It can’t be understated just how much Sonic Mania is a love letter to SEGA’s blue hedgehog and the many fans who’ve stuck with him throughout the years. If you never read through our review of Sonic Mania from Dana Abercrombie during release, check it via this link. Dana really enjoyed the game and felt that it was a great example of how developers should reboot a series, garnering a near Incredible review score from her. But that doesn’t mean that something already good can’t be improved and become even better. And much like its name suggests, the Encore content that you get from Sonic Mania Plus does exactly what it needs to do, give us more of what we love about Sonic Mania.
Sonic Mania Plus is a combination of the original game and the Encore DLC, which includes new playable characters and additional features that build upon the highly praised return to classic Sonic gameplay. The two new characters are Mighty and Ray, an Armadillo and Flying Squirrel that have their own unique abilities that set them apart from everyone else. Mighty can smash the ground and break areas for new pathways, as well as defend against spikes and other hazards one time with his jump. Ray is able to glide through the air and speed through sections that would otherwise take some more finesse to navigate through. Both characters have their pros and cons for different players, with Mighty being a preferable choice for new players and Ray geared towards those that are already well-versed with Sonic Mania.
New characters aren’t the only addition that comes from the Encore DLC. The new Encore Mode is another version of Mania Mode, which is the main game but given a few visual tweaks and new cutscenes for the new characters. There are also a few surprises that can be found as you complete Encore Mode, which will make a lot of Sonic fans pretty happy. Though it’s more of the same here, the changes do make the already well-crafted stages and gameplay still feel exciting and fresh to run through.
Unlike in the game’s Mania mode before, Encore mode allows you to switch between characters, as well as have different pairings of them, at any point. New monitors that you break can switch control between characters when you have them on hand, which opens up more options for taking new paths and overcoming obstacles in stages. This mixes up how you move through a stage, where not only your character can be changed mid-level, but it’ll entice you to explore and look for new secrets that are hidden around the stage.
One of Sonic Mania’s weaker points from the original release was the lack of multiplayer options. Sonic Mania Plus adds a Competition Mode and some changes to Time-Attack that address this. Both Mighty and Ray are playable in Time Attack, and you can save replays of your runs in any stage. Not much else different beyond that.
Competition Mode offers a lot more new fun, where up to four players can race against each other through split-screen local multiplayer. This is incredibly fun and is a huge nod to the VS Mode from Sonic 3, only with a lot better design and thought put into it. While there’s no online functionality for Competition, it’s still a great add-on that offers more on top of everything else that works great.
Sonic Mania Plus is exactly what it needs to be for those that love the original game. It’s a great encore of all the good fun of classic Sonic the Hedgehog, with a few new things thrown in for good measure. The new characters are interesting and will change up how players go through stages. Competition mode is a welcomed add-on that turns Sonic Mania from a really good package into a great one for any Sonic fan, despite it being limited to only local multiplayer. If you didn’t play through Sonic Mania before on any of the consoles, now is the perfect time to jump in on this encore presentation for one of the best comebacks for any gaming mascot.
These impressions are based on a digital review code for Sonic Mania Plus for the Nintendo Switch, provided by SEGA.