Okay, as for what’s new:
Two new characters with their own abilities.
-Mighty is like a …extra easy mode. He bounces off of spikes. So if you land on spikes? He’ll spring off the first hit safely, you can keep doing this but not being bounced to other spikes. He can also seemingly jump at enemy projectiles and knock their shots away. His double jump shoots him straight down to the ground which is pretty neat. It lets him break some things you’d need a shield to normally.
-Ray he’s …I don’t much like him. He has a glide ability similar to Mario’s cape from Mario World? Except it’s easier to do but I rarely, ever found a use for it. I mean it almost acts like an extra micro-jump if you’re just shy of a ledge which is neat but I never found a use for it. That said, some speed runner will probably find out some magical means of making him godly.
Both of them are playable in all modes, encore, mania and competition.
New content in terms of stages:
Well there’s an extra act of a stage, it’s more of a cameo than anything else. It had me hyped but there’s only 1 act. What level is it? Spoiler free review!
There’s new special stages in Encore mode, they’re harder. A lot harder.
It’s a remix of Mania mode, levels have slight tweaks to them, items are in different spots and …it’s harder. You don’t have lives. You have to rescue friends via boxes or the new bonus game that’s only in encore mode. If you die? Someone steps in to replace them. You can switch at will between the FIRST TWO only. Want to use other characters? There’s 2 new TVs to do that which ..makes this very clunky. You don’t really get a choice here for the most part. I guess it makes it more challenging though so, there’s that.
The new bonus stage? At the time of writing this review it’s …it’s a double edged sword. You need to use it to get power ups or your friends back. But, the hit detection is terrible in all aspects of it. It’s a pinball table, you get a safety bumper in the middle of your paddles? I’ve shot straight through it at all different speeds. You’re supposed to bounce off but, nope. I shot right through it very, frequently. You also have to play a crane game when you get the ball into a spot. The hit detection here is ALSO very janky. I swear I missed and yet, I’d get the item. Or, I’d land RIGHT on the character …..and miss. The tables are also sparse and feel hard to do anything with making it not very fun over all. The music is good.
One thing that surprised me is that in encore mode you cannot play 2 player despite being forced to have 2 characters on screen. I know some of you are thinking “2 player Sonic is always been meh, it’s the game you hand a controller to your little sibling and let them die a lot as Tails while you outrun them!” EH, it works better in Mania’s ‘story mode’ where they have much better leeway with respawning your friend.
In any case, encore mode is alright. I prefer Mania mode but encore is good too.
What else is new? 4 player competition mode which lets you play through SELECT acts split screen. Some aren’t available so …not sure why that is but it’s still neat to have.
There’s also new effects that you might not notice. But they certainly are there. New special effects, attack animations etc. Also, every level now has a level transition unlike before where some didn’t. There is more, but I don’t want to give away anything spoiler like.
If you don’t have this game, at all? YES, get it. It’s one of the best platformers I’ve played, lovely music, art, detail and a lot of passion went into it and it’s obvious.
If you have OG Mania digitally? Not much reason to grab a boxed copy unless you really want the extras. The good news is your save data will be there. As for playing the digital version without the cartridge …now that I’m not sure. I tried to do that, and I got locked in a “you need to update this game to play” so I hit yes and it repeats the message. Maybe because I had this before launch the patch isn’t out. But, I get the feeling save data wont’ go backward like that.
I THINK that’s everything. The short: Must have if you like platformers.
Edit: Since the game has been released I was able to get a patch for my digital version. You still can play your digital copy but any save files with the new characters won’t be playable unless you insert the cartridge. So it’s up to you!