Sonic Mania: The Best Platformer of 2017
When Reviewing Sonic Mania, my main goal was to try not to wear Nostalgia goggles – something I hope I succeeded in doing; it was VERY hard, but here we go. The majority of my experiences with the Sonic series have been good; my first video game ever was Sonic 1 for the genesis and Sonic 3 and Knuckles is one of my favorite games of all time, so it was difficult to manage an unbiased experience. Christian Whitehead developed the game, and he feels the same way I do; he played the original sonic games and loved them so much that he started making his own Sonic Games. Eventually, Christain got hired on at Sega to develope older Sonic games for modern devices like phones and Computers, and now he has made a traditional style Sonic game in the mainline series. All That being said, I can tell you that Sonic Mania is good on its own merits, from the level design to the tight and fluid controls; there isn’t much to dislike here, let alone hate.
The first thing you will notice when playing Sonic Mania, is that it brings back stages from old Sonic Games, I.E: “Green Hill Zone” (from Sonic 1), “Lava Reef Zone” (from Sonic 3), and “Stardust Speedway Zone” (from Sonic CD) to name a few. I was worried this would make for some boring moments or tired level design, but my worries were soon quelled as I found every old level had been re-designed with new mechanics and fun elements from some of my other favorite stages in the series. Every level is also accompanied by beautiful new renditions of old tunes, “Chemical Plant Zone” and “Hydrocity Zone” being some of my favorites. After playing through the first two zones, I was pleasantly surprised by a new level called “Studiopolis Zone”, which I can happily report is as incredible and as well done as the re-designed stages. I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t enjoy in Sonic Mania when it comes to level design. In fact, I would go as far as to say the level design in Sonic Mania is the best I’ve ever experienced. Every second of the game is a joy to play and there wasn’t a single time in my seven full runs of the game that I was bored or felt annoyed by “cheap” enemy placement or poorly designed spaces. The controls also compliment the level design in a way I wasn’t expecting; there are moments you need to slow down to make some skillful jumps, and I never once felt like I couldn’t control the characters in the way I wanted to. Overall, because of flawless level design and amazingly tight controls, I give Sonic Mania 5 Stars for gameplay.
The Story of Sonic Mania allows you to take either Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or some combination of the 3 to Angel Island where Dr. Robotnik has found a Crystal of sorts. When the player’s character arrives on the island, it is discovered that the crystal can take people through time and space. You then chase Robotnik through zones, old and new alike, to stop him from using the Crystal for evil purposes. There isn’t much to love here in the plot, but there also isn’t much to dislike. The story doesn’t tread new ground, and as far as other sonic games go, it passes. For having a basic and easy to understand plot, I give Sonic Mania 3 stars for story.
Sonic Mania‘s music is special. It feels built by love and admiration. From the opening video song entitled “Friends” to each individual level song, everything feels fun and catchy. I love it all. My favorite song is actually the announcement trailer song for the game. I love the feeling it gives out, an almost victorious vibe, like Sonic finally has won our hearts back. It feels good. It also sounds good; instead of using the old Sega Genesis sound chip, it uses modern day technology, so every track sounds distinct and gorgeous. For having amazing songs both old and new, I give Sonic Mania 5 stars for music.
Sonic is nothing incredible graphically. However, the art style of classic sonic has never looked better. With a beautiful range of colors and a HD 60 frames per second picture, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful Sonic game, especially in this classic style. On top of being super colorful and diverse in terms of locations, every animation for each character is smoothly executed to give the looks of classic with the feeling of modern day. It’s amazing to look at, especially when Sonic is flailing his arms on a ledge. Every character is simultaneously cute and cool to look at. One great example of this is when Tails goes from being cute when he crouches, to extremely cool when he uses his super ability. For being impressive and unique, with beautifully animated characters, I give Sonic Mania 4.5 out of 5 stars of Art Style.