I was not a “Sonic the Hedgehog” fan as a kid. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the speedy platformer, it was just something I never got many chances to play. I grew up on Nintendo’s platforms, playing “Mario” and “Metroid” and the like until I couldn’t stand looking at a screen any longer. Sega was a company whose games I only really got to play a good while after the death of their hardware business. There was a Sega Genesis for the older kids in the back of the Tae Kwon Do place I went to when I was younger, and there I got to see “Sonic” in action a few times. Eventually, I played a handful of titles in the series such as “Sonic Advance” on the GameBoy Advance and though I enjoyed them well enough, they didn’t leave much of a mark.
Unfortunately, the most experience I have with “Sonic” comes in the form of hilariously bad, broken 3D console outings such as “Shadow the Hedgehog” and the infamously painful “Sonic ’06.” My friends and I have a several summers strong tradition of finding the worst of the 3D “Sonic” games and playing through them to completion, for a few laughs and nearly broken controllers. So, approaching the newly released “Sonic Mania,” this was my background with the series. No nostalgia glasses here.
Despite a lack of experience with the proper, “good” games in the series, and despite my extensive (painfully so, I must add) time with the “crap” ones, I absolutely adore “Sonic Mania.” No nostalgia required.
It exudes a colorful charm that has been absent from the series in past entries, immediately leaping off the screen with gorgeous spritework and expert animation. This is a game put together by fans with the blessing of Sonic Team and Sega, and it clearly shows. There is a loving craftsmanship on display that presents the classic gameplay of the 1990s “Sonic” outings, with new level of polish that avoids feeling antiquated in the modern gaming climate.
Sonic and friends move in such a way that feels fantastic to control no matter what speed you’re going, and exploring the huge, gorgeously designed stages is an absolute blast from start to finish. It’s tight both in presentation and gameplay, a functionality both technically impressive and joyous in its motions.
Though this is a game that revisits the classic style of the series it does not shy away from creativity. There are so many examples of thoughtful designs whether it be in a boss fight such as one where the fight is literally a round of the puzzle game “Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine” (basically the Japanese puzzler “Puyo Puyo” reskinned with “Sonic” themes), or the many different methods of stage traversal like, one of my personal favorites, the television broadcast beams in the Studiopolis Zone.
For only about $20.00 gamers are treated to what is essentially a sequel to the classic, original “Sonic” series of old. A game that is rife with features meant to please old-school fans while still courting newcomers. I’ve been playing it nonstop these past few days while sick and off of work, and you can bet I’ll be playing it even more after this. Sega’s “Blue Blur” is back.