Sonic Mania is a retro 2D designed game of the original Sonic The Hedgehog series. It has been updated with original levels and the ability to play as Tails and Knuckles throughout the game.
Sonic at its core is a 2D platformer. Sega’s mascot from the 90’s is all about collecting rings and getting to the end of each level within a zone; after a few levels you fight a boss and go from there… rinse, wash, repeat. The Game Visuals are surprisingly done well, with a retro look and feel to them. All the levels look like they were taken from the Sega Genesis cartridges and the graphics still hold up 25 years later. The graphics are very clear to see and with little or no distortion to the screen itself. From the enemies to Sonic and the background, the colors are vibrant and everything is easy to see on the screen. There is no colorblind mode to the game, but the game’s graphics are done well enough so that one isn’t needed. In our play-testing we did not see anything that would be offensive to any gamer; in Sonic’s “death” animation, Sonic’s eyes will be more pronounced, but that’s it. There is little to no violence to the game. The in-game Audio is done very well, and just like the graphics, it is done with the retro feel. Everything from jumping to the background noises from the original titles are back, and the background music is done very well with catchy tunes that will remind you of how the original games were. The game does support surround sound and sounds well in the headphones. During our playtesting and special needs testing, we did not encounter any audio issues that would be offensive to any gamer. We felt that playing the game with a headset was a more enjoyable way to hear the game’s soundtrack, but as always, we advise caution with extended usage of a gaming headset. The Controls for the game are very simple and easy to pick up and play. With the D-Pad used to control Sonic (We recommend using the D-Pad vs analog stick as the game was made during the digital era) and a jump button, the game has a feel of retro controls. This control setting is fine for those who have played the original games (we did encounter some issues with the controls but that will be covered in our Family Friendly Section). The game is designed to be very pick up and play friendly, and with learning some of the basic moves that each character does, it is a very easy control setup to have. The game does not need any special controller, however for PC gamers we highly recommend a controller (Xbox One or 360) to use when playing Sonic Mania. In our playtesting we did run into some issues with the controller and response times, but this was a minimum once our family gamers got used to the controls.
“Sonic Mania takes the nostalgia of the old Sonic Games, adds more levels and more replay value, but cheap deaths and controller issues kept it from being a great game”
Depending on the type of gamer that you are or have in your gaming family, Sonic Mania can be either a hit or a miss. With Sonic Mania being redesigned to be retro gameplay for the modern console, it may or may not be fun for your gamer. During our play testing we saw some cheap deaths happen to our game testers, and as it is a retro game, some of the boss battles were difficult to understand for some younger gamers and they got frustrated with the game. Also, with our special needs gamers, some got frustrated with the game and its platforming as well as cheap deaths that were happening. This caused our special needs gamers to stop playing the game and just go onto another title. With our older gamers, especially those who are fans of the series, really liked the game (including myself) but I too also notice that there were some points of the game that were a little buggy, and that again cheap deaths and jumps were creeping their way back to haunt the game. This made the game somewhat unenjoyable, but again, this was different for each gamer. All in all, unless your gamer is a hard-core Sonic the Hedgehog fan, retro gamer or fan of old school platformers, it is better to get a demo of the game and try it out for yourself. With the frustration that we saw from our gaming family during the play-testing, it would be hard to recommend this game for a wider gaming audience. Also, as the game is for the more modern consoles, using the analog stick to control the game was very hit and miss – something that surprised us all here, as the game could have had tighter controls for gamers using the analog sticks. During our play-testing we saw a lot of jumps missed and other controller issues when using the sticks. We had to go back to using the D-Pad for the game, which made it harder to get used to for some of our gamers.
Sonic Mania may be a great retro revival for retro gamers out there, but with cheap deaths, some coding and controller issues and repetitive game play, the blue bomber is only for the die hard fans out there.
Be sure to listen to our podcast about our real thoughts on Sonic Mania!