The Sonic series has been through a lot over the years, with the fans’ love for the Hedgehog being reciprocated by mediocre games nobody enjoyed. However, Sega has finally made a Sonic game, with the help of long time fans, and Sonic Mania is one of the best, if not the best, Sonic game ever made.
Sonic Mania immediately feels like a game from the 90’s, in the best way possible. There are all the refinements that were needed to hold up to today’s standards, while including everything that made Sonic so beloved in the first place. Excellent level design allow the game to go at really high speeds, without feeling like you are not in control. A lot of precision is needed to get through the levels, and the game does demand constant attention from the player. The gameplay is also tightly designed – whether you’re running, jumping or dashing, everything feels just right.
While Sonic Mania reuses some of the levels from older Sonic games – like the Chemical Plant and Lava Reef, they also have new levels which are really impressive, and show the studio’s ability to make an entirely new Sonic game if given the opportunity. Every level has it’s own unique theme, and looks vibrant and colorful in a really playful manner. While speeding through these levels might feel like the obvious way to go, slowing down to get collectibles and explore alternative routes shows how much care, thought and attention to detail has gone into designing them. Even the older levels have new twists to them, and it really feels the a game made by folks who understand why the original games were so good.
Replaying levels have their own incentive, as you unlock secret stages, discover new challenges, and collect items. And if you wish to see the game’s so called ‘real ending’, you will need to do some exploring.
Sonic, Knuckles and Tails are set to defeat Eggman and his minions, and along the way there are tons of traps and obstacles thrown at you, along with many of the boss fights. Boss encounters are again done really well, with a few exceptions. The only major issue here is a lack of checkpoints, which can occasionally feel frustrating.
But for the most part, Sonic Mania recaptures the feeling of playing a good Sonic game, and adds a ton more that make this game stand on it’s own. It’s really enjoyable to just sit and get lost in the excellent level design, and simply keep going from one stage to the next. Even with some flaws, the rises above them to best one of the best Sonic games you will ever play.