Penny’s Big Breakaway: The Next Game from Sonic Mania Developers Recaptures the Magic of Early 3D Platformers

The initial days of 3D platformers were a lawless era of varying concepts and mechanics as developers zeroed in on what worked, and different vibrant mascots with their own unique qualities were introduced at a steady pace. Evening Star, a new studio formed by the creators of Sonic Mania, aims to recapture that period with Penny’s Big Breakaway, a nostalgic platformer to the N64, PlayStation, and Dreamcast. And from my experience thus far, it has effectively rekindled that era in gaming history.

This is most evident in the visual style, which hearkens back to a style of early 3D simplicity without looking quite as rudimentary as those older games. It leans heavily on simple shapes and saturated colors, but the designs of both characters and stages are a little more intricate than you would actually see on those older platforms. It’s a decent compromise, delivering a dose of nostalgia without being overly reliant on it. As someone who doesn’t feel enamored with the style of that era, it does look a little garish to my eyes, but your mileage may vary.