Sonic The Hedgehog is easily one of the most iconic characters in gaming history.
He's on par with Super Mario, Lara Croft, Ryu, Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Samus Aran, Mega Man and has been around for twenty-five years. In that time, of course, his popularity has waned and so to has the fortunes of Sega, who went from one of the largest gaming companies in the world to... well, not so much.
However, Sonic's charm and resilience has always remained and a lot of that has been down to one thing - nostalgia.
Nostalgia seems to really have taken hold this year, particularly in gaming. Pokemon GO, as we know, has now become the worldwide sensation and made a somewhat niche franchise suddenly ubiquitous again. Nintendo, meanwhile, are releasing a mini version of the thirty-year old NES and, now, Sega are releasing the first 2D Sonic game in years.
Sonic Mania looks set to ride the wave of gaming nostalgia of late and will see players transported back to the 16-bit era with all-new levels, remixed old levels and a catchy chiptune soundtrack to boot. The game, which will be available on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, is set for a Spring 2017 release.
Here's our first look at what's in store.
So, thoughts? It's clear that Sega has finally - after nearly twenty years - what made Sonic so enjoyable in the first place. It's the speed. Sonic was all about controlling the speed, not the ridiculous storyline with Chaos Emeralds and Dr. Robotnik or any of the other weirdness surrounding it (honestly, don't go looking unless you're OK with not sleeping for a few weeks).
Gaming is now reaching untold heights of reality with AR, VR and so on. Eventually, it's going to hit a point where players become less concerned with graphics and immersion and more concerned with how it feels and what the playability is like.
Sonic The Hedgehog always had a real sense of gameplay. You could just pick up a controller and, within a few minutes, you were on your way. It didn't require an endless tutorial or time-wasting configuration to play. It just started.
That simplicity is something that's been missing from modern games for many years and Sonic Mania looks like a reminder of how far it's gone.