Wondering if Sonic Mania’s DLC titled “Plus” is worth diving into? If you own the base game, expect to pay $4.99, and if you don’t own the game at all and want the physical version, it will run you $29.99. Hopefully, this review will help you make an informed decision if a new take on familiar zones, an all-new Encore Mode, two new characters with their own unique abilities, and an expanded Competition Mode allowing up to four players is worth it.
Disclosure: A review key was provided for this review of Sonic Mania Plus.
Upon loading up Sonic Mania Plus, you’ll notice that the “Main menu” has been changed from its original format to a new updated one that shows animated videos on the left side of the screen. New to the menu is the Encore Mode, but the other modes have been altered as well, including the Competition Mode.
You can now compete with up to four friends in the expanded Competition Mode. Where Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Ray and Mighty can go head-to-head in a four-way race. If a tie ensues, you can break it up by doing the Mean Bean Machine mini-game with your friends. The victor of the mini-game takes the round.
Speaking of new stuff… there’s the addition of Ray the Flying Squirrel and Mighty the Armadillo, the latter comes equipped with his mighty “Hammer Drop” that’s not very useful at times and has a slight resistance to spiked traps. The former boasts a fun but niche ability to “Air Glide” much like a certain plumber with a special cape.
Ultimately, the two new characters are a mix between Knuckles and Tails, where Ray can move a bit like Knuckles’ glide and slightly traverse stages vertically (a little bit). As for Mighty, he has very little use if you know how to master someone like Sonic or Knuckles, but the two are still a welcomed pair to the original Sonic stages, Sonic Mania content, and Sonic Mania Plus alterations.
Speaking of changes, the new “Encore mode” comes loaded with a lot of changes. For starters, the new game mode starts with the Tornado flying over the water of Angel Island, where an altered playable segment of Angel Island Act 1 is present.
In addition to the above, Mirage Saloon has been greatly changed, too. The first act on a plane is revised and pretty much plays like a new stage. Welcomed changes that you can expect span from stage rearrangements, color changes, and different enemy trap placements, to all new boss battles.
A feature that’s not entirely bad, but needs some love, is the new bonus stage “Pinball” segment, which is accessible through Star Posts. Honestly, it’s a bit on the cheap side but still fun.
On the topic of changes and the Pinball bonus stage, you can collect characters (acting as lives) from the latter or from item boxes around stages.Yes, instead of having traditional lives you now collect the characters and switch between them throughout the stage. Once you run out of the characters (five in total) then the game over screen pops up and you lose a continue.
Moreover, at least two characters must be on-screen to swap between them. So pressing the swap button while Sonic and Tails are on-screen will swap between playing as Sonic or playing as Tails. Also, items do let you switch out reserve characters on-screen, which opts for a fresh and fun experience for well-known stages.
The Encore Mode also allows you to experiment with different match-ups, putting Sonic and Knuckles together, or Mighty and Tails, or Knuckles and Ray. There’s a lot of different combinations you can use and even have a second player drop in to help you out. Unfortunately you can’t make use of these match-ups during the Mania Mode, as the new additions — Ray and Mighty — have to hoof it alone during the story mode.
Besides new pathways and Giant Rings stationed in new locations, there is a new transitional level scene for each stage. After fighting a boss, which there are some tweaks to them and even new bosses to fight, you will find yourself entering into the stage in a subtle but interesting way.
And lastly, Sonic Mania Plus brings “save replays” of completed Time Attack attempts. Once a replay has been saved, you can play back the replay, or challenge your attempts — shown as a ghost during gameplay.
Overall, I think the whole thing is worth $29.99 if you don’t have the base game or the DLC and wish to have a physical copy on-hand. And I also think that the DLC for owners of Sonic Maina is worth $4.99. Having played the original game myself, the added changes opt for a fresh and interesting spin on stages that I played over and over.
Seriously, though, if you are a fan of Sonic games or Sonic Mania, you should definitely pick this DLC up since it adds more modes, more multiplayer options, and fun alterations to keep you moving.