Sonic is back, and this time, he’s in a game that doesn’t look half bad. 25 years after the original Sonic the Hedgehog made its debut on the Genesis console, Sega is returning to what made the series great, with a new game for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Sonic Mania is a new game, but the graphics and gameplay stay true to that original game all those years ago; it looks phenomenal.
The trailer promises “a new 2D adventure,” with all-new levels (or “zones” in Sonic world) as well as returns to old classics like a Green Hill-themed round. A new drop dash move slightly alters gameplay, by letting players hit the ground running after a jump. Sonic, Miles “Tails” Prowler and Knuckles the Echidna are all available as playable characters.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for the blue hedgehog. Sega struggled to keep the franchise fresh with the advent of 3D. Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 were warmly-received, but doomed by their debut on the ill-fated Dreamcast system. Sega quit the console business in 2001, less than three years after the Dreamcast’s launch, and Sega struggled to revive the magic.
Sonic Heroes in 2003, where three characters joined together as a team, got mixed reviews. Sega tried to re-animate the franchise in 2006 with Sonic the Hedgehog, an overly-dramatic reboot. Reviews were brutal. “This feels more like some hack job created by a bunch of Sega interns as opposed to a game from a competent development studio,” said Electronic Gaming Monthly, which gave it 4/10. Sonic Unleashed in 2008, which mixed 2D platforming with odd “Werehog” 3D levels, also failed to reverse Sega’s ailing fortunes.
That was until Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I in 2010, which got warmer reviews. It seemed Sega had finally learned that what many people want is a Sonic game that feels like their youth. Crazy, right?
Sonic Mania looks like it will take all this one step further. Rather than try to placate fans of the older games with 2D gameplay in a 3D world, the game goes all-in with Genesis-era graphics, gameplay and visuals. And why not?
Sonic Mania is set for launch in Spring 2017.