GamingPreview: Sonic Mania

Preview: Sonic Mania

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It’s been a long time coming and yet after so many years, Sega has finally caved in by developing a new 2D Sonic tittle. The highly anticipated upcoming Sonic Mania is now also coming to the Nintendo Switch, which is appropriate given that Nintendo hardware became Sonic’s starting foster home after the demise of Sega as a hardware developer.

The good news is that the project is being supervised by Christian Whitehead, who has already proved his proficiency with the hedgehog after helping Sega release high definition ports for some of its classic Sonic titles. In this case, Sonic Mania is a completely new title and one that functions as a best of compilation celebrating some of Sonic’s better level design, whilst also including brand new content.

One of the highlights of the demonstration was seeing just how vibrant the title looked. Even on the Nintendo Switch console screen where it was possible to play it without any lag issues whatsoever. For the purposes of the demonstration, only two levels were playable in the build. One consisted of a classic Green Hill zone level, but there was a twist at the end, in the form of a new boss that proved to be challenging and just as enjoyable to learn to defeat.

The other level took place in a new zone called Studiopolis where Sonic found himself surrounded by somewhat creepy vans with satellite dishes and retro popcorn machines. It was this level that was more suitable to showcase Sonic’s new ability, the Drop Dash, where the jump button is pressed mid-air to make Sonic curl up and dash once he hits the floor. It’s a surprisingly effective ability and it’s one that works better than most of his other abilities, such as the one where he sped up by pressing up and then letting go.

Although some of the gimmicks found in the new zone level felt somewhat temperamental when used. It felt like the set pieces didn’t quite work when using some, such as a satellite dish that propelled Sonic on some moving platforms heading towards a section with spikes on the ceiling. It just didn’t feel satisfying to have to constantly redo the section due to not being able to know in advance when to use the satellite dish to go up to the moving platforms, since that section wasn’t completely visible.

Now despite the location of the Joy-Pad’s analog stick being in the middle, it still didn’t uncomfortable to make use of it when moving the character and using the button next to it for jumping and performing other actions. The inclusion of two Joy-Pad controllers also makes it extremely easy for a second player to join at any point and the same applies to leaving. This probably only applies when the player chooses to play with a CPU controlled character. It might come in handy for getting the first player out of a sticky situation in tougher levels.

It’s worth noting that the title can only be played using either the TV screen or the Nintendo Switch screen and not both at the same time. Regardless, it is appealing to be given the option to use the Nintendo Switch screen to play the title away from the TV screen.

As it stands Sonic’s trip back to the realm of 2D platforming is looking promising and like this Nintendo Switch version will match the quality of the versions being released on other consoles.

Sonic Mania is scheduled to be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch this Spring 2017.

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