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For those who have played Mania Plus: rate your favourite playable characters from favorite to least favorite?
For example: Tails will always be my favorite playable character in Sonic 3&K. Followed by Sonic & Tails, Knuckles, then Sonic alone.
It's difficult to choose because all five characters have fun movesets.
For Mania Plus I would say:
I love Tails gameplay and it's awesome he has a super-form in Mania. However, Sonic's drop-dash, Mighty's hammer-drop & tough-as-balls shell, Knuckles glide/climb and not being restricted to limited level layouts in Mania (unlike a lot of the time in 3&K) and Ray's gliding (which you can have a lot of fun with) all put them ahead of Tails.
Tails has historically always been my favorite classic character to play as, even though I try to divide my time more or less equally among the main three. But in Mania I think Sonic is my go-to guy because the drop dash is the most useful ability he has ever had in a 2D game. Knuckles is good when levels are designed around his abilities, and unfortunately Mania is pretty lacking in that department compared to Sonic 3 aside from his own unique act, so I haven't used him as much as before there.
I don't know if it's fair for me to compare Mighty and Ray to the other three since they're new characters versus three others that I've been playing since my childhood, but I'm more inclined to like Ray since his glide, despite it being near impossible for me to pull for more than five seconds, feels somewhat more widely useful than Mighty's situational ground pound, and the latter's immunity to spikes isn't a big enough incentive for me to pick him over the other four.
Usually, when I play Mania I choose Tails the most and Sonic the close second. As the momentum applies to Tails´ flying, it´s best use is short burst, mainly at the bosses. So that´s why I use Tails, to speedrun the stages.
I hardly ever use Knuckles as basically he doesn´t have many differences compared to the other two. Plus the shorter jump.
When starting Mania Plus I picked up Mighty first and had some fun with him. But the most frequent duos that occurred to me were: Sonic/Tails, Tails/Knuckles, Mighty/Ray.
Yesterday I started a new savefile, choosed Ray and had fun with Sonic/Ray till Studiopolis, where I picked up the all other characters.
I like all of the characters so this list doesn't mean much but still. At first I didn't like Ray at all as there's really no situational routes he can take but Tails can't, and his flight is much harder to execute. However when I factored in the fact that his flight is basically endless and that his flight can be a bit quicker when you get used to gaining velocity while dive bombing and pulling back, I've fallen in love with him. Mastering him is rewarding as it totally changes the way you go through the levels without being too easy or broken. He's very fun, if not fulfilling any specific niches. While not as useful as Tails he's just too much of a game changer to the gameplay to ignore.
Knuckles is slap bang in the middle as his glide is great for platforming, can climb walls which can make him useful when Tails is too tired and can't fly any higher, and his glide can also hurt enemies. Two things prevent him from taking No. 2 or 1: his piss poor jump and the fact he kind of stops/has recovery frames when exiting a glide or landing or hauling himself up a ledge after climbing. Kind of ruins the flow a bit.
Sonic's drop dash and his ability to use the shields are highly compelling and lend him a good amount of flow and speed, but Mighty IMO has a lot of that too, as ground pounding into a sharp slope can provide you with a lot of momentum and really keep the speed going. Also his offensive and defensive capabilities are awesome and make him my go to choice for tough levels.
I feel the best combo for encore mode and hunting down special rings and whatnot is Mighty and Tails: Tails for lots of exploration, Mighty for combat and hairy situations.