I have started Sonic Mania several times before, and yet for whatever reason have always stopped just short of the finish line, never truly being able to take it off of the backlog for good. Well today I decided to change that and sat down, restarted the game, and didn't get off the couch until it was finished, and let me tell ya, it was a damn good way to spend a few hours. I've never been a huge 2D Sonic fan, but Mania and it's genuinely great gameplay does a lot to bridge that gap. The momentum-based levels all feel really fun and fresh, and I think a large part of this is their insistence on using new ideas to change things up in every act. In every zone Act 1 plays out like the standard fair allowing you to get a feel for the level you're in and take in the environment's sights and sounds, while Act 2 turns all that you just learned on it's head someway and introduces new level mechanics and typically changes the background and remixes the music to make the level feel even more off the walls and fun to blast through. This approach to level design is genius and makes me not really dread any particular zone too much as I know it has the potential to go off in the next act if I'm not digging the initial vibe it's laying down. Of course there are a few areas I wasn't a huge fan of, more specifically towards the end of the game, I wasn't a big fan of the act 1 in Mirage Saloon where you're almost entirely on Tails' plane the whole time, Hydrocity felt like a step down from the original in Sonic 3, and Oil Ocean was a zone that was awful in it's original game and is still awful here, but the rest of the zones in the game are phenomenal and really fun to play through. My only other slight criticism here would be in the use of the lives system, something I feel is just kinda outdated at this point. I get that Mania is trying to replicate that classic Sonic feel but I feel like it could still do thta extrodinarily well without relying on such an outdated system like lives are. Maybe I'm just bad but 3 lives does not seem like it's enough for how easily you can get killed in this game if you're not careful, on top of that if you lose all these lives and get a game over you will restart at act 1 of whatever zone you're on. This specifically made me mad because towards the end of the game the harder boss fights would always be in the act 2's of each zone and if I couldn't beat the boss with the amount of lives I had left I would have to replay the whole zone over again despite being right there on the cusp of beating it which was just infuriating to me. Apart from these minor gripes though Sonic Mania is still an incredible game, one that looks, sounds and plays like the perfect 2D Sonic game and one that will be really hard to ever top. It just goes to show the great effects of what letting indie developers who are fans of your series making their own entry can do.

Reviewed on Jul 09, 2024

1 Comment

4 days ago

the lives system is definitely outdated, and they realised this when they removed it in anniversary mode in sonic origins, restarting the whole zone IS really frustrating, but im glad you still had a great time