Recently, Japanese publication Famitsu caught up with Sonic series producer Takashi Iizuka, and discussed all things Sonic Mania. The game's popularity was brought up, and of course the upcoming "Plus" physical release dominated a good part of the conversation. The interview was translated by Siliconera.
Takashi Iizuka: "After its release in August 2017, its reception has been better than we could imagine. We’ve even had some people say “It’s the best game!” and we are most grateful about that."
Interestingly, according to Iizuka, a physical release of Mania was brought up in the SEGA office while the game was in development, but abandoned to keep on schedule. Due to demand, the company decided to do a physical release in gratitude to the fans. Perhaps the best factor of Plus is the inclusion of Mighty and Ray. Famitsu inquired about how the two characters got their special abilities for the gameplay. First, Mighty was discussed, and then Ray.
Takashi Iizuka: "Mighty the Armadillo was originally set to be a powerhouse, and he also has a hard shell on his back. So we decided to put that to use with the “Hammer Drop” that allows him to stomp the ground with a thud. Again, he can take shots from the enemy with his shell or avoid taking damage from spikes by curling up. The action of diving into the ground is a pretty rare action in the classic series."
"Since he’s (Ray) a flying squirrel, his “Air Glide” action was decided on right away. That action was pretty easy to make. Knuckles can also glide but he gradually drops. On that point, Ray can use the momentum going down and rise. With the right technique, he can fly for a very long time."
Of course, the idea of a sequel was brought up near the end of the interview. Will there be a Sonic Mania 2? Based on the below quote, it sounds like Plus will be the final major update for the game.
Takashi Iizuka: "Maybe the next one will be Sonic Mania’ (Dash) then [laughs]. Jokes aside, with the release of the physical version in Sonic Mania Plus, it feels like we did everything we could for the Sonic Mania project."
The full interview is worth reading. Sonic Mania has proven to be a passionately made project. On Metacritic, it is the highest-rated new Sonic game in years. Plus looks to be the definitive version of the game. For those who haven't played Mania yet, picking up Plus is essential. As we know, the physical release will come with an artbook, and a special holographic cover. Sadly, according to Iizuka, a soundtrack CD will be exclusive to Japan. For those who already have Mania, Plus will be available as DLC for $4.99.
While many may be disappointed that Plus will probably be the final Mania related release, one can appreciate how much effort SEGA put into the game. Mania by itself is very good - with classic, challenging levels and a stellar soundtrack. With the Plus expansion, there will be 4-player competition, and of course, two extra unique playable characters.
Sonic Mania Plus will be available for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on July 17.