Sonic Mania Xbox One Review

Sonic Mania is a revival of this retro star at this best

By Grayshadow, Posted 18 Aug 2017

Sonic has had a fickle history with trying to find a steady foundation with modern audiences. With Project Needlemouse attempting to mix together 2D and 3D with mediocre results and the release of Sonic Boom on Wii U souring the franchise for many. Sonic Mania SEGA brings the Blue Blur back to his roots, 2D side-scrolling action from the SEGA Genesis era. With a combination of old and new stages, SEGA proves that great gameplay can endure the passage of time and deliver a fantastic experience.

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are back to fight against Dr. Robotnik and his robotic army by running, jumping, spin-dashing, flying, and gliding through 12 zones. The evil-mastermind is using the Chaos Emeralds to alter time, forcing Sonic and his friends to relive critical points in his history from different perspectives.

You can pick any of the 3 characters and each stage has routes tailored to their specific abilities. Knuckles can glide and climb and Tails can fly. Sonic doesn’t have any abilities that stand out but speeding through stages as Sonic was much more entertaining than any of the other 2 characters. You can save multiple files with different characters, allowing you to play with any character at any time and swap between adventures.

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Returning classics such as Green Hill Zone, Lara Reef Zone, Chemical Plant has been refined with brand new architecture. They start off similar to the original levels but quickly become their own levels with new routes, dangers, and paths to use. New areas such as Mirage Saloon give Sonic Mania its own identity. Each zone is colorful and creative, taking advantage of each of the playable characters' abilities.

Each zone is beautiful, packed with dazzling visual flourishes, distinct art styles, and vibrant colors. While the developers have remained loyal to the 2D pixel art everything has been detailed to give the game a modern feel. Coupled with a soundtrack that ranges from remixes from old classics to those unique to Sonic Mania and each stage felt like a playground.

The developers took into account every crucial element that went into making Sonic Mania not only fun and engaging for newcomers but challenging enough for veterans. Those seeking to complete each stage as quickly as possible will have to memorize every hidden path and hazard. However, even with the entire stage plotted out players will need precise control and mastery of Sonic’s new drop dash. It was bewildering that Sega included the Sonic CD speed-up ability and Sonic 3’s shield only in a mode that doesn’t save your progress. Sonic should have access to all his techniques.

Each zone ends with a boss battle, some of them are remodeled versions of classic and others unique to Mania. Each one required a specific strategy to defeat, sometimes requiring you to think outside the box. Without spoiling anything one boss encounter was truly shocking and will delight hardcore fans.

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After completing the game there are numerous hidden special levels to conquer and earn Chaos Emeralds. In order to gain Sonic Mania’s true ending players will need to collect all 7, similar to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. The bonus stages are modeled after Sonic CD and Sonic R. Players must catch up to a UFO before time, replenishing time by collecting rings and increasing their speed using blue orbs. The issue is that the player drifts across the floor regardless of their speed, making you glide across the floor.  

This doesn’t mean that Sonic Mania isn’t without issue. Sonic Mania is majority a collection of everything from the retro age of Sonic. This means if there was a specific element you didn’t like about the original Sonic the Hedgehog games it’s here. This can vary drastically depending on taste but thankfully Sonic Mania doesn’t attempt to repeat the same concept over and over again.

It’s rejuvenating, I almost forgot what made Sonic great and Sonic Mania reminded me why the franchise was such as hit. What was old has become new, showing that Sonic can deliver a thrilling adventure without gimmicks such as werewolves and fishing mini-games. Instead, Sonic Mania is a revival of this retro star at this best, and I hope SEGA makes more.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Sonic Mania

90/100

Platform(s):
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): SEGA, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, and PagodaWest Games
Genres: Action-Adventure
Themes: Retro
Release Date: 2017

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