Sonic Mania Plus: Ready for an Encore?

This is an updated review in conjunction with last year’s review of Sonic Mania, and the original review can be found at the end of this review. This review elaborates and builds on the review published at the original time of release.

After a successful comeback which saw the infamous blue hedgehog return to Green Hill Zone last August, Sonic Mania got the physical release treatment with the definitive retail release, Sonic Mania Plus.

Mania mode has been given a new lease of life with cutscenes taking place after the end of every Act 2 level, though all the levels have been given a new coat of paint and have been remixed for Encore Mode, which brings back Mighty the Armadillo & Ray the Flying Squirrel.

Encore Mode brings about 3 Game Slots instead of 8, which is perfectly understandable as less is more, but being able to switch between five characters (two during gameplay) is a plus, for instance, Sonic & Tails, Mighty & Ray or even Sonic & Mighty.

Angel Island Zone returns in Encore Mode, with Mighty & Ray trapped in a pod that can only be broken by either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles.

20180815231930_1

20180721202811_1

Encore Mode gives you more than you initially bargained for, however, as you can play as all five characters that you can switch to during gameplay, but, if all 5 characters fall into bottomless pits or are crushed by spikes or areas of the level they’re unable to escape from, you can expect to see yourself with a game over and your score during gameplay being wiped.

 

This is because unlike Mania Mode, where you could collect up to a maximum total of 99 lives, Encore Mode gives you 5 lives, all 5 of which are the characters, though you get to retry the same boss 5 times before resulting in a game over from the last level you reached.

I’ve had a chance to try Encore Mode myself considering I got my physical copy of Sonic Mania Plus on the 17th July (Day of Physical Retail Release) and it is not as easy as I first thought, but it’s a whole lot of fun considering the levels have been remixed, with all zones, Green Hill Zone, especially, all being given new coats of paint.

Green Hill Zone, in Encore Mode, feels more like Sunset Hill Zone from Sonic Advance 3 (GameBoy Advance), whilst most of the levels remind me of the nostalgic days of some old-school Nintendo games. Flying Battery Zone in Encore Mode reminds me of the old-school Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) given the colour palettes for both Act 1 & 2 have that retro appeal, though Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 in Encore Mode feels exactly like Act 3 of Stardust Speedway Zone in Sonic CD.

If you own the digital version and haven’t purchased the physical release of Sonic Mania Plus for PlayStation 4, XBOX ONE, Nintendo Switch, you can purchase the Encore DLC on all designated stores for a reasonable £3.99 / $4.99, or if you have purchased the physical version of Sonic Mania Plus for either of these consoles, all you have to do is load the physical copy and it will apply the update with the Encore DLC, complete with Mighty & Ray for free.

If you own the PC Version of Sonic Mania Plus, you can purchase the Encore DLC complete with Mighty the Armadillo, Ray the Flying Squirrel & Angel Island Zone on Steam for the same reasonable £3.99 / $4.99.

Continue reading “Sonic Mania Plus: Ready for an Encore?”

Sonic Mania: A Nostalgic Return to Form.

It’s been a long time coming! Sonic Mania has finally arrived and is a nostalgic return to form with the help of Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, PagodaWest Games, Lola Shiraishi & Headcannon!

Reliving 26 years of some of the most iconic levels from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic CD and Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Mania revisits Green Hill Zone with an easter egg of an old landscape that was ditched from the final release of Sonic the Hedgehog, with the zip-line being re-introduced, and a lost level which was meant to appear in the original Sonic games but never got used finally came to Sonic Mania, and that lost level was Mirage Saloon. Studiopolis is an all-new level that officially débuts in Sonic Mania with a city-like landscape that makes it feel a little like Stardust Speedway, Casino Nights and Carnival Night Zone mixed in.

After such a long wait, Flying Battery Zone has officially been revived and is officially a part of Sonic Mania, which wasn’t just a fan favourite, but is also one of the most iconic levels taken from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles and Sonic & Knuckles, a level of which I absolutely love. Both Acts for Flying Battery Zone have had some changes here and there with access to some new and unseen areas, giving all gamers a chance to discover certain parts of both levels that have never been seen before.

Chemical Plant Zone has returned in Sonic Mania but with a difference; Chemical Plant Act 2 contains an upbeat sound whilst giving gamers like myself the chance to go inside the Chemical Plant. This gives the Sonic franchise a new lease of life considering that Chemical Plant is often seen in some or most of the games released in the Sonic series. The last known appearance that Chemical Plant made was in Sonic Generations, but this time, it’s back with quite a few changes. The songs for Chemical Plant receive up-to-date futuristic sounds, modernising the old into the new.

The man behind the soundtrack for Sonic Mania is Tee Lopes, who, just like Christian Whitehead, is also a massive fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and his work on making the soundtrack for Sonic Mania is sure to make everyone’s eyes water with joy.

Special Stages are back and have an eerily similar feel to the Sonic CD Special Stages, though you will need to think quickly and act quickly to catch the UFO that carries the Chaos Emerald per each Special Stage that you play.

Eggman is back but with a difference. Working alongside him, the Hard-Boiled Heavies aim to manipulate the timestream by stealing the mysterious gemstone, which is revealed to be the Phantom Ruby, which is the energy source Tails picked up on one of his energy readings far away from Angel Island Zone.

The other new levels that make their début alongside Studiopolis Zone & Mirage Saloon Zone in Sonic Mania are Press Garden Zone & Titanic Monarch Zone, though the other few notable levels that have been revived for Sonic Mania are Stardust Speedway Zone, Metallic Madness Zone, Hydrocity Zone, Oil Ocean Zone and Lava Reef Zone.

Does Sonic Mania live up to the hype and anticipation?

Of course, it does! Sonic Mania brings about the nostalgic days of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, including Sonic CD. With past levels, such as Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Flying Battery Zone, Lava Reef Zone, Hydrocity Zone, Stardust Speedway Zone & Metallic Madness Zone making a comeback, Sonic Mania truly lives up to the hype and anticipation me and everyone else have waited for. Sonic Mania was delayed earlier this year as more time was required and some more levels were being added in, but I was glad it was delayed until today for its release as a delayed game is better than a rushed game.

Does Sonic Mania capture the true essence of old-school retro games?

Definitely! Because Sonic Mania has revived some of the well-known and well-loved levels from the 16-Bit Sonic franchise, the old-school retro appeal gives Sonic Mania the true essence that it needs. The true essence of old-school retro games is the nostalgia the games carry, and for Sonic Mania, it does exactly that, it captures the true essence of old-school retro gaming.

How many levels are in Sonic Mania?

In their particular order, the levels that are in Sonic Mania are:

  1. Green Hill Zone
  2. Chemical Plant Zone
  3. Studiopolis Zone
  4. Flying Battery Zone
  5. Press Garden Zone
  6. Stardust Speedway Zone
  7. Hydrocity Zone
  8. Mirage Saloon Zone
  9. Oil Ocean Zone
  10. Lava Reef Zone
  11. Metallic Madness Zone
  12. Titanic Monarch Zone

I must admit, when I heard that Titanic Monarch was a completely new level, I was a little bit stunned at first with the name, but I was pleased the name was used as the name pays homage and pays tribute to the RMS Titanic ship that sunk on the 15th April 1912, 105 years ago. Although this might not seem like a relevant connection between the level and the ship, it certainly pays tribute respectively as the name remembers the ship perfectly. Fair play to Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, PagodaWest Games, Lola Shiraishi, Headcannon & SEGA for paying homage and for paying tribute to the RMS Titanic, I think it’s a perfectly respectful and touching gesture.

Below are the screenshots for Sonic Mania that I managed to gather together during gameplay.

Below is the video playlist I’ve created for Sonic Mania. Please feel free to watch the gameplay footage I have uploaded to my YouTube Channel, and if you have a YouTube Channel and want to see gameplay footage from Sonic Mania, please make sure to like, comment and subscribe.

Sonic Mania hasn’t just proved to be so popular, but because Sonic Mania has brought back the nostalgia and magic of past games, this gives the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise a new lease of life and also brings to the table the potential for more Sonic games and potential sequels now that Sonic Mania has exceeded mine and everyone else’s expectations. Sonic Forces follows on from Sonic Mania this holiday season, but I can be absolutely sure from my own perspective, that the Sonic franchise will be open to the potentiality of more games and sequels.Sonic Mania has me falling in love with retro games once again.

To conclude, Sonic Mania has me falling in love with retro games once again.

If you haven’t yet purchased your copy of Sonic Mania, I strongly recommend you do, because Sonic Mania isn’t just a nostalgic game worth playing, it’s a game that stays completely true to the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. What are you waiting for? Purchase your copy of Sonic Mania now! If you pre-ordered the PC version of Sonic Mania on Steam before today, the PC version will be released on the 29th August 2017. To make up for polishing the PC Version, those who pre-ordered the PC version of Sonic Mania before the 15th August will receive a free copy of the first ever Sonic game, Sonic the Hedgehog.

SEGA, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, PagodaWest Games, Lola Shiraishi and Headcannon, including all those involved in the making of Sonic Mania, you are awesome! Thanks for making Sonic Mania the perfectly crafted masterpiece it truly is, but more importantly, thanks for taking me and everyone else for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. You are all awesome and all of you rock!

Alex Smithson

© SEGA, Sonic Team, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, Lola Shiraishi, PagodaWest Games & Headcannon 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

© The Sonic Mania logo, including all the screenshots, all of the gameplay videos, thumbnails and official art, are all copyright of SEGA, Sonic Team, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, Lola Shiraishi, PagodaWest Games and Headcannon. Full copyright goes to the respective owners.

Sonic Mania Rating: 10/10

Welcome to March!

Welcome to March on Mother Nature! As you can see, I have decided to go retro with the article image and do it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania is set to be released within the next few months. There is news just around the corner surrounding Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017, which I am excited about and I honestly cannot wait to get my hands on Sonic Mania when it comes out. If Project Sonic 2017 gets an official title and if there’s all-new gameplay featuring both Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic, then I shall consider the possibility of buying the Project Sonic 2017 if it lives up to the hype. I know SEGA & Christian Whitehead both have one heck of a great year ahead so I am pretty sure they will exceed our expectations any which way.

The next few weeks are going to be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project is right near the end of this month, so I will be making sure to work my socks off as I am so determined to pass and bump last year’s grade up to a Merit or Distinction at least. Also, I will be working harder than usual over the course of the next few weeks as I have a GCSE English Speaking & Listening Assessment coming up which I am currently preparing for, so I hope it goes well, so fingers crossed! Meanwhile, I will be making sure to put all of the hard work in with my GCSE Maths coursework as I seriously want to pass this time around.

Spring is ready to embrace its beautiful side and with the clocks going forward towards the end of the month, it is safe to say that Mother Nature will blossom with vibrant colours and displays. Not only that, but with the temperature of the weather slowly going back to normal, I cannot wait to enjoy the lovely Spring weather once again. The clocks are set to go forward as part of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday 26th March 2017 at 1:00 AM so I thought it would be wise to let you all know in advance so you know exactly when the clocks go forward.

I should warn you as I read something a short while back for when the clocks went back that if you have any devices with Airplane Mode switched on, such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch and any Android devices and smartwatches, then it’s recommended that Airplane Mode must be switched off very briefly in order for every device’s clock to go back or forward an hour. I am prepared for the clocks to go forward so to speak, but even so, why waste time when you make the most of it by making the best out of it?

If I am able to find the free time over the next few weeks, I may consider doing some drawings that I can publish on here, or if I head out to certain places in and around London over the next few weeks to photograph anything nature-based for my coursework, then I will make sure to publish any photography work I produce on this website.

Until then, Welcome to March!

Alex Smithson