How Sonic Mania Blends The Old With The New So Well

Despite liking a lot of the Sonic games that have come out since the Dreamcast days, they’ve always felt off in how they control.

Sonic Mania isn’t a game that is trying to give Sega’s mascot a ‘cool’ new vibe, transformation, or even a scarf ala Sonic Boom. Instead, its focus is in directly tapping into those great games on the Mega Drive (Genesis to our American friends!) and doubling down on your memories of those games. That only works if the game can successfully replicate those controls, that feeling and the nostalgia.

Rose-tinted glasses can often ruin the nostalgia for something that you haven’t seen or touched in a while, but although I haven’t played the original Sonic trilogy in a number of years, Sonic Mania plays exactly how I remember them.

We got to play Sonic Mania’s Green Hill zone remake, the first level in the game, and came away suitably impressed.

Its opening is just as you remember it, with green grass presenting you with a path to pick up speed in the first few steps, followed by three rings primed for your first jump. Then, as the screen starts to roll with you, your first ring box appears and, for a brief moment, I started wonder if they had changed anything at all.

Thankfully, as you progress you start to see differences in the environment and for those who have played Green Hill to the point where it’s as familiar as your neighbourhood, the game plays on this and changes things up when you least expect it. At times it caused me to be slightly alarmed as the muscle memory I had picked up in my early years was challenged, time and time again.

The Act 1 boss was different to what you’ll have seen before as well, with two of Eggman’s mechanical balls (Hmmm …) chained together and swinging towards you in tandem. Like the rest of the opening level, it wasn’t too much of a challenge, but it was certainly different and a change from the old perceptions that are associated with the Green Hill Zone.

It’s nice to see Green Hill being remade, but what we really want is new levels. So far, Sega have unveiled Mirage Saloon and Studiopolis as new entries, while also confirming the return of Flying Battery – a fan favourite from Sonic & Knuckles. Hopefully, the emphasis will be on brand new levels, although, from what we’ve seen so far, even the remakes have been able to bring something new.

After a tumultuous few years, it seems like Sonic is back on track and we’re cautiously optimistic for Sonic Mania when it launches this summer.

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