Sonic Mania Hands-On Impressions: Blue Streak Speeds By

Sonic Mania Hands-On Impressions: Blue Streak Speeds By

This Sonic game is engineered to remind you of Sonic's best years, and it sure does bring back memories.

How many times have you heard Sega declare "Our next Sonic game brings the speedy hedgehog back to his roots!" only to find yourself disappointed by muddy graphics and boring level design that punishes you for having the gall to run fast?

Don't think too hard about that question. You'll only make yourself depressed all over again.

So when I say Sonic Mania takes Sonic the Hedgehog back to his roots, I understand that's a phrase with a lot of power, and I don't wield it lightly. Feel free to hold me to it, though: Sonic Mania really does feel like it'd fit right in with the games released during Sonic's Genesis heyday.

Editor's pick

Nintendo Switch: Hands-On Impressions

I played Sonic Mania for the Nintendo Switch using one of the Joy-Cons (held sideways like an NES controller). I zipped through two level: Green Hill Zone and the all-new Studiopololis Zone. Playing both reminded me of Sonic in his youth, when his games were as much about exploration as they were about careening through loop-de-loops. I didn't take the time to dart down every serpentine tunnel and explore every hidden area, but when I did slip off the trodden path, I was rewarded with power-ups and rings.

I wasn't punished for reckless running, either. I didn't spill onto spikes, and if I ran into a sideways springboard, it put me on another path instead of hurtling me backwards or into a trap. It didn't take me long to get over the speed paranoia modern Sonic games have instilled in me, and soon I was tearing up the scenery.

And by "tearing up the scenery," I mean I was literally wrecking the joint. Studiopolis Zone is filled with screens and windows that are begging to be shattered by your sonic booms. Do it, Sonic. It's what you were born for. Also, breaking stuff in Sonic Mania is wicked-fun.

There are innumerable independent games inspired by Sonic's best years, and some, like Freedom Planet and the upcoming Freedom Planet 2, started life as Sonic fan games. While those spin-offs are great, it's very nice to see Sonic-inspired pixel art and clever level design come back to an actual Sonic game.

Get ready to roll around at the speed of sound sometime this spring. Sonic Mania is on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 as well as the Switch.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve,, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

The 25 Best Nintendo Switch Games

Our rotating list of the best games on Switch, now updated for the Nintendo Switch Lite release!

Sonic Mania Bosses - How to Unlock Secret Final Boss

A guide to beat every boss in Sonic Mania on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch, covering every zone. Plus how to unlock the secret final boss in Sonic Mania.

Sonic Mania Cheats: Level Select Code, How to Collect Chaos Emeralds, Super Sonic, Special and Bonus Stages

This Sonic Mania guide will tell you all you need to know about Sonic’s return to his old school 2D gameplay roots. How to unlock Sonic Mania cheats, access the level select, and more.

PlayStation Plus Free Games For June Gives You a Chance to Catch Up on the Borderlands Series

Sonic Mania and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection headline June's free PS Plus games.

What's Your Favorite Sonic the Hedgehog Game?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | After this week's horrifying Sonic trailer, let's look back on some brighter times.

SEGA Pulls Leaked Sonic Mania Update

The update didn't stick around for long, but we learned a lot about what's coming to Sonic's newest 2D adventure.

More Analyses

A Fresh Look at New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch: Does it Measure Up to the Classics?

Where does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe rank alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World?

The State of Destiny 2 After Forsaken: A Game That Can't Shake Its Troubles

Forsaken was a solid start, but it wasn't enough to pull everyone back.

Sorry Pokemon Fans, Your Gold-Plated Cards from Burger King Aren't Worth Squat

Burger King's Pokemon cards from 1999 look kind of nice and they're fun to remember, but they're barely worth the cost of a milkshake.

More on PC

Starting Screen | Starting Screen: Blizzard's Troubled 2019 Finds the Once Invincible Studio at a Crossroads

This past year has found Blizzard embroiled in one controversy after another. What does it say about its future?

Wargroove Is Getting a Free Heist-Themed Co-Op DLC Called Double Trouble

Chucklefish will also introduce some new tools for custom maps and game-wide balance changes.

Monster of the Week: The Godfather of the Necromorph on Creating Dead Space's Famous Creature

Dead Space designer Ben Wanat tells us about the creation of the Necromorphs, one of last generation's most iconic monsters.

Apex Legends Is Going to Get Much-Needed Improvements to its Training Mode

You and some pals will be able to practice your grappling hook swings together.

Suspended Hearthstone Player Says He Accepts Blizzard's New Ruling

Blitzchung does wish Blizzard would reconsider its position on the casters, however.

Z1 and PlanetSide Developer Daybreak Hit With Another Round of Layoffs

Daybreak Game Company had two rounds of layoffs last year.