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Sonic Mania's Original Stages(Spoilers)


Wraith
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Mania is mostly filled with remixed versions of old levels, but 4 completely original stages still made their way into the game. For a lot of people, this was the Mania team's chance to prove themselves. They...kinda knocked it out the park, as expected, but I was still caught off guard by just how detailed, bursting with new gameplay mechanics and gimmicks, and overall well designed they were. These levels were all fantastic to me with only a few missteps.


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Press Garden was the fucking highlight of the game for me along with Stardust Speedway. The level already starts off dope as fuck with the whole printing press theme. Gears and conveyer belts and shit, your standard industrial Sonic level along with some twists like the letter platforms and the ink badniks. Top this off with one of the best sonic songs I've heard in years.

And I was all in on this level. 

But then act 2 decides to be a completely DIFFERENT zone. 

It turns out the printing press was built inside some ruins deep in a forest of cherry blossom trees? Um?

 

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The zone's vibe switches up completely in the best way. From the rapid fire, fast paced presses to a serene forest. It's like they were told they had to cut a zone but instead of actually doing that they mashed two zones into one in the best possible way. It's such a cool setting once it all comes together. Abandoned ruins deep in a Japanese forest turned into a press factory by Dr Eggman. The Ice gimmick was also something I thought I would get annoyed with but it's pretty fun once you get the hang of it. 

The boss with heavy shinobi was pretty cool too. Love the way he throws the star badniks as weapons.

Overall this was my favorite Sonic level in a long time. The setting, the actual level design, and the gimmicks are all unique and perfectly executed. I want an entire game of levels like this if I can get one.
 

I thought all the original zones were pretty good though. Press Gardens stuck out to me but Studiopolis going all in on act 2 and having that weather channel boss and the Knuckles only part of Mirage Saloon+ The return of the Hooligans were nice surprises too. Titanic Monarch gets a bit of hate but I love the level for how much of a gauntlet it is without being tedious or annoying like other 2D Sonic games get when it's time for the final levels. Boss was very underwhelming though.

Overall though I think these levels prove Taxman is more than ready to take on an original game and I hope Sega gives him the resources to do so.

What'd you you guys think? Did Tax man hit it into the horizon or into the stratosphere? Did you have a favorite?

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I dont really like Press Garden to be honest..but thats mainly because of the level design, I always did dislike rather slow paced stages.

 

Studiopolis 2 is where it's at for me. such a brilliant stage, fast as fck and oh boy, that music. It's just so damn good.

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My highlights absolutely have to be Mirage Saloon Act 2 (FUCK THE SKY CHASE MECHANIC THAT SHIT SHOULD HAVE NEVER RETURNED) and the entirety of Titanic Monarch. But all of the zones are great and extremely fun. 

It's what Mania SHOULD have been more of. Only four new zones is a fucking disgrace for a game like this, be it their first time or not. The game is still amazing but jesus christ. 

The graphics in Press Garden Act 1 with the newspapers in the back, the Studiopolis Act 1 windows that flash and at the end of the stage where you zoom past some of those flashing windows and then the Eggcopter appears with the Heavy Gunner, the entirety of Mirage Saloon's art style, both Titanic Monarch's backgrounds. Fucking amazing.

Just wish there was more of that and less old. 

Stop with the throwbacks SEGA for christ's sakes. 

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Press Garden is easily my favorite level in the game. The level theme is completely original minus the Launch Base tubes, but they fit so well that it doesn't matter. The music is some of the best the series has to offer, sometimes making me stop playing the game just so I could catch a good glimpse of the soundtrack. Act 2 made me wish we got a full-blown level based around that design. It felt like Taxman was trying to mash different level aesthetics together just because he couldn't add in another original zone, which is disappointing

Playing through the original acts makes me wish that we could have gotten all original acts for Mania instead of returning ones. The remade levels aren't as fun as the newer ones and I hope I never have to see Green Hill in a new Sonic game ever again post 2017.

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Press Garden was definitely fantastic.  I'd say Studiopolis was the better stage but we're all burnt out on that due to it's heavy presence in pre-release footage.  Press Garden felt more special since it was totally out of the blue - I think we all expected an original Eggman base for the finale so Titanic Monarch didn't quite have the same "whoa what is THIS".  The way the conveyors push you about in ball form in act 1 and the ice cube puzzles in act 2 are the highlights - fantastic, creative usage of physics gameplay.

Having said that, Titanic Monarch was a LITTLE weak for me.  Great stage, great music, great gimmicks, and yet SOMETHING about it made it feel "penultimate stage" rather than "final stage" to me.  I dunno quite what I was expecting but it didn't meet my expectations, and I've never been fully keen on "complete the four areas in whatever order you like" finales because it means there's no ONE strong final platforming challenge, no one of those four areas felt significantly more special than the others etc.  I also found the final boss a bit odd, namely on account of the fact that Eggman gives you a ton of opportunities to hit him between the 2nd and 3rd HBH miniboss fights - I've only seen more than the first two on one occasion.  But I do really like the Eggman portions of it.

Mirage Saloon was a very cool zone overall but it's definitely a shame that we didn't get two acts in the style of the fantastic Act 2.

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3 hours ago, JezMM said:

Mirage Saloon was a very cool zone overall but it's definitely a shame that we didn't get two acts in the style of the fantastic Act 2.

It is not out of the realm of possibility, though a bit of a literal stretch, that they might have considered making an "Act 3" DLC pack for some of the zones, maybe a few at once!  They would have unlimited amount of time to develop and complete them, perhaps some of it is already complete, and, it would not have to fit into the story or prolong the main game, they might be playable separately one by one rather than being inserted into the actual gameplay space of an Act 3 per se.

In other words, like, what is after that area of Mirage Saloon if the EggRobo blaster cannon is not entered, or, before it if they arrived in a different way (maybe an oasis??); what is after that area of Studiopolis if the Flying Battery did not appear then and there?  Some zones overall like Titanic Monarch and Stardust Speedway seem less suited for an Act 3, but others like Green Hill or Hydrocity certainly could have one! 

I should be clear that this would if ever coming to fruition, maybe be something that would be released years from now for one of the anniversaries of the Sonic Mania game release.  ^_^:) 

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Press Garden, hands down. Unique and creative trope, great and fun gimmicks, cool badniks, awesome music (probably my 2 favorites in the entire game). Both bosses are great and creative too. It's one of the best 2D zones in the series.

Fun fact: I didn't enjoyed that zone too much when I first played it, especially Act 1. I restarted the game when I got to MMZ, Tails was geting on my nerves, so I picked Sonic alone this time. And I had a blast with the whole game, front and back. I took it slow on Press Garden and explored everything, melted ice blocks with the fire shield, got 2 Chaos Emeralds, over 300 rings and by the end of it, the music was stuck in my head. Perfection.

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Studiopolis is a close second, my God that zone is amazing. The level design and art is incredible. The music is incredible. The bosses are incredible. The references are incredible. Speaking of them, did you guys noticed this:

6:00.

THOSE GUYS.

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Mirage Saloon is a funny one. I adore the desert aesthetics and I loved that they actually did Dust Hill / Desert Dazzle justice. But that zone is so short :( I actually think its order was switched around, Mirage Saloon was supposed to be the zone after Flying Battery. Mirage Saloon starts with Team Sonic flying the Tornado, and if you think about it, it's easy to imagine a zone transition scene with Sonic and Knuckles meeting up and jumping off the Flying Battery, just to be catch by Tails piloting the Tornado. Speaking of the Tornado, I don't mind Act 1 being basically Sky Chase (there's even a nod to its music, listen carefully at 0:56), because Knuckles has a regular Act on his own. And it's pretty amazing, the level is entirely built around his gliding and climbing abilities.

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As for Titanic Monarch. Well, Act 1 is cool, but holy shit is it long? Dang. And Act 2 is basically a Megaman X level. I like the aesthetics and the music, but some gimmicks really overstay their welcome. The Eggman boss is great, tho' and the real Final Boss is awesome. I love how they designed that fight, giving Super Sonic the freedom to fly at will, instead of fix him in flying mode forever.

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But the real question is...

When SEGA will let Tax and crew make a WHOLE GAME OF NEW ZONES?

 

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