Sonic Mania

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Subway Diet » Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:06 pm

Saw all the glowing reviews the other morning and ran to steam to buy a copy. Didn't realise until after the fact it had been delayed 2 weeks on PC. #-o

Oh well. Guess that's me Pre-Ordered then. :lol:
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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:07 pm

We've waited 23 years for this, what's another couple of weeks?

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Snowy » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:27 pm

I think this one will likely pass me by, I never played the originals so have no nostalgia-hunger to feed.

Actually that's a lie, I played a very old version, once, while stoned out of my tiny noggin during my misspent youth. That doesn't count though :oops:
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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:39 pm

I think this is worth a buy so long as you didn't actively dislike the Mega Drive originals. It may have a big nostalgia factor for some, but it's a bloody good platformer regardless.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Jez » Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:45 am

Not my thing either. Never played the originals.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Tichinde » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:22 am

My mate has it on PS4, watched him play a couple of levels yesterday, I suspect this is getting bought.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Subway Diet » Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:30 pm

Figured I'd do the second (third?) best thing and crack out the old Mega Drive. Not played the first game in a while, so I forgot how tragic the UK version is with it's slowed down music.

On the flip side, Star Light Zone sounds extra smooth.
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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Mantis » Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:30 am

Caved in and bought it so I could play coop last night. They've certainly nailed the multiplayer aspect down to how it worked in the originals, Tails just cannot keep up most of the time. Bit disappointed you can't do the special stages with a second player, but even more disappointed with the fact that the special stage from Sonic 2 didn't seem to make the cut. I really dislike the one where you're picking up blue orbs on a grid. Does the Sonic 2 version ever make an appearance or did they just drop it for this game?

Afterthought, it has really good music; the new tracks are all nicely done and the remixes of the original stages are especially neat.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:15 pm

I've not seen anything other than blue orbs for bonus stages, and the specials are all 'catch the UFO'.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Mantis » Fri Aug 18, 2017 12:19 pm

That's a shame. The nostalgia is obviously a huge part of what makes this game appealing and if we'd seen that tunnel special zone pop up last night I think we'd have lost our shit. A remixed version of the track that used to play on that mode would have been excellent too.

In terms of the general gameplay, it's a perfect representation of classic Sonic; though I had forgotten how janky that could be at times. When you build up momentum and just let it carry you through the level with minimal input only to come crashing into an enemy you could never have predicted it is quite jarring, but then I guess Sonic was always about learning the levels and eventually figuring our how to best zoom through without taking a single hit.

Subway Diet wrote:Figured I'd do the second (third?) best thing and crack out the old Mega Drive. Not played the first game in a while, so I forgot how tragic the UK version is with it's slowed down music.

On the flip side, Star Light Zone sounds extra smooth.


I never noticed this as a child, but watching comparison videos shows how ridiculously different the two versions are. Growing up on the 50hz version, I actually prefer the slower music, it's a lot more chilled out.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:27 pm

Aaaaand finished. Sorta. This is the best Sonic game ever released. There, I said it. It's better than 2, it's better than 3&K. It's so much better than just about every game released since those two that it's comical. Yes I'm saying this as a fan of the Mega Drive games, but I really do think it'll work for others too, although if you didn't like those originals I maintain that it's unlikely you'll like this. At a mere £16, everyone who enjoyed the old Sonic games should be buying it. Please encourage this, there's a great story behind it and it absolutely deserves a sequel or additional content.

I was surprised at how few brand new zones there were - there are just 4. Still, the reused zones all felt fresh, and there weren't a great many sections lifted directly from the old games. Generally the first act is a remix of sorts of the original zones, and the second introduces new elements that made it feel fresh. I think this has the best level design of any Sonic game, with lots of great flowing sections and very few "pit" hazards (I don't think I died to a pit more than a couple of times). For the majority of the game it wants you to maintain your momentum rather than killing you for it, but that does mean you'll miss a lot of the hidden sections.

The boss fights remained an absolute treat throughout that will definitely appeal more to fans of the originals, but I think they're the most successful element of the gameplay. They're pretty devious in places, but every single one of them is a well-designed fight. There was one that was a bit of a difficulty spike, explained in the spoiler below, but generally you'll be able to beat them on a second or third try at most. The difficulty curve wasn't as steep as it could have been, with a lot of the challenge represented by the tracking down of the hidden special zone rings, but it's rarely *too* easy. There's a good mix of fast sections and slower platformy bits.

There is a single, glaring fault with the game; the lives system. C'mon guys, we're done with this ancient mechanic, aren't we? You do only get sent back to the start of the zone, not the game, but that can be a good chunk of time. You don't start the next zone with a new stock either, so if you save the game after finishing one zone and come back later, you can end up getting to the final boss of a zone without realising you have just one life left, die learning the mechanics, and have to repeat the last 15 minutes.

Full zone name spoilers and some boss reviews below, so stay away if you want them to be a surprise.

Spoiler: show
Sonic games have always had zones where I hated seeing the title pop up, but I think Mania will probably have the least, I won't know until I've done more than one playthrough. In no real order:

Brilliant: Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Studiopolis, Flying Battery, Mirage Saloon, Titanic Monarch
Decent: Hydrocity, Lava Reef, Stardust Speedway
A bit dull: Press Garden, Metallic Madness
Actually Bad: Oil Ocean

Oil Ocean was a crap zone in Sonic 2, and although they've added new bits to it, it still has the same problem - waiting for those stupid green pressure-release-port lift things to reset. They just knock all of the momentum out of the zone. and you spend too much time on the oil slick ramps or in those bizarre green cannon things. The final boss here was a noticeable difficulty spike too; in the vast majority of boss fights, you can get hit and run around scraping a few rings together, but in this they generally fall into the oil and you'll never see them again. It also has a bit of randomisation to the fight (I think) which can catch you off guard. I had to play through the zone 4 times before I beat it.

Hydrocity was the least changed of the returning zones, with only one new mechanic that I can remember (the boat); otherwise it played almost exactly like the Sonic 3 version, just with a new layout. Chemical Plant 2 had the most changes, and it felt entirely new.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Flying Battery is just an amazing zone, and my favourite of the lot. It was good in 3&K, probably down to having one of the best backing tracks in the series, but it's dialed up a few notches here. Act 1 is decent, but Act 2 is where it really shines, with the aircraft flying through a thunderstorm giving a real punch to the visuals. The doors that effectively switched the zone from Flying Battery to Sonic 2's Wing Fortress were possibly my favourite nod to the old games. The boss of Act 2 is one of my favourites.

Speaking of bosses, Chemical Plant 2 certainly had the most surprising one, with it being a game of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and not an actual Sonic boss at all. The "final" boss in act 2 of Titanic Monarch was easily the most tense, with the slightly sadistic warping to quick sub-bosses that were more difficult than Robotnik himself. Other favourites included the role reversal in Hydrocity 1, the submarine fight of Hydrocity 2, the Weather boss of Studiopolis 2, the Sonic 1 finale in Metallic Madness 1, and the absolutely beautiful capsule machine from Metallic Madness 2.

I said that I'd "sorta" finished the game earlier, because I believe there's a final boss à la Sonic 3&K that you can only access if you have all of the chaos emeralds, and I ended the game with a pitiful 3 - the new special stages are hard when you're learning their tricks, and you aren't given many opportunities.

Edit: Image
That's better.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Mantis » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:22 pm

I got just past the Flying Battery Zone on co-op, but I think I'm going to start a new game with solo Sonic just to fully explore all the levels. Some of the level design really is fantastic, I especially love the way you time warp between Flying Battery and Wing Fortress.

Also, whoever thought of dropping you into the Mean Bean Machine for a boss really did show a stroke of genius.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:51 pm

I watched a stupidly in-depth analysis of the game's launch animation today. The guy does analyse just about every single frame so it's probably too long-winded for most.

It's worth watching the first few minutes just to see how much love and effort was put into it and I think it demonstrates just how well the creators understand the franchise.

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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Subway Diet » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:21 pm

It's really good, isn't it?
Not that far in, but it's amazing how they're both playing on nostalgia while also making huge improvements to the original design. I'm really impressed so far. So much so that while playing the Chemical Plant Zone, I was starting to consider this in the running for the best game of the year. ;)
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Re: Sonic Mania

Postby Raid » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:06 pm

Subway Diet wrote:So much so that while playing the Chemical Plant Zone, I was starting to consider this in the running for the best game of the year. ;)

I'm glad I'm not the only one entertaining that thought.

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