Games: Sonic Mania Plus more than just a breakneck race down memory lane
Sonic Mania Plus (Multi)
THE year was 1992. Whitney would always love you, men willingly glimpsed a knickerless Sharon Stone while we all witnessed the Queen's annus horribilis. She obviously didn't own a Mega Drive, as the November gloom was brightened no end by the searing blue skies of Sonic 2 – to this day, Sega's best-selling game and the high-water mark for a series that delivered a handful of early classics followed by 20 years of varying shades of crap.
Yet Sega, bless 'em, never stopped trying through a new century of Sonic Fatigue Syndrome while the hardcore eagerly awaited Sonic's triumphant second coming, like some spiny blue Jesus.
Developed by Aussie code-jockey and Sonic nut Christian Whitehead, Mania proves the fanboys are doing it better than Sega.
In Mania, Eggman is up to his old tricks again, and only the blue blur and pals can stop him in a love letter to the golden era of platformers. By reworking some of gaming's most famous environments, that can be covered lickety split or forensically examined for trinkets, Sonic Mania is a nostalgia nuke that recaptures the glory days of Sonic's youth. Mania requires precision and speed from our fleet-footed fleabag, who's so fast he makes Speedy Gonzales look like regular Gonzales and, like all hedgehogs, has an unquenchable thirst for gold rings.
Like a Mega Drive on steroids, Mania is faithful to the old-school classics while subtly employing modern bells and whistles in a collection of remixed levels from the '90s tarted up with new secrets and gameplay mechanics.
Not content to lazily wallow in nostalgia like a filthy hog, Mania instead uses the originals as a template, adding fresh ideas and new levels, with boss fights after every stage, bonus stages and Easter eggs aplenty. Play as Sonic, Tails or Knuckles and – in this new "Plus" release – Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, with further level tinkering, four-player couch co-op and time attack modes.
It's something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue in Mania's sugar rush, providing Sonic relief so nostalgic you could be cradling a Mega Drive controller again.
Sure, your fingers may be a lot hairier (my knuckles resemble Brillo pads) and perhaps the reflexes ain't what they used to be, but for a breakneck race down memory lane, Sonic provides just the kind of mania the doctor ordered – even if you're too young to remember it first time around.