Look, I reviewed Sonic Mania when it launched last year. I found it to be a breath of fresh air in a series comprehensively and aggressively starved of it for decades. It was the kind of modern update that walks an incredibly fine line, paying homage to what came before and pushing the property forward in a meaningful way. I’ve written this all already and you can read that review here if you like. This review piece will be about what’s new in Sonic Mania Plus, the game’s first big content update since launch.
So what is new in Sonic Mania Plus? There are two new characters added to the roster, taking the total of playable characters to five. Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel have appeared in Sonic games before — Mighty’s most notable showing was in the Sega 32X spin-off Knuckles’ Chaotix while Ray had previously only appeared in the arcade-only title SegaSonic the Hedgehog in 1993 alongside Sonic and, funnily enough, Mighty.
Both Mighty and Ray come with a suite skills all their own. Mighty is capable of performing a massive ground-pound attack and is immune to spikes while rolling, making him wildly overpowered in the opinion of this lifelong Sonic fan. Ray’s moveset is all about gliding — he can leap high into the air and glide to reach higher platforms in a manner very similar to the Tanuki suit in Super Mario Bros. 3.
The updated version of the game also includes the Encore Mode DLC that gives every level in the game a further refresh to both accommodate for the new characters, as well as adding a handful of new gameplay mechanics and difficulty hurdles for more experienced players. A 4-player competitive mode has also been added for those who fondly remember the racing multiplayer from Sonic 3 and even the old Pinball Bonus Level is back in action. All of this new content is wrapped up in what is the game’s first formal physical release — complete with reversible cover art featuring a Mega Drive era mock-up. It’s all gravy on what was already a stellar experience. There’s nothing here that impinges on or diminishes the quality of what was already there, just more of an already good thing.
Sonic Mania Plus remains a work of obvious care and astounding attention to detail. I live in hope that every game we love and remember from our childhood might receive an update as deft and purposeful as this.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Same great game, but with extra content; Mighty OP
Lowlights: May not be enough extra content to justify a rebuy for anyone who bought the base game
Developer: Christian Whitehead, PagodaWest Games, Headcannon
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC