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Almost everything about Sonic Mania is a tribute in some way or another. The whole game takes many of the classic levels and themes and gives them a slight tweak and update for today's generation of gamer. Well, one of the tributes featured in the game is a respectful nod in honor of a deceased fan hacker within the Sonic community.
Mashable is reporting that PagodaWest Games included a character into Sonic Mania to pay tribute to fan hacker, Cody "Polygon Jim" Lawrence". The tribute includes a boss fight with one of the Eggbot minions, who is riding on top of a beetle with a single wheel. It turns out that the Heavy Rider boss fight involves Motobug the Badnik, a hacked creation that Cody "Polygon Jim" Lawrence created for the original Sonic The Hedgehog.
During the second act of Lava Reef Zone near the latter half of the game, players will encounter the Hardboiled Heavy Rider who is riding atop Motobug the Badnik. The Eggbot has a spiked ball and chain in hand as he ferociously rides back and forth across the screen in an attempt to take down Sonic.
As pointed out on the Sonic The Hedgeblog website, Motobug the Badnik was modified by "Polygon Jim" to have an extending wheel when it jumps. On the site there's a side-by-side comparison showcasing both the old original design and the new design that PagodaWest included in Sonic Mania as a tribute.
If you haven't seen the character yet or haven't played the game yet -- and trust me, Sonic Mania is the best Sonic game released on gaming platforms since Sonic 3 & Knuckles from back in 1994 -- there's a video of the Motobug in action with the Eggbot from the Lava Reef Zone's second act, which you can check out below, courtesy of BossBattleChannel.
The Motobug sort of plays second fiddle to the Eggbot, but he still gets to shine a little bit in the battle against Sonic.
This sort of tribute makes a lot of sense considering that many of the members who worked on Sonic Mania also have ties back to the hacking and modding community when it comes to Sonic The Hedgehog. In the case of Polygon Jim's creation, it was more than just a slight alteration of one of the character sprites in the game, you could actually play as Motobug in the original Sonic The Hedgehog using the hack.
It's a nice way for Sega to not only pay tribute to a new-gen classic character but also to nod respectfully toward Polygon Jim and his contributions to the original Sonic The Hedgehog community.
Sonic Mania is available right now on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and on the Nintendo Switch as a digital download.