It has taken a fan game to bring Sonic back to where he belongs – a two-dimensional platformer full of thrills, spills and 90s gaming nostalgia

Poor Sonic Team. After Sonic the Hedgehog and its Mega Drive sequels captured the imaginations of school kids around the world in 1991, the development studio behind the character hasn’t quite been able to find the magic formula that made the original game such a hit. After years of ill-thought out additions – werehogs, treasure hunts, royal love interests, even the third-dimension was arguably a stretch too far – it has taken an officially endorsed fan-game to recapture the essence of what made Sonic the only real challenge to Mario’s platforming crown all those years ago.

If the 90s had never ended, Sonic Mania is the follow-up we would have had instead of making do playing Big the Cat fishing mini-games in Sonic Adventure. All those horrid secondary characters we’ve grown to hate over the years are nowhere to be seen, save for a couple of cameos that only hardcore Sonic fans will even recognise such as the cast of Sonic Championship. The player guides Sonic, Tails and Knuckles across two-dimensional rollercoaster levels (sorry, “zones”) made in the style of the Mega Drive originals and full of loops, springs and spike traps. It’s exhilarating.

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