Time to look at a modern game, with a very retro flare, even more so than Doom 2016. This is seen to many as a return to form for the Blue Blur who didn’t have as good a transition to 3d as his old rival Mario and whenever we got a good Sonic game, they would often rather than build on what worked in that game scrap it for some radical change that everyone ended up hating. So let’s look into this retro style new modern classic Sonic Mania……. and Knuckles.
Released last year (2017 for people in the future) on all platforms Sonic Mania is a brand new Sonic game set in the style of the classic Sega Genesis Sonic game, though mostly Sonic 3 and Knuckles. Rather than being made by the Sonic team, the people who made this game had previously worked on Sonic fan made games, and that helps explain why playing it feels like a love letter to the classic format.
Many of the levels are drawn from the earlier Sonic games. When this happens act one comes off as a lovingly made recreation of that original level, but then act 2 hits. This is where modern technology hits. The team didn’t just lazily hope nostalgia for the original would keep you drawn in with these levels. Act 2 will take the level and spin it in a whole new direction. You can set Oil Ocean from Sonic 2 on fire, just read that again, YOU can set Oil Ocean on fire.
When you start the game you can choose 3/4 different characters: Sonic with Tails, Sonic without Tails (hence the 3/4) Tails or Knuckles to play through the game (and thankfully like Sonic 3 there’s a save file) and take them through the 12 different zones. Fighting the evil Dr Eggman and his new minions the hard boiled heavies and stop the doctor with his evil plans for the mysterious phantom ruby (which then got used in the less well received Sonic Forces). As mentioned some of these levels are taken from the earlier Sonic games 1 2 3 and cd but there are also some brand new levels all with their own unique gimmicks plus as mentioned even the old levels end up brand new by the end, and are all great to play through.
The game also has plenty to unlock. As well as the standard secret stages (which this time is a race against a ufo and much better than that tube thing in Sonic 2) which gets you the chaos emeralds (you know the drill get 7 and beat the game as Sonic for the real final boss) and get your character the power to go super (yes even Tails) there is more than just that. If you go past a checkpoint with more than a set amount of rings you will open up a different kind of secret stage, that’s right the Blue Balls from Sonic 3 are back, but this time they get you special coins when you complete them, collect enough and crazy new modes are unlocked.
Sonic Mania truly does play as a loving letter to the earlier days of the franchise, but rather than be a slave to them or just use it to bite at peoples nostalgia it develops from it to make something that though is familiar is also fun and new…. and Knuckles.