Sonic Mania is doing what most Sonic fans have wanted since the blue hedgehog transitioned into three dimensions: taking it back to the original quadrilogy. And not only does Sonic Mania‘s gameplay reflect that classic era of ’90s gaming, its opening animation sets the stage perfectly for a time period that loved pastel colors, bizarrely abstract backdrops, and less-than-lean protagonists.
The Sonic franchise is a somewhat bizarre one in its enduring popularity, because although Sonic is one of gaming’s most classic and beloved faces, the game has not fared well in the years since its mid-’90s peak. There have been odd diamonds in the rough, but there have been an awful lot of lacklustre Sonic games over the years. While many will argue the reason for that, Headcannon and PagodaWest have decided that it was straying from the classic formula, which is why Sonic Mania goes back to Sonic’s 2D roots.
More than that though, Sonic Mania is looking more and more like a celebration of the early ’90s era that spawned the character. Although of a high-quality with beautiful coloring and attention to detail, the style of its opening animation is very reminiscent of a bygone era.
Sonic Mania‘s opening cinematic is so retro, it’s even got a slightly chubby main character again. Gone are the long legs and slender waistline of more modern Sonics. This is the original character who could have been ripped right from any of the original games, or one of the two very different TV shows based on the character.
Indeed with the geometric backdrops of this short animation, the developers appear to be giving a nod to the arguably very poor Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog show, which although nostalgic, is no way near as well liked or remembered as its contemporary, Sonic the Hedgehog.
Notice too another nod to Sonic Mania‘s place in the franchise. The clock-like dial that shows up briefly at the start of the animation goes from 1 to 2 to 3, and then on to K and M. That’s the game’s way of telling out that as far as Mania goes, it’s a sequel to Sonic and Knuckles, the fourth game in the original Sonic series of games.