Sonic Mania has overtaken San Diego Comic-Con 2016. At Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th birthday party at the House of Blues, the place was packed with some of Sonic’s most hardcore fans, all ready to sing along with iconic Sonic tunes like “Escape From The City” and are ready for a new Sonic game to be revealed. Sonic Mania is just the kind of celebratory throwback you want for his anniversary, as I found out with my first hands-ons immediately after it was revealed.
I started the Sonic Mania demo the only way that felt right, with a Green Hill Zone. The old school stage starts just like the original Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a friendly opening teaching you the layout out of enemies and spikes, All the memorable enemies are there, you run through the loops, it’s all there in the sharp pixels you remember.
Of course, there’s some new moves to mix things up for Sonic, in particular the down dash. It’s fun enough to see the Down Dash in action, which allows you to activate the Spin Dash midair and then hit the ground running. It speeds up exploration quite a lot, letting you dash more efficiently through the stages.
Green Hill Zone ended with a brand new boss fight against a brand new machine from Eggman, a pair of spinning, spiked balls. It quickly alternates between which of the two you can do damage to, but with friendly enough to be one of the game’s earliest boss fights. A couple more hits and the mean mech is a pile of junk.
Studiopolis Zone was the second playable level in the game. It had the fresher feel of the two, featuring new elements like the silhouette effect when Sonic is standing behind tinted glass, or these floating orbs that kept Sonic floating above the ground. The stage was also full of type of bumpers you expect to see in Sonic’s famous Casino stages, bouncing players all around the stage. It was the more challenging of the two stages, and also proof that the developers are doing more with Sonic Mania than just a simple remake or reimagining.
Coming out spring 2017, fans will have high hopes for Sonic Mania to return the character to his roots while also revitalizing the character’s old school action. Can he pull it off?We’ll find out when it launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.