Sonic Mania Plus Review

Last year, Sega blew everyone away with Sonic Mania. For a lot of Sonic fans, the game felt like the second coming of their beloved blue blur. Now, a whole year later, they’ve delivered what feels like the definitive version of that experience with Sonic Mania Plus. Yet there’s no denying that this is more of an upgrade than a new game. The question then becomes, is that enough?

Now, because this game is so similar to Sonic Mania in so many ways, this review is going to focus on the differences present in Sonic Mania Plus. If you’re curious, I go into a lot more detail in my review about the original game. To that same end, my final score is a separate beast from my verdict regarding that game.

A New Experience With Encore Mode

There are now two ways to progress through the game: the original Mania Mode, and the new Encore Mode. With Encore Mode, you’ve got no lives to keep you in the game. Instead, you collect and switch between the five playable characters. If you lose one, they’re gone. At least until you recover them. This happens through either exploration or the checkpoint minigame. Unfortunately, said minigame is a claw game/pinball hybrid that I truly suck at. On top of that, when you fall to your death you take everyone with you. I found this out the hard way while playing through Flying Battery Zone. I went from five characters to one with a single stupid mistake. The upside to Encore Mode is that you can play with everyone, with the freedom to frequently change things up.

Sonic Mania Plus

I had high hopes for the changes that came with Plus immediately after getting to Green Hill Zone. The new sunset color palette was enchanting. Things are going to be different, I thought. This is going to be amazing. Sadly, the following six levels didn’t switch things up as much as I’d hoped. To be fair, every stage is subtly different from the previous version of Mania. I had to watch a side-by-side video to really notice the differences, however. I thought Green Hill was going to be the only big switch, until I got to Stardust Speedway.

Not until Metal Sonic did I realize how much things had subtly changed. Whereas the second phase of that fight used to be impossible, now it’s the third phase that will crush you flat. Not only that, but Eggman isn’t terrible at playing Mean Bean Machine anymore. He actually beat me once! I was shocked. It looks like all the bosses who needed tweaking have been tweaked. While I’m psyched that the Chemical Plant Zone has a more challenging boss fight, Metal Sonic was already hard enough, damn it.

Let’s Hear It For The New Guys

Mighty and Ray are kind of a mixed bag. While Mighty has a pretty cool smash attack, Ray’s flight move is a bit unwieldy. While it’s not impossible to control, expect to suffer through some trial and error before you figure it out. I like having two more people to control, but they feel underwhelming. There’s hardly any opportunities to really use their powers in any of the stages. On the flip side, Encore Mode has really opened my eyes to how awesome Knuckles and Tails are. Climbing and flying are absolute life savers in this game that I can’t believe I didn’t use more when I first played Mania. Mighty and his down smash move have actually gotten me killed multiple times, while Tails proved more and more valuable. Ray’s powers are less overtly dangerous, though not as useful as Tails. Maybe I’m just bad at controlling this dude, but it felt like you needed a lot more open space to take advantage of his flight mechanics. If nothing else, the new characters highlight the strengths of your other three party members..

Sonic Mania Plus doesn’t feel like a full game by any means. Thankfully, this isn’t something you have to agonize over. If you already own Mania, the Plus upgrade is $5 USD. The content here is easily worth that much. If you’ve never played Mania before, than that’s another story. Sonic Mania Plus is absolutely the way to experience this game. I may not have been blown away by the new characters, but Encore Mode is an excellent remix of the Mania I know and love. Whether you’re new to the game or coming back for more, Sonic Mania Plus is worth your time and attention.