Review: Sonic Mania Plus (Switch)

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Today, I have a game I owned and played prior to starting this blog, but had somewhat recently obtained the DLC, but never touched it until recently. It is Sonic Mania Plus, the best Sonic game in a long time. The Sonic games were largely considered bad around the time they entered the realm of 3D games. In fact, the last Sonic game I actively played prior to this one was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the Nintendo Gamecube. It seemed OK at the time, but it wasn’t enough to retain my interest in the series. When I started to hear that Sonic Mania was good, and once I got a Switch, I decided to download the game. I agree with the critics, and I want to tell you why, and whether the Sonic Mania Plus DLC is a worthwhile add-on. So, let’s take a look.

For those not in the know, Sonic Mania Plus features 2D platforming with an emphasis on fast movement speed. This game borrows these features from Sonic’s early days on the Sega Genesis, and even much of the level design too. There are multiple stages that closely resemble classic Sonic games, with some variations and new levels thrown into the mix. Luckily, there is enough new content for the game to feel like a new Sonic game.

There is also the option to play as one of a few different Sonic characters. The basic game allows you to play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Sonic with Tails following you around. Each character has the basic actions Sonic has, but Tails can temporarily fly and swim, while Knuckles can glide and climb walls. I always thought it was strange that Sonic has the fewest options in these games, but it doesn’t take too much away from the game, as playing as each character gives you slightly different challenges to overcome based on how each character plays.

If you get the Sonic Mania Plus DLC, you can also play as the long forgotten characters Mighty and Ray. Mighty can slam the ground, and appears to be somewhat invulnerable while in ball form. Ray, on the other hand, can glide by diving in the air, then getting some lift to reach higher areas. I found that Ray was the more awkward of the two to play as, and I didn’t spend much time playing as him.

sonicmaniaencore
Encore mode has you play as all the characters. Here, you choose between the new characters Mighty and Ray.

No matter who you play as, the sense of speed can be an exhilarating rush, with only a little bit of platforming to get in your way. When you have to slow down to jump from platform to platform, it does interrupt the flow of the game, but it is usually a brief slowdown. As such, it isn’t enough of an issue to hinder the game by much.

Each stage has a boss to fight at the end as well. Most of the bosses don’t require a simple hit and run strategy. Most of the time, you have to do something outside of the box to damage the boss. Sometimes you do have to wait for an opening, while others require you to trick the foe into taking damage. There’s one spider robot boss that requires you to hit the boss into spikes on the wall to damage it. There’s a lot of clever additions like this in both the boss and level design that keep this game fresh, and not just feel like an old Sega Genesis game. The throwbacks to that era are still there, but are placed in the right spots for a well-timed nostalgia trip.

sonicmaniaboss
This boss is neat, you have to attack his missiles to redirect them back at him.

The game has a few bonus games hidden throughout the levels. Passing a checkpoint with 25 or more rings triggers the “Gather Blue Spheres” mini-game, and there is a new “Chase the UFO” Game hidden throughout the main story that if completed, gets you one of the Chaos Emeralds. Getting all of them isn’t easy, but allows you to see more of the game and to temporarily power up.

sonicmaniamini
The Get Blue Spheres mini game is back. It is as tricky as ever.

The game also features a 2 player mode, where you and a friend get to race to the finish in any of the game’s levels. Each player can play as any of the available characters to keep this interesting. The time attack mode also has an online leader board for those interested in playing as quickly as they can.

The Sonic Mania Plus DLC does feature some additions. The new Encore Mode has you play through the game as any of the characters. In fact, you will switch between all 5 of them when you get new pickups, and each character counts as a life. Free one character, and he will follow you around similar to Tails from Sonic 2. Free more characters, and they wait until another character gets knocked out to start moving around the stage. You can also switch between the two active characters, giving you a quick way to try them all out.

Encore mode also has a different checkpoint mini-game. It is a type of pinball, where you can win power ups and free more of the characters. Encore mode has continues in case all 5 characters die, and these can be won in pinball mode too. Unfortunately, Encore Mode mostly plays like the regular game, so there isn’t too much new to look forward to. It is a tough call if you want to add this to your game, but luckily, it is only an extra $5 if downloaded digitally. Having this DLC also allows for 4-player racing with any of the 5 characters, so if you have more friends that want to play together, you have that option.

Sonic Mania is a fast, fun throwback to retro Sonic games. If you liked any of those games, you will have fun with this one.

Here’s how I recommend playing the game:

  • Play as your favorite character in the main story, and see if you like this game.
  • Attempt the bonus games as you find them, there are extras to find by doing so.
  • If you want to see the full ending, you will need all 7 Chaos Emeralds. This is not easy to pull off, but you can level select after beating the game.
  • You may want a save file per character after beating the game once. You will need 4 from the basic game, and if you have the DLC, you will have 2 more to play through.
  • If you have the DLC, you may just want to play Encore Mode to try out all the characters quickly. (If you play as all characters and Encore mode, that is 7 times you are playing this game!)
  • Gathering all the medals from Collect the Blue Spheres is very tough, but there are extras for doing so. I would recommend this if you are bored.
  • Multiplayer and time attack are fun diversions, but not necessary to play.
  • The DLC might not be worth paying extra for, but the physical copy comes with it. The digital version does not come with this addition.

Now let’s look at the Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Fun, fast-moving game feels like the good classic Sonic games.
  • Graphics resemble these games.
  • Music is fun and catchy.
  • Multiple characters add to the play time if you want it.
  • The bosses usually require you to use your head to fight. There are some neat surprises here.

Cons:

  • The returning levels might be too familiar to those who played the Genesis games to the death.
  • Some of the platforming can interrupt the flow of the game.
  • Getting everything is a huge task, involving multiple save files and a thorough search of the levels.
  • DLC feels optional and repetitive, but is inexpensive.

So, what is the verdict?

8.2/10 A Great Throwback to classic Sonic Games

The DLC can be ignored if it doesn’t interest you, but otherwise, Sonic Mania is a fast, fun nostalgia trip that hopefully leads to more quality games in the future.


So that is what I thought of Sonic Mania Plus. What did you think of the game? Did you like the DLC? Which character is your favorite? Tell me why in the comments below!

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