23 years in the making, all sorts of failed experiments, an awkward transition into 3D and various reboots later, there is finally, F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, a truly recommendable, essential Sonic game for the masses.
Assembled by veteran fan-modder Christian Whitehead after SEGA yielded and said, "FINE, we'll let someone else do one!", Sonic Mania feels every bit like the culmination of years' worth of ideas, refinements and the sort of attention to detail only a fan community would notice.
As such, playing Sonic Mania is like a love letter to your childhood, whilst also being perfectly accessible for a whole new generation.
THIS, more than any other franchise entry in over two decades is why Sonic matters, and has always mattered.
The Blue Blur zips across the screen at lightspeed, the game's pixel aesthetic being a direct throwback to the 90s originals, yet Whitehead and his team at Headcannon have used the advancement of time to introduce gorgeous HD visuals, the tiniest of animation refinements, and some of the most complex and rewarding platforming you've ever seen.
From top to bottom, this was crafted with the utmost purpose and confidence - a mentality that comes across in everything from Sonic's new Drop Dash, to the phenomenally endearing opening cinematic.
Thankfully, that also means it's packed full of easter eggs, references and secrets, too...