Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sonic Mania: A Summer Hit?

One of the projects that has a caught a lot of attention for the industry is one of the new games in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Sonic Mania, which is set to release sometime this year, is one that many have set their eyes on. It's approach is eerily similar to what was seen on the Genesis from the original trilogy. That being said, it could be one of the big and possibly surprise hits to come out this year from Sega. However, this all goes back to when Sonic CD came out on modern systems in 2011.

Sonic CD released on the Sega CD in the fall of 1993 and it's only re-releases were on Windows 95 in 1996, and an emulated version for Sonic Gems Collection on the GameCube in 2005. In 2009, an Australian named Christian Whitehead began work on the game with the use of his engine, the Retro Engine. Unlike most old games that have been re-released in the last eight to ten years, this was built from the ground up. With it finished, Whitehead showed off the game as a proof of concept and talked to Sega about it. Within two years they put up a release of it on Xbox 360 and made to the PlayStation 3, Steam, and IOS systems.

The game had a multitude of features while retaining what it did well (or failed depending on perspectives) for the re-release. It's positive reception lead to Whitehead developing a few other ports of the series. With a another member of the Sonic community who would form Headcannon Games, the IOS got the first two Genesis Sonic games in 2013. Like CD, it retained what was good along with adding in certain features. The most notable being Hidden Palace Zone in 2, which was something magazines showed in 1992. And it has come down to Sega allowing Whitehead and a few companies to headline and create the next new Sonic game with Mania.

With what has been seen in the videos on YouTube, Mania will keep people wowed. Graphically, it looks phenomenal. The impression I get is being similar to Sega's ill fated 32x add-on and the game, Knuckles Chaotix. It blows that game out of the water as far as visuals go. Everything from the colors and backgrounds to the animations is amazing. From what I've read, it's a 32-bit engine and that it's going for things that you wouldn't have expected on 16-bit systems. Nostalgia overload will set in on a few. That Sega look is there and is about on par with, if not, better than what a Neo-Geo did.

Whitehead's stuff comes from the days of the Genesis, and Mania is going after the style of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. It looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Expanding some of the levels of the originals intrigue me a little bit. Some of the newer levels look inspired from other games. This is a game made by fans for fans. It wants you to explore. It wants you to go fast. The different styles of play from each character adds a bit of value to the playthroughs. Whatever it's doing could be a sign for things to come if the game were to sell and be held in high regard.

Sega has been on the ups an downs for the last 10 years, and they have tried to improve their image. With accepting Whitehead and a few others since 2009, this could be a brand new chapter for the company and for other projects beyond Sonic the Hedgehog. If Mania takes off, who knows what kind of project could be seen next. The minority has begged for many franchises to come back. A lot of companies could come to Whitehead to head a major project that will feel like a labor of love. Mania will come out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Hopefully, it catches everyone's attention whenever it cout.

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