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What’s in Your Box: Chilli Dog Mania

/ Aug 19th, 2017 No Comments

Sonic Mania

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

August has been a pretty good month for games so far. Easily there are a ton of things I want to play but not enough time to play them. I’ve been playing a lot of Agents of Mayhem for review. While I won’t talk much about that here, it is a ton of fun. My love for the Saints Row series is abundant, and this is that same feel except with some cool twists in terms of team dynamics and weaponry.

My box this week has been filled with another love. An ancient love. Possibly my first video game love: Sonic the Hedgehog. Wait… am I a furry? Anyway, Sonic Mania came out this week and I got down on some post-modern Genesis love. Grab a chilli dog and chill!

Sweating Like a Fever, I’m a Maniac

Sonic the Hedgehog has been a series near and dear to me since I was a young boy. Growing up, I was a Genesis kid when nearly everyone had a SNES. Naturally as a Genesis kid, Sonic was your main bae.

The blue blur had a tight vice grip on your heart. You had to follow him and the spin-offs, no matter how silly things got. Everyone remembers wanting a 32X for that sweet Knuckles’ Chaotix. Honestly, I was such a fanboy I wrote Sonic fanfic as a kid on a ****ty Mac home computer. I was proud of myself for color coating the names of the characters.

Sonic Mania

What about the create your own Robotnik feature becoming real?

Then I grew up and realized what I loved about Sonic was squarely rooted in nostalgia. The games got worse and worse as I got older. Or maybe they were always bad, I just had more discerning taste. However, when you turn Sonic into a werehog or give him a Nathan Drake bandana and a whip and introduce a ton of goofy palette swap hedgehogs, you are in trouble.

Needless to say, the series has had some serious ups and downs following the Genesis era with mostly downs. The main gripe from the fans was they wanted a return to what made Sonic great: side-scrolling speedster platforming. Sega seemed to have heard that feedback and we got Sonic Mania.

Sonic Mania

Metal Sonic is back and a create-a-Sonic from Sonic Forces.

Since it was announced, people were hyped about Sonic heading back to his roots. The indie developed Sonic Mania heralded the change many wanted, but was going back to Genesis-esque graphics and those core gameplay mechanics enough?

After playing a good chunk of Sonic Mania, I have to say it is a mixed bag in many ways. While I was excited to try and chase that nostalgia dragon again, I don’t know how I could have expected anything different. I was promised Genesis era Sonic and it is what I got. It delivered, but I found myself wondering if it is what I wanted?

Sonic Mania

Sonic has to beat the claw because he ain’t no toy.

Stripping nostalgia and joy at seeing the series find its footing again after decades, there are a lot of gameplay elements I kind of don’t love. I didn’t love them when I was a kid, but didn’t know how to voice that displeasure. You bury dissatisfaction with zeal for video games in general and being able to play them. Plus, cartridges were hella expensive, so you didn’t act ungrateful even if a game was a bummer.

The truth is, Sonic always had gummy platforming. Whether you compare it to Mario at the time or modern twitch platformers, Sonic’s platforming is a bummer. Then the speed aspect of the game isn’t always great because levels feel resistant to blurring through them. Sonic Mania still has those inherent flaws, but it covers them up better because of how it riffs on the core concept.

Sonic Mania

The Puyo Puyo boss fight is fresh to death.

That’s where Sonic Mania succeeds. Much like Super Mario Maker, Sonic Mania turns the core gameplay elements and level design on its head to create something new and fun while maintaining a feel of the familiar. Unlike Super Mario Maker, Sonic Mania doesn’t go far enough to give those head spinning twists but it does a great job in amping up the boss fights.

Sonic Mania’s biggest strength is the boss fights. Whether it is the first zone mini-boss fight or act 2 main boss fight, they are super cool, usually tough, and smartly design fights.

There is enough new about Sonic Mania to elevate it past the terrible nostalgia bait that publishers/developers try to cram down people’s throats. Plus, the love is evident. Chad Whitehead, Pagoda West Games, and Headcannon all clearly love Sonic and his heyday, that love is self-evident throughout Sonic Mania.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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