Video Games Weekly: Sonic Mania
Sonic the Hedgehog is game series that was first released in 1991 on Sega. Since then, there have been many Sonic games for a variety of consoles. The majority of the games are fast-paced 2D platform jumpers, but like any other popular videogame series, there have been a few Sonic games that dabbled in other genres like racecar and fighting games. Sonic is considered a “classic”, and the newest game in the series is something you should know about.
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC
Single or Multiplayer: Both, but multiplayer is local play only
Storyline: The storyline isn’t very obvious unless you are familiar with the game already. Players control Sonic, a blue hedgehog that has a need for speed. He runs around collecting gold rings, jumping on enemies, and saving all of the animals that have been captured by the evil Dr. Eggman.
I want to mention that Sonic Mania isn’t a remastered edition of previous Sonic games, but it isn’t a completely new game either. Instead, the creators selected some of their favorite levels from former Sonic games, creatively gave them new twists to make the game interesting, as well as created brand-new levels. They also decided to keep the retro 16-bit art style from the old Sonic games, which may be appealing to gamers who grew up playing Sonic, but may deter new players.
Gameplay: Unlike other platform jumper games, Sonic requires a little less strategy and a lot more luck. That is because the game is incredibly fast-paced! The goal of the game is to beat every level by jumping through obstacles, jumping on small enemies, and defeating the boss at the end. This all has to be done in under 10 minutes per level, otherwise you lose a life! Since there is such an emphasis on speed, Sonic often curls into a tiny blue ball and whizzes so fast around the screen that I can barely keep track of where he is on the screen. This is what makes Sonic fun, but it can also be frustrating for some gamers like me who like to collect *everything* in video games or who prefer to have more control over their character’s movements. To be honest, I can’t play Sonic for very long because the fast pace and whizzing gives me a headache.
Sonic Mania has three different types of “games”. The first one is called “Mania Mode”, which is the storyline. There are about 12 special areas, each with two “acts” (levels). While you can technically have two players play together in Mania Mode, I don’t recommend it. This is because the camera only focuses on Sonic (Player One), and since the point of the game is to move Sonic as quickly as possible through obstacles, Player Two is always left behind in the dust. The only time Player Two will feel useful is during boss battles, but that’s hardly enough engagement time for me to consider the storyline to truly be multiplayer.
The second type of game is “Time Attack”. This is where you can replay levels and try to beat your personal best times. This is the only “online” interaction where you can post your times on online leaderboards.
Finally, there is “Competition” where two players can race each other. This was by far my favorite part of the game because competition can be FIERCE. If you have gaming programs, this game might be appealing to teens, but keep in mind only two players can compete at a time.
Audience: Anyone who grew up playing Sonic will love this game. As for teens, I feel like it’s a gamble. I’m sure a few teens love Sonic, but I don’t think this game is good for teens who are new to playing video games. It’s incredibly fast-paced, hard to control, and I can see where they would get easily frustrated. Especially because the bosses are quite difficult compared to the much earlier Sonic games.
Verdict: I would recommend buying a copy for circulating collections, but it appears you can’t buy a disc version at the moment. If you purchased the “Collector’s Edition”, you pay $70 for Sonic statue, cartridge cast with a gold ring, collector’s box, and the digital code to download the game.
As for teen gaming programs, I recommend asking your teens. If they’re really into Sonic, then this might be a good choice especially because the game only costs $20 on online console stores. You can also have them demo the game by playing it for free online: http://www.freesonic.org/ or http://www.allsonicgames.net/
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network