Sonic Mania is here, and it’s fantastic. With Sonic having suffered through so many duds over the years, developer Christian Whitehead (along with studios Headcannon and PagodaWest Games) has finally delivered a true return to form for the series, and both critics and players have heaped praise upon the new game as a result.
With the reviews of the game having now rolled in, its Metacritic score sits at a healthy 86%, higher than all of the most recent entries in the series. Even well-received games such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors were rated lower, with aggregated scores of 77% and 78% respectively. In fact, Sonic Mania has been rated higher than any other Sonic game in 15 years, with Sonic Advance achieving a score of 87% way back in 2002.
But will this achievement mark a turning point for the Sonic franchise? Unfortunately, that will depend UPon whether or not Sega decides to keep Whitehead around. Sonic Team typically handles the development of new Sonic games, with them currently working on Sonic Forces and previously taking the helm of Generations, Colors and the underwhelming Sonic Lost World. Their output has been very hit-and-miss over the years, though they remain in charge of the 3D Sonic games, with Sega mostly opting to swap out developers every now and again; for instance, the dreadful Wii U game Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was developed by Big Red Button Entertainment.
The success of Sonic Mania will hopefully see Whitehead, Headcannon and PagodaWest Games continue to work alongside one another, with many Sonic fans wanting them to provide an alternative to Sonic Team’s output. With Sonic’s 3D outings having been very inconsistent ever since the blue blur first stepped foot into the third dimension, hopefully Whitehead & co. will actually be able to spearhead a series that Sonic fans can rely on.