26 years ago Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the Sega Genesis and went on to become one of gaming’s most beloved mascots. 14 years ago Sonic Heroes was released which most would argue was the beginning of the end for Sega’s once revered blue hedgehog. Sonic became synonymous with terrible gameplay and a shining example of how to destroy a franchise that was once loved by many. Almost to the point where one would think Sega heard about Duke Nukem Forever being a train wreck that took over a decade to develop and said hold my beer. Fast forward to August 2017, Christian Whitehead released a fan service rebuild and finally a true sequel to the original Genesis games and it is awesome!
Sonic Mania is throwback to everything we loved about everyone’s favorite hedgehog. The levels are original even when it comes to the remade levels. Perfect example is the first level, which is Green Hill Zone. The first minute or so feels like a spot on remake before turning into something entirely its own. It’s little touches like this that make Sonic Mania so enjoyable. There is plenty of twist, turns and loops abound. Make no mistake, Sonic Mania was released just a few weeks ago but this game could have easily been released during the Genesis era and would have fit right in. This is definitely an old school Sonic game at its very core and I love that Christian Whitehead was able to maintain this feeling throughout my time with it.
That being said Sonic Mania is not without its faults. Graphically it isn’t super pretty but that was done on purpose to emulate the Genesis so I can’t hold it against it. What I can hold it against it is that I encountered a lot of button response issues. I cannot begin to count the amount of times I died because my character just straight up would not move even though I pressed the button. I would have allowed a pass on this had the game actually been developed during the Genesis era, but it was not. I played the Nintendo Switch version of the game so I can possibly chalk it up to the known glitch effecting Switch users at this time. If you haven’t heard there is a definite lag from when you press the home or power button, like a good 10 seconds. This is something that can be fixed with an update so I won’t hold it against Sonic Mania too badly unless Sega refuses to address the issue. That all being said I can’t confirm if the PS4 or XB1 have the same issue. Here’s hoping they do not, it is the only thing that has taking away from my enjoyment of the title.
All in all Sonic Mania is everything you could ask for in a modern Sonic game. It only does a few things wrong but so many things right. Enough in fact that I can offer forgiveness for the button lag as long as it is address in an update. Enough in fact that I can offer forgiveness for 14 years of terrible Sonic games, it’s that good. Sonic Team needs to hand off the reigns to the fans more often, Christian Whitehead did an absolutely phenomenal job and I can definitely recommend this game to anyone who ever had any love at all for Sega’s original bad boy in blue. This is a true love letter to the fans and I would like to see more games take this kind of back to the drawing board approach. I don’t know what kind of Lazerus type techno sorcery Sega invoked here, but it paid off because they brought Sonic the Hedgehog back from the dead.
9.5 out of 10