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

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Sonic Begins

In addition to wanting to pursure developing games, I’ve also had an interest in taking a look at various iconic properties and giving my own special take on how I’d reinvent them. However, there’s one property that I’ve had a particular desire to put my ideas towards, said franchise being Sega’s flagship franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog.

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What you are looking at are designs of a hypothetical complete reboot that’s been brewing in my head by the name of Sonic Begins. Essentially, Begins comes from a similar place where Sonic 4 and Mania came about; a back-to-the-basics fast-paced 2D side-scroller in the style of the Genesis games while also building and adding upon the formula established by them, as well as giving an all-new, unique take on the roots of Sonic/Robotnik conflict, as well as Sonic’s meeting with his eventual sidekick and best friend, Tails. If you guys are interested in seeing me develop this idea further, be sure to let me know in the comments below.

So, About Sonic’s 25th Anniversary (And Sega As A Whole)…

As the anniversary of a certain franchise is quickly (no pun intended) approaching, I’d figured that I should talk about this particular topic…

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To say that Sonic the Hedgehog – and to a certain extent, Sega in general – has fallen from grace can pretty much equate to saying that water is wet. Although the franchise has managed to pump out some outstanding titles here and there, it’s still not enough to hide the fact that it just cannot replicate the smashing success it received during its’ historic debut during the early 90’s. Aside from Colors, Generations, and the Rush games, the hundreds upon hundreds of attempts it has made to reinvigorate itself have been largely unsuccessful, with the unfinished, buggy, and horribly-written mess that was ’06, the painfully mediocre, nostalgia-reliant disappointment that was Sonic 4, and the catastrophic failures that were Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal especially sticking out (again, no pun intended). Which is to say, that I’m…kind of really worried about how the 25th anniversary game will turn out.

Despite Sonic Team’s constant reassurances that they’re “up to something good“, we’ve BARELY heard anything about exactly what they’re doing (well, outside of the constant slew of memes which they themselves have acknowledged); heck, they haven’t even really given us as much of a hint about what the game will be like, or when it’ll even come out at all! Usually, I don’t really mind when there’s not much information on a game leading up to its’ official reveal, but when you go THIS LONG without revealing anything, it can, in some cases, serve as foreshadowing for a possible disaster to come. You don’t have to do a major reveal; you could just drop some clues, or at the very least, make some kind of viral marketing campaign. Speaking of Sonic, the series also ties into something else that I’ve been wanting to talk about…

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Sega in its’ current state is an absolute far cry from the electronic powerhouse in the early-to-late 90’s that was once considered the Warner Bros. to Nintendo’s Disney. While Nintendo themselves have a bad habit of tossing away their properties, Sega has it even worse. While Nintendo still has a large amount of active franchises at their disposal, Sega really only has one (just guess what it is) that can really compete with the likes of Mario, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and various others. Compare this to the days of old, where they had games such as Ristar, NiGHTS, Vectorman, Space Channel 5, ChuChu Rocket and countless, countless others; all oozing with potential, all practically begging for their own franchises…but nope, instead they just choose to sit on all of them and just continually pump out game after game for a franchise that has the most horrendously unpredictable track record in video game history in terms of quality. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

What are your thoughts on Sonic’s 25th anniversary? Is the lack of info a sign of good things to come or possible foreshadowing of the blue blur’s final nail in the coffin? Be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below!