Sonic has returned, but this time with a brand new 2D outing in Sonic Mania. A love letter to the fans of old while bringing in the new kids. Can this really be the blue blur’s biggest hit in years?

Sonic Mania is a game was essentially developed by fans of the character and the series with Sega of course overseeing it, however its clearly evident that a lot of love was put into it and while this may be early on in the review, I will say now that this is the best Sonic game to have been released in a long time.

This outing takes place after Sonic & Knuckles where Sonic and Tails arrive at Angel Island due to a powerful energy reading, who do they come across? Well Eggman obviously and his new henchman called the Hard Boiled Heavies. Just as Sonic and Tails reach them, Eggman and crew excavate a powerful gemstone known as the Phantom Ruby in which he uses to send our heroes back in time causing them to travel through places from their past, as well as new locations in order to stop Eggman.

While the story may not be the biggest selling point, the gameplay most certainly is and it feels authentic, right down to how it controls. As the game suggests, you can choose between playing as Sonic, Tails or Knuckles with the option of having them partner up in some cases. Sonic Mania features four original zones alongside eight remixed zones from past games such as Green Hill and each zone is split up into two acts ending in a boss battle. One aspect I found really amazing is how seamless it was going from act 1 to act 2. In past games it would take you out and then load up the next stage; however in Sonic Mania it jumps right into it which I found to be a really cool addition.

Of course scattered around stages will be rings for your health, along with power ups such as the shield and invincibility. In certain locations you will also find giant rings which will transport you to a 3D stage similar to those from Sonic CD. Here you dodge obstacles and collect blue spheres in order to increase your speed and catch up to the UFO carrying a chaos emerald.

Other modes include Time Attack where you complete stages as quickly as you possibly can. Times are then uploaded to the online leader board where you can see how you stack up against your friends or the world. Competition allows you to play against another player in a race via local multiplayer, sadly there is no online option available for this as it could have really opened up possibilities for some awesome competition. Maybe in a future patch eh?

Its proof here that old school Sonic still rules, but it is a shame that there are only a handful of new zones that are available as they shine the brightest in terms of allowing the developers to really flex their creativity. Take Studiopolis for instance, it’s full of neon lights, massive screens and camera’s that you would expect from a huge production. Perhaps the limitation is something that Sega decided on, but at the very least it shows that confidence to perhaps fill the next Sonic Mania with all new stages.

As mention earlier, Sonic Mania is a true love letter to fans of the series that have been hoping for the blue blur to return to its glory days and with the release of this game, it actually looks like it may happen.

Of course it’s not perfect and I do wish it could have been longer, but it looks like Sega left it up to the fans to try and bring this back into relevance and hopefully with the upcoming release of Sonic Forces, this trend will continue.