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Sonic Mania Plus

Posted by GG Goblin On August - 7 - 2018

Fans getting what they want.

SEGA’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, has had a mixed history when it comes to video games. The early games are what made the blue Hedgehog a star and the perfect rival for a certain plumber, but since those early days of SEGA vs Nintendo, the Sonic games have faltered time and again to recapture the original magic. While trying his hand at a variety of different genres, Sonic never really managed to match the magic of the 16-bit era.

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While older gamers lamented the fall of Sonic, and new gamers may have enjoyed the blue Hedgehog’s varying adventures without ever realising his full potential, a group of fans actually decided to do something about it. And so, 2017’s Sonic Mania was born as a love letter to the original, and best, Sonic games. Credit to SEGA for realising how much the gaming public needed this and publishing the completed game as a digital download across the various platforms, and credit once again to SEGA for listening to the public and releasing Sonic Mania Plus, a physical release of the original game along with some extras for the true Hedgehog fans.

For those who never dipped their toes into Sonic Mania when it released in 2017, the game was like a burst of nostalgia, peppered with surprises. Sonic Mania took the 16-bit visual style that so many gamers remembered and polished it up to fit on the modern consoles, and then took the levels and features from some of the most popular Sonic games and twisted or tweaked them into something that felt both familiar but entirely new at the same time. The flow and speed, and perfect controls of Sonic, Tails and even Knuckles, were all present, allowing players to speed run their way through the various new levels, all while looking out for new hidden areas and rewards. The remixed levels are joined by entirely new ones that follow the classic formula and feel right at home in Sonic Mania. Boss battles appear at the end of each act and offer both surprises and challenges for both the Sonic hardcore and the newcomers. Bonus levels appear to round out the core single player mode, but things didn’t stop there as a more flowing time attack mode allowed for unhindered speed runs, and competition multiplayer gave two players the chance to face off in a race to the finish.

In all, Sonic Mania was a nice little package for both the Sonic fans and the newcomers, especially on the Nintendo Switch. Sonic Mania looked nice on the big screen, but was really at home when played in portable mode, perfectly suited to gaming on the go. For many gamers, Sonic Mania marked the return to glory for one of gaming’s greatest mascots.

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Which brings us to Sonic Mania Plus, the recently released physical copy of the game. While SEGA could have simply dropped the game onto a cart and pleased many fans, they have gone that much further with this physical release. For starters, there is a rather nice art book included in the package, which is always welcome, along with reversible covers for the case. Given the limited storage on the Switch, even when taking into account the largest memory cards available, owning a game on cart does seem to be the sensible option, and so having the game on cart would be more ideal for most, even without taking into account the chance to show off your Sonic Mania Plus case. But SEGA have thought of those fans who wouldn’t want to double dip by offering all of the Plus content as DLC for the original digital game. So if the physical cart and the physical extras are not of interest, players can just grab the DLC to have this definitive version of the game. Nice.

Perhaps the most important addition to Sonic Mania with Plus are the two additional characters. Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel each bring their own new abilities to the game, giving players new ways to play and new routes to find. Mighty can pound the ground to attack enemies or destroy terrain, while an armoured shell provides some protection from spikes and enemy attacks. Ray, on the other hand, is able to glide through stages, although this mechanic takes quite some getting used to and is of limited use on some of the more confined levels. Either way, both characters are a welcome addition.

The other exciting addition is Encore Mode. This is like a remixed version of the original mode, with the levels changed in sometimes subtle and sometimes less than subtle ways. It may be that the colour is different, or that there is a new route. What this means is that the expert players will have new level layouts to learn, while the new players will get a whole lot more content. Encore also changes things up by dropping the usual lives in exchange for collecting characters. If you fail anywhere, you lose that character from your line up, and thus lose their ability. Players will be able to replace characters at certain points, or even switch out which characters they are using on the screen. Encore is a great mode and a brilliant addition to the game.

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There are a few other additions and tweaks that have come to Sonic Mania since launch, but it is Encore mode and the two new characters that are the real stars in Plus. Whether it is worth picking up Sonic Mania Plus for those who already own the digital version of the core game would come down entirely to how important those physical extras are. It would be a tough sell. However, for those who passed on Sonic Mania last year, or picked the game up on a different platform, Sonic Mania Plus is the best version of the best Sonic game in recent years. For any fan of platforming, Sonic Mania Plus deserves to be in your library.




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