The project that never was
SEGA has discussed the lack of Sonic Mania 2 quite a few times following the announcement of Sonic Superstars. Many thought Sonic Mania 2 would be a lock, but that project never existed. Now, thanks to a Game Informer feature, we now know that SEGA and Evening Star Studios did at least consider working together again, but the project didn’t pan out.
Sonic Mania 2 never went into development, but SEGA and Evening Star Studios did experiment with some ideas. One of those was a 2.5 Sonic prototype, but Evening Star and SEGA decided to split to work on their own titles. Evening Star’s Christian Whitehead explains in the blurb below.
“When we started Evening Star, it was always our goal to move beyond 2D pixel art into 3D games, and develop all-new, original IP. 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. At the same time, Evening Star was developing our new Star Engine, so we also ended up making a cool Sonic prototype that played with depth in 2.5D, and some other gameplay ideas.
As Iizuka-san said, though, [Evening Star] did not continue to full production on the game, at which point Arzest took the helm and made Superstars alongside Sonic Team. We moved forward with our plans to develop an original 3D title, which is, of course, Penny’s Big Breakaway! Superstars looks awesome and our team is really excited to play it when it comes out.”