Sega’s blue blur of fur is back, but is Sonic Mania the return to form we’ve been waiting for?
Sonic Mania arrives on console today with a some high expectations to meet. The last outright brilliant Sonic game was 2005’s Sonic Rush on Nintendo DS. Since then, the series has lurched from one direction to another, each time trying to reinvent itself, and each time floundering.
Developed by Sega of America, Sonic Mania takes a different approach, remixing a range of levels from the original Sega Genesis games – such as the iconic Green Hill Zone – with a number of new stages.
It also adds 60 frames per second gameplay, and the design sensibilities of some super-talented, super-fan developers, including Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, and PagodaWest’s Jared Kasl, Tom Fry, and Tee Lopes.
The good news is that, a few common criticisms aside, the game appears up to the task of restoring Sonic’s tarnished reputation. Here’s what the critics have had to say.
Sonic Mania – Critical Consensus
Andrew Webster, writing at The Verge, cuts straight to the chase by saying this is the Sonic game we’ve been waiting for:
During its best, most exciting moments, Sonic Maniaalmost feels like it’s playing itself. The hedgehog blazes through neon cityscapes, requiring your input at just the right time to avoid an enemy or obstacle and keep that momentum going. In some stages you’re spinning through a seemingly never-ending track of neon hamster tubing, in others you’re beamed around the level as Sonic is transformed into radio waves.
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, in his Eurogamer review, appreciates the collision of the old and new:
If new players will fall in love with the game’s sheer opulence and aesthetic quirkiness, the glory for a returning fan is to explore how the familiar has been rendered unfamiliar. One of Whitehead and co’s most inspired decisions is to enact a sort of creative dialogue between each Zone’s acts – the first serves to reintroduce a classic setup with a few additional flourishes, while the second spins the concept out in a beautifully flamboyant direction.
IGN‘s Heidi Klump says that Sonic Mania should appeal to an audience beyond longtime fans:
It truly is the classic throwback longtime series fans have been clamoring for, but there’s plenty to love here even if you didn’t grow up with a Genesis. Sonic Mania is a stellar example of a retro revival done right.
In Polygon‘s review, Arthur Gies strikes slightly more cautionary note, finding some issues with control:
Sonic Mania is maybe too faithful. Sonic & co. are capable of incredible speed, it’s true, but there’s a sluggishness as they work their way toward it. It’s not just stopping that takes a long time, which, hey, at least that makes sense. There’s a windup to just about everything, from movement to jumping.
Sam Machkovech, writing at Ars Technica, found his enthusiasm slightly dampened by a few technical bugs:
I’m confident in declaring that Sonic Mania comes packed with enough delicious, best-in-series goodness for any self-proclaimed Sonic fan to buy it immediately, with the caveat of a few bugs in the near term.
The Twitter response from players who already have their paws on the game has also been positive.
Sonic Mania is everything I hoped it would be. Amazing!
— Son of a Glitch (@AStartShow) August 15, 2017
So there you have it.
Sonic Mania is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The PC release has been pushed back to August 29th, 2017.