Sonic Mania Review
When I heard another Sonic game was going to be release, I – along with almost everyone else – was pretty skeptical as things have not been great as of late for the blue blur. That being said, I’ve looked forward to every Sonic release since first playing the games back on the SEGA Genesis, so despite having some reservation about how this title would perform, I had some nostalgic excitement none-the-less. After going through most of the game, enjoying numerous bosses and bonus stages, I can say this is the happiest I’ve been playing a Sonic game in a long time. Sonic Mania is pure, fantasmic fun!
Sonic Mania is everything you’d want in a 2D, side scrolling adventure, and tickeled all the right nostalgic places as I blasted, jumped, rolled, and ran through the various stages in Sonic Mania. When you load it up, so much of what you will see will be very familiar, hearkening back to various stages from the early Sonic titles. Don’t be fooled, however, as this is not just a collaboration of the best stages in previous games, but rather a completely revamped, redesigned title with new pathways, new bonus stages, new bosses, and much, much more.
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Story wise, not a whole lot has changed in the Sonic universe. Doctor Robotnik is at his usual tricks again, trying to capture all the Chaos Emeralds to power his device that will ultimately end the world. Sonic is joined as usual by a cast of fellow heroes who work together to save the world, and whether you play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, you are bound to enjoy whatever you are doing, and no matter what level you are playing, you will see hints of most past sonic titles, most notably Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles.
The entire play through of Sonic Mania is only likely to take you 3-4 hours total, but SEGA has packed a ton of extras into the game including some multiplayer versus modes and a time attack. As well, should players want to complete the game 100% and find the 3D bonus stages, they can expect to spend many more hours searching for these bonus stages, and getting them perfect to boot!
Like we said previously, though, Sonic Mania is not simply a rehash of what has already been released, played, and loved by fans. New additions populate each level, including the ability to bounce between the foreground and background, a new underwater bubble mechanic that allows the player some vertical travel through water, and portals that will spawn a player to another area of a level, depending on which path they travel down. Some of these mechanics work really well, while others fall flat, but overall they all breath some fresh air into an already outstanding product.
In certain situations, a lack of epxlination might require you to replay a bonus level or two – the first time I found one of the 3D bonus stages, I wasn’t 100% sure what the ultimate goal was. I kept flying around the tracking collecting small orbs and rings, attempting to keep my run going for as long as possible. In reality, I had no idea what the end goal was, until I finished and saw my overall performance.
Having Sonic Mania on the Nintendo Switch is a real treat, and if you are gaming on all the major platforms – Xbox One, PS4, or Nintendo Switch – the obvious choice of console here for me is the Nintendo Switch. Because of the nature of how Sonic games are put together, they make great pick-up-and-play experiences, perfect for that short cab or subway ride to your destination, over a quick lunch, or even while waiting in the doctors office. Having Sonic Mania on the go is ideal, and should be the preferred way to play for everyone!
I have very little to complain about in regards to Sonic Mania. Sure, some of the new and interesting ideas present in this title that are missing from the originals don’t pan out as well as SEGA might have liked, but the overall package is just short of fantastic. For those who remember playing Sonic 1-3 on the SEGA Genesis back in the day will definitely feel right at home. For myself, Sonic Mania was the perfect outlet for me to pass along my love of Sonic to my seven year old son. Now he’s enjoying a bit of what I played so many years ago!