The final days of the summer have arrived and even as an adult it still sad to realism that summer will be coming to an end. But that doesn’t mean it has to go out without one last whoa. Sonic one of gaming’s beloved mascot has a new game called Sonic Mania and since it’s release on August 15, 2017, I have found a new joy.
You can watch this joy on my YouTube Channel where I’ve broken my first playthrough into three parts. Throughout these broadcast you can hear my laughter, my cheers and my embarrassing singing to classic Sonic songs.
As mention before on this blog gaming for me has gotten more and more stale over the years. the racing genre is at a stand still, the shooters, can’t seem to find a formula that works, and platformers are struggling to find ground in this heavily marketed environment. The need for innovation has never been more desired although in this case that innovation is actual a return the ways of old when gaming was simple and video games were designed to entertain and inspire the players that played them.
This is the route that Sonic Mania has taken. Rather than ride the rail of both 2-D and 3-D like in Sonic Generations, Sonic Mania is sticky classic 2-D Sonic running fast in a re-imagined world of his older titles. Tails and Knuckles are here as well as with their own unique abilities that change how each level can be played. Robotnick is back and has also returned back to the ways of old where he turns animals into robots, steals the chaos emeralds, and attempts to rule the world. He presence along is most felt throughout each stage as he is also accompanied by 5 mysterious robot masters each with their own unique abilities and weaknesses.
What this game does well is maintains the balance between classic and modern which was something Sonic Generations struggled with. Each stage is broken into two acts with the act 1 being a return to the old school levels and act 2 being the modern remix with improved backgrounds, more unique level designs, and a twist to the boss battle at the end. Unlike Sonic Generates however these levels still feels like classic Sonic and are I believe are what original creators had envisioned but couldn’t make due to technology constraints. Act 2 of Chemical Plant is the perfect example of this with it’s new twist on the chemicals within the plant. Some when mixed will become spring like and bounce you across the plant, while some form a glue that hold you while you are carried around. Then there is what I’m calling the DNA lift where you jump into a pool for purple chemical and suddenly lifted to the next platform as chemical bond spiral around you like a DNA sting.
Indeed there is a real sense of joy when playing this game. A trip down memory lane with classic sonic music and sounds playing in the background, addicting level designs, and the joy of the fastest than life. The music for me is by far my favorite part of this game with many of the act 2 levels featuring a modern remixes of classic songs like Chemical Plant, Flying Battery, and Oil Ocean. Unlike Generations however these remixes are more of a tribute then a direct copy just with modern instruments. Of the three I mention, Oil Ocean I will argue is the best tribute as it adds a hip hop beat to the original and adds a second repeat of the bridge towards the end of the song.
However the game doesn’t just wow the fans with remastered classics it also has some new stages. Studiopolis and Mirage Deserts are my personal favorites. These levels show us what Sonic could be like in the modern console generation introducing new mechanics, interactive scenery, and re-imagined boss battles. Yet these levels still maintain the classic treat like loop the loops, wall springs, special stages, and hundreds of rings to collect.
The final stage in particular is a great example of the future of Sonic. Admittingly I hate this level as the electric orbs that one must navigate through to reach higher platforms, are tedious and lack of any noticeable controls to move Sonic through them. However, the level is well put together with act 2 being one gigantic puzzle and the final boss being a show down between Sonic, the robot masters, and Robotnick.
The opening intro sums the this game up perfectly. This game is about fun and action. There are three characters players can choose from each with their own unique style and mechanics that make each playthrough different. But above all else this cinematic coneys a laid back attitude throughout it’s length. It reminds me of the old Sonic cartoons when the material wasn’t taken so seriously. At one point Sonic actually throws his hand behind his head and relaxes while in midair. Everyone has a smile on their face even the villains and this game will have you smiling within the first five minutes.