- Game: Sonic Mania Plus
- Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Sega
- Developers: Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest Games, Hyperkinetic Studios, and Tantalus Media (Nintendo Switch)
A Sonic Mania Plus review copy was provided by the publisher.
Sega’s ever so fast mascot was met with universal praise and acclaim once again due to 2017’s Sonic Mania. A group of dedicated fans who doubled as developers and musicians are to thank for that – their devotion to creating a Sonic the Hedgehog game reminiscent of his 90s classics aided Sonic Mania’s success. With such a major home run on their hands, it comes as no surprise that Sega decided to fill this retro platformer with more content. Sonic Mania Plus includes several fan service worthy additions that fills out an already amazing package.
If you happened to miss out on the first iteration of Sonic Mania, here’s a quick overview of everything that made it memorable. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles returned for another adventure where they were tasked with stopping the diabolical plans of Dr. Robotnik. Classic zones, such as Green Hill and Stardust Speedway, made their welcome return and were altered in several interesting ways. Along with those remixed level layouts came new zones, fresh 3D special stages, clever boss fights, and a remarkable soundtrack. All of these factors combined to create a wonderfully stylized Sonic entry that proved that the “Blue Blur” performs better in his 2D element. The base package is worth enjoying on its own. But this beginning offering becomes even harder to pass up with the Sonic Mania Plus update.
Two faces who haven’t been seen since 1993’s SegaSonic the Hedgehog become a part of the gang this time around – Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. These characters aren’t just simple palette swaps for Sonic – they come with their own running animations and special abilities. Mighty has a tough exterior that protects him from stage hazards and enemies. As for Ray, he can fly through the air in a different way that sets him apart from Tails and Knuckles’ flying techniques.
Mighty is especially useful during boss fights, plus he ends up making stage runs a lot easier to get through. Ray isn’t as reliable as Mighty, but it’s still quite the sight to see when he bops up and down while he’s airborne. Those two additional characters increase the playable hero count and gives you more special skills to work with during each zone playthrough. The lives system gets switched up in a much more satisfying way, as well – you can now pick up the other characters via power-ups. What makes this system even better is the fact that you can switch between the two characters in your current lineup. And after meeting your unfortunate end, you can play as any of the other characters you’ve collected along the way. This welcome break from the old-school lives system is way more preferable than its predecessor.
With new characters and team building mechanics in play, they’re all put to good use in the new “Encore Mode.” This brand new campaign features a bunch of visible alterations to each zone layout. If you zipped through the original versions of each zone already, you’ll be given even more incentives to run through them all over again. Parts of each level have been changed around in order to let you make good use of Mighty and Ray, which makes playing with those characters feel more rewarding.
Ramps may not be where they were previously, special zones have been hidden in different areas, and loop-de-loops pop up even more than before. For those of you who combed through every little detail in the first iteration of each zone, seeing all the new parts included in them will enthrall you. The base experience blossoms due to this mode refresh – it’s worth revisiting for past players thanks to a collection of standout changes.
The last piece of the Sonic Mania Plus’ package is a 4-player competitive mode. Thanks to its local-only nature, it doesn’t do much to make itself worth revisiting after initially experiencing it. Back in the days where couch co-op and vs. play thrived, racing against an equally fast friend stood out in past Sonic games.
Sonic Mania Plus’ implementation of multiplayer is more of a diversion instead of a meaningful inclusion. Had it been given an online option, this feature would have been a gem of a playable mode. Returning to previously completed stages and giving them the speed run treatment in Time Attack mode is cool, but you probably won’t get much mileage out of it.
Sonic Mania Plus Takeways
Sonic Mania Plus is proof that nostalgia can be done right when it comes to the gaming heroes of the past. Encore Mode turns each zone into a new playground for Mighty and Ray, but still manages to give the three other characters more secrets to uncover.
The beautiful presentation of each zone stands out in the best way possible. The lengthy campaign is a love letter to Sonic’s golden era and classic 90s platformers. While the multiplayer and Time Attack features are mildly amusing side modes, they still manage to be fun add-on’s to a package full of retro Sonic goodness.
Our Sonic Mania Plus Review Score: 8.75 out of 10