Sega brings Sonic back to his classic 2D sidescrolling roots, taking direct inspiration from the 16-bit games that originally propelled Sonic and friends to ultimate fame. Sonic Mania is proof that no matter how much time passes, great gameplay is always in style. I remember playing sonic as a kid and the memories came flooding back.
Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are back to again fight the Eggman’s forces the best way they know how: running, jumping, flying, and gliding their way to victory across the twelve zones in the game. You get to see classic zones from the Megadrive era of Sonic games, from the Chemical Plant tp Lava Reef. This is alongside all-new areas like Studiopolis and Mirage Saloon. These new zones are really impressive: the theming and level design in is colourful and creative, and I was eager to run around and explore, finding all sorts of challenges.
The older zones have been ramped up and are now packed with plenty of new tricks. They’re bigger, more elaborate, and filled with traps and gimmicks both old and new. Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant Zone has always been a fun romp filled with high-speed tunnels and ramps, but they added the addition of chemical jelly goop that bounces you around and lets you cling to walls, it feels fresh and fun in a whole new way. It feels like a whole new retro sonic experience.
The reworked Sonic stages look more beautiful than ever, packed with vibrant colour and dazzling visual, while the new zones’ creative style meshes perfectly with the 2D pixel art of classic Sonic. Everything, down to the smallest of background elements, is more detailed and features more movement than ever before. Eggman’s enemies new “hard-boiled heavies” are depicted with lots of quirky personalities to them, making them interesting and unique villains. I know not every new game or new throwback game has not always been welcome for Sonic.
It truly is the classic throwback longtime series fans have been clamouring for, but there’s plenty to love here even if you didn’t grow up with a Mega Drive. Sonic Mania is a stellar example of a retro revival done right.