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Differences between Mania and the classics


Monkey Destruction Switch

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I know I'm kind of late to the party, but Sonic Mania is pretty mind-blowing. Definitely destined to become one of my favorite Sonic games.

Obviously, much of the point of the game is that it's a successor to the Genesis classics. However, as we've played it, we've all noticed differences in feel and design philosophy between it and the games that inspired it (other than the obvious ones such as higher graphic capabilities, reused levels, etc.), so here's a topic for gathering and discussing those subtler differences based on both our own experiences and what we've heard from others.

I'm sure a lot of these have already been discussed in the Spoilers/Impressions thread (which I haven't looked at too much since I'm late to playing the game), but this will still give us a nice central gathering place for this particular line of discussion.

Honestly, I don't think I've actually come up with a very good collection of differences myself, but hopefully it's enough to get the ball rolling.

Gameplay

  • Mania is a very ring-heavy game, significantly more so than the classics.
  • In many zones, there is a notably stronger sense of flow, speed, and near-constant movement. In most of the classic games this wasn't quite so constant, and a greater tendency for these to be paced out with some generally slower platforming sections.
  • The bosses seem to have a fairly different design philosophy a lot of the time. Some of the bosses seem more like puzzles where you have to find a somewhat "out there" way to defeat them and just using your spin attack on a vulnerable area of the boss isn't possible. As far as the bosses that are spin-attackable go, I've noticed that for many of them, there's often a lot more times when they're open to attack, meaning there have been times I've been able to defeat a boss before it can barely do anything due to just hitting it enough times early on (playing Sonic & Tails helps as Tails can nab extra hits).

Non-Gameplay

  • The game is often more cheeky, "meta" and humorous than the classics were.

Well, there's a lot more to be said and it can all probably be said better too, but it's enough to start. What are some differences you've noticed?

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47 minutes ago, Monkey Destruction Switch said:

I know I'm kind of late to the party, but Sonic Mania is pretty mind-blowing. Definitely destined to become one of my favorite Sonic games.

Obviously, much of the point of the game is that it's a successor to the Genesis classics. However, as we've played it, we've all noticed differences in feel and design philosophy between it and the games that inspired it (other than the obvious ones such as higher graphic capabilities, reused levels, etc.), so here's a topic for gathering and discussing those subtler differences based on both our own experiences and what we've heard from others.

I'm sure a lot of these have already been discussed in the Spoilers/Impressions thread (which I haven't looked at too much since I'm late to playing the game), but this will still give us a nice central gathering place for this particular line of discussion.

Honestly, I don't think I've actually come up with a very good collection of differences myself, but hopefully it's enough to get the ball rolling.

Gameplay

  • Mania is a very ring-heavy game, significantly more so than the classics.
  • In many zones, there is a notably stronger sense of flow, speed, and near-constant movement. In most of the classic games this wasn't quite so constant, and a greater tendency for these to be paced out with some generally slower platforming sections.
  • The bosses seem to have a fairly different design philosophy a lot of the time. Some of the bosses seem more like puzzles where you have to find a somewhat "out there" way to defeat them and just using your spin attack on a vulnerable area of the boss isn't possible. As far as the bosses that are spin-attackable go, I've noticed that for many of them, there's often a lot more times when they're open to attack, meaning there have been times I've been able to defeat a boss before it can barely do anything due to just hitting it enough times early on (playing Sonic & Tails helps as Tails can nab extra hits).

Non-Gameplay

  • The game is often more cheeky, "meta" and humorous than the classics were.

Well, there's a lot more to be said and it can all probably be said better too, but it's enough to start. What are some differences you've noticed?

Took the words out of my mouth. The game's difference in tone from the originals is somewhat of a flaw, in fact. 

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Well, the first thing I've noticed even before the game releases, it's that for the first time they reused Sonic 1, 2 3 & K levels in a sequel. I know that envolves nostalgia,  but they could did newer levels with old mechanics,  just 4 original levels and all others old is something kinda boring.

I also need to assume that some classic levels were totally unnecessary (Oil Ocean, Metallic Madness and Hydro City for example). Especially when other levels as IceCap could receive a better remake.

At last but not least,  it seems that the engine have a few different physics from the classic series (Several bugs and a few others things happened on Mania but never on Genesis).

The very last thing I've heard, it's that no Master System/Game Gear received a level represent in the game.  I never pkayed many 8-bit Sonic Games,  so this didn't affect me so much.

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Even when you haven't played the game, you do notice some differences. I would say as an observation is that the marketing is completely different. In the classics, more so with 1 and 2 but still there to a smaller extent for 3&K and CD they were marketed heavily. Plenty of adverts, bundled with consoles, magazine previews and even got a tie-in not quite related music video for Sonic 3. Marketing with Mania however was a lot smaller by comparison mainly focused on Youtube and a few websites, even the Sonic Stadium and the origins of Sonic Retro could be considered advertising the game. Outside of the Internet and well it's just not there in the public eye apart from maybe one or two magazine previews. Plus being a digital download also means that the exposure is going to be more limited. If it was the classic era, Sega would have pushed Sonic Mania to be bundled with PS4s, Switches and Xbox Ones heavily as big as EA pushes FIFA or Sony pushing out Uncharted. In marketing terms, the classics were mainstream while Mania is a niche.

On the opposite side of the spectrum if Mania is classed as a spinoff than a main game, Sonic Mania got more promotion than most of the spinoff titles (with the exceptions being Sonic 1 and 2 8-bit, Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D and Sonic R) as the game is on more popular consoles. The Game Gear games didn't get much marketing and even then mostly Japan got adverts for them, sometimes they came out in stores with no previews, no reviews and probably just one magazine advert if you was lucky. It would be like if Sonic Mania came out only on the Vita for a modern day comparison.

Another thing is the box art, well digital download cover in this case. At first glance it looks like classic influenced focusing on the characters themselves being happy and a bright poppy cover however it isn't quite like that. Most of the classics and well most of the spinoff games had a completely different box art design. The Western covers of the classics as well as most spinoff games used a full cover. It was the characters with a background usually inspired by the game itself whether it was Sonic 1 set in Green Hill Zone, Sonic 3 was either in Carnival Night or a jungle (suppose to be Angel Island) depending where you were or Sonic CD that had Sonic getting the time stone from a bashed generator featuring Metal Sonic. There were a few expections such as Western Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles and European Sonic 3D however most games followed this rule all the way to Sonic R. That promotion artwork where Sonic, Tails and Knuckles were in Studiopolis? That would have been most likely the American/European cover had the game being in a physical form in the classic era. Even going back to Sonic 1, 2 and 3 Japanese covers, they weren't as poppy and they used a white background to focus more on the character whether its Sonic, Sonic and Tails or Sonic and Knuckles. They were also mainly standing but did do a pose and not as happy compared to Mania where they look like they are ready to jump and look really happy. The yellow background could be considered distracting due to the different style. Also a minor little detail but the characters don't exactly look like the classic design on the digital download cover, they are not Naoto Ohshima style (and variations) or Greg Martin style (and variations) and would look a bit off or not quite right by comparison.

Musically apart from the obvious sound quality boost is also different by the roots and the style. With the classics and even with some spinoffs; Sega tried to get someone well known or famous whether it was Masato Nakamura from Dreams Come True, Yuzo Koshiro who is a big name in Japan but more well known outside of Japan as the composer of Revenge of Shinobi and the Streets of Rage series, a J-Pop singer to do a couple of Sonic CD songs, even Michael Jackson was involved and you couldn't get any bigger than him! Even when it wasn't those, Sega at least had their own large team of musicians to do the songs and usually at the time considered to be some of the best on the Mega Drive that had a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to sound quality that perception lasted for literally years or the Master System/Game Gear with its limited PSG chip. Mania, they just got a passionate fan and someone who briefly worked at Square Enix to help him. So a big difference from a well known star or an established musician to someone who did this as his second game. Tee Lopes did get a small likeable reputation before Mania however it was mainly remixes. It is more like someone who was in the demoscene and got promoted to doing games rather like Jesper Kyd, Matt Furniss, Barry Leitch.

The style is also completely different even though it does usually try to fit with the game. It's not like the classics that use the YM2612 chip or the Saturn era where it was mainly Richard Jacques' work or Naofumi Hataya. Since Sonic Mania was advertised by the staff as a lost Sega Saturn game, it doesn't sound like it came from a Saturn in terms of style with only Green Hill Act 2 and Studiopolis Act 1 that come remotely close. The songs don't have much if any 1990s influences where the Mega Drive/Sega CD games take influence from early 1990s stuff such as Bobby Brown, 808 State or the Saturn where Rusty Ruin Act 1 and Work it Out both sound like contemporary music of the time (Sadeness and Move on Up). No raves, no jungle, no pop, not much guitar when a LOT of songs from VGM have it, no trance, no deeply emotional songs or even relaxing songs like NiGHTS or Green Grove. The instruments sound too clear as well as there were usually a bit of sound compression or a lot depending whether it was redbook or sound chip. Some of songs sound more like the Dreamcast era such as the boss themes and Mirage Saloon Act 1K. One of the songs is even jokey sounding that wouldn't fit at all with the tone of the classics despite being a classic era song itself. They sound too modern to fit with the classics.

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There's an even bigger emphasis on physics that make sense. Fire burns wood and oil, electricity pulls you toward magnets etc. There's an entire boss battle themed around pushing a pendulum back and forth. Stuff like that. This is probably my favorite of the major changes they made and I want them to push this further in other "Mania" games.

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One thing that I believe is paramount in differentiating Mania from its predecessors is not only its expansive level design, but also how it aids in helping you maintain your momentum. There are numerous obstacles used to impede your progress as is the case with previous Sonic games, but what's different from its predecessors is that at no point does it feel cheap. Mania gave me the tools needed to successfully escape any obstacles as long as I understood the ins and outs of every level and while I understand this is hard to with later levels, Mania seems to remain consistent to that trend even when the difficulty spike increases and relies on more complex level design and trickier platforming to help boost the difficulty instead of artificially increasing difficulty with shitty level design. We see this with Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 with Labyrinth zone and Metropolis zone where they didn't understand how to make difficult levels, so they shoehorned enemies and obstacles until it was hard which only created artificial difficulty and just slowed the pace of the game when it was unnecessary.

This was honestly one of the only things that put me off from previous Classic Sonic games, but Mania rectifies these poor design choices and helps create a difficulty curve that feels completely natural and rewards with speed perfectly as long as you know how to play through each level.

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