Recent reports have clarified that the much-awaited Sonic Mania 2 is not currently in development. The earlier rumors about a falling out between Sega and the developers behind the successful 2D revival of the beloved blue hedgehog have been proven false. In reality, both Sega’s creative team and Sonic Mania’s lead developer, Christian Whitehead, mutually decided to embark on new horizons. In a candid interview with Game Informer, Takashi Iizuka from Sega and Christian Whitehead shed light on the discussions that followed Sonic Mania’s triumphant release in 2017.
Exploring New Horizons
The collective decision made by Sega, Christian Whitehead, studio Headcannon, and Sega was to explore fresh concepts for the next generation of Classic Sonic. They believed that their next project needed to move beyond the pixel art style that was used as an homage to Sonic’s 16-bit origins. Their goal was to reach a broader audience with a 2D Sonic platformer. Iizuka explained, “When you make a 2D game using pixel art, you tend to target a very specific core audience. We wanted to bring this game to as many people as possible and in order to provide an appealing experience for a wider audience, we needed to use 3D assets to give it a contemporary look.”
Christian Whitehead shared that his studio, Evening Star, always had plans to create 3D titles and original intellectual property (IP) following the success of Sonic Mania. They wanted to go beyond the realm of 2D pixel art and explore ideas for 2.5D and hand-drawn 2D games. In fact, they had even developed a 2.5D Sonic prototype using their Star Engine.
Since the release of Sonic Mania six years ago, the paths of the creators have diverged. Evening Star moved forward to create the vibrant 3D platformer Penny’s Big Breakaway. Meanwhile, Sega collaborated with developers Arzest to develop the cooperative platformer Sonic Superstars. However, it is essential to note that despite creative differences, Sonic Mania 2 was never in development. Whitehead emphasized that the relationship between the developers and Sega remains friendly.
The Vision for Sonic Superstars
Iizuka acknowledged the significant influence of both Sonic Mania and the original Sonic trilogy in shaping Sonic Superstars. This new game aims to bring a fresh visual and design perspective to the Sonic series while preserving the nostalgic essence of the classic Sonics. Iizuka stated, “We understand that core fans want that old Classic Sonic look, they desire that old classic Sonic feel. Therefore, we focused on ensuring solid controls and a look and feel that truly represents a classic Sonic game. Although the game was created from scratch, we constantly referred back to those four Classic games, creating physics that would match and authentically capture the essence of what the Classic series needs to be.”
While Sonic Mania 2 may not be on the horizon, fans of the iconic blue hedgehog can still anticipate something fresh and exciting. Sega and the developers have made a conscious decision to explore new concepts and move beyond the limitations of pixel art. Rest assured, the future of Sonic is poised to be bright, with a friendly relationship intact between the developers and Sega.