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Sonic Mania

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: PagodaWest Games
Release Date: July 17, 2018


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Switch Review - 'Sonic Mania Plus'

by Fran Soto on Aug. 13, 2018 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Sonic Mania brings fans back into the 2D world of platform games with nostalgic pixel-style art and core classic gameplay by reimagining iconic Zones and Acts from Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD and Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles.

Buy Sonic Mania Plus

In 2017, Sega released the most anticipated Sonic game in decades. Sonic Mania had garnered the attention of every old-school fan with its retro throwback look and feel. Using the Retro Engine, which was created by game director Christian Whitehead, the new title promised a return to Sonic's Golden Age on the Sega Genesis and Sega Saturn. After years of semi-disappointing Sonic titles, Sonic Mania received critical acclaim and delivered exactly what was promised.

Now Mania is back with a new addition. With the base game receiving so much support, Sega decided to release a more complete Sonic experience with new modes, new characters, and special physical packaging. In an unexpected surprise, Mania Plus brings even more content to an already well-rounded game. Hardcore Sonic fans looking for a new challenge will enjoy the Encore mode. New multiplayer experiences allow players to compete against their friends. Regardless of whether fans have picked up the base game, Sonic Mania Plus promises new ways to play a modern classic.

Initially, Sonic Mania Plus' packaging catches the eye. It is a true gift for collectors. The packaging features a holographic cardboard sleeve and gorgeous reversible cover art made to look like a Sega Genesis package. The goodies don't stop there, as the package also includes a 32-page book with animation stills, concept art and sketches. Colorful character models and bright scenes speak volumes about the attention to detail in the game. The art book provides a look at the animation process for the game and its opening cut scene. A vibrant opening clip gives the game some Saturday morning cartoon vibes that are reminiscent of the original Sonic animated series. Being able to look through the game packaging creates a memorable experience.

Having already played the original Mania mode, I decided to dig into the Encore mode since that's the major selling point for this add-on. Essentially, it's a continuation of Mania mode. It's also where Mania Plus introduces two lesser-known Sonic characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. These two obscure compatriots first made an appearance on SegaSonic the Hedgehog in 1993. Now Ray and Mighty are back from their Japan-only release to assist Sonic in defeating Dr. Robotnik. It was a welcome surprise to see connections to other Sonic games. There are various mechanics within Sonic Mania that are reminiscent of previous installments, and the reintroduction of these characters continues that trend.

Both Mighty and Ray are not just flat characters, though. Playing with them also means utilizing their own special skills. Ray can glide to reach high places or stall the speed of falling. His "flying" is not exactly like Tails'; it has its own acrobatic utility, so Ray is a nimble character. Mighty's tough exterior makes him almost invulnerable to most attacks, with bullets ricocheting off him as he spins by enemies. Only having read about these characters, I found them a welcome addition to the game since they had their own personalities that complement the main cast. Their personas even shine through their sprites, since they're not clones of other characters. Mighty flexes in celebration after a boss fight, and Ray is a radical dude. They're both enjoyable to play and watch.

The Encore mode remixes the game to include new map layouts and special stages. This gives players a new experience and challenge in trying to navigate stages. Checkpoint special stages have changed into a pinball machine, which differs from the Mania mode checkpoint stage modeled after Sonic 3. Special Chaos Emerald stages have been moved to new locations in this mode, creating even more of a challenge for completionists. For those who are wondering, the two new characters are also able to go Super after collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds.

Remixed gameplay also introduces more cut scenes and an updated Metal Sonic battle with an updated character model. These new additions give fans additional ways to enjoy the Sonic fandom. With the original game already being such a love-letter to Sonic's Golden Age, Mania Plus is the complete package offers much replayability in the Mania and Encore modes, with even more content to unlock and explore. The only disappointment is that developers never added a Casino Zone. It can't be said that the absence of Casino Zone affects gameplay in anyway, but it could have replaced the Hydrocity Zone. Out of all the zones in the game, it appeared to be the most generic. In addition, a clunky boss fight in Hydrocity left much to be desired.

With gameplay and character additions made to Sonic Mania Plus, these changes even extend to new multiplayer modes. Competition mode allows players to compete against each other to see who is the fastest and most skilled. Providing more multiplayer options to Sonic Mania Plus makes use of the Nintendo Switch's local co-op features. With the console's portability, allowing friends to play together suits the game style and console features. The title fits well on the Switch in a way that differs from other consoles. Since Mania Plus is an easy game to pick up and put down, it makes it enjoyable to be able to play in short bursts. Sonic is made to go fast.

Sonic Mania Plus is the most updated Sonic installment possible. With its throwback feel and influences from games across the franchise, Mania Plus offers the best Sonic gameplay for old fans and new ones alike. The reintroduction of lesser-known characters Mighty and Ray gives fans more options in how they'd like to complete the game and enriches the Sonic universe. Updated cut scenes and new modes will keep players entertained for a while. The Encore mode doesn't feel like a rinse and repeat of Mania mode, which creates a fresh experience. New multiplayer options make Sonic Mania Plus a title for everyone to play together. It just oozes even more personality than before with additional packaging.

On a personal note, as a lifelong Sonic fan, it was truly a pleasure to see such attention to detail in a game. It hasn't gone unnoticed by the community that quite a few Sonic games felt like rush jobs in the past. Sega tried to do with Sonic what Nintendo has done with Mario. Some of it has worked, but most of it has not.

Sonic Mania Plus gives fans an authentic experience in a new way by taking Sonic's roots and elevating its gameplay. There are so many references to different Sonic titles that it's like an Easter egg hunt for fans. Is this the only way to play Sonic? No. There are other great Sonic games of different styles, such as Sonic Adventure. This title is a step in the right direction toward revitalizing a much-loved character. Sonic Mania Plus is a title that fans will enjoy, and its well-constructed design and replayability make it a great game for fans of 2D platforming. The title is a welcome addition to the Switch and creates a standout experience from other consoles.

Score: 9.0/10

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