The first time I played Sonic Mania was a revelatory moment for me. I’d seen the footage from San Diego Comic-Con, and everything certainly looked right, but after two decades of disappointing Sonic games, I tried to temper my expectations. It wasn’t until I got my hands on the game for the first time at PAX West that my doubts completely vanished — it turns out, Sonic Mania is the real deal, and that fact alone has made it easily my most anticipated game of the year.
But what exactly is it that Sonic Mania does right that so many other games have gotten wrong? Above, we’ll take a deep dive into what Sonic Mania is, why it’s special, and what exactly sets it apart from all the other failed attempts to make a good 2D Sonic game — plus, the surprising reason the game is called Sonic Mania to begin with.