Let's face it: aside from Sonic Generations, the Blue Blur's had a pretty iffy history on PlayStation consoles. The hog's starred in a couple of decent Wii titles – and he's even enjoyed a handful of decent handheld outings – but the character's struggled to live up to his iconic legacy on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and now the PlayStation 4.
The good news is that a bad run for the series is about to hit the finish line, because we don't even need to see any more of Sonic Mania to know that it's going to live up to the Mega Drive games. Now, if you find the very idea of the foot-tapping runner with "raditude" repulsive, then this isn't going to change your mind – but if you just so happened to grow up with the SEGA star, then you should be excited.
This is the two-dimensional, 32-bit Sonic game that never existed. The physics are identical to the Genesis classics, so unlike the shameful Sonic the Hedgehog 4, it feels spot-on. But the visuals, despite feeling authentic, take a step forward from the 16-bit days, with added animations and effects ensuring that it looks both modern and retro all at the same time.
And there are new gameplay mechanics to sweeten the deal. The drop dash means that you can now maintain momentum in a way that wasn't possible in older games – a key addition given that Sonic's pace represents a pivotal part of the property's fun. Old levels like Green Hill Zone have been tweaked, while newcomer Studiopolis Zone feels like a modern version of Casino Night Zone, replete with popcorn machines and other interesting traversal methods.
It's essentially the Sonic game that many have been waiting two decades for, and while the Sonic Adventure series still holds a special place in this author's heart, it's eye-opening that SEGA's essentially had to recruit a bunch of super fans (in Sonic CD porter Christian Whitehead and the crew at Headcannon Games) to recapture the magic.
Are you running loop-the-loops in anticipation for Sonic Mania? Do you think that we're just falling victim to the Sonic cycle again? Tap your feet in the comments section below.