Sega’s answer to Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog was on top of the world in 1994. The Blue Blur’s four mainline games on the Sega Genesis console were a breath of fresh air, but the chili dog-loving mascot hit a slump of lackluster games soon after. Over two decades later, Sonic Mania (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) is finally… FINALLY… the speedy side-scrolling platforming sequel that fans have both needed and deserved.

It’s fitting that Sonic Mania was released on the series’ 25th anniversary, as it is a nostalgic throwback to all the best that the franchise has to offer. Controls are responsive and tight, the levels are vast but expertly crafted, and the game’s audio and pixelated visuals are as charming as you remember. Even if this is your first time playing a Sonic game, you’ll get what all the fuss is about during your first venture through the first level. Also returning are the three most popular characters from the Sonic universe as playable characters: Sonic himself, his two-tailed mechanical genius sidekick Miles “Tails” Prower, and his friendly rival Knuckles the Echidna. You can play as any one of the three characters (or Sonic and Tails together) during the 4 hour-long campaign and during the repeated playthroughs that are encouraged as new features are unlocked.

My personal favorite of these features is the Competition mode, which splits the screen in two and pits local players against each other in a race to the end of the level. Local as in not online, but on your couch. This is particularly noteworthy to me as it is how my friends and I used to play when we were kids and got a chance to again with Sonic Mania. Playful trash talking with your friends while they’re in the same room instead of on a mic is so much more fun.

Sonic Mania Review Final Thoughts:

There are no gimmicky were-hogs or clunky 3D controls to slow down Sonic Mania and scare longtime fans away. The game is intuitive enough for gamers of all ages to enjoy, with levels that call back to classic areas while adding just enough to make them feel fresh again. Factor in the slew of unlockable features and tons of love put in from developers Headcannon and PagodaWest Games and Sonic Mania becomes the first can’t-miss Sonic sequel since before the modern internet existed.

Sonic Mania on PS4

Sonic Mania on PS4
90

Sonic Mania Review Score

9/10

    PROS:

    • Affordable $20 price point.
    • Fast-paced platforming levels that incorporate both familiar and fresh designs.
    • Challenging boss battles, including one that fans of classic puzzle games will enjoy.
    • Playing as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles opens up new possibilities in each area.
    • Two-player couch co-op and Competition mode.

    CONS:

    • Short 4-hour long campaign.
    • Bonus stages take getting used to for new Sonic fans.