Sonic Mania

1992 is alive and well. Christian Whitehead and team turn in a beautiful rewrite of the 16-bit Sonic games with all-new stages.

Key events

Fandom's a funny thing, isn't it? When a new SegaWorld opened up on the slightly tatty seafront at the foot of Brighton's Madeira Drive a good few years back, I was at the peak of my obsession with the company who'd brought blue sky joy to so many. And so I decided to head down to the opening in the Sega T-shirt I'd made myself to show my support, and at least one person appreciated the effort; someone in a slightly tatty Sonic the Hedgehog costume, who gave me a big, bright blue lollipop that had been reserved for winners of the colouring-in competition they were running that day. I was 21. I still have that lollipop, and I'm still proud of what I did.

Sonic Mania Plus now has a release date

Sonic Mania Plus now has a release date

Coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch in July.

Sega has announced that its upcoming Sonic Mania Plus expansion update thing is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch on July 17th.

Sonic Manic Plus is essentially a refined, extended reworking of last year's excellent Sonic Mania - what Sega is calling the "definitive version". It takes the already rock-solid retro platforming core of the original and finesses it into a blurry blue sheen.

For starters, it introduces two new, if somewhat obscure, playable characters in the form of Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel (both first seen in the 1993 isometric arcade spin-off, SegaSonic the Hedgehog), along with an intriguing new Encore mode. This, says Sega, gives "a fresh look to familiar zones" with new challenges, layouts, and visual changes.

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There's an updated, expanded version of Sonic Mania coming this summer

There's an updated, expanded version of Sonic Mania coming this summer

With Mighty the Armadillo, Ray the Flying Squirrel.

Sega has unveiled Sonic Mania Plus, an updated, expanded version of last year's excellent retro-inspired Sonic Mania. It's due out this summer on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Sonic Mania Plus was revealed during Sega's snappily titled Gotta Go Fast: The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Panel at SXSW Gaming, along with a full run-down of its brand-new features.

First up, Sonic Mania Plus will introduce two classic series stars as playable characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Both debuted in the 1993 isometric arcade spin-off, SegaSonic the Hedgehog, and most recently had a cameos in Sonic Generations.

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Sonic the Hedgehog movie has a release date

Sega's upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie now has a release date: 15th November 2019.

It's a year later than expected - a vague "2018" date was whispered when the Paramount project originally got greenlit, back in February 2016.

But work on the film is now underway, Hollywood Reporter writes. There's a director and writer (no one you'll have heard of), while Deadpool director Tim Miller is executive producing.

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FeatureSonic Mania and its impact on the future of the Sonic series

And a little something about Samba de Amigo on Switch.

There was a Sonic the Hedgehog game that came out a short while ago, you might have noticed. It was also a mighty fine Sonic the Hedgehog game, too, restoring a little swagger and glory to the series thanks to the efforts of Christian Whitehead and his team with the outstanding Sonic Mania.

Steam users review-bomb Sonic Mania over unexpected DRM

Steam users review-bomb Sonic Mania over unexpected DRM

UPDATE: Sega patches offline play bug, adds Denuvo warning.

UPDATE 31st August 2017: Sega has said the offline play bug that affected the PC version of Sonic Mania has been patched.

Sega has also added a Denuvo warning to Sonic Mania's Steam page.

In a post on Facebook, Sega said it found a problem within the game code that prevented people playing offline, and denied it had anything to do with the game's controversial DRM.

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Why are Sonic's eyes green in Sonic Adventure, the franchise's first serious crack at a fully 3D polygonal platformer? It turns out there's a lovely little story behind that. Ristar creator Yuji Uekawa was the man tasked with revamping Sega's mascot for his debut on Dreamcast. Some of his decisions were practical: shrinking Sonic's enormous, swept-back skull and elongating his limbs, for instance, so that he doesn't look like a fuzzy joystick when viewed from the rear. Others were a touch more poetic. "He is always seeing these green pastures around him, like in Green Hill Zone," Uekawa explains in an interview conducted for Sega's 25th anniversary artbook. "I thought it would be nice to reflect that in his eyes."

Sonic Mania is chock full of references to the blue blur's 25-year legacy, with no shortage of fan service for the most dedicated of Sega connoisseurs. Yet there's one Easter egg that's so subtle and self-deprecating that only the most ardent of aficionados will catch it. Thankfully, we have one such man on staff with the Digital Foundry's eerily perceptive John Linneman putting his Sonic knowledge to the test.

Sonic Mania review

EssentialSonic Mania review

Lord of the rings.

There's an area in Sonic 2's Chemical Plant Zone that still has me clutching my chest when I think of it. Tucked towards the end of the second act is a shaft filled with moving blocks, sliding around in clumps of four to create a precarious series of stairways. Nothing too horrendous in itself, but as you climb to the top the zone's underlying ocean of toxic purple goop surges abruptly, flooding the shaft even as the door slams shut behind you. Is there any track in all of video game music more nightmarish than Sonic's drowning countdown? And is there anything more dreadful, when you're in the teeth of that music, than having to wrestle with the game's underwater physics - wilting in horror as you graze a block by a pixel, precious seconds squandered as the blue blur drifts lazily to the platform beneath?

That flooded shaft kept my eight-year-old self from the relative peace of the Aquatic Ruin Zone for months - and it's back in Sonic Mania, Christian Whitehead's absurdly lovely homage to Sonic's 16-bit heyday. Much else has changed, however. Dotted throughout the 2017 incarnation of Chemical Plant you'll find power-up TVs lifted from Sonic 3 - including the Bubble Shield, which staves off the threat of suffocation. Entire sections of the course have been uprooted, rearranged and spruced up with new fixtures, such as troughs of gel you can harden into bounce pads by jumping on giant syringes. And the bosses, above all, have been completely reimagined. I won't spoil it, but Act 2's concluding clash is the kind of gleeful nod to a certain other Sonic game that should have any long-in-the-tooth fan laughing hysterically. It's representative of a project that doesn't merely restore the past with the care of a museum curator touching up a faded portrait, but also twists and expands it, to create an experience that is equal parts nostalgia pang and giddy excitement.

To put that in slightly less grandiose terms, Mania is Sonic without 20-odd years of slowly accumulating bullshit. The wider pantheon of sidekicks - Shadow, Silver, Big the sodding Cat - have been cast headlong into the screaming cosmic abyss from whence they came, reducing the playable line-up to the Holy Trinity: Sonic himself (who can use each shield power-up's special ability), long-suffering fox acquaintance Tails (who can fly and swim) and beefy echidna rival Knuckles (who can smash through certain walls, climb and glide). The game's 12 zones mix comprehensive, extremely playful reworkings of classic levels from Sonic 1 through Sonic & Knuckles with three brand new stages - all designed by Whitehead, fellow Sonic guru Simon "Headcannon" Thomley and Major Magnet studio PagodaWest using the Retro Engine, a proprietary technology built specifically to support features from the 32-bit console generation and before.

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Sonic Mania release date set for August

Sonic Mania is now slated for a 15th August launch on Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Digital pre-orders are 10 per cent off on Steam, bringing the price to £13.49 / $17.99. On consoles it's the regular price of £14.99 / $19.99.

The pixelated retro sidescroller was originally planned for a spring release, but it was delayed for the developer to put on the finishing touches.

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Sonic Mania release slips to summer

UPDATE: First proper look at Sonic Forces gameplay.

UPDATE: Sega's released a gameplay video of Sonic Forces, the 3D Sonic game due out later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

FeatureSonic boom: Ellie Gibson on nostalgia, novelty, and that 9/10

Look, at least it's not another Pokemon Go article.

Sometimes I worry I've read so many video game press releases I've started to talk like them. A few years ago, for example, I remember saying to my husband, "I think we should leverage the success of our existing legacy brand to extend the franchise in an exciting new direction." It was only when he saw I was wearing a new nightie he realised I wanted another baby.

Is Sonic Mania the sequel we've waited decades for?

Digital FoundryIs Sonic Mania the sequel we've waited decades for?

Retro Engine developers take Sega's mascot back to his 2D roots.

Digital Foundry writing about a Sonic game? That's right - with the announcement of Sonic Mania this past weekend, we really wanted to take a look at it. On the surface, Sonic Mania looks like another attempt at bringing Sonic back to his 2D roots but this project has a secret weapon that stand to make a big difference. It's one thing to adopt the same perspective of the Mega Drive classics, as we've seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 4, but it's another thing entirely to capture the gameplay, style, and attitude of classic Sonic. That's the key to a successful Sonic revival and all the signs suggest that this is what Sonic Mania is set to deliver.

The new title is a collaboration between Sega, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, and PagodaWest games. If you aren't familiar with these names, we wouldn't blame you, but they tie back into the re-emergence of classic Sonic games on multiple platforms, including Sonic CD and the first two 16-bit adventures. It's not the fact that these ports exist that makes them so important in this situation, rather, it's the way in which they were achieved.

It all stems from Christian's long history with the series that is rooted in an almost decade-old fan game he created known as Retro-Sonic. Often known by his handle The Taxman, Christian started off working in Multimedia Fusion before writing and re-writing new code designed to closely simulate Sonic the Hedgehog. This experience ultimately led to a proper, self-developed toolset which helped him study and recreate the original Sonic CD using a brand new custom designed engine dubbed the Retro Engine.

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Sega announces two new Sonic games

Sega has announced two new Sonic games - one that's a retro remake of sorts and one that's completely new.

The new game is dubbed Project Sonic and is due next autumn. It's in development for NX, PC, PS4 and Xbox One. A cinematic trailer announced it and heavily suggested there will be co-op. Sonic is joined by another Sonic while he runs towards a giant Robotnik, presumably, and the video's tagline reads: "When things look their darkest, even heroes need a helping hand."

The adjoining press release doesn't add anything further - only that the game is being made by Sonic Team, which, well, what on earth else would it make?

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