Sonic Ma­nia

Gotta go fast in this blast from the past

Games Master - - Contents -

How come Tails and Knuck­les are named af­ter body parts, but Sonic isn’t? He should be Feet The Hedge­hog.

When Sonic the Hedge­hog burst onto the gam­ing scene back in the early ’90s he was a fast and fu­ri­ous breath of fresh air. Rid­ing the spiked shoul­ders of its blue hedge­hog, Sega fought back against Nin­tendo’s mo­nop­oly and earned a place among the gam­ing elite. Un­for­tu­nately, Sonic hasn’t ex­actly aged well. Over the years the lit­tle blue hedge­hog-that-could has been through a bit of an iden­tity cri­sis. His 2D games, like Sonic 4, missed the mark, and his 3D ex­cur­sions are a mixed bag rang­ing from atro­cious to just about pass­able. Sonic Ma­nia seems at first to rep­re­sent Sega fi­nally tak­ing fan feed­back to heart, craft­ing a game that’s true to the se­ries’ roots, but up­dated for a mod­ern era. The re­al­ity is a bit more nu­anced than that.

What it re­ally feels like is a great­est hits mon­tage, with a few new tracks thrown in to tide you over. The game opens with the iconic Green Hill Zone from the orig­i­nal Sonic game, but this time you’ve got Tails right be­hind you like in Sonic 2 and 3. From there you take on Doc­tor Eg­gman in a se­ries of re-imag­ined boss fights across a col­lec­tion of new and up­dated zones. We’ll try to spoil as lit­tle as pos­si­ble, be­cause there’s noth­ing like re­dis­cov­er­ing a favourite while play­ing, but you’ll recog­nise the likes of the Chem­i­cal Plant Zone from Sonic 2, and Star­dust Speed­way from Sonic CD. There are also a hand­ful of brand-new zones that have never been seen be­fore.

In the zones

In ad­di­tion to the core ‘Ma­nia mode’ game­play that has you trav­el­ling through each zone one af­ter another in the clas­sic Sonic style, there’s also Time At­tack and Com­pe­ti­tion. The for­mer’s ex­actly as you’d ex­pect: you can pick any zone that you’ve com­pleted and play through it as ei­ther Sonic, Tails, or Knuck­les to get the best pos­si­ble time and score. Com­pe­ti­tion mode, on the other hand, works just like it did in Sonic 2, pit­ting two play­ers against each other on the same level at the same time in a race to the end. You can also play co-op­er­a­tively in Ma­nia mode, but all mul­ti­player is lo­cal-only, so you won’t be tak­ing on or palling around with strangers on­line. It’s dis­ap­point­ing, but more au­then­ti­cally retro, we sup­pose…

Jump physics feel in­cred­i­bly ac­cu­rate, the sense of speed – ab­so­lutely cru­cial in a Sonic game – is ad­mirably cap­tured, and both the remixed and new level designs re­ally shine through as in­ven­tive and unique. In many ways, the clas­sic stages still feel ahead of their time a whole 25 years af­ter we first saw them, and all of the new zones fit right in with­out a hitch – per­fectly com­ple­ment­ing the orig­i­nals.

The art of the videogame re­make is a del­i­cate and care­ful bal­ance. On the one hand you want to ap­peal to the fans’ sense of nos­tal­gia as you chan­nel the core of what made some­thing good in the first place. But on the other hand you want to of­fer some­thing fresh and orig­i­nal so that con­sumers don’t feel like they’re re­buy­ing some­thing they’ve al­ready played. Sonic Ma­nia doesn’t stray too far from its roots, but does plenty at a great price point to keep the ra­bid fans of speedy blue hedge­hogs happy, and to hook in peo­ple who’ve never played a Sonic game in their lives.

“feels like a great­est hits mon­tage with a few new tracks thrown in to tide you over”

The CRT Fil­ter op­tion makes it look like you’re play­ing on an old-fash­ioned telly, for the real nos­tal­gia nuts out there.

For­mat Switch, PS4 (re­viewed), XO, PC Pub­lisher Sega Developer

Head­can­non, Pago­daWest Games ETA Out now Play­ers 1-2

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