28. Sonic Mania
First Played: 2017
Times Completed: 10+
I'm a longtime fan of Sonic games and enjoy almost all of them to some extent, so I knew I'd enjoy this. What I wasn't prepared for was just how much it would grab me. I had a blast my first time through, but then I immediately went back for more, completing it several more times with different characters/abilities and doing all the bonus games. Not many games can completely occupy my spare time like this one did.
Widescreen is such an improvement to old Sonic stages, allowing you to see more of the oncoming level. The game consists of several new and several returning stages, from Sonic 1-3+CD. Returning stages have a fairly faithful first act, with some changes made, while Act 2 is completely new. The new stages are so well designed that I wish the whole game was entirely new, but I can accept some reuse here.
If I had to pick a favourite type of Special Stage, I'd be stuck between these new ones and the Blue Sphere ones from Sonic 3. Luckily this game has both. I like the choice to appeal to another old graphical style, with this primitive 3D polygonal look. I would happily play a new game that looked like this. In the main game, the sprite based levels are gorgeous and look like an idealised version of the classic 16-bit Sonic titles. Looking the part wouldn't be good enough though and thankfully these levels are as well designed as the best levels Sonic has ever dashed through. Even after multiple playthroughs, I doubt I've seen everything yet.
I can only hope a sequel is in the works, but even if it never comes to fruition, I know I'll be happy replaying this for years to come!