Sonic Mania Review
Everything old is new again with SEGA’s Sonic Mania, the latest entry in the company’s flagship platforming series. A love letter to fans of all ages, does it put the blue blur back on top?
Sonic Mania Review
Rather than focus on boost meters, werehog gimmicks, or a flurry of furry sidekicks, Sonic Mania takes liberal cues from the Genesis and Sega CD Sonic titles. Speed still plays a major role in getting through each zone, but each of the wildly different levels is carefully crafted with a multi-tier design that encourages exploration and replayability. Secrets are abound in each zone, from hidden special stages to extra lives and shield power ups. Each act can take upwards of five minutes to complete, meaning that no two runs will be the same.
Things get even more diverse when it comes to character variety. Players can choose from Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, who each come with their own unique skill set. Sonic relies on speed, and packs a new drop dash feature that makes traversing levels that much faster. Tails has the power of flight, which allows him to access hard to reach areas. Knuckles is perhaps the most unique of them all, with the ability to glide and break through certain walls. The game has shortcuts and even entire levels designed for each character, giving the game some legs. There are some cheap hits in the form of poorly placed spikes and badniks, but these hazards are few and far between.
The zone selection pulls from the previous catalog from titles, with a few new areas thrown in for good measure. The iconic Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant make a return, but more obscure stages like Lava Reef and Metallic Madness are also included. These aren’t straight ports, however – level layouts have been tweaked and new elements are in play. Said elements feature a healthy dose of fanservice, but also change things for the better. The boss fights are also unique in their execution – almost to a fault. Defeating Eggman or one of the Hard-Boiled Heavies requires some experimentation, but each bout leaves a lasting impression once all is said and done.
The new levels fit right at home with the Sonic series. Locales range from printing presses to movie studios to even desert saloons, and they all combine multiple styles together to create something new. It’s just a shame that these four new zones only make up a fraction of the game.
Those looking to master Sonic Mania will be at it for a while. A true ending and extra stage are available for those dedicated enough to collect every chaos emerald. There are also unlockable extras that are available for those who clear dozens of “Blue Sphere” bonus stages. A time attack mode is available, along with a two-player competition mode.
Sonic Mania has everything you could ever want from a Sonic game. The levels are carefully crafted, the bosses are unique, and the fanservice is off the charts. Those looking for the second coming of SEGA’s mascot have found it here.