliver a game that essentially is the long lost Saturn 2D Sonic game that should have been what Sonic 4 was.

    The new levels are setup in a Sonic and Knuckles style, where there are two acts to each zone, with a boss at the end of the second act. There’s also about as many zones as there were in Sonic 3 and Knuckles. The older levels have been revamped to make use of new physics, like how the Green Hill zones have briar bridges which can now be burned with the flame shield. The Chemical Plant Zone also has a few new devices like slingshots and bouncy slime pools. There are new levels like Studiopolis which also have many references to other Sonic and Sega games, so you can see the outpouring of love for all things Sonic and Sega. Can you find all the references? Even a few boss fights will surprise you in how they are presented. Special Stages come in two flavors as well, with the checkpoints giving access to the globe levels from Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and the hidden Ring Special Stages are modeled after Sonic CD. You’ll have to run to the UFO to catch the Chaos Emerald, but you’ll need to build up speed by collecting orbs, and collect rings to allow you more time to catch up. Beating these levels are the only way to gain the Chaos Emeralds and get Super forms for either Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, as well as the True Ending for Sonic’s routes. The globe levels let earn you medals which can be redeemed to unlock debug mode and ‘& Knuckles’ mode, which let’s you do weird things like Sonic and Knuckles, Tails and Knuckles, or even Knuckles and Knuckles.

    The game is really great and plays really well regardless of the platform you choose to play it. The Switch version is portable, so it’s pretty much the ideal way to own this game. Although it’s a bit weird that this game isn’t on the Vita. The only failings of this game is the ratio of classic levels versus the new zones. The other things relate to the facts that maybe Sonic was a little too hasty in it’s release date, as there are various bugs across all platforms. Hit detection can be off, and a piston or something can flatten you even though you are just clear enough from getting squashed. Also, the game can randomly give you a “game over” after defeating a boss. The Switch version specifically has two issues relating to the joy con controls going wonky in Sonic and Tails mode. You’ll randomly lose control of Sonic and start controlling Tails. There’s also a problem where accessing the Switch’s Home menu can become unresponsive. Lastly, the PC version use Denuvo DRM, despite the game being single player only. So the always online nature of the DRM will kill your game if you lose a connection. Sega needs to remove this DRM from the game, as it definitely has no place being there. Hopefully the bugs in the other versions get fixed soon. But despite all of these issues, they are minor, Sonic Mania is still an amazing homage to the series. Those who love the older games will feel right at home here, and newcomers will get to experience a solid old-school styled platformer. Sonic Mania comes highly recommended.

    Sonic Mania - Review
    A great fan game that was made official. If you are an Old School Sonic fan, there's a a lot to like here. But hopefully the bugs in each version get fixed soon.
    Our Score9.5
    Positives
    • The amount of love for the series overflows in it's design.
    • A few surprise boss fights are sure bring some smiles.
    Negatives
    • Every version has a few technical issues to consider.
    9.5Overall Score
    Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
    -1.3

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