ByNicholas Montegriffo, writer at
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Nicholas Montegriffo

Sonic's back, baby! And it's...good again? We certainly hope so, after years of being burned by mediocre Sonic titles. Sonic Mania has confirmed a release date and warmed our hearts with an adorable new trailer that proves what we've suspected all along — that only passionate fans of classic Sonic could make the franchise great again.

is set to be released Aug 15 on , , and . The game aims to return 's iconic mascot back to his classic '90s side-scrolling platformer roots, and keeping with the fan-centric spirit of the game, they've tapped some fan artists for the sweet new pre-order trailer, which mixes drawn animation with game footage:

Check out the heartwarming pre-order trailer for Sonic Mania below:

The animation for the trailer was done by Tyson Hesse, a professional artist who, as well as working on Sonic the Hedgehog comic book adaptations, is also known for creating hilarious fan parodies of the Sonic universe, including the infamous Nipples the Enchilada.

Seriously. [Credit: Tyson Hesse]
Seriously. [Credit: Tyson Hesse]

Hesse is also clearly a true Sonic fan, sneaking in a sly reference to Sonic development history with those bunny ears at the beginning.

Hesse's move from fan artist to official creator in the Sonic franchise is representative of the whole philosophy behind Sonic Mania. Talented fans of the classic 16-bit era titles were given Sega's blessing to create a game that would really exemplify the spirit that made Sonic a household name back in the day.

From Fans To Creators

Sonic Mania was announced alongside Sonic Forces during the 25th anniversary event held by Sega at the San Diego Comic-Con event in July 2016. Rather than being developed by Sega's internal Sonic Team, it is instead being developed by a collaborative group of prominent creatives (Headcannon and PagodaWest Games) drawn from longtime Sonic fandom.

After over two decades of disappointing Sonic sequels (the "werehog" in Sonic Unleashed, anyone?), it would be fair to say that somewhere along the line the franchise had lost its way and struggled to make a solid comeback.

The development team includes some legendary talent that started out making unofficial Sonic games purely out of passion for that Genesis-era magic. Here's a rundown of the Sonic Mania team that got their start in fandom:

  • Christian "Taxman" Whitehead, who after developing various fan games based on the Sonic the Hedgehog series had his mobile-compatible version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD officially adopted by Sega and released for Xbox 360, PS3, iPhone and Android. The port was so successful that Whitehead was later commissioned to port Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to mobile devices.
  • Simon "Stealth" Thomley of Headcannon, who worked with Whitehead on the iOS and Android ports of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
  • Level designer Jared Kasl, artist Tom Fry, and composer Tee Lopes of PagodaWest Games, who got together while collaborating on an unofficial high-definition remaster of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Sonic series producer Takashi Iizuka has described Sonic Mania as a "passion project" born out of the fans' love for the early Sonic games. The name itself is a reference to the fact that this particular game will be for the "maniacs" i.e. the super-passionate, hard to please Sonic fans who fell in love with that blue blur back in the Genesis days.

This positive attitude towards fan creators by Sega stands out in sharp contrast to Nintendo, who have clamped down hard on fan projects. And it might just be Sonic's only chance to regain the prominence he used to have alongside his old rival Mario.

'Sonic Mania' [Credit: Sega]
'Sonic Mania' [Credit: Sega]

Sega's Sonic Team isn't sitting idle while these upstarts steal the show, however. They've got their own new game, Sonic Forces, slated for a later 2017 release. With this two-pronged strategy, Sega is hoping to rebuild their broken fanbase by uniting new and old aficionados of the series.

Forces might just turn out to be a good game in its own right, but the fan talent and adorable trailer for its 2D companion has me firmly in the camp of the maniacs.

Dashing through the Flying Battery Zone? The return of Knuckles as a playable character? There aren't red sneakers in the world fast enough to get this one to me in time.


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