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  • Christian Whitehead Reveals Early Sonic Mania Story Concept

    The half-baked idea that lead to the Hard Boiled Heavies!

    As we arrive at the 6th anniversary of the release Sonic Mania, the creators have been sharing a heap of draft and concept ideas that were created before or during it's development.

    Head Developer Christian Whitehead has shared an insight into the inception of the Sonic Mania story concept, as well as the original plan to have the Hard Boiled Heavies taunt a dejected Dr Eggman!

    The post also included an early sketch of the bothersome bots!

    2023-mania-concept-doc.jpeg

    Happy anniversary, Sonic Mania!

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    Interesting, it does explain why some decisions were made, even if it's an early draft we can see how it shaped the game we have today.聽:crump:

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    Not to say that I'm particularly fond of Mania's story, but I think I might like this even less? Having a band of Egg Robos stand up and take charge is alright, but the angle of Eggman being in a state of woe and depression just doesn't work. I'm glad that they they didn't go this way in the end.聽

    It's interesting to look at those early HBH designs too. There's King (with a gun instead of his staff), Gunner and Shinobi clearly in there, whilst the the聽red with a mace and green one on a Motorbug were clearly combined to make Knight. Magician is nowhere to be seen at this early stage.聽

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    I like the latter part of it, having Eggman on classic stages and HBHs on new ones (which is almost what they did anyway), and especially Sonic having to "navigate" a fight between the two sides (which again, sort of happened with Egg Reverie, but not quite in the way it's described here).

    But yeah, depressed Eggman doesn't work for me, it feels out of touch with the rest of the franchise for him to be having a mid-life crisis after S3&K in particular considering he would go on to relentlessly come up with new plan after new plan without regrets for Sonic Adventure through to Sonic Lost World without any faltering on his intentions.

    I can definitely see why this was either rejected or changed naturally with iteration to reach what we ended up with, but yeah, the other stuff towards the end is cool.

    (As an aisde: I like to go with the headcanon that Mania replaces 4 in a new timeline created from Classic Sonic and Eggman returning from Generations with their future knowledge.聽 In that case it could sort of work since Eggman now has the knowledge that his future self never defeated Sonic buuuut 1. I still don't like it and 2. Mania happening because Eggman made a new decision depends on him being the driving force initiating the plot.聽 If the HBH's are gonna be the catalyst in a new timeline, then they would have happened in the old timeline too that went from S3&K -> Sonic 4 -> Sonic Adventure without Sonic being snatched into the future by the Time Eater etc.)

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    To be honest, I like the idea of Eggman going back to old zones to fuck around while Sonic is busy fighting the Heavies. Buuuut that's also nearly what Sonic Forces tried to do. Could've made returning zones more interesting, like more robotized, basically giving 'em all a Bad Future vibe.

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    To be honest, as much as I LOVE Sonic Mania - the story, how it's depicted, escalated and told (including the use of and what the Phantom Ruby actually does) never really made any sense to me without reading the Prologue - it's too convoluted for a 2D title to follow instinctively.聽

    The HBH's are an interesting idea, but solely existed as another another antagonist group for Sonic / Eggman to beat, without the prologue it wasn't clear to me what the HBH's were about or why they went rouge (with the exception of the Phantom Ruby giving them powers since they were just basic model eggrobos at the start of the game). Essentially they became The Deadly Six all over again but were Robots instead. The entire game had you chasing Eggman and The HBH's grabbing the Phantom Ruby off each other at various points... or they were working together sometimes but not always... or they just went rouge on Eggman right at the end during the (terrible) final Super Boss fight. It's not really clear to me.

    But the same can be said of the Phantom Ruby and it's powers (and I know the Sonic Forces tie in somewhat messes this up which is why I Headcanon the ending of the Sonic Mania directly into Encore Mode instead). But even then this gem throws the player all about the place to different timezones, islands, and back again that even with the zone transitions I don't always get the link between most of these and why. It would have made more sense to always have the ruby be the transitioner (as dull as that might have been).

    I mean, the build up is clearly gearing us towards the giant Titanic Monach Mech (which is disappointingly just fodder in Sonic Forces if this is supposed to be another tenuous link to that game). We don't even face off against it despite running through it as a final zone. But the zone hopping was all over the place in this game. I can appreciate that we head over to Little Planet twice so perhaps Stardust Speedway and it's boss can be viewed as a "midseason finale" event before you are thrown off the planet... however, Titanic Monach聽is supposed to take place on the outskirts of Metallic Madness (present) on the Little Planet right? That's nice linear progression. But just before this we bounce back and forth (without interruption from the Phantom Ruby) between Angel Island, West Side Island, Angel Island again and Little Planet for unknown reasons.

    I know 'Mania' is in the title but the continuity and progression of Zones feels so out of whack at times.聽

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    That story was terrible and I鈥檓 glad they changed it into what it is now.

    I don鈥檛 know, even as a pitch, that doesn鈥檛 sound like a good follow up to the events after S3&K. It would鈥檝e made more sense if the HBH were new modes built by Eggman for his next scheme than some random robots that become an independent faction. And that鈥檚聽without聽the Phantom Ruby.

    I could take Eggman having a mid-life crisis, but the other parts are too difficult to imagine. (Of course, I鈥檝e said similar about Sonic 4 ever becoming a thing, so you never know)

    That said, would probably have been hard to notice with the narrative for Mania, so might鈥檝e been ignorable. Still, at least it was just an early idea.

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