The good news is that Sonic Mania is about as good as every classic Sonic The Hedgehog platformer of the past, if not a little better because of the extra polish that went into new areas, items, and the soundtrack. The bad news is that I didn't even beat the level I demo'd because it's actually way more challenging than I was expecting. I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, but I definitely had a look of disbelief on my face when the game over screen flashed across my face for the first time since I was eight!
Part of that, I blame on picking Knuckles. I don't have a lot of experience playing his character so it was an absolute disgrace watching me clunk and half glide throughout the level. Despite my abysmal ring count, I did manage to navigate the level without reaching my end there, but the boss battle was something else. Even the folks in the Polygon video (who look to have played through a couple times based on their knowledge of secrets and what not) had some trouble taking down Robotnik which, while frustrating, was a mechanic to the Sonic experience that I actually relished a bit. I kind of love the fact that this game is difficult enough to make me frustrated for once!
The music, as we've heard in the past, is absolutely amazing. While I still enjoyed my Sonic Forces experience more, it was a close race between these two games, and I'm seriously considering buying both. Especially for the $20 value of Sonic Mania...this one is a no brainer purchase when it finally comes out August 15th.