Sonic Mania Plus Review
Do you ever feel like you miss the good ol’ days? Simple 2D Platforming with just enough of a challenge to keep you coming back for more? Look no further, because SEGA has finally done it again!
Sonic Mania Plus is the expanded edition of the original Sonic Mania game released in 2017 by SEGA, and was released with both a physical copy as well on Digital Download. The physical edition rewards you with a nifty 32-page artwork book, and is a great addition to any true Sonic fan’s collection! With this being an expanded edition of Sonic Mania, that naturally means there are some great additions that have been made to the game. People who already own the original can upgrade to “Plus”-edition by buying the Encore DLC for only R89.00! As for you who have not played Sonic Mania yet, and are wondering if it is worth your money, and time, I’ll be happy to give you the rundown.
The plot revolves around the events that take place after Sonic 3 & Knuckles, where Sonic and Tails receive a powerful energy reading from Angel Island, and go to investigate it using on Tails’s plane. Unfortunately, Doctor Eggman‘s Eggbots reached it first, and excavate the source of the signal. The new magical gem called the Phantom Ruby. (For those who don’t know, this game is a prequel to Sonic Forces). The Eggbots become more powerful after being exposed to the Ruby, and send Sonic and his friends, including Knuckles, through places they previously ventured in pursuit of Eggman. They clash with him and his new bots along the way in attempt to prevent him from using the Ruby’s power for evil. And naturally, in order to get the true ending for the game, you will need to collect all seven Chaos Emeralds, which will show you how little Sonic ended up in the alternate dimension.
The pursuit and adventure that you go on with the characters is a “blast from the past” experience with added moments of “well, this is new!” Sonic Mania Plus’s level design goes beyond what we are used to, and it’s done brilliantly. There are 12 zones, each of which is designed with unique new mechanics while still keeping the same feel of the Zone from the past. The obstacles and various pathways still keep you guessing, and is exhilarating when you discover one of the multiple paths you may have missed before. Every route gets you to where you need to go, except, one might contain the secrets that you are looking for. Different paths are even only available to explore with a specific character, but every character will be able to complete each zone as easily as the other, dependant on your playstyle. Sonic will blaze through zones at top speed, while Tails and Knuckles, and the two new characters, will find other paths thanks to their respective flying and climbing abilities.
New Challengers Approach!
As mentioned above, Sonic Mania Plus adds two new characters to the roster, paying homage to the 90s Arcade Game – “SegaSonic the Hedgehog” – with Mighty the Armadillo, and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Each of them with unique new abilities to mess around and have fun with. Mighty is able to take out enemies and open new pathways with his ground pound attack, and is even resistant to spike traps (which I found VERY useful, since I like to blast through levels), while Ray has his glide ability, much like Tails and Knuckles, although his momentum-based glide ability takes some getting used to, requiring some serious work on direction changes with the D-pad, but which can be satisfying once you’ve mastered it. Both of these characters are sturdy and welcome additions to this already great game.
Sonic Mania rewarded you with more and more reasons to play, and it just keeps on giving with Sonic Mania Plus, with additional modes like Competition Mode, Time Attack, and Encore, that offers new ways to enjoy its levels. Competition mode is a 4-Player mode where players will be racing it out to finish the Zones first. This is done locally, so you can imagine how much fun and chaos that can be with a group of friends. The Time Attack Mode is pretty much self explanatory, where you need to complete stages as fast as you possibly can; even beating your own previous records. You can reset your run, thankfully, if you mess anything up on the way. The Special Stages see the return of the third person view of Sonic collecting blue spheres to speed up, while Sonic runs to catch up to a Chaos Emerald that’s busy flying away, somehow. The real star addition of Plus is “Encore Mode”.
Encore Mode basically remixed Sonic Mania’s zones, tweaking the layouts and appearances thereof. I won’t spoil in what ways, because it’s a lot more fun experiencing it for yourself. Most levels have a lot of elements shuffled around, although in quite a subtle way. The levels are already quite big, but if you’ve played the level a few times in pursuit of those Chaos Emeralds, you’ll definitely feel the difference when you replay the game in Encore Mode. A few levels are more subtle than other very obvious changes, but even so, you’ll have a sneaky suspicion that something isn’t quite the same.
I feel like I should mention that, even though Encore Mode sounds so amazing (and it is), it is also quite difficult. Encore Mode can be called Nightmare Mode because of the change in the “Life” system. Rather than being able to grab 100 Rings and then getting an extra life for unfortunate happenstances, lives are now being represented by the game’s five characters. You get the characters by freeing them from item boxes, or from a new Sonic Pinball Bonus Stage. If you die, you immediately take control of the second-in-command character, and your third character moves up to take up his spot as “sidekick”. You can switch between your first and second characters, but you aren’t able to cycle through the rest. It can get quite challenging when you get to your last character. Quite a major change from the usual method of being able to stockpile lives for tough situations later on.
In general, the game’s bosses have been revamped and made a bit more challenging, especially so in Encore Mode. Their patterns have been reshuffled to make them a bit more challenging, as well as a major improvement being made to a certain Metal Sonic showdown stage. The Encore Mode definitely gives motivation for a repeat run-through for those who have already mastered the original, which was already a great success. Staying true to its roots and its classic gameplay that made it a cult classic. Even though I quite enjoyed Sonic Forces, and you can read about my opinion on it here, this feels like a proper homage and continuation of the Sonic we all know and love.
Sonic Mania Plus brings a refreshing addition to the already great original. In general, the retro-style graphics and music is fantastic and pays respectful homage to Sonic’s roots. The added modes bring in a refreshing spin to the game, giving it more replayability and allowing for a more challenging experience. Newcomers to Sonic Mania should give this updated edition a chance, as it captures classic Sonic the way we love him, and fixing a few of the original’s shortcomings. You can get your own copy from Loot.co.za for XBox One and Nintendo Switch and PS4 at R359.00.