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Monday, July 25, 2016

Thoughts on Sonic Mania Reveal

Let's get the bad out of the way first. SEGA's Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary live stream event was an audio atrocity both for those at the event and for those that watched the live stream from home. The best part of the whole ordeal was undoubtedly the reveal of the new Sonic game, Sonic Mania.

When I saw Sonic's classic era, light blue sprite zipping through 2D zones in glorious HD at 60 FPS, my inner child was running wild. Sonic popped out of that logo, wagging his finger and I felt like I was 12 again. I'm certain many fans felt the same because with the boom of retro inspired games, this is what a lot of Sonic fans have wanted. Sonic Mania looks and sounds like a Genesis game but obviously running on much more powerful hardware. What's more, Christian Whitehead has a hand in the game's development. If you're unfamiliar with him, he's the guy that worked on the iOS/Android versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 1-2 and Sonic CD, which are all highly competent enhanced versions of the original games.

Upon exploring further, its clear that this
isn't your daddy's Green Hill Zone.

While I am very excited about Sonic Mania, the game's reveal has once again resurrected a debate that, quite frankly, never should have been a thing to begin with: Sonic classic era design vs. Sonic modern era design.

Back when Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I was revealed, complaints begin to pile up, among them being the physics not being like they were in the Genesis games and of course, Sonic's very design. For some reason a portion of the Sonic fanbase thought that because Sonic 4 was a 2D Sonic console game, Sonic's design ought to go back to his Genesis days. Would that have made Sonic 4 Episode I or Episode II any better? Of course it would't. Fans would still complain about the physics not being exactly as they remember and would have called the game garbage. Likewise, Sonic Mania could have used a Sonic modern era design and still run as smooth as it looks to be running and the game wouldn't be any worse for ware. It doesn't matter which design era SEGA chooses to go with because it will have no baring whatsoever on the actual gameplay. I can see why so many older fans would be attached to Sonic's classic design. We grew up playing Sonic when he was shorter and had a pot belly. I really like Sonic's classic design, but I also dig his modern look. The green eyes are a great compliment to his darker blue color. Both Sonic designs have starred in great games as well as awful games. It's just that, lots of Sonic fans that prefer his classic look suffer from a horrible case of selective memory when it comes to realizing that not all of classic era Sonic games were masterpieces.

Breaking windows, Sonic is looking to get
his BAMF card.

One thing that does bother me from what I've seen on Sonic Mania concerns the level design. Based off of Green Hill Zone and Studiopolis Zone, you can see that Sonic Mania takes inspirations from Sonic CD, a game often claimed to be one of the best Sonic games, if not the best Sonic games. In truth, Sonic CD wouldn't even make it into my top 5 for best Sonic games due to the game's screwy level design. I don't think any sane person actually enjoyed bouncing through Wacky Workbench Zone and as much as I loved the cosmetics of Stardust Speedway, the overpopulation of springs made it a nightmare to play. The fact that Sonic Mania is taking some clear cues from Sonic CD does have me concerned but so far, it looks to be avoiding that game's bullocks.

The live stream event for Sonic's 25th anniversary bash may have been a mess but the reveal of Sonic Mania certainly wasn't. Yeah, Sonic Mania is missing the Blue Blur's 25th birthday, but I'm always late to parties so he'll be right on time to me. Gotta say, though, spring 2017, seems a long ways off.

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