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Could Sonic Mania be the best Sonic the Hedgehog game since the Genesis?

Could Sonic Mania be the best Sonic the Hedgehog game since the Genesis?

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There is a cycle that fans of Sonic the Hedgehog are all too familiar with, and it goes a little something like this. Sega announces a new game starring the hedgehog with attitude. People get their hopes up that it will restore the franchise to relevance by focusing on the pure speed of the Genesis glory days. Sega says all the right things.

And then the game comes out and Sonic is wearing a scarf. Or you have to play as a werewolf. Or it involves swords.

With the just-announced Sonic Mania, however, it's hard to see how Sega can screw it up. It's being developed in collaboration with Christian Whitehead, the programmer whose homemade Sonic ports were so impressive that Sega gave him a job, and it looks like it's doing everything right. Just look at that trailer! It's a gorgeous explosion of platforms, popcorn, and pixel art that I want to put on my TV screen this instant.

Let's not be too optimistic

There's a new drop-dash move that looks like a great addition, getting you up to speed right away from the levels' slower moments. And there are three playable characters, but the other two are Tails and Knuckles, so that's okay. Basically this looks like what Sonic 4 should have been.

I am well aware that I'm at risk of feeding the Sonic Cycle here, though, so let's not be too optimistic. Sega could certainly still find a way to make this game terrible. But if you watch this gameplay footage from Gamespot, it appears that Sega has finally worked out that one approach to making a not-awful Sonic game is to make it look exactly like it did on the Genesis:

Which is, you know, not the most progressive approach to game development, but I'll take it over Sonic and the Black Knight.

Sonic Mania will be out for PC, PS4, and Xbox One in spring. Fingers crossed.