Firstly let me start by saying SEGA isnt as bad a company as we make them out to be, sure they have made dumb decisions in the past but I bet there isnt a single person who can look back at their life and say that every choice they made was perfect. Which is not to say that when it comes to Sonic SEGA hasn’t repeatedly missed the mark because they have and its been evident to almost everyone.
Though there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, It seems as though someone shoved everything that made the classics, ‘the classics’ and added an expansion to mordernize the entire package. Sonic Mania is a return to form that was much needed in the time where the blue blurr’s future looked shaky at best.
Firstly, It brings back that adorable and poppy sprite work that made the original games so timeless, because 3D graphics will continue to evolve and become more realistic but good, detailed sprite work can always be appreciated. In addition, this time around the animations are amazingly well done, Sonic’s head tilting up, being on the edge of a ledge or simply idling for long enough all have animations with astounding amounts of detail. even boss and enemy animations have been given extra care.
Though animations are not the only thing that improved, The levels are the other thing that seemed to be vastly superior to the original, you know how some of the sonic games struggled between letting you enjoy the speed and hitting you with tight platforming? so much so that it felt like the game punished you for going fast? That is exactly the problem that the devs remedied this time, by incorporating level design that isn’t always going to let you roll max speed but will not punish you for speeding, this is achieved by having clearer indicators of when there is a slower section approaching and the level being designed to either halting you or slowing you down so that you can approach the platforming section with more than half a second to process all the visual information.
All in all, Sonic Mania begins what is a much needed back to basics strategy by the Sonic team and that is because for much of its brand’s lifetime Sonic has tried to capitalize on trends and experiment with its formula. Think of it this way, did Mario ever try to incorporate gun totting leather jacket wearing plumbers and electricians? Did Donkey Kong ever have a silverback gorrila who came from the future? The point is that SEGA was too afraid to let sonic be what it was, a solid platformer with cartoonist aesthetics. They feared that their branding was too kiddy and it would repel other gamers, the effort to evolve with your consumer is positive and appreciated but understanding your own products and the desire of the consumer needs to be the priority. Though despite all of their straight up fuck ups, it seems that they are trying to reel it all back in.
Sonic has a long road ahead if they want to regain their foothold and reputation that it once enjoyed within the industry but “Sonic Mania” is definitely a step in the right direction.
Here’s to hoping that the blue blurr will be back with more.