Ever since Sonic the Hedgehog arrived on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis back in 1991, the speed loving mascot has starred in several platformers which take place in both two and three dimensions. To celebrate the long journey that Sonic and his friends have undertaken, SEGA have released a new 2D platformer named Sonic Mania, which has promised to bring back the 16-bit classic styled gameplay that many fans believed would never be revisited. The long wait for a return to the series roots has definitely not been in vain, as Sonic Mania is the best anniversary present that could ever be asked for.
Sometime after the events of Sonic and Knuckles, Tails picks up a mysterious signal coming from Angel Island, the home of Knuckles the Echidna. Sonic is persuaded to investigate, and when they arrive on the island, they discover that Dr Eggman’s robots have unearthed a gemstone known as the Phantom Ruby. This mysterious purple crystal has the power to distort the fabric of reality, which cannot always be controlled by the wielder. After being warped back to a very familiar place in their history, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles must once again join forces to stop Dr Eggman’s plans to use the crystal, as well as take down the evil doctor’s newest robot squadron known as the Hard Boiled Heavies, who have gone rogue as a result of the Phantom Ruby’s unpredictable powers.
From the humble beginnings of Green Hill to the epic final boss fight in Titanic Monarch, each of the thirteen distinct zones in Sonic Mania are a mixture of fan favourite locations and brand new areas that are remain true to the classic style that Sonic Mania has catered for. Although it may be initially disappointing to see SEGA recycling old zones, each of the returning areas has been given several surprising changes and gimmicks from other zones in the series history, such as the Marble Garden style pull rings being implemented into Stardust Speedway, and the quicksand styled piles of discarded robot parts which appear in Flying Battery. These additions make each zone feel refreshing to go through, and in many cases feel like entirely new locations.