Sonic Mania’s sequel was never developed due to Sega’s concerns over the size of its audience
Sega’s Vice President of Product Development Takashi Iizuka has revealed that Sonic Mania 2 never came to fruition due to concerns regarding its 2D pixel art style and the size of its potential audience.
- Iizuka was asked about the rumored canned sequel to 2017's Sonic Mania, which saw the return of the classic 2D sprite-based Sonic from the blue hedgehog's early years, in a new interview with Game Informer. Sega's plans to develop Sonic Mania 2 were canceled due to creative differences between the project's development team and the publisher, according to a report from an insider known as "Zippo" in 2021. Iizuka did not directly confirm this but did say he spoke with lead developer Christian Whitehead "to consider concepts for the next generation of Classic Sonic," which were later used in the development of Sonic Superstars.
- The biggest obstacle for the two parties was Sega's plan to abandon pixel art graphics in favor of 3D assets. "When you make a 2D game using pixel art, you kind of end up targeting a very specific core audience,” said Iizuka. "We wanted to bring this game to as many people as possible and 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. But 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.”
- Whitehead confirmed this, stating that the goal of establishing his studio Evening Star was to "move beyond 2D pixel art into 3D games, and develop all-new, original IP," but that it did collaborate with Sega to "explore possible directions Classic Sonic could go." He made it clear that the game was not in development at the time, but a prototype was created using the studio's Star Engine, which placed Sonic in 2.5D and used depth. Whitehead also debunked rumors that he and the rest of Sonic Mania's development team were feuding with Sega, claiming that the two companies have a "friendly relationship" and that he hopes fans can enjoy titles from both studios.
- Superstars appears to be the closest fans will get to a Mania 2, with Whitehead confirming that Sega has fully integrated Mania's physics engine into the 3D title. Iizuka also stated that when developing Mania, the game was studied alongside the original Sonic trilogy to ensure that the title is capable of bridging the gap between classic and modern Sonic in terms of overall gameplay.
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