Sonic Mania was an absolute return to form for the SEGA mascot. But the game was a digital-only release, and fans wanted something tangible to hold. Along comes Sonic Mania Plus, not only a physical sort of “Collector’s Edition” of the original game, but it’s loaded with new characters, new game modes, and spiffy physical extras like a SEGA Genesis-themed game jacket and an art book. It’s still the same great game you played last year, just with added content and that’s never a bad thing.
The core game of Sonic Mania is still the same, but SEGA didn’t just release a physical copy and call it a day. There are two new playable characters from Sonic’s past – Ray the Flying Squirrel and Mighty the Armadillo. Mighty has the Hammer Drop which let him do a downward Spin Attack that can destroy obstacles, and Ray has the Air Glide which lets him glide large distances through midair. Other than that, they play identically to the rest of the main cast. Mighty in particular feels the most useful, but the glide and downward dive of Ray is also pretty handy.
The new Encore mode is pretty great too. It’s sort of like a New Game Plus, but has its own save files, separate from the base game. Levels are reworked with new gimmicks, and when you see an on-screen prompt, you can switch between any of the five playable characters. It’s become my preferred way to play the game, to be honest. On top of Encore mode, there’s a new four-player version (as opposed to two) of Competition Mode. My wife and kids aren’t too fond of Sonic yet, but they will be by the time I’m done with them… heck, there’s even a save and playback function for speedrunners.