Sonic’s biggest strength has always been the high-speed thrill that comes from blitzing through the course, and Mania captures this perfectly. The zones are well laid out, feeling more like a complex racing course than your average platformer level.
Like any racer, you need to learn the track inside out - know when to jump, change direction and where every secret passage is hiding, so you can reach optimum speeds without the fear of impaling yourself in a spike pit.
All this means I'm much more interested in spending hours beating my record in Time Attack, compared to other platformers with similar time-challenge modes.
Split-screen multiplayer also returns, letting you race against your mates as either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. Not got a competitive streak? Then your friends can accompany you in the main campaign as one of the fan-favourite rodents instead, each with their own unique ability.
For less than twenty quid, you’re getting a lot of features and a respectably lengthy game – and that’s forgetting the time it takes to hunt down all the Chaos Emeralds. Special stages borrow from both Sonic CD and Sonic 3, so there's plenty of challenge here.
Sonic Mania stays faithful to the original games, which is both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, it feels every bit like the Mega Drive classics we fell in love with back in the '90s - it's fast, gorgeous in motion, and addictively challenging. On the other, it's tough to spot any major improvements over the originals, which peaked two decades ago.
Still, the fact that Mania could yet end up as 2017's best 2D side-scroller only proves the quality of those original games.
What’s important is that Sonic is finally heading in the right direction - even if he’s moving at a steady pace, rather than his renowned, genre-defining speed.