So nice we played it twice!
Poor Sonic. He’s been run through the wringer over the years, and the franchise just never gracefully made the transition to 3D. Even though Sega keeps trying to make 3D stick, Sonic was always at its best when it was a side-scroller. Last year’s Sonic Mania brought the series back to its roots with fast-paced platforming action and was a definite highlight after years of releases that ranged from so-so to terrible.
Well, if you loved Sonic Mania last year, you’ll love it even more this year with the release of Sonic Mania Plus. Sonic Mania was so popular that Sega decided it deserved a full physical edition with added content. So, now you can get the game on disc (or cart for the Switch) with added extras. Those who already own Sonic Mania received the extra content via DLC when the retail version was released.
Sonic Mania Plus still features the same 5-6 hour campaign as the original release. For those who haven’t played Mania, it plays and looks just like a sequel to Sonic 3 and Sonic CD. It has a mix of levels from classic Sonic games and original levels and feels like a “best of” compilation of the 2D Sonic games. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are all playable, and it feels like a proper Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (not to be confused with the somewhat disappointing Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and 2).
The significant addition with Sonic Mania Plus comes in the form of Encore mode. Encore mode remixes the campaign and gives you the ability to play two more (somewhat obscure) characters from Sega history. Mighty the Armadillo can strike a mighty downward blow and take two hits before losing rings, and Ray the Flying Squirrel can glide for long distances. Both new characters give you new ways to get through the game and are welcome additions.
Encore mode also switches up how lives work. Instead of getting a set number of lives, you have to recruit the five available characters, each of which ostensibly count as a life. To recruit them you have to access the revamped Special stages that play like Sonic Spinball levels. This also makes you take better care to not lose your rings as you need to have at least 50 to access these levels.
There are also visual changes with Encore mode that add a bit more interest to visiting levels you’ve been to before in the main campaign. Stage recolors and new transitions lend a fresh feel to the levels, though there’s hardly any change to the level geometry itself.
The physical edition of Sonic Mania Plus comes with an artbook and a cool reversible cover with faux Genesis box art. It also comes with a holographic outer box that features some sharp images of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. If you’ve already got a digital version of Sonic Mania (or the physical collector’s edition), these additions likely aren’t enough to get you to purchase the game again, but they do show some effort on Sega’s part to make a physically attractive product.
Sonic Mania Plus isn’t an expansion in its own right. If you own the original release, don’t get confused and think this is a whole new game. It’s merely a physical release with some added DLC. Think of it as the Game of the Year or Gold Edition. If you bought Sonic Mania when it came out, the Encore DLC should be available to you for free, and it adds everything new that came with the release of Plus.
developer: PagodaWest Games, Headcannon
system(s): PS4, Xbox One, Switch