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Sonic Mania Nintendo Switch Game Review

August 30, 2017

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By: Max Cannon

Being one of the most important mascots of the 90's, Sonic the Hedgehog has seen better days. The series has never been better than Sonic 3 & Knuckles for the Sega Genesis way back in 1994 and the transition to 3D has produced almost nothing but lackluster games. However, I'm proud to say that Sonic Mania is a return to form and possibly the greatest entry in the Sonic series.

The game's boss fights aren't ever too challenging but they're always interesting.The game's boss fights aren't ever too challenging but they're always interesting.

Taking Sonic For a Spin

If you've played any of the original 2D Sonic games you'll know exactly how to play Sonic Mania. Running through an assortment of zones as quickly as you can is the name of the game, just like it has always been. Sonic is known for his speed but he's also got a good bit of momentum speeding him down a hill or slowing him when he needs to switch directions. Pressing down and mashing jump with charge a spin move that launches Sonic when released and was first introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Tapping down when flying through a level will force Sonic into a ball that'll damage any enemy as a jump would, barring anything spiked. The only new gameplay mechanic is Sonic's drop dash, holding jump after jumping into the air will charge up a spin dash that launches Sonic forward after hitting the ground. Though it is a new move it fits right in with the classic Sonic move set.

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While the controls and feel of Sonic Mania are nearly identical to 90's Sonic, for the better, the level design is far superior and consistent through the entire game. The game kicks off with Green Hill Zone, the opening level from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, the second level is the Chemical Plant Zone, just as it's the second stage in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Each level is split into 2 acts with a boss wrapping each act up, just like Sonic 3 & Knuckles. While Act 1 starts off as a direct recreation of the original game it becomes an almost unrecognizable remix by the end and Act 2 is an entirely new stage. These new acts are so stellar that I actually wished for more new levels than old ones, even though it was my nostalgia that sucked me in, to begin with.

You're able to play the game as Sonic followed by Tails, Sonic (solo,) Tails (solo,) or Knuckles and it's also lifted straight from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Each stage could be played completely differently depending on which character you'll play as because of the multiple different paths to take. Hitting a checkpoint with 25 rings opens a portal to play through one of Sonic 3 's special stages and while the act of snagging orbs will start off simply enough they become outrageously challenging by the end, luckily they just unlock bonus content and are by no means required. If you want to unlock Super Sonic and beat the game's final boss you'll need to find the 7 chaos emeralds and play through a sort of Sonic CD style special stage by grabbing a giant ring. 

Sonic and Tails mimic their designs from Sonic 2.Sonic and Tails mimic their designs from Sonic 2.

Super Sonic Style

Graphically, Sonic and Tails are designed after their Sonic 2 sprites and Knuckles mimics his design from his debut game in Sonic 3. Their color is more detailed than they were in the games that inspired Mania even if they play nearly identically aside from some slight tweaks to jump height and speed. What's most impressive to me visually is the game's fantastic levels. The originals are faithfully recreated so well that I assume they're based on the original assets and these new levels, particularly Studiopolis and Mirage Saloon, are some of the prettiest in Sonic history. 

Green Hill Zone has never been better than it is in Sonic Mania.Green Hill Zone has never been better than it is in Sonic Mania.

Sonic Mania doesn't just rock the look and feel of a Sonic game but the sound is as top notch as you'd hope. The aforementioned Studiopolis stage has one of the best songs from a Sonic game, which is a series that even featured songs composed by Michael Jackson in Sonic 3. Every jump sounds just like it should and a boss fight with a character from Sonic CD even got a laugh out of me by using sound cues from the source material. And to see an homage to one of the best pieces of Sonic history, I'd suggest not pressing anything on the start screen to see an awesome intro video.

Final Thoughts

Sonic Mania is near indistinguishable from the 2D Sonic games of the 90's and that's certainly a compliment. If you didn't like Sonic games to begin with then you'll undoubtedly be disappointed but if you enjoyed Mania's source material then you couldn't help but smile through the 5-ish hours it'll take you the finish the game. For me, Sonic Mania stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Sonic 3 & Knuckles which was previously the high point of the franchise. 

Pros

  • Identical Feel
  • Great Style

Cons

  • Won't Convert Sonic Haters

Sonic Mania Game Rating:[RATING 5,game]

Sonic Mania Box ArtSonic Mania Box ArtCourtesy of Sega

Available Now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One!

Have Your Say!

What did you think of Sonic Mania? Which Sonic games are your favorite? Comment below!

 

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