Sonic Mania is a 2017 platforming game that was produced in commemoration of Sonic’s 25th anniversary and is available this month on PS NOW. Sonic Mania was a true return to form that many fans have been asking for and as a fan of 2D Sonic myself I was really excited when I saw this game was announced. Christian Whitehead was leading the project and his retro engine is perfect for Sonic.
Sonic Mania definitely has that retro feel of the classic titles and I absolutely love the aesthetic, the fluid 2D sprites, the level layering and the smooth frame rate. Sonic Mania was like a Sonic title we would have gotten on the Sega Saturn. They even released these animated shorts called Sonic Mania Adventures which was very entertaining. The story is pretty straightforward and takes place after the events of Sonic 3.
Sonic and Tales sense some strange energy on Angel Island and Eggman also gets word of this energy. He sends his Egg Robots to beat Sonic to the punch and they discover this gem called the Phantom Ruby which allows the robots to manipulate time and space and that is very similar to a previous Sonic title. Our heroes are sent to past zones to attempt to stop Eggman and his gang.
The story is pretty straightforward, basic and perfect for a 2D Sonic title. In terms of gameplay, it is what we know and love from the classic Sonic series. The physics are great, the high-speed platforming is fun, the elemental shields make a return and we also have special stages to obtain Chaos Emeralds. Sonic Mania took the best elements from each 2D Sonic classic title and applied them here. You also have the option to use classic moves like the Super Peel Out and Insta-Shield.
Sonic Mania also officially introduces the Drop Dash technique which allows Sonic to jump and land with a burst of speed which is pretty awesome. Special stages also make a return here and the stages are like a mix of previous games’ titles. You chase this UFO that is holding a Chaos Emerald while collecting rings and orbs. The rings allow you to stay in the stage longer and the orbs allow you to run much faster.
These special stages are fun and has the right amount of challenge. If you manage to get all 7 Chaos Emeralds you will have access to Super Sonic. These stages themselves are remixed and redesigned versions of previous zones. This is great for newcomers to the series but as someone who has played Sonic since the very beginning it would have been nice to see more original zones.
These new versions are fun but I will be okay if we never revisited some of these zones ever again. There are a few new zones in Sonic Mania and I truly believe those zones are the true highlights of the game. Studiopolis Zone was by far my favorite zone in the entire game and it’s a great addition to the 2D Sonic lineup and definitely a zone I look forward to playing each time. Press Garden zone is another great level and I love the second half of this zone.
Mirage Saloon is a fun desert level and this zone also brings back some forgotten Sonic characters from the handheld and arcade era and that was a nice touch. Titanic Monarch is the final level and my least favorite zone in the entire game. It drags on for far too long and the boss battles are annoying. If you get all the Chaos Emeralds you can fight the true last boss and get the best possible ending. Speaking of boss battles, this game has probably some of the most unique boss fights in 2D Sonic.
One of the most notable boss fights is the one in Chemical Plant where you face Eggman in a game of Puyo Puyo which is a call back to a Sega Genesis title called The Lean Bean Machine. Sonic Mania also has an expansion called Sonic Mania Encore DLC that allows players to play as Mighty and Ray, 2 characters that Sega seem to have forgotten about. Overall Sonic Mania is a love letter to 2D Sonic fans and has everything that made us fall in love with this blue hedgehog to begin with.
If you are a Sonic fan, I’m sure you’ve played this multiple times by now and for newcomers this is a great way to introduce yourself to the series. If you’ve never played a Sonic game, you should start here and maybe that would get you curious enough to try other games in the series. Sonic Mania is one of my favorite Sonic games ever and if you like platformers or just want to try a Sonic game like I said you should definitely play this game.
Sonic Mania has been permanently added to the PS NOW library.
*Requires an active PS NOW subscription to play this game.
Sonic Mania is a great 2D platformer with classic levels making a return and adding some brand new levels and challenge levels. Most levels are filled with Easter eggs and collectibles that will make old school fans smile. Sonic Mania brings with it the right amount of nostalgia and is very accessible to new players trying their first Sonic game.