In anticipation of Sonic Mania coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC on August 15th, Sonic’s publicist at Sega, Edith Yang, recently showed off the game while agreeing to be peppered with stupid questions about how what’s old and new in Sonic’s latest Sunday jog.
For those who don’t know, what is Sonic Mania and how does it relate to the other Sonic The Hedgehog games?
It’s a new, 2D Sonic game that has both new zones as well as old familiar ones, though those old ones have new aspects to them like new pathways. Like in the zone “Green Hill,” the low pathway is different.
The game has also been rebuilt because Sonic Mania runs at 60 frames per second. The original games ran at just 30 frames per second.
Okay, just so I’m clear on this. In “Green Hill,” the level starts off the same, but when it splits into three pathways, the lowest one is different, but the other two are the same as they were originally.
Yeah. But that’s only for “Green Hill.” It’s not that the beginnings are always the same, and then one of the three pathways is always different. There are other parts of other zones that have been reworked.
And how many stages are there?
We haven’t announced that yet.
Even though it’s out in two weeks.
Okay. So what else is new?
Well, Sonic also has a new move called the “Drop Dash.” It’s kind of like the “Spin Dash,” but you don’t have to rev it up, and it doesn’t last as long.
Sonic Mania also has local drop-in, drop out co-op. You don’t even have to log out. If you just leave Knuckles alone for a while, the A.I. will take over until you take control again.
We’ve also changed the “Fire Shield.” Now it will burn wooden bridges so you can drop down to a lower level you couldn’t reach before.
I also assume the graphics have been redone, though it still has an old school look about it.
Yeah, though we also added some fun new animations. Like if you don’t do anything for a while, Sonic will start tapping his foot, while Knuckles will fall asleep. Also, if Sonic is on a ledge, he’ll waive his arms frantically like he’s trying to not fall off.
We also have new bonus stages. For instance, we have one where you have to collect all the blue spheres, while avoiding the red ones, and not only are you constantly moving, but you can only move along a grid, and the further along you are, the faster you move.
I assume they’re remixed as well?
Yeah, some of them are remixed ones from Sonic 3.
Besides that game, what are the other ones that have levels in Sonic Mania?
Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic CD.
Over the years, there’s been times when people have liked zones in Sonic games, but they didn’t like the game as a whole. Are there any of those zones in Sonic Mania?
I have to say that you will find out in two weeks.
So, what new aspects of Sonic Mania are you talking about today.
Well, first up, we’ve also added some special stages. In one, the viewpoint changes so it’s behind Sonic, and you’re chasing after a U.F.O. Now, if you pick up rings, it’ll give you more time. But if you pick up the blue orbs, it fills up a meter, which will speed you up. But there’s times when you’ll have to decide if you want to grab rings or the orbs.
Ah, the old risk vs. reward thing.
Now, in the stage I just mentioned, you can’t run off the edge, but in some of them you can.
Also, if you complete one, you get a Chaos Emerald. And if I collect all of them, maybe something happens…
Maybe Thanos destroys the universe.
Who told you!?!
I read the comics. Speaking of which, did I just read something that the people who did the Sonic The Hedgehog comics for like a million years aren’t doing them anymore?
Yeah, we’re not partnering with Archie Comics anymore. We’ve partnered with IDW instead.
Gotcha. Now, you mentioned how this has old zones and new ones. Does it also have old and new bosses?
It does. And some of the old bosses have new elements as well. For instance, when you face the Death Egg Robot from Sonic 2, he can now extend his arms out at you.
We also have new bosses, such as the Hardboiled Heavy.
He kind of looks like flying versions of the Death Egg Robot.
No, those are not the Hardboiled Heavy, the helicopter guy is. And to defeat him, you have to jump on the missiles to redirect them. Though you can only just on the blue ones, not the red ones.
Seems to be a running theme in Sonic’s life. So are there any new modes in Sonic Mania? You already mentioned co-op.
Well, we’ve added “Time Attack” mode. Some people want to get through the levels as fast as they can, and that’s what this mode lets you do.
We also added the ability to restart quickly when you’re playing “Time Attack.” Before, you had to pause the game, and then hit restart, and wait for it to reload. Now, if you hold down the “Y” button on the Xbox One [or the triangle button on PlayStation, or the “X” button on the Switch], it will instantly take you back to the beginning.
It also has leaderboards so you can compare your best times against other people.
Will you be able to do with just other people playing the game on the same system, or will you be able to compare your times against people on other ones as well.
We’re not finalized on that.
You mentioned earlier that Sonic has a new move, the “Drop Dash.”
Yeah, that comes in really handy in “Time Attack.”
I’m sure. But is there an option to turn it off so people do this old school and compare their best times that way?
No, but Tails and Knuckles can’t do that move, it’s only for Sonic, so you could play as Tails or Knuckles and do it that way. Especially since we have separate leaderboards for Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles.
Also, Knuckles, on certain stages, he has different entrance points than Sonic.
Ah. Now, is it safe to assume that all of this stuff is in every version of the game: PC, Switch, etc.
Except for being able to play it with a keyboard on PC, yes, the content is all the same. And the game looks the same as well.
Okay, so there are a couple pet peeves about games I want to ask you about. Can you turn the music down or off?
Good, good. And does the game have multiple difficulty options?
No, just the one. But the different characters do change things. Playing as Knuckles, for example, is kind of like our hard mode because his jump isn’t as much as Sonic’s.
Finally, the reason Sonic Mania has all the old stuff is because it’s a celebration of Sonic The Hedgehog being twenty-five years old. But is there anything else included in this game to celebrate this fact? Like maybe a straight remake of the first game with the original graphics?
Um…not in that way.