Game: Sonic Mania Plus Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Rating: E for Everyone
Last year Sega’s most famous franchise was revitalized with Sonic Mania. After countless 3D outings that continually disappointed fans, it took developers to return to the game’s 2D roots to finally please both reviewers and fans. Now the game is back, complete with new downloadable content.
The Sequel We Always Wanted
The original release of Sonic Mania was only available via download, so it is a pleasant surprise that we got a physical release this time around. Packaged in a lenticular box, the game comes with an art book and an inter-changeable cover, providing an incentive for collectors. The story picks up right where the classic Sonic and Knuckles game for Sega Genesis left off. The duo of Sonic and Tails board their plane in a race to stop another one of Doctor Eggman’s evil schemes, however, there are more characters to play as other than just Sonic and Tails here. Players can also select Knuckles the Echidna, and thanks to the plus edition, two heroes that have not been playable in a game for years, Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. With all these characters there is plenty of replay value.
Racing into the Past
If you have ever played a 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game in the past, you will feel instantly at home here. The controls are simple to pick up and play, with only a jump and spin attack to really worry about. The enemies are a mix of classic bad guys and new designs, much like the levels. The stages are a hybrid of the familiar, unfamiliar, and everything in-between. For instance, the Forrest Hill Zone is very similar to the original while the Chemical Plant has a variety of updated sections, and there are original levels too, like Studiopolis which seems to be heavily inspired by a mixture of old Sonic locals. Because this game is designed with Sonic fans in mind, it offers more of a challenge for seasoned gamers. The game begins relatively easy but the difficultly ramps up rather fast. Bosses are ruthless and there are plenty of traps and pitfalls spread over the game world. Still, despite the ramped-up difficulty, there is still plenty of fun to be had, even for newcomers. Encore mode, the new addition in the plus release, delivers even more sonic fun by allowing you to cycle between all of the game characters. There is even a multiplayer game type entitled competition mode that supports two to four players racing against each other on one system.
Nostalgia with A Twist
The beauty of Sonic Mania is that it looks and sounds just like it did back in the 1990s. From the iconic sound when the little blue hedgehog snatches a golden ring to the theme music of a classic level, it is all here. I played these games so much as a child I knew every nook and cranny, so playing it again and experiencing something new is an odd feeling. Stages have been overhauled with so many twists and turns that you will be finding new things weeks and even months from now.
Sonic Mania Plus is fast, fun, and a fantastic retro experience, providing, of course, that you did not play last year’s release. If you did, there is little reason to come back for more unless you are a collector or a Sonic super fan.