Sonic Mania: Everything You Need to Know

Sonic the Hedgehog's back in a return to his roots.

Sonic Mania (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC) goes back to the '90s with fast-action side scrolling featuring Sonic and his pals Tails and Knuckles. Developed by Headcannon, PagodaWest and fanboy-turned-developer Christian Whitehead, the game remixes your old favorites with modern level design and a ton of throwbacks.

Credit: Sonic Team

(Image credit: Sonic Team)

What's the story of Sonic Mania?

Sonic and Tails are exploring an odd energy reading when they find out that Dr. Eggman (aka Dr. Robotnik, his one true name), got to it first. Eggman and his new robot henchmen, the Hard-boiled Heavies, use it to send the duo, as well as their friend Knuckles the Echidna, through remixed levels from their previous adventures from the Sonic games on the Sega Genesis.

Where does Sonic Mania take place in Sonic canon?

Sonic Mania roughly follows the events of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. The levels in the game are primarily from Sonic's first three adventures on the Sega Genesis, though bonus stages are borrowed from both Sonic 3 and Sonic CD.

Credit: Sonic Team

(Image credit: Sonic Team)

What's new to the game?

The levels, while familiar, have been redesigned with fresh elements that we won't spoil for you here. The game runs at 60 frames per second, which you could never reasonably achieve on the Genesis, and it looks awesome. Knuckles and Tails have the same powers they always have (Knuckles can glide and break through walls, Tails can fly and swim), but Sonic has a new move called the Drop Dash, which lets him move into a forward roll immediately following a jump.

Is it any good?

From what we've played so far, Sonic Mania is a blast. It looks great (assuming you like Genesis and Saturn-era graphics), and the new levels and boss battles are a trip. It's infinitely replayable, because each of the levels have a ton of branching paths, and you'll need the different characters' abilities to get to them all. Some controls take getting used to on modern controllers, because Sonic doesn't move as jankily as he did back in the '90s, but overall it's great fun with innovative boss battles and chaotic gameplay. Mania, indeed.

Credit: Sonic Team

(Image credit: Sonic Team)

When does the game come out?

Sonic Mania will release on August 15 on the Switch, PS4 and Xbox One for $19.99. The PC version has been delayed until August 29. The collectors' edition is $70 and comes with a collectors' box, fake Genesis cartridge, replica gold ring and a 12-inch Sonic statue standing on top of a Sega Genesis.

Are there any multiplayer modes?

You bet. Players can adventure as Sonic and Tails together through the story, just like in Sonic 2 and 3. Additionally, there's a competitive racing mode to beat an opponent to the end of a stage.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is an editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming as well as keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag, Complex, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag among others.