Review: Sonic Mania


What’s up my roundtable, my name is Excaliber596 and I have something shameful to admit to the gaming community. I love the Sonic the Hedgehog games. I know, I know, Sonic is pretty much required on the internet only if you desire vast quantities of extremely hateful comments, high pitched screaming, and nothing but the phrase “Gotta Go Fast” for the next millennia and a half, but I can’t help it. Sonic Adventure 2 was one of my favorite games in my childhood and I enjoyed alot of the games since, barring just a few little blunders on SEGA’s part. Sonic O-Why, Sonic and the Secret Fanbase, Sonic Lost Interest, etc. However, Sonic fans like me and many others have finally found our safe space. Enter: Sonic Mania. Sonic Mania is a spectacular harkening back to the classic 2D-era of Sonic the Hedgehog made, as the developers say, By the Mania, For the Mania.

First of all, Sonic Mania looks absolutely stunning on the Nintendo Switch. The different zones, enemy, and character sprites have so much color and life to them that I feel like it should be named Sonic Colors (ba dum tss). Whether you’re zooming through the bright new zones like Press Garden or the revamped zones like Green Hill Zone (which make up a small majority of the game), you’re treated to levels of detailed and pleasing sights in the backgrounds beyond what the classics were able to even pull off. Like how Green Hill Zone Act 2 is in a beautiful cave or that Press Garden has actual newspaper headlines being printed in the background. Sonic and friends also have new and fluid animations that give them much more personality and the cutscenes between levels are very satisfying to watch.

Next up is the music and Holy Hedgehogs is this music fantastic. The Sonic Mania soundtrack has some of the best music that I’ve ever heard in a Sonic game, and that’s saying something as Sonic games have some of my favorite music in my gaming career. There’s a reason that Green Hill Zone and City Escape are some of the most recognised songs in gaming history (for better or for worse). When Studiopolis Zone was shown before the release of the game, I actually rewinded the video at least 100 times just to bob my head to the music of and it is just as good in the final version. There’s also the revamped Chemical Plant Zone, The Super Sonic theme, the main theme of the game, and so many more that deserve their places as some of my favorite songs in the entire franchise.

Finally, let’s talk gameplay. First of all, there are three different characters to play as in Sonic Mania. Each character has a similar and manageable weight, the classic Spin-Dash, and the potential to move even faster than the camera can track, a feeling which is nothing but intense and satisfying and each stage uses different mechanics that are designed to give you a fun time getting to those speeds. The bubbles of Chemical Plant, the bouncing springs of Studiopolis, and the freezing blocks of Press Garden all create a unique and memorable experiences. Sonic and friends also have their own signature abilities and playstyles. Sonic is obviously focused more on speeding through levels with the new drop-dash mechanic faster than a chili dog through my digestive track, Tails can break levels by flying through them like a chili dog through my digestive track, and Knuckles is more focused on exploration by climbing and gliding through objects like a chili dog through my digestive track (Me and chili dogs don’t work too well together). My only real complaints about the gameplay is that one of the bosses, I felt, were a little bit broken in their difficulty for where they were placed into the game and that although usable, Sonic’s new Drop Dash attack didn’t really have much of a purpose that the Spin-dash didn’t already accomplish. However, these problems are never much to think about and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game in the slightest.

Another aspect of Sonic Mania that I thoroughly enjoy is the Special Stages. There are two that are available at different times. Going through a checkpoint and jumping above it takes you to the Blue Sphere game from Sonic 3 which is a nice nostalgic touch and will give you great rewards for completing them, like the Insta-Shield from Sonic 2, a couple of mini games, and some interesting unlockables. However, actually completing them is easily the most challenging part of this entire game. The other special stage to play, and my personal favorite of the two, is the UFO stages. Going through hidden giant rings in every stage gives you the opportunity to collect one of the seven chaos emeralds by chasing a UFO within a time limit that you can extend by collecting rings. You can also increase your speed by collecting these blue orbs to help catch up to the UFO, and although you’re gonna be running into hazards and falling off of edges more times then my sanity whenever I wake up in the morning, It’s absolutely worth your time as collecting all seven gems will allow the character you’re playing as to transform into a super version of themselves, which makes you faster and invincible as long as you continue to collect rings.

Sonic Mania is a fantastic title that I would recommend to any fan of the Blue Blur, whether you’re a fan of the 2D or the 3D games. The stages are beautiful, the characters are wonderful, the gameplay is excellent, it’s charming, fun, exciting, and will keep you glued to your seat for days, But the game’s choice of mechanics, somewhat confusing bosses, and very slight lack of new stages to add to the sonic series keeps it just below perfection. However, none of these problems really impact the game too much, and should never be a reason not to experience. Thus, Excaliber596 gives this game a