When Sega first announced its plans for Sonic Mania at Comic-Con earlier this year, fans were sceptical to say the least.
The first major console release to feature the world’s most famous blue hedgehog since 2013’s lamentable Sonic Lost World, many were worried that the new game would be another step backwards for a gaming icon who once rivalled Super Mario himself.
Yet, if there was any solace to find from the initial announcement it came via Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka.
To Iizuka’s way of thinking, Sonic Mania was always going to be a “passion project” that was “born out of our fan’s love for the classic Sonic 2D platform games.”
Herein lies the key: in avoiding any kind of attempt at another 3D Sonic adventure, Iizuka’s title would simultaneously avoid the one thing that had hindered the previous titles while embracing what made Sonic popular in the first place.
More importantly, with the original Sonic titles known for their speedy, fast-paced gameplay, a return to the old 2D approach would allow Sega to focus more on polishing the other aspects of the game, while ensuring that the same speed-of-play remained intact.
And if the 12-minute gameplay preview of Sonic Mania posted online by Polygon are anything to go by, then it’s going according to plan.
Featuring footage from the familiar Green Hill Zone as well as the new Studiopolis Zone, the graphics look polished while everything from ring animations to the bonus TVs have been given a facelift.
Drawing influence from the original trilogy of Sonic games, the game will feature the same giant rings that became a fixture in the third title while there will also be a brand new drop dash move for gamers to master.
Due for release in the first part of 2017 on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC it’s fair to say that fans are a lot less sceptical about the game now.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.