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.

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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?”

HOUSEKEEPING

As I was able to meet my deadline with all of my coursework backed up to some hard drives, I did a massive clear-out on my laptop. I needed to get that much-needed storage space back as my laptop was being cluttered with all of the coursework I’ve done over the course of the entire year.

I was so glad to have taken all of my work off my laptop, as it’s completely spacious once again, and after defragmenting and optimising the drives built into my laptop, I have managed to get some extra space back, and I have noticed my laptop is running much faster now and it’s also working much more efficiently than before.

I won’t lie, I didn’t realise how much coursework I did this year until I got all of my coursework together in one folder. I am pleased that I have done all of my work, as this gives me a sense of relief knowing that I can use the research and photography skills I have by putting them to good use.

It’s hard to believe that after Monday 3rd July, my time at Croydon College comes to an end. Croydon College has given me so much and has helped me to realise my potential in becoming the photographer I am now, and never did I think I would be saying this three years later that I have managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time. Photography has always been a passion and a hobby for me as it is a hobby I want to take up as a full-time career, and I have noticed lately with this website’s Instagram account that some of the photography work I have published on this website’s Instagram account has been receiving a lot of positive feedback, which has helped me to come up with all new ideas for this website.

But again, doing a much-needed clear-out has done me a favour as I can now come up with better ideas that are free-flowing, which is essential for me in that respect considering I love photography and now that I have had the opportunity to photograph some friends of mine for my Final Major Project, including the famous actor and Mental Health Awareness campaigner, Oli Regan, I actually want to photograph people as well as producing photography work that is nature-based, landscape-based and portrait-based, as photographing people fascinates me, given that facial expressions are something that interest me. A facial expression, in my eyes, can describe more than just a thousand words. A facial expression can describe unlimited amounts of words, as well as speak volumes.

I will miss Croydon College, but life has to go on and I can honestly say that despite all the ups and downs I have had, that all of us have had in that respect, this college got me and everyone else through and allowed us to realise our potential, and this college have been so supportive and given me and everyone so much to be thankful for. Croydon College is a good college but I will miss it, but still, life goes on and I will work my socks off from here on out even after I finish my last ever day at Croydon College as a college student, as I want to become a full-time photographer and even get the opportunity to do photography-based projects that I actually want to get paid for.

It feels so good to do a lot of housekeeping but now I can come up with better ideas from this point forward. I haven’t published in goodness knows how many weeks due to the coursework, as I met the deadline and did my last Maths exam, and I have had a lot of free time to use lately. I have been gearing up and preparing myself for the hype of this Friday, as this Friday sees the remarkable gaming legend make a comeback after 21 years, and that legend is Crash Bandicoot. The Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy, produced by Activision (original Crash Bandicoot series by Naughty Dog) will be released on Friday 30th June! Keep your eyes peeled for the article I’ll be publishing that will be celebrating the release of the Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy on Friday.

Does it feel good for you when you have done a lot of housekeeping? Please tell me, I would love to hear your response.

Alex Smithson

Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy Unveiled at PlayStation Experience!

A short while ago, I wrote an article following my excitement that Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back & Crash Bandicoot: Warped were being remastered after years of rumours and speculation, and tonight at the PlayStation Experience, Activision unveiled the first ever look of Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy and I have just seen the comeback trailer of the new Crash game and believe me, I wasn’t prepared. It’s so good! To reminisce the nostalgic fever of the PS1 Classic Crash Bandicoot, Activision showed the original levels from the Crash Bandicoot PS1 game, and then they put the original levels together with the remastered levels and it’s so good!

I know I keep saying it’s so good, but trust me, it is that good that your jaws will drop the moment you see the comeback trailer. I have provided the comeback trailer below so all of you can see Crash Bandicoot in his full glory, officially remastered for the PlayStation 4 in 60FPS (Frames Per Second)

Sony & Activision couldn’t have picked a better time to show Crash Bandicoot off, and just in time for Christmas, they have given all of us hope and have put smiles on all of our faces, because the marsupial Crash Bandicoot is back and marks his 20th Anniversary of being on PlayStation.

What did you think of the comeback trailer for Crash Bandicoot: N⋅Sane Trilogy? Do you have all three of the original PlayStation 1 Crash Bandicoot games? Are you just as excited as I am about Crash Bandicoot’s comeback? Please let me know if you feel nostalgic by submitting feedback below. All feedback is much appreciated.

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: November 2016

After an eventful and busy month, I will be taking a look back on the short number of articles I have published over the course of November. I can only apologise for not being as productive recently. I have had quite a lot going on with coursework including things personal-based, but I will try to be as productive as I can over the course of December. Please keep in mind that on the 8th December, I will be doing a Mock Exam for GCSE Maths, so I will be revising for the duration of this week up until the day of my exam as I want to pass this mock exam. I can only apologise if, within this time, I don’t publish any articles.

1.11.2016 – As this month was set to be full of new challenges and full of productivity considering the large amount of coursework I’ve been doing recently, I welcomed you all to November on Mother Nature. Also, this month would be a month for remembrance considering that Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day) was just around the corner.

24.11.2016 – All around the world, everyone uses social media; it’s become the norm of the digital world, but on this day, I wrote an article on whether social media had a long-lasting impact on Mental Health. I gave my reasons for why I felt social media would have a long-lasting impact on Mental Health, given that in October, I had worked with the famous GIANTLAND actor, Oli Regan, and I mentioned that now was the time to stand up and fight to end the stigma against mental health, but that we should also raise awareness for mental health. I also mentioned that now was our time to really make the positive change and the best difference in this world and to take a stand for all of those suffering from Mental Health and to end the stigma against mental health.

26.11.2016 – As I share my love for SEGA‘s blue mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, I wrote a review on the 1993 classic, Sonic CD, which went widescreen, thanks to Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, who is best known for porting SEGA’s iconic classic, Sonic the Hedgehog & Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to consoles, smartphones and even tablets. I mentioned how it was such a good game to play, given that it has the old-school retro appeal that can make you feel like as if you were in the 1990’s playing this game the moment it was released.

27.11.2016 – As I visited the Croydon Road Recreation Ground on Saturday 5th November 2016 to see the Firework Display, I knew I was going to be in for a great evening, as the recreation ground was packed and had a turnout of nearly 3,000 visitors. I published a huge photo collection from bonfire night including a video, but before the firework display kicked off, the organisers of the firework display paid tribute to David Bowie, who sadly passed away on the 10th January 2016 at the age of 69 from liver cancer, and as the 5th November marked Guy Fawkes Night, celebrations came in light of the failed Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes committed treason, which saw him being hung, drawn and quartered. Also, as the firework display came to a remarkable close, the organisers asked for donations for the bandstand as it was named in David Bowie’s memory, given that he used to perform down in Beckenham.

28.11.2016 – Shortly after I went to see the firework display at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground on Saturday 5th November 2016, I was on my way home and whilst I waited for my bus, I saw two drivers who were using their phones or tablets behind the wheel whilst I waited. I didn’t make it obvious that I was looking at them, but they were being ignorant enough to use their phones behind the wheel even when there was heavy traffic present. I also described how there were major health and safety concerns after a group of people set fireworks off which they relentlessly aimed at secondary school students as they were on their way home down Shirley Road, something of which I was only made aware of the moment I got home from college. As you can imagine, I was cross and frustrated at the fact that fireworks were set off, and I vented my frustrations by giving an example of how someone would think if they set a firework off, with them potentially almost causing someone else untold harm.

29.11.2016 – With a futuristic and technological approach, Tron: Legacy created a concept that involved Sam Flynn going on a journey into the alternative world, where instead of the world being normal with some partial technology, the alternative world would be completely digital, as Sam would encounter a clone of his father, the clone of which would be the evil force that could have potentially sealed Sam’s fate. I wrote this review given that I had seen Tron: Legacy most recently as it was on BBC One just weeks before, and I genuinely thought it was such a good film and I would recommend it to anyone.

I can only apologise for not publishing frequently over the course of November. I had so much going on with my coursework and other things personal-based, but I will try my best to make more of an effort to publish articles over the course of December.

Thanks for a good month everyone, it really means so much to have your support and I don’t know what I’d do without all of you by my side. It has been an eventful and busy month, I know, but I got through it, but again, thank you for a good month and I’ll see you all in December.

Alex Smithson

Remembering Satoru Iwata, One Year On (1959 – 2015)

Exactly one year ago today, the gaming world lost an iconic gaming legend. Satoru Iwata, who was best known for being the man behind the iconic gaming consoles, such as the Game Boy Series, the Nintendo DS Series, the Nintendo Wii Series, the Nintendo 3DS Series and the Nintendo Wii U Series, sadly passed away a year ago today following a bile duct growth, which Nintendo officially announced in a statement they published on the 11th July 2015.

I still find it hard to believe, even now, that he has gone, it just doesn’t feel real. To think he passed away on this day last year shocks me.

On this day last year, when Satoru Iwata’s death was announced to the world, everyone paid tribute to the iconic gaming legend, with one company even creating an image showing the flag pole from the end of a Super Mario Bros. level at half-mast, which would pay respect to Satoru Iwata.

It’s hard to think and believe it was actually a year ago today that he passed away. He is an iconic gaming legend who was also famously behind the Mario series, as well as other games that he was behind on.

Thanks to Satoru Iwata, he helped to re-shape and redefine Nintendo’s love and passion for games including his own, and he also helped to shape our lives for the better. I want to thank Satoru Iwata entirely for helping this world become a better place. I also want to thank Satoru Iwata for changing mine and everyone else’s lives for the better.

Even to this day, and even in the future, we will always miss you Satoru Iwata. Thank you for being the iconic gaming legend that you are and always will be, and thanks so much for changing everyone’s lives, including mine for the better. We will and always will miss you Satoru Iwata, but you will be forever remembered in our hearts.

Alex Smithson

It’s a Beautiful Day.

Lovely Summer weather today.

Here is the downloadable version of the photo. Please feel free to download and use as your Laptop / PC screensaver, and also please feel free to use this photo as a mobile wallpaper or as a wallpaper for a gaming console.

Original Version
Edited Version (as seen in featured image).

Have you all got this lovely Summer weather where you are? Please feel free to submit feedback.

Alex Smithson