Tuesday, 24 July 2018 14:39

REVIEW: Sonic Mania Plus (Xbox One)

Written by Brett Hale

I know what your thinking, hasn’t Sonic Mania being out for almost a year? The answer is yes but only digitally, now you can buy it at your local retailers and better yet it's got new content and is now branded Sonic Mania Plus.

You may already own Sonic Mania digitally and if you want the new content you’ll need to spend a few more bucks to get the upgrade which includes 2 new characters, Encore Mode and now the choice of 4 player competition. Purchase a physical copy and all new content is included.

Playing for the first time the main menu is two options short, simply playing Mania Mode and completing the first level will then unlock Time Attack & Competition modes.

No matter the mode all characters can be used, which are Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. Already own the game? Purchase the Encore DLC or by simply buying Sonic Mania Plus you’ll have access to Ray and Mighty, two characters not seen since 1993 in Sega Sonic.

Gamers are fairly familiar with the abilities Sonic, Tails and Knuckles possess but maybe not so much with Ray and Mighty. Ray can glide around reaching higher places, where as Mighty being an Armadillo has a shell that gives him the power to ground pound and to smash through walls, though he isn’t the only character to be able to do this, the point is he’s stronger. 

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Sonic Mania launched with Mania Mode, Time Attack, Competition but with Sonic Mania Plus it now features Encore Mode. Competition is the only mode which allows more than one player, all other modes are single player only. In Mania Mode however you can play co-op with Sonic and Tails but there’s a trick to activating it, normally you’d sign a second account in or add a guest account (on Xbox) but that won't make your game co-op you’ll need to wait till the stage starts and who ever is the second player will need to tap A numerous times which causes Tails to fly for a few seconds and once he’s landed he’s playable. Like I said, it’s tricky as you’ll need to stick together, having one player going too far ahead doesn't really work.

Sonic Mania has just 12 stages, plus some special stages you can come across while playing normal stages. The only real difference between Mania and Encore is that Encore has stages taking place at other times of the day which is shown visually.

Mania Mode allows you to either have a time limit or the choice of turning that off, and no matter what mode your playing in the whole game all characters are playable. When playing as Sonic, Tails will accompany you controlled by the games AI though he can collect rings and pick you up if you become stuck. But no matter if it's Mania or Encore if you run out of lives it's game over for you, this is where Encore Mode has something Mania doesn't. But before I go on about that, you’ll start as Sonic when you begin Encore Mode it's very brief, you’ll soon make it to the point where you can choose between Ray or Mighty and who ever you pick will join you. It’s from then on Encore has a true difference from Mania Mode. Encore allows you to change between both characters with the tap of a button, but along the way, picking power ups allows you to add other characters to your group, that if you die you’ll just switch to another that you have.

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The third single player mode is Time Attack, it's simple, play stages and try completing them as fast as possible, the top three times are shown. It doesn't have much replay value but it could be fun to see who’s the better player between yourself and a sibling/friend at Sonic Mania Plus.

This is Sonic in his most original form, 16bit still holds up great on a 4KTV, playing on Xbox One X will have Sonic and his friends and foes presented in 4K which is a first for Sonic. Sonic Mania also runs at 60fps and never did it miss a beat. There is a screen filter that has three options, either none or clean which to me looked the exact same, but when selecting the CRT option it replicates those huge old TV’s most of us grew up with. The main menu has changed slightly with the Encore upgrades, options are in a list form on the right and to the left a screen will show an image of which option is highlighted. The HUD for Sonic Mania hasn’t changed and is as original as it was in the 90’s showing your time, rings, lives and score. As for the soundtrack, it's also still in it's original form and if you haven’t already played Sonic Mania it's going to suck you in and those memories of playing on your Sega as a child will flash before your eyes.

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There wasn’t online multiplayer when the game first launched in 2017, and even with Sonic Mania Plus it's still not an option, however up until the launch of the Plus version there was only a 2 player local competition mode which now has being increased to 4 players. To play any stages in competition you’ll need to complete them in the Mania Mode first. The purpose of competition is to gain as many rings as your opponents, and once other players take any rings they will disappear off screen for other players as everyone’s playing in the exact same game. You can run out of time if you can't reach the end of the stage in time. Competition has just three changeable options, the screen layout, the number of rounds being between 1-4, and selecting fixed,teleport or random power ups.

Sonic Mania is playable on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. If your an owner of Sonic Mania already you’ll want to know is the upgrade worth it? I’m here to scream, YES, yes it is!!!! It’s roughly 7 bucks depending on your platform Encore Mode is a reason to play the game again and even replaying Mania with the new characters.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 5.0 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PS4, XBOX ONE, Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Sega
  • Genre: Action, Puzzle