|Posted by Kelsy on March 6, 2019 at 12:05 AM|
A New Hope for Greatness
Sonic Mania Plus Review by Kelsy "SuperGirlKels" Medeiros
There was a beautiful time, a time where SEGA went head to head with Nintendo for the title of having the best video game system, and the best video game character. When Sonic the Hedgehog was born, he took the world by storm. His games were like no other, having smooth controls while moving faster than the speed of sounds, and the games looked like they were from the future. They were bright, vibrant, alive, and the best part, Sonic had an attitude. Sonic would become to being one of gaming's biggest icons and one of the world's most recognizable cartoon characters, at a time... even more than Mickey Mouse. But when SEGA decided to focus on software for other hardware, something has been off, and never consistent since. Sonic games became mediocore in controls, looks, and feel. They became lazy, sometimes unfinished, to the point where some of those games (Sonic 06, + Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric) became known for being one of the worst video games of all time. Since then, SEGA has been trying to redefine their character, and sometimes for that to happen, you need to go back to where it all started. Christian Whitehead is a programer, and long time Sonic fan who has created iPhone ports and fan made games for Sonic in the past. The smooth controls, and identical physics to the original games caught SEGA's attention, and he was given the task to create the past, as the new present. From Sonic Discovery, we were given Sonic Mania (Plus). I will be reviewing the Plus edition, which is the latest release with all DLC content, new characters and more modes all for Nintendo Switch.
The story takes place after Sonic 3 and Knuckles. Sonic, and Tails are on the Tornado coming back from their final fight on the Death Egg when they run into Eggman's mechs. They seem to be out of control, and find a mysterious Gem that controls Time and Space. Sonic, Tails, and friends are teleported through time as they have their new mission: Find and put down these mechs, and take the gem back from Eggman!
The designers of Sonic Mania Plus decided to treat Sonic Mania like a mix in between Sonic's Genesis days, and the SEGA Saturn days. And it looks just as amazing in 2017/2018 as it was in the 90's. The sprites done in 60 frames per second plus new vibrant colors from today's technology makes the past only look new in today's time. There are indie games, and other platformers that for years, have tried to capture that same feel and look to the original Sonic games in terms of graphical style but no one succeeds as well as Sonic. Characters have animations that make them feel alive, the backgrounds are moving quick, and feel 3D at times. The shading, lighting and textures all reflect the world you are living in. Every world is different in terms of design from a winter wonderland to a mechanical disaster. In the special zones, (will speak more in detail in GAMEPLAY) Sonic in 3D captures Saturn Sonic's Jam perfectly. The textures and look feel as if Sonic is in 3D for the first time, but it's clear and colorful where you know where you need to go. The nostalgia feels right at home, but yet it's completely new. I hope if SEGA decides to do more 2D Sonic titles in the future, I hope they stick to their sprite look. It suits them so well, and no one can pull off the look better than them in my opinion.
Music & Sound Effects:
There is something that has never been disappointing in a Sonic games, even the mediocore times. I'm talking about the music, SEGA has always done an excellent job defining their title, and character through sound. For me, Sonic Mania's sound effects are my favourite in any Sonic game. Hitting item blocks, jumping, springing, and collecting rings were all my favourite things to do in the 90's because of how it felt when collecting them. When you hear those sound effects, there's something about those sounds that want you to keep collecting. It's moving, captivating and too much fun to stop. I'm happy they decided to use these sound effects instead of titles such as the modern games or CD. I think the original sound effects were the best, and especially being a sequal to the originals, it was wise to use those effects. As for the music, just like the graphics, every zone and every piece captures the game's atmopshere: "Sonic is back" and he is better than ever. From the main theme, to selecting your mode you're only excited to start playing. I sometimes found myself leaving my game on the menu and didn't even notice while I did other things at home just because of how satisfying it was. All music was composed by Tee Lopes, an amazing musician and writer that has composed remixes and remasters for Sonic pieces in the past. He captures every zone with perfection, how every zone should sound like based on the look, and design of the levels. In the original act 1 for the zones brought back, you'll have the original piece remastered to give that "new" feeling to it. As for act 2, the music is completely changed, remixed, to match the level itself. They're outstanding, and as soon as that act 2 begins, you know theres a new challenge awaiting for you even if you've played the original zones before. You have no idea what to expect but that your mind is about to be blown away. Please keep bringing back Tee Lopes. Thank you.
This is it. This is where the Sonic games have been completely inconsistent. Gameplay. For years SEGA has tried different formulas, engines and new ways to run as our favourite hero. As for Sonic Mania Plus, they went back to the routes, identically. Physics of running, jumping, timing and movement are identical to the original games. Christian did a perfect job, nothing that even Sonic 4 was able to capture compared to him. (Not that I didnt enjoy Sonic 4 because I did.) But this gameplay is on another level, and not just the gameplay of how all the characters play or feel such as Sonic runs fast, Tails flies, Knuckles glides and climbs, Ray glides similar to Super Mario's wing suit, and Mighty's super bounce from Sonic Adventure 2 make all the playthroughs super unique. The level design is the best I've EVER seen in a Sonic game since the original game. Whereever you go, it's smooth, the game rewards you for exploration there's tons of area to go. It's no longer about holding forward and being rewarded for that. There's areas to explore everywhere, and paths to take that you can replay over and over agian in new ways by using your character's unique moveset. Tails has a path for the high ground, Knuckles can break through certain walls that create new paths and Sonic takes the main way or all with skill and speed. Sonic Mania Plus BLEW me away. Bosses are also challenging, non repetitive, and creative. Mechs are based off references in the history of Sonic, and Eggman bosses are original bosses with a twist that makes everything you thought you know irrelevant. In Encore mode, which is the DLC of the game. You swap between a team of 2 through item boxes with all the characters. Level designs are changed, emerald placements are harder to find and harder to capture. Speaking of the Chaos Emeralds, Special Zones are HARD to do. Collecting the emeralds seem simple, chase the UFO in a 3D environment while avoiding trapsa and bombs. But the catch? Extremely slippery controls, but it's done on purpose. Moving left, right and jumping to avoid obsticles while collecting blue spheres (speed) and coins (time) to make it to the UFO is a challenge itself, but the hard part is if you should be prioritizing time or speed which can take multiple tries. In Encore mode, the 1st emerald is as hard as the 7th in the original and only gets harder which makes the challenge of collecting all 7 seemingly impossible but can be done after dozens of attempts. Back to encore mode, not only level designs are changed to become more challenging and have more paths to explore, but the textures are swapped and environments are changed to feel fresh and new. It's for sure a nice touch, especially if you've been playing the game multiple times already. Another change are the bosses, they are harder and some of them are completely new bosses entirely. Sonic Mania plus has an infinite amount of content, and replay value that even when you're done, you're going to return to just keep playing.
I did have a chance to play competition mode with some of my friends, which is the best 2D Sonic Multiplayer game yet. Challenging friends locally to race them in every zone and act is a great challenge and tournaments were even being done at friends' houses for quite some time. Speedrunners are practicing finding every shortcut to compete against their friends, but there's one thing that I was disappointed of.... When Sonic Mania was announced... I was SO looking forward to racing online, and competing in the worldwide rankings. Sadly, this game stays local and online leaderboards for time trials are the only online feature. I was disappointed, this was a huge opportunity missed and I hope future 2D Sonic games impliment this. Time trial is the final mode where of course, you can practice your skills and beat your time in each act.
Road to 100%:
To Complete Sonic Mania Plus I had to:
1) Complete the main story with all characters: Sonic & Tails, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Ray, Mighty (6 Playthroughs)
2) Collect all Chaos Emeralds with each story
3) Complete Encore Mode with All 7 Chaos Emeralds
4) Upload Time Trials Scores Online
Sonic Mania Plus is a MUST have for EVERY video game over. This brings Sonic back to when he was king of the world, and this was my favourite game of 2018. It seriously was a joy from beginning to end, and I still return to this game sometimes just to play, relax and enjoy my favourite blue hero. Of course, I wish there was more including the Online, and maybe there was a few glitches along the way. But a Sonic game won't be a Sonic game without it's funny glitches! Especially if those glitches don't harm the experience in anyway, and when there was, it was patched immediately. Thank you SEGA, I hope this inspires consistent gameplay, and passion for the series once again. Thank you for the incredible experience, one of the best Sonic games ever made to date.
+ Perfect Controls
+ Best Level Design in a Sonic Game
+ Replay Value
+ Music / Graphics
- No Online Play