Sonic Mania Impressions – It’s Good To Have You Back Sonic

Update: Sonic Mania Plus has officially hit the market. This is the definitive edition to purchase for Sonic Mania as you will receive new stages, an encore mode along with two new characters that alters the way you go through the levels. Below is our original impression of the game and you can check out our Before You Buy video for Sonic Mania Plus right here.

What a time to be alive as it seems that we’re getting hit with new incredible remasters and reboots from yesteryear practically daily. From television shows such as The X-Files and Twin Peaks to video games such as Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and the upcoming God of War, there’s seemingly no end to the nostalgia train.

I practically grew up on the Sega Genesis. It’s one of the earliest consoles I remember playing, whether that makes me old or young, I’ll leave that up for you to decide. Regardless, the Sega Genesis crafted my love for video games with titles such as the Sonic The Hedgehog series.

Over the past couple decades, it seems that Sega has been trying to capture that love and fame of their most beloved and precious icons. Sonic, for the most part, has been falling behind with only a niche following picking up the latest releases. The once iconic rivalry between Sega’s Sonic and Nintendo’s Mario dwindle down to nothing more than a slight mention in forums online.

Sure, fans have attempted to bring out new exciting Sonic titles that resembled the glorious past the character once had, but finally, fans old and young alike are rejoicing for a true Sonic The Hedgehog return.

Sonic Mania is not just a callback to the good old days, it’s a full blown resurgence of the beloved character. This is a title that everyone can enjoy and proves that even with new cutting edge technology, some things didn’t need fixing.

The visuals and audio effects felt like I was playing a long lost hidden gem kept tucked away from the world which is a massive props to the development teams, Headcannon and PagodWest. This is a solid title that clearly shows there’s still a ton of love for these classic side-scrolling platforming titles.

Overall, the story for Sonic Mania remains much of the same and it’s not surprising to see once again, Dr. Robotnik, or better known as Doctor Eggman, is up to no good leaving our heroes, Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles to stop the antagonist through fast incredible speeds and head-butting into enemies that come their way.

If you enjoyed the origins of Sonic back during the days of the Sega Genesis or Mega Drive, depending on where you’re located, you’ll instantly be flooded with sights and sounds of the earliest Sonic titles. However, the game doesn’t just fill players up with a rehash of old levels, instead, there’s new content to go through as well. All of the new levels feels seamless and something that could have shown up from the past original titles.

One thing I personally took notice of when going through the game is just how big the levels felt. Originally, there may have been one or two little pathways to explore for Sonic, but now Sonic Mania feels like players are in a massive world in comparison to the original releases. There are multiple pathways and even some areas that can only be accessed if players take on the role of Tails or Knuckles, with each of their own unique traveling capabilities.

Tossed into the mix is also new game mechanics that will help Sonic traverse the world. Take for example Chemical Plant Zone, there are new mechanics added that plays around with liquids into the game. Some liquids can allow players to bounce around or special gel that allows our protagonist to stick onto a moving platform.

It’s worth exploring these levels for all they have as well because of the various hidden secrets and collectibles you can come across, such as bonus stages.

With that said, there are still a few little issues that come up which to me, feels to be aligned with the nature of Sonic in general. This is a fast-paced game and sometimes, precision based jumping and landing might not sync up as desired. Furthermore, there’s a new ability allows Sonic to spin dash in mid-air, though I never found it all that useful myself.

Bosses play a big role in Sonic Mania and surprisingly, they were some of the most fun I had in the game. Each boss adds a new unique spin to how players will need to strategize though, after a quick battle, you should have a pretty good idea on how to defeat the enemy if you’re forced into repeating the match.

Don’t get too comfortable during these deaths as Sonic Mania is still limited on how many deaths you can take during an Act. If you lose all your lives, it’s back to the Act beginning which is something I actually enjoy. This could be for the mere fact of remembering the past playing Sega Genesis and NES games, having to practice and go through levels countless times memorizing strategies to proceed. Fortunately, unlike some of the early generation of gaming, losing all your lives only means repeating the Act, which will be saved in the game, rather than starting completely over.

All-in-all, Sonic Mania turned out to be one incredible title and well worth checking out. Whether you’re a fan of the original Sonic titles or completely new to the franchise, Sonic Mania would be amiss if you didn’t give it a try.

Sonic Mania is available currently for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A release for the PC is set for August 29, 2017.

Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.