Sonic Mania Plus sees Sonic the Hedgehog back strutting his stuff in glorious old school 2D, where he belongs – and it took a collective of fans led by a rather clever Melbourne developer to make it happen.
Of course many will already know this, for Sonic Mania hit as a downloadable game almost a year ago. But Sonic belongs in the world of physical media, and the addition of a ‘Plus’ is very apt, as this release delivers plenty more both onscreen and off.
In case you missed Sonic Mania, it’s a loving tribute to the glory days of Sonic, when the speedy blue mammal whizzed about 2D landscapes often at breakneck – and coin-sacrificing – speed. It was all in the name of saving the little animals from old mean bean Dr Robotnik/Eggman. It managed to take all that was good about the Mega Drive originals and, well, make them even better. That’s a crazy-tough ask, but Christian Whitehead and crew – who SEGA wisely enlisted to develop Sonic Mania after a series of superb old school Sonic conversions – delivered.
‘Mania Mode’ is where the main action’s at, as you endeavour to unlock a dozen levels both based on the classics but skilfully remixed, and several that are completely new to the blue blur’s world. It’s all rendered in beautiful, lively pixel art, too.
The shiny new ‘Encore Mode’ remixes things further, both level-wise and in how it’s controlled, with you grabbing Sonic and a pal and flipping between them as you go.
Break time – the music! Beloved classics bump it with newer compositions, and you can easily just get lost in one of the finest video game soundtracks ever.
Back to it – ‘Time Attack’ is much how it sounds. Pick an unlocked level and go bullet-a-gate through it as fast as you possibly can to clock the best time. You can even save replays and watch how utterly ace you were – or use them strategically to plot ways that you can improve.
‘Competition’ is the one for when friends are around, offering up to four-player split-screen – this is on top of of co-op mode, where you can opt for the traditional Sonic and Tails (or ‘Miles Prower’ if you’re a shockingly awfully brilliant American punster) duo.
Add a bunch of mini-games involving everything from catching rockets in faux-3D and being a pinball, much-desired stage transitions, two new playable characters in Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel from the 1993 SegaSonic the Hedgehog arcade game and… and… we haven’t even touched upon the packaging!
Rather than just plopping Sonic Mania Plus on a cartridge or disc, SEGA have gone the whole (hedge)hog and packaged it beautifully. Each version comes in a standard game case for the format, which contains a flippable paper insert to turn your new Switch (or PS4, or Xbone) game into a Mega Drive one – well, at least cover-wise. Then that case is jammed inside a funky reflective foil slip cover, which also houses a gorgeous 32-page art book.
If you’re a fan of classic Sonic gaming then this is a must-have. If you’re a fan of classic retro gaming then this is a must have. Heck, if you’re a fan of gaming at all then this is a must-have. Welcome home, Sonic!
Sonic Mania Plus is available now for PS4, Xbox One and Switch.