Sonic Mania, the latest installment of Sega’s venerable franchise, churns with the improvisational energy of a jazz ensemble. It is something of a remake of Genesis-era 2-D Sonic the Hedgehog games, with refurbished stages you may remember and new ones that pay tribute to those of the past. At first glance, it looks like an empty nostalgia trip. But Sega has created something else entirely: a resurrection, one that portends a promising future for gaming’s most important icons.
But first, a confession. I never played much Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid. I remember its first level from brief forays at friend’s houses, but I never had a Sega console of my own. That limited my adventures with the perennially speedy mascot, and I didn’t even know what Chaos Emeralds are until I was in my twenties. So when Sonic Mania unleashes the vibrant sights and sounds of the original 2-D games—games created