Sonic is back - now how many times have you heard that over the years? Well this time, it’s the fans themselves calling it out, and for good reason; Sonic Mania is everything they wanted and more.

The gameplay is a cut and paste of the classic Mega Drive games. Sonic (and/or Tails/Knuckles) must race through each zone to defeat Dr Eggman, collecting rings and emeralds as they go. For anyone who has ever played any of the classic Sonic games, this should be nothing new, but as they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. This classic gameplay exhibits one key thing that is constantly missing from the modern efforts involving the hedgehog; momentum. When Sonic moves, he doesn’t just stop on a dime, he has to stop like any object in motion. This tiny little thing makes the game flow so much better, and is just one of many elements that show the love and care put into this game.

From the beginning the developers are eager to show off their love for Sonic - the game is swimming in nostalgia for all things related to the blue hedgehog. And that’s likely because it’ not SEGA or Sonic Team that developed this game; it was a team of fans who were responsible. Whether it’s bringing in lesser known characters for a quick cameo, or reviving a certain spin-off game for a boss (I won’t spoil what it is, but it’s in the Chemical Plant) the people at work here know this franchise well.

But if one thing will stand out even to onlookers, it’s the visuals in this game. Without hyperbole, this might be the best looking 2D Sonic game, period. This isn’t just a game made in the style of the originals; it’s been beefed up in terms of its colours, sprites and animation quality to near perfection. Even when moving at the high speeds these games are expected to achieve, you can still get a look at the landscapes of the game, and it’s not just the new levels that look amazing; even the returning zones have had a serious revamp in quality, and look every bit as fresh as the newcomers.

It’s hard to find fault with this game, but one could perhaps be a little concerned by how few of the zones are all new. This is definitely valid for those who have played Sonic Generations, and are perhaps tired of just remembering the old times, wanting something new. But thankfully, the new features introduced in the classic levels, combined with the incredibly large layouts are more than enough to validate their presence here in this game.

Sonic Mania is a fantastic game. It’s beautiful, fun, varied, but more than all of that, it’s a victory for Sonic fans. After all of the ups and downs that they’ve been led on since the turn of the century, there is a game that all fans can agree is a masterpiece.

But what about those few who have never touched a Sonic game before? Well, you’ve picked a perfect time to start.

But despite that

+++ Beautiful everything
+++ Fantastic animation
+++ Amazing soundtrack
++ Great call-backs and hidden extras
- Rare glitches
- Very few 100% new zones