Sega Wanted To “Move Beyond” Pixel Art, So Sonic Mania 2 Didn’t Happen

Many Sonic fans consider Sonic Mania the best game ever. Many wanted a sequel with more classic stages, new levels, and buttery smooth physics in beautiful pixel art. We now understand why Sonic Mania 2 never happened.

Sega’s Takashi Iizuka denied rumors of creative differences between Sonic Mania’s developer Headcannon, led by Christian Whitehead, and Sega in a Game Informer interview about Sonic Superstars. Iizuka says Sega worked with Headcannon and Whitehead “to consider concepts for the next generation of Classic Sonic,” but the game was never made.

Iizuka specifically mentioned Sega’s desire to move beyond pixel art:

“When you make a 2D game using pixel art, you kind of end up targeting a very specific core audience… We wanted to bring this game to as many people as possible and in order 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.”

In Game Informer, Whitehead agreed. Penny’s Big Breakaway, a 3D platformer, is the developer’s new IP with his new studio Evening Star. Whitehead also wanted to leave pixel art:

“Evening Star did work with Sega to explore possible directions Classic Sonic could go after the success of Sonic Mania. Sonic Mania 2 was never in development, though, because we actually agreed early on that we should try to make something fresh, like hand-drawn 2D or 2.5D.”

Whitehead added that “we maintain a friendly relationship with Sega and hope fans are pumped to play both [Sonic Superstars and Penny’s Big Breakaway] once they release”.

Iizuka claims Sonic Superstars continues Sonic Mania’s feel, even though Whitehead and the team weren’t involved. “Sonic Mania helped us realize that fans still wanted and enjoyed the Classic series,” he told Game Informer. “When we kicked off Sonic Superstars with Ohshima-san’s team, a lot of the conversations that we had with Christian were already in our heads.”

Game Informer, which will cover Sonic Superstars for weeks, has the full interview with Iizuka-san and Whitehead.