Monsoon-A-Day ‘Sonic Mania’ 2017

Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day.

Day 52

Today’s review is a video game and not a movie. Don’t question it. I do what I want.

 

Sonic Mania

Because of Nintendo’s fat little plumber being arguably the first widely known video game mascot, every company wanted a sweet slice of that money pie. So wave after wave of challengers to the throne popped up. Some were successful like Crash and Spyro and others faded into obscurity like Awesome Possum and Aero the Acrobat.

The first and for awhile only legitimate competition Mario had was Sonic the Hedgehog. If you have even a basic knowledge of video gaming, you know Sonic has had a pretty lackluster run of games for the last 20 years or so. Something about the Hedgehog doesn’t translate to 3D but there was a time in the early 90’s were he was on fire.

His first three games for the Sega Genesis were unquestionably massive. They were system sellers which meant you bought that system just for those games. They were so big, that Michael Jackson himself helped create the music for the third one. That’s pretty fucking big.

And then Sega made the Saturn which was a commercial disappointment and then they made the Dreamcast which although had at least one solid Sonic entry for it, wasn’t enough and it ultimately killed Sega’s console department forever.

But Sega kept on. They never stopped making games and they’ve never stopped making Sonic games and even though he still has a loyal fan base, it has never been the same. The magic was gone.

One of those loyal fans was a chap by the name of Christian Whitehead. He loved Sonic so much, that he created his own fan games. They were so successful, that they caught the attention of Sega and they actually offered him a job.

They took his original design, then named Sonic Discovery and renamed it Sonic Mania. Whitehead’s original idea was to take the beloved character back to its origins, which meant graphically and stylistically like the games for the early 90’s. Remixing older levels with newer levels (Some of which are based on unused concepts from previous games) and creating a score that sounds exactly like it was made in the 90’s, Sonic Mania’s greatest achievement is it’s ability to use nostalgia as a building block and not a crutch.

Nostalgia is a difficult balancing act. You want to pay homage to something without treading the same water or even ripping off your original source and Sonic Mania is definitely made with nothing but nostalgic love for this series and its a big love letter to the history of Sonic.

All the same gameplay elements are here Spin dash to whip around stages, coins to replenish your health and little adorable animals that pop up every time you kill an enemy. The new additions are slight but definitely noticeable. There’s new bonus stages, a function that lets you regain momentum after you stop running and there’s a new rogues gallery that feels authentic to the spirit of the original game.

The story is pretty much a means to string together levels but I respect the fact that they at least try and tie this one into the original trilogy. Stop me if you heard this before but the power hungry Dr. Eggman steals a gem of immense power and Sonic, Tails and Knuckles have to stop him from using it. The series isn’t known for its plots but it gets an A for trying.

If you love old school platformers or have a strong affinity for anthropomorphic hedgehogs, you should definitely check out Sonic Mania.