In case the kick-arse concert didn’t make it clear, it’s Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th birthday, and how better to celebrate than with a copy of the game that Kotaku ranked the second-best Sonic game of all time? The Epic Games Store is giving away copies of Sonic Mania for free but you gotta go fast — the discount ends July 1.
Sonic’s 30th birthday is as much a celebration of the series’ fans as it is the blue hedgehog himself, which is why Sonic Mania is the perfect gift for the occasion. Produced in celebration of Sonic’s 25th birthday back in 2016 (though it released the following year), Sonic Mania was built by members of the fan game and ROM hacking scene, led by Australian game developer Christian “Taxman” Whitehead. This Sonic dream team created a game that’s both a celebration and an evolution of the classic 2D side scrollers that started it all. We here at Kotaku enjoy Sonic Mania quite a bit.
Read More: Sonic Mania: The Kotaku Review
“Sonic Mania is pure joy distilled into video game form,” Kotaku’s Ash Parrish wrote in our ranking. “It’s like being nine years old again, waking up on Saturday morning, and sitting down to a big bowl of sugary cereal just in time to catch your favourite cartoons. Later your mum says she’s going to drop you off at your aunt’s house, where you’ll spend hours playing through all the Sonic games on your cousin’s Sega Genesis.”
Other outlets and players love Sonic Mania as well. At the time of its release it was the best-reviewed Sonic the Hedgehog game in 15 years, while the enhanced Sonic Mania Plus is the second best-reviewed Sonic game on Metacritic next to the 2011 iOS release of Sonic CD. A fan build based on Sonic Mania’s Green Hill Zone was recently selected by The Lego Group to become a full retail Lego set via the Lego Ideas program. My own child has been obsessed with the game since launch and to this day refuses to play any other 2D Sonic game.
If you’ve not played Sonic Mania yet, now is the time. The PC version has moderately modest hardware requirements, so odds are if you are reading this on a game-capable computer you’ll be able to play. It’s also available on Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (oh, and Amazon Luna if you’re into that). Note that the Encore DLC, which adds two new playable characters, a four-player competition mode, and an all-new remixed Encore mode, will still cost you $6, so plan accordingly. Good luck, and hedgehog speed.