In 2017, the world received two new Sonic games, one being a 16-bit, side-scrolling platformer, and the other being a 3D “boost” game similar to Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. Both games were announced side by side in July of 2016 at San Diego Comic Con, and both games are currently out on all current generation systems.
The side-scroller was named Sonic Mania, and the “boost” game named Sonic Forces. Since both have been available for a while now, I wanted to take a look at the games and on the year for the franchise. Before I go on, I must say – there are spoilers ahead!
Sonic Mania was the first to release on August 15, 2017. Early after the game’s release, people liked it so much, critics and fans alike were calling it one of the best Sonic games in the past decade and a half. Sonic Forces released much later on November 7, 2017. This game only received mixed to average reviews, but the internet hated Forces for a variety of reasons.
The story isn’t well explained in the game, but it goes something like this. Dr. Eggman has stolen the Phantom Ruby and it’s your job as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles to stop him from doing evil with it. Every character plays and feels just like a Genesis original and each game looks beautiful on thier respective consoles. The music is wonderful and is almost all original, except for the more famous songs, but even those have been remixed!
I enjoyed this game. I thought its visuals were beautiful and the music had that Sonic standard that shows up in all games. I enjoyed how the characters felt, as their actions were smooth and very responsive. While the story was unexplained and uninteresting, I knew going in that it wasn’t the focus of the game, so I still had fun. It is not my favorite game ever, but I’d still give this a thumb’s up!
Where the story in Sonic Mania is almost nonexistent, Sonic Forces does the exact opposite and has tons of backstory and plot throughout the game. In fact, some of the story is just free DLC. The story of Forces is that Dr. Eggman has taken over the world with the Phantom Ruby, and it’s up to Sonic, Classic Sonic, and your own character to stop him and his minion, Infinite. I loved Infinite just because of how edgy he was. The rest is fairly forgettable.
One of the biggest issues I have with this game is the use of Classic Sonic. Not only does it tie together Forces and Mania together story wise, effectively destroying the continuity set up in Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic feels un natural and slow compared to Mania. Classic Sonic didn’t need to be in Forces, and it made no sense to rope Mania in with this game as Mania was already the 2-D return to form for the series.
The controls are not fun to play with. The depth perception in this game is some of the worst, making “boost” sections near impossible unless in a flat area, and falling off of cliffs should be expected. The custom character feels like a not fast Sonic and slows down whenever you attack. I also wish there were more bosses. Four huge bosses were teased in the trailers, but only two were fight-able. I did enjoy the music though. It was a bit corny, but still kinda fun to jam out to, like all Sonic music is and forever shall be.
I didn’t like this game very much. I didn’t think Classic Sonic needed to be in this game, and I was a bit thrown off by the gimmick of the game, having the playable character. Combined with the dialogue, plot, and villains, the whole game felt like something ripped straight out of fanfiction.net.
It was strange to me how both games seem to be exact opposites, even though they take part in the same multiverse (for no real reason). The concepts, styles, game-play, story, and reviews are so different. I think that this is because Mania was brought to life more by Sonic fans than Sonic Team, and Forces was mostly done by Sonic Team. As a huge Sonic fan, I want to see these games do well, so I was glad to see Mania praised so highly. Sadly, when games like Sonic Forces or even Sonic Boom happen, the fan base, including myself, just shakes thier collective heads and say, “This was a step in the wrong direction. Please get it right next time.” I believe good came come from the Sonic games, but Sonic Team needs to figure out what that is.
Sonic Mania: 8/10
This is a great game to dive into. A must have Sonic game for any fan, and something fun to play for anyone else!
Sonic Forces: 6/10
The controls aren’t fun and the plot is weird. Would only recommend for the comically edgy villain, other than that, stay away if you’re not a collector or die-hard fan.