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Review

Review: Sonic Mania

Switch to: deDeutsch

Sonic 3 & Knuck­les was con­si­de­red by most peop­le the defi­ni­ti­ve Sonic expe­ri­ence for a long time; after tho­se two games com­bi­ned we didn’t have a pro­per tit­le for the Saturn and with the Dream­cast they expe­ri­men­ted with 3D games, which have now beco­me the stan­dard. Sonic Mania is rep­re­sen­ting the game that we should have got­ten on the Saturn: after more than 20 years Sonic is final­ly back to its 2D roots, in what feels like the clo­sest thing we’ll ever get to a Sonic 4. What are you say­ing? “A Sonic 4 alrea­dy exists”? No, it doesn’t. We don’t talk about that game.

Let’s face it, the last attempts at making a good Sonic game were… not gre­at. The game that was most­ly appre­cia­ted by the com­mu­ni­ty was Sonic Genera­ti­ons, which mixed game­play of 3D and 2D Sonics, and it’s not a coin­ci­dence that the upco­m­ing tit­le, Sonic Forces, is real­ly star­ting to look like a Genera­ti­ons 2. SEGA also final­ly deci­ded to lis­ten to their fans, giving the chan­ce to inde­pen­dent deve­lo­pers, who had expe­ri­ence with fan games and remakes, to make their own return to the 2D roots. We’re tal­king about Chris­ti­an Whitehead (also known as The Tax­man), who mana­ged to recrea­te per­fec­t­ly the Sonic engi­ne for various plat­forms and also recrea­ted ori­gi­nal games from scratch, Headcan­non (com­pa­ny made by Ste­alth, a nick­na­me also well known in the Sonic fan game com­mu­ni­ty) and Pago­da­West Games (ano­t­her com­pa­ny made by peop­le who also had expe­ri­ence on fan games). The­se peop­le all love the fran­chise very much, and it shows: every pixel, every sin­gle sound­track and game mode is a love let­ter to the older fans of the series and SEGA in gene­ral, who’ll be able to grab several refe­ren­ces hid­den in the game. Even Knuck­les’ Chao­tix wasn’t for­got­ten!

In Sonic Mania, which we review on Play­Sta­ti­on 4, the­re are some new zones and some older ones from the pre­vious ent­ries in the series, but there’s some­thing we need to make clear: every level is new. Even the older ones have been huge­ly modi­fied and expan­ded to account for the abi­li­ties of all 3 cha­rac­ters: Knuck­les, for examp­le, will start in a dif­fe­rent loca­ti­on on Green Hill Zone, to make the play­ers under­stand imme­dia­te­ly what his fea­tures actual­ly are. Sin­ce the youn­ger genera­ti­on hasn’t pro­bab­ly play­ed a Sonic game befo­re, the game also tri­es to help them by intro­du­cing a new fea­ture, usable by Sonic: the Drop Dash. If you hold the jump but­ton while in mid-air, Sonic will auto­ma­ti­cal­ly spin­dash, making pro­gress much easier and fas­ter. It’s not necessa­ry, obvious­ly: I’ve per­so­nal­ly com­ple­ted the who­le game wit­hout using it a sin­gle time, so you don’t have to worry about having to play dif­fer­ent­ly. Spe­cial sta­ges with blue sphe­res have retur­ned as well, but this time they won’t award you with Cha­os Eme­ralds, but with a spe­cial coin: the more sta­ges you com­ple­te, the more secrets you’ll be able to unlock. To actual­ly get the Cha­os Eme­ralds, you’ll have to go into new spe­cial sta­ges, whe­re you’ll have to cha­se an ufo cat­cher while buil­ding up your speed, making sure to not lose all your rings in the pro­cess. After you collect all 7 Eme­ralds you’ll be able to go into a Super Form (And yes, even Super Tails!), which will allow Sonic to also defeat the true final boss (but only Sonic; Tails and Knuck­les can­not reach it, not unless you use a cheat code).

Conclusion

Sonic Mania is a tru­ly ama­zing for its pro­po­sed pri­ce, and every gamer out the­re should go and buy it. And I mean NOW. There’s a lot of stuff to unlock and fun to be had for only 20€. Even if you never play­ed a 2D Sonic befo­re, you don’t have to worry: a litt­le tri­al and error and you’ll be fine. This game was made with such love and care that, in this era, would be a shame to not sup­port. So go out the­re and do your part. And remem­ber: GOTTA GO FAST.

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