For the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog SEGA at Comic-Con announced its latest attempt to revive its mascot franchise. While recognizing that we Sonic fans are going through the Sonic Cycle again, we also have to admit that Sonic Mania is probably the company’s most earnest and promising attempt yet. We want to be excited, but hate ourselves for getting wrapped up in this mess again.
I’ve seen the hype so many are displaying for Sonic Mania and am actually disappointed in myself that I can’t feel quite the same way. I already explained why I still haven’t 100 percent written off Sonic after all these years. I still buy the Archie comic. But, something in the back of my mind is still telling me “SEGA will find a way to ruin this.”
And this really does look like the best attempt yet to at least start to repair Sonic’s image and recapture some of what the fans liked during the 90’s, even compared to the ill-received Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which tried to revive the side-scrolling gameplay to middling results. Mania is being managed by the hands that gave us the highly-praised mobile ports of the original Sonic and Sonic 2, among others. It looks more like old Sonic than anything SEGA has made in decades.
Yes, it’s also sort of a fancy fan game — a ROM hack with official backing from the publisher and an actual production budget. From what we know it’s actually going to remix a lot of assets from the Genesis games, but the trailer shows a lot of new content too.
What I like about Mania is that it seems to be going for a slight upgrade over Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic CD — a sort of answer to the question of what would Sonic look like if it had simply kept building on that old Genesis design. The new graphics look either as good as the best of the Genesis and Sega CD, or a bit better. Sonic’s character sprite is all-new and has some new, sleeker animations if you pay close enough attention to the debut trailer. The title screen alone really shows off a lot of this feeling: it shows that classic 90’s “tude” in a new way and looks like another Genesis sequel.
At the very least Mania will allow me to ignore that other “Project 2017” which basically looks like “Sonic Generations 2.” I actually still haven’t gotten around to cracking open my copy of Generations though, so maybe I’ll find out that wasn’t a bad game and can have some hopes for the follow-up. Still, when these things actually launch, I’m probably gonna wait a bit. The Sonic Cycle has taught me too often for me not to.
- 25 minutes of new Ghost Song gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc03CKJQGdQ&feature=youtu.be
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