50 Best Games of 2017: #27 – Sonic Mania

sonic mania

Developer: Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest Games, SEGA of America
Publisher: SEGA
Platform(s): Switch, PS4, XB1, PC

Our 50 best games of the year countdown isn’t in any order, we’re just going through fifty of the finest the year has given us. Find out more here.

When I reviewed this game back in August, you’d be forgiven to think that the rose-tinted glasses were firmly stuck on my eyes, as I couldn’t stop praising the speedy blue ball’s triumphant return onto the 2D platform; having my perfect review score join the ranks of other high numbered scores that were already co-existing at the time.

Going back to Sonic Mania, three months after its release, a bit more fresher faced and not having to put on essentially a night shift of my own volition to clear the game as fast as possible (a feat Cultured Vultures asked me nicely not to do again), Sonic Mania still proved to me why it still holds out as one of the franchise’s perfect games and if nothing else, why I feel the need to defend the 10/10 score I gave the game.

I can’t help but fall in love and admire every creative decision Headcannon and PagodaWest Games made when heading this project. From the level design that had me discovering more paths to bonus stages, power ups and extra lives, even after three months, to the crisp 16 bit graphics that made me reminisce over the days of the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis. Even things like the brilliant boss designs that on the surface may look the same, but each with a different strategy that made you mutter all sorts of obscenities until you can finally nail that boss and move onto the next exciting stage. Headcannon and PagodaWest set out to achieve not only just a good Sonic game, but one that could be remembered for years to come and, in my eyes, they achieved just that.

Do I regret giving it my perfect review score? Not a chance. Can you accuse me of swimming the pool of my nostalgic past? Possibly, but blame the developers for making such a damn fine game. It’s difficult to defend what is in my eyes the perfect 2D experience with one of gaming’s most iconic characters without getting too preachy and beating the dead horse over and over again, so let me just leave you with this. The reason why Sonic Mania deserved my 10/10 was because it deserves your time. You may disagree with me and you have every right to, but if we are to see more 2D Sonic projects with PagodaWest and Headcannon leading the charge, the future for SEGA’s flagship franchise is in secure hands.

Excerpt from my review:

“Everything from the presentation to the music score is designed to keep the old guard smiling for a long time. I don’t expect new gamers, younger gamers or fans of chubby red plumbers to understand the sentiments behind this review, but finally the Sonic the Hedgehog we yearned is finally back. While the path ahead for the blue hedgehog may be uncertain, we have a Sonic game we can keep coming back to for generations to come and perhaps play with our own children, in our own cold conservatories.”

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