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Sonic Mania vs Generations - Which did revisting old stages better? (Spoilers)

Both Sonic Mania and Sonic Generations follow a similar structure where Sonic is pushed back in time and is forced to complete stages from his past. The execution of this premise is quite different between both games though so in this thread we'll examine which game did the better job of tackling time travel and reimagining old stages. Please mark any major spoilers as Sonic Mania is still in its early days.

I believe Sonic Mania does an excellent job at providing context as to why Sonic is running through older stages. To thwart Sonic, Robotnik frequently uses the gemstone found in the games opening to push him further and further away. What's interesting about this is Robotnik only uses this power a couple of times throughout the story so, like Sonic 3, acts and zones often bridge into each other which gives an excellent feeling of progression and world building.

Generations on the other hand takes place in a white void. While a hub works with the games structure I've always found it devoid of personality. I also don't like how Sonic seems to have forgotten areas like Green Hill Zone, the game doesn't have the same moment to moment thrill to me.

Both games do a great job of maintaining the key characteristics of each zone like Chemical Plant's deadly purple fluids. Speaking of Chemical Plant, both games feature it and Green Hill.

Each take their liberties with the level design and I love how Generations brings them to life with beautiful 3D visuals but I've always felt the design philosophies stray a bit too far from the originals. For instance, Generations likes to always keep the momentum going with speed boosters whereas Mania often leaves the player to gather their own speed.

Mania goes above and beyond on improving and innovating on the design of every returning stage while maintaining a feeling of familiarity. Generations achieves this to an extent but I'm not sure I would class any of the stages as "better" than their originals, if anything the designs are a significant step back. I also can't recall a moment that truly got my blood pumping like in Mania when
Sonic uses a future sign at the end of Stardust Speedway Act 1
. Generations certainly has exciting elements like Sonic Adventure 2's truck but for the most part I found it to be a little safe.

Both games pay excellent homage to the Sonic series but in terms of both context and game design I feel Sonic Mania is the far better throwback. It does more than reinvent the classics, it has a vision to surpass them. Generations is still an excellent game but I had a far better time running through Green Hill and Chemical Plant in what is the true sequel to Sonic 3 and Knuckles. Not to mention Chemical Plant Act 2's boss!

So what do you guys think, which did the better job at bringing back the classics?


 

LordKano

Member
Instead of just revisiting them in HD, Mania completely transformed some of the stages brought back. The second act of Chemical Plant Zone is totally different from the original and introduce new mechanics that still fits the overall atmosphere of that zone. Same applies to Flying Battery Zone and other zones that I won't spoil in case some folks here haven't played the game yet.

Generations was generally closer to everything it was adapting, in terms of level design. Of course, that's only comparing classic acts to the adaptation of classic Sonic games, and modern acts to modern Sonic games.
 

13ruce

Banned
I liked Mania way more tbh i liked Generations but i kinda flew through it and have not looked back or replayed it yet. While with Mania i want to replay it like 20 times lol.

And i did not even play through most of the classic games till last month. Only played a bit of CD and Sonic 1 as a kid on Gamecube.

So my vote is for Mania the throwbacks are insanely good and the level design is amazing AF. i am going to play through CD on steam on my laptop with a ps4 controller in a hour or so to spot the throwbacks in a next Mania playtrough + see where it fits in my ranking.
 

Spaghetti

Member
Mania, IMO. Far superior use of old and new stage mechanics in weird and playful ways.

The only thing Generations has over it are those reinterpretations of new levels in classic style, but even those feel kinda left in the dust by the brand new zones in Mania.
 

Pie and Beans

Look for me on the local news, I'll be the guy arrested for trying to burn down a Nintendo exec's house.
Mania by a mobius strip mile.

If anything else, Generations showed Sonic Team couldn't actually make 2D Sonic games anymore if they tried. Dimps came the closest with Sonic Advance 1.
 

_Ryo_

Member
I've only watched videos but from what I've seen I can say that it is definitely Mania. I mean, I don't see how it can't be.

Instead of levels just being recreated in 2.5 and 3D like in Generations, Mania drastically changes one of the two acts entire layout and adds many new paths and surprises until it's basically an entirely different level that's the same theme as the classic one. And it does it seamlessly without any loading into each act.
 
I've only watched videos but from what I've seen I can say that it is definitely Mania. I mean, I don't see how it can't be.

Instead of levels just being recreated in 2.5 and 3D like in Generations, Mania drastically changes one of the two acts entire layout and adds many new paths and surprises until it's basically an entirely different level that's the same theme as the classic one. And it does it seamlessly without any loading into each act.

Generations also reimagines the levels, it isn't just a straight visual makeover.
 

Mesoian

Member
Mania.

Green Hill Zone in Mania being a love letter to most of the opening stages in many of the 2d sonic games feels so good. Go the bottom path and it's sonic 1, go to the top path and it's sonic 2. Play as Knuckles and you get a little Angel Island. There's even a little palm tree panic sprinkled in. It's not just revisiting stages, the devs wrote a love letter about what they love about Sonic and made a game around it.

Not that I think Generations is bad, but it gets stuck in the mud of what a modern day sonic should be. That thread about "How do I play sonic the hedgehog" is mired in, "well I was told to go fast. 'Gotta go fast' right? That's the meme? That's what you do in a sonic game." I think Sega heard that and just started making games where speed was the core concept and everything else suffered for it. The modern stages in Generations feel like they have their own fair share of that, many of them just being built where you can hold up and press a and go fast and have fun? Somehow, the identity of the sonic games feels like it collides there the most harshly, it never being able to make up its mind about what it wants to do, so it does everything and in turn, does nothing perfectly. It becomes serviceable, but not memorable.

It makes me excited for a Mania 2, and more worried about Sonic Forces.
 

DesiacX

Member
I'd argue for Sonic Generations, as
it adapted stages into a sonic gameplay format that they weren't already in, and in some cases, 2. All the throwbacks in Sonic Mania were already from 2d sonic games. While ive enjoyed both games, i liked Sonic Generations throwbacks more due to that, and if they ever do a Sonic Mania 2, i hope they can adapt some of the things from the 3d games into a good 2d one.
 

Big One

Banned
Mania, but primarily because the stages are so different. Generations simplified a lot of the stages and didn't really introduce any new gimmicks to it.
 

dark10x

Digital Foundry pixel pusher
Instead of just revisiting them in HD, Mania completely transformed some of the stages brought back. The second act of Chemical Plant Zone is totally different from the original and introduce new mechanics that still fits the overall atmosphere of that zone. Same applies to Flying Battery Zone and other zones that I won't spoil in case some folks here haven't played the game yet.

Generations was generally closer to everything it was adapting, in terms of level design. Of course, that's only comparing classic acts to the adaptation of classic Sonic games, and modern acts to modern Sonic games.
While I agree that Mania is way better overall I think that's unfair to Generations.

...because Generations only utilized the basic design of these older stages. The actual stage design was 100% new. There was absolutely nothing shared between Generations and the older games. Plus, I love how they adapted 3D Sonic stages into 2D for later classic stages. Very cool.

What I like about Mania, though, is the way each act begins with a close approximation of the original game before going off in a crazy direction. So it starts with something familiar before descending into something way more awesome.

Of course, that only applies to some of the stages. Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Oil Ocean and Flying Battery use this trick but others, like Stardust Speedway, are completely different right from the start (trust me, I tried to do a comparison of Sonic CD to the game for my video and they don't line up at all).

So, yeah, Mania is clearly the winner here in terms of level design but I still think Generations does a great job. Its stages are all well crafted and entirely original. I still think it's the best 3D Sonic game ever made by far. I'm really hot on Mania right now but I don't want to see people jump on the trash Generations train. It is a good game.
 

Fireblend

Banned
Mania without a doubt.

Weren't Generations' levels super hand-holdy and nothing like the real classic's exploration and secret-wise?
 

Fireblend

Banned
They had elements of exploration with the added incentive or red rings.

But still, the amount of alternate routes and secrets in Mania puts Generations' stages to shame. And it's not that game's fault because that game's level design and scope was different, but in terms of revisiting old stages, Mania's are way more faithful in terms of design alone.
 
I think making this thread so close to Mania hype is going to heavily skew things towards its favor. Overall, though,at least the modern Sonic takes on the classic stages in Generations were awesome, complete reinventions of the settings to work in a totally different style, which I think is a bit more impressive than what Mania does, which is largely refine with some twists.

That said, Mania's 2D levels are obviously much higher quality than Generation's version of Classic Sonic levels, likely by the virtue of them being the entire focus of the game rather than just half. If we're talking Generations as a whole (beyond just the Genesis game levels), I love how they managed to transform a lot of the 3D/modern stages into classic style levels in novel and inventive ways.

So to sum up: in stages with direct crossover, Mania prevails, but I think the ones it didn't tackle are more impressive to me in Generations than what Mania did with its relatively "new" stuff, which still largely falls back on classic level design even if they're supposed to be original zones. Both are excellent games, nonetheless.
 

killroy87

Member
When will people learn that asking questions like this right after one of the choices comes out will probably lead to incredibly biased opinions?
 

Griss

Member
It's not even a question. I mean, just to start with the visuals in generation are nowhere near as readable as Mania's, let alone iconic.

Mania builds on the foundations of each zone very cleverly in the second act. Generation throws a bunch of boost pads around the place and hopes you'll be distracted by the eye candy in the background as you're brainlessly zooming around the place.
 

RRockman

Banned
Mania does 2d better than any Sonic game period.

But the 3d modern sonic versions of the classic stages were simply astounding. Sky Sanctuary to scale in 3d was breathtaking and I loved looking for the hidden routes. Jumping on the different undilating pipes in chemical plant to get on diferent routes are still pretty cool as well. I'd put the the 2d vs 3d on equal terms but the mania 2d is faaaaaaar better than the Generations 2d.
 

Brandon F

Well congratulations! You got yourself caught!
I did enjoy the addition of red coins in Generations. Helps incentivize the player to replay and explore different routes for unlockables.

Mania has so many positives going for it that it's hard not to declare it a winner though. But sticking to the antiquated and segregate bonus zones for unlocks et al. really disrupts the flow and compounds frustration. It's one area where Mania could have been more forward thinking in the design rather than backward.
 
Mania. How is this even a conversation?

Generations does get bonus points for including my favorite zone, Sky Sanctuary, though.
 
While Mania's levels can get a little too mazey, Generation's are way too simple.

Has less bosses which all sucked, (both Classic and Modern), and its Wisp Planet was awful.

The giant truck in City Escape was damn cool though.
 

ShirAhava

Plays with kids toys, in the adult gaming world
Sonic Mania makes Sonic Generations look like Sonic 2006.

This really isn't even a question....Generations isn't even as good as Unleashed (Day Levels) or Colors.
 

Gunstar Ikari

Unconfirmed Member
I'm not in love with Mania like most of the internet, but Generations' Classic level design barely even resembles the original games. Still fun, but not really a good representation.

Generations is great because of the Modern stages tbh
 

Sciz

Member
Mania is better at it, but that's not to say that Generations did a bad job, and I don't think Mania would've handled it quite so well without having Generations to serve as an example.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
Sonic Mania is fantastic but thats it isn't it? It seems Sonic can't be great unless it goes back, meanwhile Mario games always bring new gameplay element while still being great games.
 

jackal27

Banned
Mania 100%

Aside from the fact that Generations couldn't get the physics right, they really were just in HD. The way that Mania expands in the original designs AND art direction alone is astounding. I used to hate Chemical Plant Zone from a gameplay perspective, but it's probably become my favorite stage in this game thanks to the additions and enhancements. Absolutely wonderful.
 

TreIII

Member
Mania not only did the stages better, it comes off as a more "legit" celebration of Classic Sonic than anything that Generations did.

For goodness sake, they threw in Game Gear references. GAME GEAR!. Whose games Generations snubbed entirely, likely because Sonic Team's brass proper weren't involved!
 

deriks

4-Time GIF/Meme God
Sonic Mania
Good:
- 99% close to the engine, but with better controls and the same gameplay
- homage to the classic levels with a twist in each stage that changes in a good way the gameplay
- Gameplay tells the story, like God (aka John Carmack) said
- the first time that a Special Stage is not only challeging, but fun

Bad:
- too many classic levels
- the last zone is like Scrap Brain, but kinda boring
- no online multiplayer and no four play option

Sonic Generations
Good:
- it's nice to play big belly Sonic in HD
- the old school levels are well done in the engine
- you don't have to care about the story, which is great

Bad:
- too many quick parts. I mean, exploration is a skill thing too in Sonic
- the Pink Spikes are dumb
- the chalenges are not that fun

Not sure if cry for help
- it has Sonic 1 inside the game

_______________________________________________
Sonic Mania wins
 

hodgy100

Member
The 2d stages in generations were pretty pants. I only played it for boost sonic gameplay which was freaking awesome
 
Mania? Its not even a contest, it was cool to revisit the dream cast levels in generations but man mania is just on another level when it comes to remixing classic levels.
 

Mesoian

Member
Sonic Mania is fantastic but thats it isn't it? It seems Sonic can't be great unless it goes back, meanwhile Mario games always bring new gameplay element while still being great games.

I think one of the really big problems modern sonic games has is that it's always new staff working on those games. There's no one like Whitehead who wants to preserve the DNA of what made Sonic so good, they just want to add their own spin on the formula, so the lessons you learn from '06 don't carry over to Cursed Rings/Black Knight which don't carry over to Unleashed which don't carry over to Colors/Generations which don't carry over to Boom.

There is plenty of room in this world for a Colors 2. Forces could still be a great video game. But it really does feel like the 3D sonic games are so mired in mediocrity because it feels like they start from scratch every time.
 

mreddie

Member
Mania, I'm still mad that Generations made Casino Night a handheld exclusive, had it been in the game, would be different.

Even then, still Mania.
 
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