How Sonic Mania Has Already Succeeded Where Sonic 4 Failed

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It’s no suprise that the Sonic franchise has had quite the buzz surronding it over the past several months – with a slew of reveals regarding Project 2017 from its’ story, official name (Sonic Forces), and gameplay mechanics, the second season of the Sonic Boom TV series (which interestingly enough I heard has improved in quality, though I still don’t really care about it enough to be bothered to watch it), and the topic of today’s article, the second major attempt at a game in the style of the original trilogy and CD, Sonic Mania.

With an all-new trailer for the latter being unveiled to the public as of late (which by the way is absolutely amazing and you guys should like, watch it immediately), a thought that has lingered in my head ever since Mania’s announcement resurfaced, and one that really makes me hope that it turns out to be a spectacular game in the long run. However, before we get into what that thought exactly is, I’d like to take the time to give you all a brief history lesson.

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As the franchise was slowly but surely beginning to show signs of moving past the times consisting of such masterpieces like Shadow the Hedgehog…

…the GBA port of Sonic 1…

…and of course, one of the crowning achievements of the franchise, Sonic 06…

…Sega made an announcement that they would be making a direct follow-up to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, in what they deemed a “critical first step” to repair the franchise’s tattered reputation. Initially under the codename Project Needlemouse, the game’s official title was revealed to be Sonic the Hedgehog 4, in addition to the reveal that the game was also to be episodic. While expectations, as stated earlier, were generally high (for the most part), they sadly more or less fell flat at the end, as both Episodes 1 and 2 received a generally lukewarm reception, which in turn led to a planned Episode 3 now sharing the same graveyard as X-treme. With all of that out of the way, it’s time we got into the true meat of this article, as well as the previously-mentioned thought in question: How exactly has Mania succeeded in its’ goals as a revitilization of the original games where 4 failed in that department? Well, it was a bit hard to pin down at first, but after a while, I realized just what it was…

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When you take a prolonged glance at either Episodes 1 or 2 of 4, you get the feeling that it’s all too familiar – and not even in the intended nostalgic way, for that matter. Even if there are some mechanics thrown in here and there to differnate itself from them, said mechanics cannot hide the fact that they’re more or less glorified rehashes of the first two games. Episode 1 in particular is absolutely ruthless with this to the point where it reaches full-on Memberberries territory; All four zones are blatant retreads of ones from past games, Splash Hill being a retread of Green Hill, Casino Street being a retread of Casino Night, Lost Labyrinth being a retread of Labyrinth Zone, and Mad Gear being a retread of Metropolis – hell, the bosses aren’t even safe from this! Episode 2 isn’t quite as bad with this, moreso to say less obvious, but my point still remains.

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Mania on the other hand, while indeed reusing levels from the original games and being a throwback to them, is rather more like Generations in the sense that they’re both “Best Of” compilations of the series’ most fondly remembered and iconic levels, though Mania revolves entirely around the original games in contrast to Generations revolving around the series’ recent entries. It also helps that there are also a helping dosage of new levels added in to spice things up, such as Mirage Saloon (pictured above) and of course, Studiopolis Zone.

When making a throwback-style game, the most important thing above all to do is know how to stay true to the past while at the same time not clinging too much to it. This is a tatic that Mania seems to be taking full of advantage of, a tatic which most throwback-style games could honestly really benefit from. And with that, it has already succeeded where 4 has failed.

BONUS QUESTION: What games are you hoping to see get announced at E3 this year?

© 2017 A retr0pia Production

Sonic 25th Anniversary Party Highlights

Yesterday night was…quite an interesting one, to say the least. While it did feel rather prolonged, a certain long-anticipated party more than certainly delivered on its’ promise; revealing just what the future has in store for everyone’s favorite speedy blue critter, Sonic the Hedgehog. While quite a lot of things did happen during the party, I felt that it would be most suitable to pin-point some of the most noteworthy ones. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Sonic 25th Anniversary Party Highlights.

First off, let’s take a little peep at the first new game to be revealed as well as the one that I’m looking forward to the most, Sonic Mania.

Taking cues from Street Fighter X Mega Man, Sega has turned towards their fan-base in order to help bring this compilation of updated versions of the blue blur’s first four side-scrolling adventures to life. The game is being produced in association with Christian Whitehead, a user of the fan website Sonic Retro who has also helped to produce ports of the original games, and is also set to feature entirely new zones as well. The music is also being composed by Tee Lopes, who did the music for the upcoming fan-remake of the second game. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles have all been confirmed to be playable, though Sega might pull a Tropical Freeze and introduce another character down the line. The game is slated for a Spring 2017 release, so it won’t be that long of a wait, fortunately.

Next up, we’ve got… *sigh* the trailer for Sonic Boom Season 2.

As some of you may know, I cannot stand Sonic Boom. In fact, in my Top 20 Worst Video Game Cartoon Episodes List, I outright called it the worst iteration of the franchise to date, with its’ tired, stale humor, uninteresting plot-lines, and how it completely derailed the personalities of nearly all of the characters, as well as adding some new ones for no apparent reason. And from what’s on display here, it doesn’t look like much has changed. Aside from the animation getting a slight upgrade (emphasis on slight), the jokes are still forced and the plots still look boring. A premiere date hasn’t been set, though it probably won’t be long until it’s revealed.

Next up, things are about to get a bit blocky, as we take a look at Sonic in Lego Dimensions.

This had already been confirmed for a month, but we only just saw what Sonic looked like and nothing else…until now. This trailer revealed quite a handful of information, such as Green Hill Zone being a new world, the moves that Sonic will be able to do, the items that he’ll be available with when you purchase him, and more. I haven’t played Dimensions nor am I sure when I’ll get around to doing so, but the way they implemented Sonic’s abilities in here is seriously impressive. Sonic’s figurine and level pack gets released in November, so be sure to be on the lookout.

Finally, let’s wrap things up with a little peek at what is without a doubt the most talked-about of the announcements, Sonic 2017.

Other than this brief announcement trailer, not much was revealed about the game. However, judging by what can be found in this, everything appears to hint towards a sequel to Generations, which in my opinion, is the best decision that the franchise and Sega in general has made in a while. It also looks to be a return to the style of gameplay for Unleashed, Colors, and Generations (thank god), which is also a good sign. The game has been slated for a Holiday 2017 release, which is admittedly a long way off. However, if this means that Sega won’t rush it out like they did with certain two other games, than it’s all for the better.

What was your favorite part of the Sonic 25th Anniversary Party (if you watched it, that is)? Be sure to leave your thoughts and opinions below, and thanks for reading!