SONIC MANIA – NINTENDO SWITCH REVIEW and Knuckles
Let’s cut to the chase, Sonic Mania is the true Sega Saturn sequel to Sonic 3 and Knuckles we never received. Made by big names in the Sonic fan community this game is a testament to why we love the hedgehog in the first place. Christian Whitehead definitely knows what he’s doing, and thanks to Head Canon, Tee Lopes, and PadogaWest Games, we have something that will be remembered just as fondly as the classics.
Dr. Robotnik has discovered a gem called “the Phantom Ruby” on Angel Island and is using it to power up his robots and fling Sonic through time. Sonic Tails and Knuckles will have to go through twelve zones old to chase down this Egg-shaped Man and foil his dastardly deeds. However, Sonic will need to power of the chaos emeralds to truly stop him, and save the world.
The story is told similarly to Sonic 3 and Knuckles where there are small animated scenes between stages that transition Sonic to the next Zone. These are pretty entertaining and beautifully animated, it’s nice to see the development team went the extra mile to make the game’s world feel interconnected, rather than separated by loading screens.
Christian Whitehead seemed to be mostly inspired by Sonic 3 and Knuckles, but there is a lot of love for the game that got him where he is today; Sonic CD. The game’s story involving little planet, the concept of the special stages, and even the style of the soundtrack all feels like they originated from Sonic CD. There are more Zones that call back to Sonic CD than even the first entry in the franchise. All this passion really comes out in the game in small details you may miss because you sped by, but the fact they are there just shows how much this team as a whole cared.
The most unfortunate aspect of Sonic Mania is despite that the older levels have a lot of new elements to them, they still felt too familiar. It really doesn’t help that Green Hill Zone has been in almost every Sonic game in the last seven years. Outside of that, they’re still well-designed and fun to explore and speed through. The newer levels, however, are fantastic and are up there with some of the best levels in the franchise history. They bring new tropes and design elements to the table and are designed beautifully. Studiopolis boasts a phenomenal soundtrack, and a great mixture of fast paced gameplay, exploration, and platforming. In fact, most Zones in the game are designed with this philosophy. There are a couple of exceptions, such as Stardust Speed way, which is more speed than platforming or exploration, but due to the thrill ride nature of the Zone I can’t help but enjoy it. Not only that, three separate playthroughs of the game with each of the playable characters can feel unique due to their own abilities. With tails, it might be easier to find the special stage rings since he can fly. This goes for knuckles as well who can glide, and climb walls. Though finding those special stages won’t be easy as they are cleverly hidden, and getting the chaos emeralds will be even harder due to the stages themselves. The special stages involve chasing down a UFO holding a chaos emerald. Problem is the collision detection is horrendous and the controls are very slippery. On top of that, you don’t get a second chance. Unless you close the game, restarting the act won’t respawn the special stage ring.
Mentioned before, the soundtrack feels like it came from Sonic CD, and well it’s just as good if not better. The remixed tracks are always welcome, but as I said before the new songs shine through. Mirage saloon act 2 is a master piece, and the remix of Stardust speed way used for act 1 is very relaxing. The developers could have made music that closely resembled what the Sega Genesis could do, but they chose to go above and beyond.
Over all, Sonic Mania feels like a true Sonic 4, to Sonic 3 and Knuckles. I wish there was more new content than old, but what they achieved was fantastic. The game is a match made in heaven for switch as this type of game is perfect portable play. Some players are having issues with the switch version. Such as the home button not responding properly, and even a soft locking glitch when it comes to the special stages. None of these occurred during the review process. For 20 USD you are getting a satisfying and unforgettable experience.
+Classic gameplay perfected
–Not enough new