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Sonic Mania 2 was never in the works because Sega and its devs wanted to move away from pixel art and “make something fresh”

The next 2D Sonic has “that old classic Sonic feel” but needed a “current look”

Sonic Mania 2 isn’t in development and never was, according to the devs behind the celebrated 2D revival of the blue hedgehog. Contrary to rumours, that’s not because of a falling out between publisher Sega and Sonic Mania’s devs, but because both sides of the creative team decided they wanted to make something new.

That’s according to a recent Game Informer interview with Sega's Takashi Iizuka and Sonic Mania lead developer Christian Whitehead, which casts some light on the discussions between Whitehead, studio Headcannon and Sega “to consider concepts for the next generation of Classic Sonic” after Sonic Mania’s rapturous release in 2017.

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Both Iizuka and Whitehead said that Sega and the devs agreed that whatever followed Mania would need to “move beyond” the pixel art style used as a throwback to Sonic’s 16-bit origins.

For Izuka and Sega, that consideration came down to maximising the possible audience for a 2D Sonic platformer.

"When you make a 2D game using pixel art, you kind of end up targeting a very specific core audience," Iizuka said. "We wanted to bring this game to as many people as possible and in order to really make it look and feel as appealing to a wider audience, we needed to use the 3D assets to really give it that current look.”

Meanwhile, Whitehead expressed that his own studio, Evening Star, had always planned to create 3D titles and original IP on the back of Mania’s success, rather than focusing solely on 2D pixel art - adding that the developers created a 2.5D Sonic prototype in its own Star Engine.

“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,” he said.

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Sonic Mania’s creators have gone their separate ways since its release six years ago, with Evening Star creating colourful 3D platformer Penny's Big Breakaway and Sega developing co-op platformer Sonic Superstars with developers Arzest.

Even so, Whitehead explicitly dismissed reports that Sonic Mania 2 had been scrapped due to creative differences between the teams, insisting the devs “maintain a friendly relationship with Sega”.

Iizuka, for his part, credits Mania - alongside the original Sonic trilogy - as inspiring Sonic Superstars’ focus on bringing something brand new to the Sonic series in terms of visuals and design, while remaining rooted in the old-school feel of Sonics past (for better or worse).

“We do know that core fans want that old Classic Sonic look, they want that old classic Sonic feel, so we focused on making sure the controls were solid and the look and the feel was really representative of a classic Sonic game,” he said.

“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, from scratch.”

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