Sega explains why a Sonic Mania sequel didn’t happen

Amy Rose in Sonic Origins.

Since Sega released the first Sonic the Hedgehog game in 1991, the lovable blue speedster remained a permanent fixture in pop culture. Though it has plenty of nostalgic value, Sonic Team will not be returning to 2017’s Sonic Mania. In a recent interview with Game Informer, Sega explained why this is the case.

Sonic and Tails in Sonic Origins.
Screenshot by Destructoid

What happened to Sonic Mania 2?

Sonic Mania was a success that sold over a million copies in its first year of release. This might have indicated a sequel could happen, but that hasn’t panned out. In the interview, Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka revealed that the plan was originally to make a new Sonic game in the classic style following Sonic Mania.

“There was a period after the development of Sonic Mania when we worked with them to consider concepts for the next generation of Classic Sonic,” Iizuka told GI. “It’s too bad that it didn’t become a finished game. Still, I’m pleased that the next generation of Classic Sonic that we talked about with them has been achieved with Superstars.”

The upcoming Sonic Superstars will be using 3D assets. The team felt that the 2D pixel art style attracts a certain “core” audience. While most of these players may be lifelong Sonic fans, developers also wanted the upcoming game to appeal to a wider audience of new players. Hence, as Iizuka explains, they “needed to use the 3D assets to really give it that current look”.

Sonic Team amiably cut ties with developer Christian Whitehead who worked on Sonic Mania. Whitehead went on to form Evening Star, a studio working on its debut Penny’s Big Breakaway. But Superstars does look to be using some pieces of Sonic Mania‘s legacy for the upcoming side-scroller.

Speaking to Game Informer, Whitehead backs up the account. He says Evening Star’s goal was to move “beyond” 2D pixel art

“Evening Star did work with Sega to explore possible directions Classic Sonic could go after the success of Sonic Mania,” Whitehead told GI. “Sonic Mania 2 was never in development, though, because we actually agreed early on that we should try to make something fresh, like hand-drawn 2D or 2.5D.”

Though the upcoming side-scroller Sonic Superstars won’t look like the classic Sonic games, developers are still dedicated to making it feel like them. As Iizuka explains, the “game was created from zero – from absolutely nothing – but we were still looking at all those four classic games and creating physics that are going to match and feel like what the classic series needs to be”.

Sonic Superstars is slated to release in late 2023 on PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox.

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Smangaliso Simelane
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