Like Macaulay Culkin, Sonic burst into the ’90s with immediate popularity, but struggled to age gracefully with their medium. The jump to 3D was mostly disastrous, and hit rock bottom with inter-species romance.
But the unbelievable has happened. Sega’s current plan for their flagship feels too good to be true. They’re actually working with indie developers that have spent most of their adult lives building 2D Sonic remakes that are better than the originals.
Christian ‘The Taxman’ Whitehead and Simon ‘Stealth’ Thomley worked together on a Sonic CD remake using Whitehead’s Retro Engine that impressed Sega enough to release it on iOS. The remake won GOTY from the Pocket Gamer Awards and the partnership continued, resulting in remakes of Sonic 1 and 2 on mobile platforms, also using the Retro Engine.
PagodaWest Games is also tagged to contribute to Sonic Mania.
SEGA recently uploaded fantastic footage of the remixed Green Hill Zone Act 1 and 2, with and without commentary. It looks great and Sega is saying all the right things.
After the clunky Sonic 4: Episode 1 got the feel as wrong as The Phantom Menace messed up Star Wars, it’s great to see Sonic Mania mimic the original movement so accurately.
It’s not to say that Sonic can never progress beyond the 16-bit mold, but the physics of a platformer are vital to its success. The Mario games evolved their power-ups and levels, but running and jumping always felt the same.
Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles will all be playable and the ‘1.5 player mode’ will return, giving a second player control of Tails and the ability to lift Sonic.
Speaking to the incredible passion of the devs, the video shows off art in Green Hill Zone Act 2 that was originally from pre-Sonic 1 concept art. More easter eggs are promised.
Slowdown was a huge problem of the genesis/megadrive titles, but Sonic Mania will be locked at 60fps. The switch to widescreen will also be very helpful when navigating the speedy protagonist.
Sonic Mania is due for a Q2 release on PC, PS4, Xbox, and Switch.