Published on March 13th, 2019 | by voxx0
What else can be said about Sonic the Hedgehog? The classic rival of the icon Mario and the mascot for all of Sega, I’d be surprised if anyone hadn’t heard of him. Back in the 90′s, the Sega Megadrive vs the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was the biggest console war of the time, with fierce marketing campaigns. Needless to say, this was a prime time for the blue hedgehog, and his Megadrive games are held in high regard as true classics even to this day, and considered by many some of the best games of all time.
Though he fell from grace after entering the third dimension, where he only had two or three amazing games, he now appears to be back on form. After the success of ‘Sonic Generations’, Christian Whitehead, the man behind the handheld Sonic ports, alongside Headcanon has managed to create a retro retract to the classic Sonic days. The result is the Sonic game fans have been begging for since 1994, with its 16-bit roots.
As ‘Sonic Mania’ has been produced in a retro style, story isn’t a massive focus here, which is actually a relief, as most modern Sonic games have taken their plots far too seriously when they could have just kept things simple. The ‘Sonic Mania’ story takes place after the events of ‘Sonic 3 & Knuckles’, when Dr. Robotnik retrieves the gem known as the phantom ruby. Once found, it turns six regular enemies into menacing robots that go by the Hard Boil Heavies, and Sonic, Tails and Knuckles have to travel across time and space top stop them. It’s simple and yet effective, and feels like a classic Megadrive game despite being created in the 21st century. The characters follow the same old formula of jumping on enemies whilst collecting rings and chaos emeralds to use to take down the mad doctor.
Presentation-wise, the game also looks and sounds amazing. Using the 16-bit style as a basis, as well as old levels from previous games, we see 32-bit animation similar to that of Knuckles Chaotix, but with modern hardware making it look more amazing. Every revisited stage looks familiar, yet fresh, and all the sound effects feel as though they’ve been ripped right out of the Megadrive itself. The music, by Tee Lopes, is brilliant on every level – creative, catchy, retro and memorable, without becoming too repetitive.
You can choose to play with three different characters – Sonic, Tails or Knuckles – and each has their own unique abilities. Sonic can drop dash to boost at high speeds in the air, and use elemental shields. Tails can fly for short periods, and knuckles can glide and climb walls. These unique gameplay styles all feel fun and are never off-putting. Knuckles even gets a new level and different pathways to make his campaign even more unique, though Sonic is still my personal favourite, mostly for his sheer speed.
Out of the 12 zones, only four are brand new, the rest being returning levels, but while that is the case the returning zones have been changed and updated to feel new whilst still being a blast to play through. It’s the new zones, however, that are the best. Studioplise, Press Gargen, Marge Saloom and Titanic Monarch are just so much fun to play and replay.
In conclusion, ‘Sonic Mania’ is a blast to play, with fun levels, new ideas, a mix of old and new, as well as fantastic DLC options, adding Mighty and Ray to the roster. If you’re into any sort of retro gaming, this one’s a must-have.
– By Sam Wood