Sonic Mania has been billed as a faithful recreation of the earlier Sega Genesis/Mega Drive era Sonic Games. The wife unit considers that era of games to be the best and pretty much anything past that era and a tiny bit of early PS1 games to be dead to her. I personally could think of no harsher critic to throw this poor little game to, someone whose love for that Sonic era is unquenchable. Her cynicism towards new Sonic games was strong, I feared for it.
I nervously supplied the good lady with the PS4 Version and hoped she’d enjoy it.
“OMG I’m in my happy place right now!?”
I sat shocked as this was indeed high praise from the wife unit. I watched her play and to quote her “It’s like on Sonic on Steroids”
You see, Sonic Mania is to be absolutely praised for its faithfulness to the Mega Drive era, it helps that the game’s plot is essentially a “time travel” plot and includes 8 reworked zones from past games. For example, the starting zone is Green Hill Zone, whose rolling hills are familiar to any Sonic fan. The opening part of the level is almost identical to the original game but then twists into something new yet recognisable.
There are 12 zones in total to best, which including the 8 reworked zones gives us 4 new original zones. Each zone itself is split into 2 acts,which is so far so Sonic, however our experience so far is that every act ends with a boss fight.The only complaint that I have is that while some of the boss fights are inspired others some seem a little… janky. I’ve probably been spoilt by all this modern gaming and Sonic kicking my backside was a little unexpected. General feedback on it however does suggest that it is harder than the originals, so maybe it’s not just me.
The game feels very much like a love letter to those earlier games which makes sense when you realise that development was led by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead who was previously involved in creating fan versions of the Sonic the Hedgehog games. Games that Sega themselves issued a takedown on via Cease and Desist, but someone at Sega must have seen the labour of love which eventually led to this collaboration with Sega, Headcannon and Pagodawest. The game has plenty of new tricks up it’s sleeve but feels similar enough to win that nostalgic vote.
Price wise I feel it’s been placed beautifully, which at the time of writing was £15.99 on PS4/Xbox One and £14.99 on the (delayed) PC version. It’s well within that nostalgic impulse purchase zone and scored me some fantastic husband points.
So if you enjoyed Sonic, I can happily recommend you get on that nostalgia train. Non-sonic fans probably won’t enjoy it to the same level but it stands as a testament of how much love for a game can reinvigorate it.