With Sonic Mania Plus' recent release on Switch, it feels fitting to allow ourselves another chance to bask in the nostalgia-filled glory the original game presented. Sonic games can be a touchy subject to talk about, with fans of the series liking and disliking different elements of each - and a general sense of disappointment emanating from some recent Sega-developed releases - but Sonic Mania seemed to change all of this. Suddenly, Sonic fans were happy again.
But how did this happen? Why were Sonic fans pretty much universally enamoured with Mania? To try and answer this, Eurogamer recently sat down with the game's project lead Christian Whitehead - a man responsible for a number of fan-made Sonic remakes before getting the official call-up from Sega itself.
"The first game I ever really played was Sonic 2 - and that really set off my interest in video games," he says. "There was this special cheat debug mode, and for me it was the first time you could see some of the tricks of how games work. That really sparked my curiosity in how games are developed."
This curiosity and fan-level understanding of what makes a Sonic game truly feel like a Sonic game helped Whitehead to produce Sonic Mania. In a period of time when fans of the series were left consistently underwhelmed with the latest games, Whitehead managed to stand up and give them a game worth celebrating. The full interview is very much worth a read if you're interested, but this snippet below talks about Whitehead's own ideas on what makes Sonic tick - and ultimately, what makes Sonic Mania so great, too.
"It's interesting with Sonic. There's a lot of different fans, and they all have different feelings on what Sonic is to them. So I can only use what my own personal feelings are for Sonic, and for me it's always been... Obviously the character itself has a very appealing design, it's very iconic. For gameplay there are a lot of inspirations from pinball - all these outside elements - almost skateboarding, really, the idea of picking up speed as you roll down slopes. It's all these physics interactions.
"The core premise of the game is really simple - it's just get to the end of the level and win - but there are so many different ways you can interact with the stages, picking up speed at certain angles, jumping off at certain angles. It's got a very playground feel. Going fast feels good - and at the time on the Mega Drive that was a very impressive technical feat - but also the freedom of gameplay, it's what appeals to me as a Sonic fan.
What are your thoughts on Sonic Mania and its relationship to other games in the franchise? Was it a welcome return to the gameplay you've always loved, or were you happy with Sega's recent efforts anyway? Share your thoughts with us below.