The opening to the above trailer really “gets it” when it comes to the quality of the Sonic franchise. Speeding through Sonic’s history, it eventually hits a point where everything begins to rewind, and an admission that things haven’t been so great flashes up on the screen. In an odd moment of sobriety, SEGA realizes that what made the Sonic games so iconic are locked up in the 90s.
So here’s Sonic Mania, which appears to be taking a page from Mega Man 9 and 10’s book, and that kind of announcement is coming at what may be the most crucial time for this franchise. Generations was a hit, and Colors did well for SEGA, but the goodwill earned by those two titles was quickly undone by Lost Worlds and Sonic Boom. The latter of which marked a record low in sales for the franchise. If Sonic wasn’t on life support before, that certainly put him there.
Mania shows promise, though many could cite the “Sonic Cycle” as being in full effect here. However, Christian Whitehead, who spearheaded the HD remake of Sonic CD and the iphone ports of Sonic 1 and 2 appears to be closely tied to the project, and that’s the key element that might just set this thing apart. Sonic CD was incredibly well handled, and what was even more impressive about it was that Whitehead essentially had to remake the original physics engine from the ground up. While I haven’t played the iphone versions of Sonic 1 and 2, they are also held in high regard. Whitehead tried to remake a cut level and additional final boss stage for CD, but his efforts were shot down. He later got his chance to make a brand new level in an official capacity in the form of Hidden Palace Zone for the iphone release of Sonic 2. It looks like now he’s going to be able to do a whole lot more, as Sonic Mania will not only feature remixed versions of classic levels, but will have brand new levels with original assets. Even Sonic’s sprite has undergone a redesign of sort, though it retains just enough of the charm that made the original 90s design of the character work.
Sonic Mania will release in Spring 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.