Everyone's favourite blue hedgehog has had his share of ups and downs over the decades. Thankfully, Sonic Mania is a delightful return to form and this Plus version adds even more fun times to his latest adventure.
Same great game
I'm one of the few gamers who didn't play Sonic Mania last year. Around its release, I was super-busy and just never got around to picking up a copy. So, when I heard that an even better version was coming out, I figured it would finally be a good time to play it. Right off the bat, I was having a blast tearing through the elaborate stages while listening to its awesome 16-bit soundtrack and trying to find those ever-evasive chaos emeralds. The visuals are nothing to sneeze at either as it stays true to the Genesis era games but everything is much more refined and smoothly animated. One aspect that blew me away throughout my playthrough was the boss fights. Even though I completed a lot of Sonic games in my life, I've never come across bosses as enjoyable as these ones. Overall, if you're a Sonic fan then you can clearly see that Sonic Mania is a prime example of what the series is capable of.
Something that Sonic Mania accomplishes that few 2D platformers do is provide a great deal of variety and content. For example, when I fought Dr. Eggman in a game of Puyo Pop, I couldn't help but smile. You'll come across many different stage hazards, enemies, and of course, the previously mentioned bosses across the 12 zone campaign. Even if you try and rush through, you'll still take at least a few hours which is impressive. However, there are a lot of secrets to be found including the chaos emeralds that are hidden within a variety of special stages. It's such a satisfying adventure that I can't wait to dive back in so I can see what else I can find.
Now with more bells and whistles
Obviously, this is a review of Sonic Mania Plus so I should cover the Plus part of the title. The main addition is Encore Mode which features two new playable characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Mighty's Hammer Drop is just awesome, especially when you accidentally uncover some secret items after using it and Ray's Air Glide makes soaring through stages a blast. Encore Mode itself is an altered version of the main campaign. You'll come across new areas to explore and it's different enough to enjoy even after completing the main campaign. One thing that I found to be rather disappointing is the fact that the special stages in Encore Mode are downright brutal and can cause an incredible amount of frustration. On the plus side, there's a new pinball bonus stage that's pretty fun. Finally, Competition Mode can now be played with up to four players which is great for those who love playing Sonic multiplayer.
Even though I had a fantastic time with Sonic Mania Plus so far, one nagging issue keeps coming to mind which is the fact that many parts of the campaign feel a bit too familiar. I consider myself to be a casual Sonic fan in that I've played through many of the games but I'm not obsessed with the series as much as many other fans. Therefore, I was surprised at how many segments made me think, "Haven't I already played this?" It's not a huge issue by any means but I still wish that the entirety of Sonic Mania was original.
Simply put, even if you've never played a Sonic game, you'll still have a ton of fun within the exciting world of Sonic Mania Plus.
- + Incredible Sonic gameplay with great stage design and super-fun boss fights
- + Tons of variety throughout
- + Loads of content to work through
- - The new special stages are super-difficult to the point of being very frustrating
- - A few zones feel a bit too familiar