Can Sonic Mania capture the spark of the original games?

Sega calls upon a high-profile fan developer to 'reimagine' Sonic's best-remembered titles.

Sonic hasn't been having a great time since... well, since games went 3D, pretty much. Sonic 4 and Sonic Generations each seemed a concession to this in their respective ways, but Sonic 4 was deemed sluggish and Sonic Generations still had 'modern Sonic' hanging around like a vestigal limb. So, in honor of Sonic's 25th anniversary, Sega has elected to uncross those streams and go back to basics with a little thing called Sonic Mania.

(Aside: I think Sonic Mania is a terrible name and I wish there were a way to avoid using it, but 'SM' isn't really a viable alternative, sadly.)

This is actually one of two Sonic games announced over the weekend, the other dubbed Project Sonic and currently in development for Nintendo's still-highly-secretive NX console. That one is being overseen by Sonic Team, a division of Sega that is a shell of its former self and retains none of its founding members. Looking at the announcement teaser, it would appear to follow on the Sonic Generations blueprint and let players alternate between 'modern' and 'retro' Sonic 2D/3D play modes.

Sonic Mania, by contrast, is a collection of remade levels from the first four Sonic games: Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic CD. Development on Sonic Mania is being overseen by retro specialist studio Headcannon Games, Major Magnet developer PagodaWest Games, and Christian Whitehead, a well-known fan developer who previously released remakes of most of the above Sonic titles for mobile devices. That all adds up to a promising pedigree, so we can at least expect Sonic Mania to faithfully capture the look and feel of the originals, even if it won't be breaking new ground so to speak.

In addition to remade levels, Sonic Mania promises all-new zones and a new technique, the drop-dash. It's kind of like a dropkick, but you're a spinning blue sawblade. Oh, and you can play as Tails or Knuckles as well. None of that Shadow the Edgehog nonsense though.

You can check out the announcement trailer up above. Sonic Mania is due out spring 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.