Sonic Mania is SEGA’s big retro revival of its Sonic the Hedgehog series, which was a ray of sunshine in an otherwise rocky decade of Sonic games. It’s a deliberate attempt to create a new 2D Sonic game in the style of the original Genesis/Mega Drive games, and was fantastic. Sonic Mania came out in 2017, and has just been released for free on PS Plus, so it’s the perfect time to revisit it. But is it purely single-player, or is there multiplayer or Sonic Mania coop modes?
Does Sonic Mania have multiplayer?
The main focus of Sonic Mania is the expansive single-player campaign, featuring 12 Zones (which usually have two levels each) that are a mix of classic and original designs, although the levels themselves are almost entirely brand new. There are, however, a range of Sonic Mania multiplayer modes too for players to try out, although they’re all based on the same theme.
After going to the main menu you’ll be confronted with a number of options, and for straight multiplayer you’ll need to visit the Competition page. You’ll then be prompted to choose your characters. Up to four players can play Competition mode at any one time. The goal of the mode is simply to race through traditional Sonic Mania levels and get to the end before your opponents, in the style of Sonic 2‘s multiplayer (although the levels are drastically improved and a lot less repetitive than in that game).
There are many levels to choose from, from classics like Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone to new ones such as Mirage Saloon and Press Garden. There are also a number of tweaks you can make to the levels before you start. Match length is obvious, and screen size determines how you want to view your character on-screen, such as boxed or stretched horribly Sonic 2-style. Finally, you can choose item box options out of fixed (classic, can see the item on the screen), random (just a question mark, you don’t know it until you get it), or teleporters only (you swap location with another player). But what about co-op?
Is there Sonic Mania coop or co-op modes?
Sonic Mania does indeed have co-op, but it might not be what you were hoping for. While there are no separate Sonic Mania coop modes, like there is with Competition, Time Attack etc, it is possible to play two-player co-op in the main Sonic Mania campaign. It’s also very easy to set up. First, and most obviously, make sure you have two characters with you. The default is Sonic and Tails, of course, but you can also have Knuckles instead (and if you have the Sonic Mania Plus upgrade, possibly even Mighty or Ray).
Once you start the game, you should have both characters on-screen. Then, all you need to do is have two controllers plugged in. Player one will control Sonic as normal, but if you press a button on the second pad a co-op partner will be able control the other character. You can now play Sonic Mania coop! There’s one big caveat, however: The screen follows player one, so if the second player can’t keep up, they’ll go off screen completely. Fortunately their character will fly back in if they get too far away.
Why is Sonic Mania coop helpful?
While the co-op mode in Sonic Mania is a little limited, as the screen only follows the main player, having a second player control Tails can be extremely helpful. Just like in Sonic 3, Tails can fly, and the player playing Sonic can jump and grab his hands. The Tails player can then carry both of them up to a higher platform, which is especially useful if you spot a secret area you can’t otherwise get to. Having a second player is also great on the bosses, since the screen is often fixed and they get infinite lives. Don’t risk Sonic, just charge at Robotnik with Tails instead!
Can Sonic Mania multiplayer or co-op be played offline local?
All of the various multiplayer modes in Sonic Mania, including the various Competition options and the Mania campaign’s slightly limited co-op mode, are available to play offline, locally. In fact, that’s the main way to play. You’ll need two controllers of course. These can be gamepads, or with the PC version of Sonic Mania one of the players can actually use the keyboard, although they might be at a disadvantage. Give it to the best player as a handicap!
Can Sonic Mania multiplayer or co-op be played online?
Now, here’s the big issue with the Sonic Mania multiplayer and co-op modes. While they can absolutely be played locally and offline, they cannot be played online. There are no online multiplayer modes, no online co-op, and in fact no online functionality whatsoever in Sonic Mania. This includes the expanded Sonic Mania Plus upgraded version of the game, which has a few extra options for multiplayer, but still no online modes. There is no particular reason for this, other than that Sonic Mania was not made with it in mind. It’s mostly a single-player game, really.
If you’ve got Sonic Mania through PS Plus, or are otherwise playing on PS4 however, if you’re desperate to play Sonic Mania online then there is at least the PS4’s Share Play option. Using Share Play you can essentially “trick” Sonic Mania into thinking you’re playing locally, but the PS4 is handling it online. You can only do this with friends, of course, but it’s a handy alternative.