Review by TheRetroPlayer
This game was very frustrating at first, but it's likable after getting used to it.
It all started when I saw the trailer which made me think that Sega finally has done something right lately. Later, I saw a few gameplay videos, and I figured that this was going to be some rehash of past games since originally in the Sonic series is pretty much as dead as a franchise that has been driven through the mud already. Long story short, I played it and it turns out that it isn't really so much of a rehash, truth be told, but more so a remix with new stages which is fine with me I guess.
Now here comes the problem. What really turned me off at first was some boss fights. I mean, how annoying can they get? The bosses for Studiopolis Act 1, Press Garden Act 2, and Stardust Speedway Act 2 were such great examples of annoying nonsense, not to mention how one of those fights not having any star posts in between, so if you mess up, then you have to start the whole fight again or all two acts again if you run out of lives. I get that this is supposed to be old school sonic, but why is it that you have to bring out the worse aspects of gaming from the past that had you start all over if you mess up at the boss. This isn't the damn 80s-90s when it comes to that! It doesn't even make the game harder or challenging (in a good way), just more annoying. I mean at least once you get used to this and it's no longer a problem, but still.
You have cheap enemy placements and instant death parts also which almost made me overall hate this game at first as well, but I played it again a few months later a few more times, and I found that I actually started to like this game besides the flaws, because behind all of that, its 2D sonic done right at the core essence beyond the surface.
They look good. If you set the filter to clean in the options then everything looks great, trust me, you'll need to do this to avoid pixelation since this is a 2D game we are speaking of here. Graphics are nice, but truth be told, the older 2D games looked better graphics wise when it came to the newer stages. The graphics for this game for the newer stages have a different type of art style going for it. It reminds me of the whole digital vs hand drawn art, kind of how back in the day 2D cartoons and anime looked so much better than they do now. That is what it reminds me of, but anyway, graphics are good for what it is besides that, but not as good as the older games for the new stages though the remixed ones look pretty good and similar to the older games.
Sonic games always have a knack for good music and wow the music is super in this game. Two of the best soundtracks are the Final Boss theme called, “Ruby Illusions,” and Stardust Speedway Act 1 which really takes me back to childhood with the music style. Stardust Speedway Act 1 has that new jack swing vibe to it which was a thing in the mid 80s to early 90s, but like I said, the music is the best thing about the game.
Can someone tell me why there is no controller support? I mean, really, how can they not bother to add in Xinput support at minimum at least. Yeah I get how playing this game on a keyboard isn't really bad, but I rather have a controller for a much tighter feel, but anyway, the controls are good, but Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all feel really slow in this game, and I mean slow as in it is hard for them to build momentum along with how momentum is not easy to keep which means you have to use the spin dash often to help compensate for it, so I have no idea how they messed that part up, but it's not really a big problem overall.
I'm not going to really get into what the story is. All I wanted to say is that it is Classic Sonic and nothing more. You have Tails and Knuckles as well. The way it should be. No overly super serious dark story either (I'm looking at you Sonic Forces and 06). Sonic games are supposed to be all about the games. The story should be nothing more than a quick background of what is going on.
I when I first played this game I realized that this game was not what I thought it was. I thought it was going to be some cheap rehash of the older games, but it turns out to be better than that. Firstly you can tell that Sega alone didn't make this because the Sega of today which is just pretty much Sammy Corp. using the “Sega” name, brand, and assets would never make a 2D sonic game this creative and with such heart. This is mostly a fan made/indie game at the core with a budget that was officially sanctioned by “Sega” pretty much. Many of the stages and gimmicks are pretty neat. I have to give credit where it is due and thank the development team because without them this game would not have been what it was.
All that aside, the fact that it is a (budgeted) fan game (you can disagree all you want even though it's not a bad thing) and you can see that when it comes to the bosses in the stages, and some of the cheap trap and enemy placement as well that exist. I mention this because fan made games like this sometimes have balancing or issues with fairness. I got so frustrated at one point that I had to quit because of how cheap and annoying the game was to me along with the game feeling pretty boring at first until I played it again later that is. What is even strange is how the last few stages were easier including the final boss of all things.
Right now even though this game had made me hate it at first, and how I still can't stand how annoying a few of the boss fights are, I still like the game to a point, but this is not as good as everyone says it is, maybe to the point of it being a bit overrated to a slight extent. I see it as nothing more than an above decent fan game with a creative charm to it that you rarely see in any games that are budgeted by the big name companies these days. Also, I like to mention that random inclusion of that Puyo Puyo mini-game as a boss fight which is a hard puzzle game where you have to know how to chain things to together, but thank goodness that the AI was even worse than I was at the game. The fact that that was included tells you that this was an outsiders doing, but then again, Sega, would have never done that in their older games. The Puyo Puyo games were apparently too Japanese to be localized at the time (unless it was reskined) so no one would have gotten the reference back in the day unless you are familiar with Japanese games somehow back then.
Sonic Mania, despite all of its flaws, somehow makes an acceptable entry into the series. This could have exceeded expectations if it wasn't for the flaws I pointed out already. The older Sonic games are much better and Mania is no replacement despite how updated this game feels comparing to the older ones. If you have a low tolerance for frustration in games like myself, then you might want to skip this one, but if you like I did can find a way to deal with it, then this game will be worth it for all the positives that makes it worth not giving up on.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Sonic Mania (US, 08/29/17)
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