Thoughts on Sonic Mania

Sega managed to do the impossible: make an amazing Sonic game. Reviews for the games are overwhelmingly positive, even to the amazement of people working at Sega.

And the game is selling well. In the US, it’s the top on the best selling chart (for Nintendo Switch).

And to most people who have been following this game and the developers behind it, it’s not a surprise. Sonic Mania was made by a team of people who have a long history of working on Sonic fan games and have made what are considered the definitive versions of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic CD.

Early last year, I spoke on this very site on how excited people were for this game. The trailer on Nintendo’s YouTube channel had around 4 million views. That same trailer now has 5.6 million views. In the article, I said the game was going to be a surprise hit. Based on the reactions to the game, I’d say my initial assessment was spot on.

What Should Sega Do Next

With the game being well liked and appearing to sell well, what should be Sega’s next move.

First, Sega should get a physical release for the game (at least on the Nintendo Switch where it will sell the best). Sega could release it for $40 and add some extra stuff like the manual, the soundtrack and maybe some other cheap trinkets to increase the product’s value. Getting the game in stores will give the game exposure (especially to those who don’t follow the online stores), and enthusiast will be able to get a physical version of the game.

Second, Sega should immediately green light a new game. The game should be a completely new outing with all new levels. One of the complaints I’ve seen from reviews (if you can even call it one) is that they’d like more new levels.

Sonic Mania is not the phenomenon, but the catalyst to one. The game is amazing for sure, but most of its content is stuff from the older games. Even some of the interesting boss fights were new takes on older bosses (and one reference to another Sonic Genesis game). As a result, the game’s enthusiasm come from older fans who still fondly remember the old games. But an all new game can help the game appeal to a new generation that didn’t grow up in the 90s. If Sega plays their cards right, the follow up to Sonic Mania could be a colossal success, one the company hasn’t seen in a decade.

That said, the game will need to have a physical release from day one. One mistake Sega made is they saw it as a small indie title rather than a main entry to the series. Sega and Sonic Team seem to be betting on Sonic Forces, a mistake that I’ll talk more about soon. This time, they need to view the next 2D Sonic as a main game. This means getting the game on store shelves and expanding the team to create a bigger and better game. Remember, the next game will compete with both Sonic Mania and all the classic games. Expectation will be higher than they were with Sonic Mania.

Sega’s Quality

Much has been said about why Sega was kicked out of the console market (I’ve answered that question myself). I’ve argued that Sega fell out of favor as gaming taste changed; however, we could simply argue that part of the reason Sega dropped out was that their games couldn’t sell systems. Sonic the Hedgehog was the game that made Sega competitive with Nintendo. Sega was able to make games that rivaled Nintendo. One of the reasons Nintendo can stick around is because their games are made to sell systems. With little third-party support, Nintendo needs to push their systems (this is also why Sony makes second rate games because they rely on other companies to push the system).

This also explains why the quality of Sega’s games has suffered. If you aren’t selling systems, you don’t need every game to be a massive hit. Nintendo needs multiple mega hits to keep going. Sega doesn’t, and as a result, their quality suffers. This may also partly explain why they never took the 2D games seriously. Despite issues with New Super Mario Bros games, Nintendo insisted they get made because they push systems. Sega didn’t understand this, which is why it took a group of talented fans who loved those game to revive Sonic.

Hopefully, Sega will see the writing on the wall and green light the next game. Who knows. What I can leave you with is that this game is amazing. If you don’t own it, you should get it. Even if we don’t get a new 2D game, at least we got this one, and that’s better than nothing.

And don’t forget to check out this game’s amazing soundtrack.

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