Friday, 7 September 2018

Sonic Mania ★★★★★

Imagine you felt for some reason that you were so great that you could do better than a professional. Imagine you are listening to Sega talk about their emulation port of Sonic CD onto iPhones and you think to yourself. Pfft. I could do that better than they could. Then imagine that Sega agreed with you, then paid you to make the best sonic game since Sonic 2. Well, this is the life of Christian Whitehead and the newly released Sonic Mania: Plus, available for the first time in physical format, is his spiky blue baby.

If you haven't played Sonic Mania, as you have been hurt too many times by the Sonic Team, you absolutely should. Unless you thought Sonic 2 was shit and have spent the rest of your life also being wrong, you will love this. Ever since Sonic Adventure was released there hasn't been anything that is absolutely, unapologetically outstanding.  Sure Sonic Adventure was pretty good and Sonic Generations was fun fifty percent of the time, and there were those GBA games, but when was the last time a game came out that made you want to spike your hair up and dye it blue?  I can't do that cos my hair is too curly but since Sonic Mania, I feel the familiar itch. Though that might just be dandruff. 

Christian Whitehead built his own Sonic Engine and just for fun used to hack Sonic roms for as long as they have existed. That's what Sonic Mania is, a really intense, high budget rom hack made with love and knowledge of the Sonic franchise the like of which the world has never seen. Tearing through the Emerald Hill Zone as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles is a nostalgic, beautiful experience. It feels and plays exactly how you want it to, and the upgrades you unlock, allow you to use all kinds of nerdy hacks, like the Sonic CD move list or a level select.  A huge version of the levels from the earlier games that seem familiar and fresh every second of the way is at your disposal and I can't tell you how great the music is for The Flying Battery Zone. The level is mental difficult and fiddly, but that music kept me going for hours. The bosses are creatively remixed bosses from the original Sonic Trilogy as well as Dr. Robotnik's mean bean machine and other things you might not expect.

The PLUS element of the title is a new encore mode, Sega have now added in Ray and Mighty, two obscure Sonic Characters along with remixed levels and a new pinball themed special stage. If you already had the original this will cost you about four quid to upgrade, if you haven't however, then you are about to wander into a CEX and get yourself a copy of a gigantic addictive (and hard as balls) Sonic game.  It goes without saying, though I'll have said it twice, that if you hated the early Sonic games, you'll hate this, but otherwise it is a must have.

David Roberts
Sonic Mania at CeX

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