It’s been nearly a year since Sonic Mania stole our hearts, with its return to classic Sonic form. With its focus on 2D platforming and retro graphics, Sonic Mania rose to become one of the best Sonic games released in years. Now a year later, we get more Sonic Mania to enjoy. Although it’s not a full sequel, Sonic Mania Plus gives players just enough new content to enjoy playing once again.
Sonic Mania Plus is an expansion to the groundbreaking original. After listening to fans clamoring for a physical release of Sonic Mania, SEGA took this opportunity to expand Sonic Mania Plus and add some new content into the original mix of gameplay. The result became Sonic Mania Plus, a title which takes all the amazing gameplay and action seen in last year’s game and throws in some welcome additions which will please both fans and newcomers.
The biggest addition is the introduction to not one but two new playable characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. As you might expect, both have their own unique traits which make them play slightly differently from the rest of the cast. Mighty can execute a ground-pound (pressing jump when you’re in mid-air) that is capable of shattering certain patches of ground and even knock out item boxes from high places. Mighty also has a tough shell that can protect him from spikes, allowing him to bounce off once without any fear. As you can imagine, this can be helpful on certain levels where spikes are everywhere.
Ray, on the other hand, can glide mid-air, similarly to how the super cape works from Super Mario World. Ray’s momentum-based glide ability takes some getting used to, requiring you to alternate directions on the D-pad after jumping to maintain flight. This can come in handy when you want to make your way through a stage quickly and effortlessly. This skill can be a lot less useful in more narrow areas, causing you to fall down. The thrill of stringing together his high-flying antics with a well-timed jump onto an enemy or platform is worth the effort to learn. Both Mighty and Ray offer subtle, yet substantial additions to the well-established formula.
Since two new characters were added, Competition mode has now expanded to 4 players. Multiplayer is fun and adding two more players makes the action all the more chaotic and fun. There’s nothing like leading a victory only to have one friend playing Tails fly in and knock you out, another friend jump in as Mighty, while the last friend avoids you all as Ray and steals the gold from under your nose. While players won’t spend too much time here, it’s a nice diversion from Mania and Encore Mode.
Returning players are likely to spend the most time in Encore Mode, a new campaign that takes you through remixed versions of Sonic Mania Plus’ stages. You start as Sonic and slowly accumulate the game’s playable cast via item boxes and bonus challenges scattered across the stage. You can control and switch between two active characters at a time, but when one dies, that character is lost and switched out with whoever you have left on reserve. That means no lives other than your collection of characters, so be sure to maintain a good collection of characters so you don’t game over. The only real complaint here is the lack of an option to actively swap whomever you have on reserve. For example, if you’re controlling Sonic with Knuckles following you, while Mighty is reserved, you can’t switch to Mighty unless you die or find an item box. This can be annoying if you find a route that you can’t access because you’re not using the right character.
Encore Mode is a welcome change-of-pace that makes Sonic Mania‘s already fantastic levels more tense and exciting. And the ability to play all five characters in a single mode makes the experience all the more varied and joyous despite its setbacks.
Beyond these additions and small tweaks, including balancing fixes and the ability to use secret options in any of your save files, Sonic Mania is the same exuberant celebration of Sonic’s past. While it was already a fantastic package on the outset, this new update makes it even better than before. If you missed Sonic Mania the first time around, now is the perfect time to catch up. Sonic Mania Plus is available now on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. For more on all things Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic Mania, make sure you keep it locked to Mammoth Gamers.