When Sonic Mania launched last year it received critical acclaim and restored the faith of many a lapsed Sonic fan. However, as a digital-only affair (no, the collector's edition with a download code doesn't count) it felt very much like a 'bonus' release alongside 2017's full-fat Sonic outing: the much-maligned Sonic Forces.
Fans called for some kind of physical release for Sonic Mania - which was perhaps the best Sonic offering in recent memory and has sold over a million copies - and thankfully, Sega listened. Sonic Mania Plus launches next week and it's the version of Sonic Mania we really should have gotten at launch.
First things first, let's talk about the packaging. Sonic Mania Plus comes in a cardboard slipcase which has a lovely holographic foil effect; inside this, you'll find the standard Switch game case (which has a reversible sleeve inside showing a Genesis-style cover) and a surprisingly lavish 32-page art book containing concept and final artwork from the game itself (check out those logo ideas).
Then there's Sonic Mania Plus the game - Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel are included as playable characters, and there's a remixed "Encore Mode", a four-player competition mode (ideal for when you've got a few friends round) and a few extra cutscenes. Oh, and the battle with Metal Sonic has been retooled to closely resemble the one seen in the oft-ignored 32X title Knuckles' Chaotix.
If you already own Sonic Mania then inserting the game card will simply add the 'Plus' content to your existing game data, which is seamless and rather lovely; instead of creating an entirely new game icon on your Switch home screen, it simply uses the existing Sonic Mania one. Nice.
Is Sonic Mania Plus worth buying if you already own the original game? Depends how badly you want that physical case sitting on your shelf, we guess. If you're steadfastly digital-only then you can download the 'Plus' content for $4.99 / £3.99, whereas the physical version will cost you $29.99 / £29.99.
We'll leave you to wrestle with that taxing monetary puzzle, but there's no denying that this is a lovely physical edition of one of Sega's best games in years. Let's hope Sonic Mania 2 isn't too far away, and that Sega learns from the past and releases a physical version of that on day one.
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