The Blue Blur shattered expectations like the speed of light in Sonic Mania. Is it more than just another remake?
In 1991, SEGA released a little game known as Sonic the Hedgehog. You’ve probably never heard of it. That was a pretty obvious joke. If you haven’t heard of the blue blur, then you have really been out of touch with video-games. The 1990s held the whole “Mario vs Sonic” debate. SEGA went out of their way to shame Nintendo in various marketing campaigns. After all, SEGA does what Nintendon’t. Well, that’s what it was like back then anyway. Sonic rose to the top of the 2D platforming genre.
The success of Sonic the Hedgehog led to the release of both Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Throughout the ’90s there would be many spin-off titles, such as Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Spinball.
While the mustachioed plumber moved onto bigger and greater things; Sonic was slowly beginning to decline in popularity. The rivalry between Mario and Sonic is nearly non-existent nowadays. However, they decided to participate in the Olympic Games from time to time. Sonic’s unfavorable image can be traced back to the jump from 2D to 3D.
Mario’s transition led to Super Mario 64, a genre-defining title that set the standard for early 3D platforming. In 1998, Sonic made his debut in 3D. Sonic Adventure was a rough yet enjoyable experience. Critics and fans still love and defend it. Although this may be true, Sonic Adventure isn’t perfect. The same can be said about the direct sequel, Sonic Adventure 2. That game improved a lot of the mechanics from the original title, but there were still cracks in-between the finer details.
The Fall Of Sonic The Hedgehog
Shortly after the release of Sonic Adventure 2, SEGA left the console game. The Dreamcast wasn’t living up to sales expectations. Instead, they moved forward as a game developer for other platforms. This, to some people, is known as the very beginning of the fall of Sonic. Sonic’s handheld titles were doing just fine – the Sonic Advanced series was quite popular on the portable GameBoy Advanced hardware. On the other hand, Sonic’s console titles were questionable in quality.
Titles such as Sonic Heroes, while not perfect, garnered a cult following. One game nearly single-handedly killed the franchise, though. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) – or Sonic 06 depending on what you prefer to call it – was a broken mess. From bad load times to game-breaking glitches, 06 became the symbol of hatred within the community. Many fans left Sonic behind and the games that followed received mixed responses. There were a few gems amongst the crowd – including the likes of fan-favorites such as Sonic Unleashed‘s day stages and Sonic Generations.
Sonic needed resurrecting. It needed a little mania to mix things up. Luckily for us, that’s exactly what we got.
Sonic Mania is and isn’t a remake. Describing what Sonic Mania is can be difficult. When someone asks me personally, I describe it as a “celebration” of the classic era Sonic. Although these are my thoughts, there are arguments about Mania being a remake. This is evident in the approach to stages or in this case “acts.” Sonic Mania uses iconic levels like Green Hill Zone from the original game – and Chemical Plant Zone from the sequel – Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
In between returning stages, there are new levels with the purpose of making the game feel fresh. This is probably one of Sonic Mania’s greatest strengths. For some, the returning zones don’t provide enough variety. In reality, this is untrue. Every level in Sonic Mania has two acts. The first feels like a mix up of the original duo from the source material- and the latter spices things up a little. The second act for each level has some kind of gimmick to make it stand out and even offers a remix of the original music.
This is where the redefining comes in. Sonic Mania is a remake of classic Sonic but not to the same extent of let’s say – the Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy.
Sonic Mania Shatters Expectations
Crash followed its source material extremely closely while improving the visuals and some mechanics. Sonic Mania, on the other hand, shatters expectations by adding new content. If you were a fan of the original Sonic the Hedgehog – the chances are that you won’t recognize Green Hill in Mania. This comes down to the facts of it being unique. You could probably suggest that Sonic Mania is a reimagined version of that era. Again, this can be considered untrue.
Sonic Mania redefines video game remakes because of original content. There’s something new around every corner. The blue hedgehog always has something new to discover. Ever since the reenvisioned version of Sonic Mania released- Sonic Mania Plus, this has become more obvious. New modes, new characters, and revitalized zones made Sonic Mania unlike other video-game remakes. Remaking a game can be easy, but Sonic Mania flat out destroys expectations to the point of it being unrecognizable.
Since the release of Sonic Mania, other companies have begun to realize how this benefits sales and fan reactions. The upcoming remake of Resident Evil 3 is a key example of this. Not only will it be a fully-fledged remake of the original PlayStation game, but it will also bring a new-multiplayer focused experience. Sonic Mania was a game developed by fans for fans of the blue blur. It clearly set some standards for remaking a game. When it was released in 2017, it was clear the game was unlike anything else.
Sonic Mania isn’t a remake. It isn’t a reimagined version of the originals, it’s something unique that will continue to shape the industry moving forward.
If you were going to label Sonic Mania, what would you brand it as? That’s a question only you can answer.