In less than two weeks, Sonic Mania will finally be available to the world at large. Counting down the days has become painful, the question being if there’s a way to make August 15th come any faster. Since no one here at Sonic Retro HQ has the extra eighth Time Stone hiding in a cabinet, we must instead whet our appetites on the teasers SEGA has been releasing.
Yesterday, the official Sonic YouTube account put up a video showcasing, among other things, the brand new Special Stage for Mania. Yes, we get some blue spheres going on, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that.
First teased at the Sonic Mania panel during San Diego Comic Con, the extra round takes cues from a variety of previous Special Stages. The perspective is reminiscent of the Sonic CD bonus rounds, but instead of there being multiple UFO’s flying about, there is only one. Inside that? A Chaos Emerald, which you must catch up to within the time limit. The timer is based on the number of rings one has, taking a nod from the Chaotix special stages. Blue Spheres? They’re about too, making Sonic or his friends go faster. Even those familiar polygonal birds from the background of the original special stage make an appearance, all wrapped up in a presentation that would make the Sega Saturn proud. It could be the perfect combination of old and new ideas to propel the player on yet another “Dimensional Heist.”
For those who can’t get enough of multicolored spheres, the classic Sonic 3 & Knuckles special stages also return, this time in the form of bonus rounds. Get enough rings, jump into the multicolored stars appearing over the checkpoint, and woosh away. The round looks smoother than ever, taking advantage of that widescreen presentation with what look to be all new mazes. Though what prize you get for completing the round isn’t shown, one either gets a Silver or Gold Medallion, depending on if you collected all the rings. No word yet on just what these medallions are for, but it’s not a crazy thought to assume something cool can happen. Or they could just be for bragging rights, who knows.
Last but not least, we get a look at Time Attack. It’s not unusual for a platformer to have this, but the worst thing about any time attack mode has always been the needless wait to start over if you happen to screw up. For Mania, Sonic truly looks to live up to his name, having a Quick Restart feature built right in. For the passionate speedrunner, saving those few seconds will be a godsend. And it uses the transporter sound from Sonic 2‘s 2-player mode! An underrated sound effect if ever there was one.
YouTube user TheRealCatGoneCrazy recently had the chance to run through Green Hill Zone Act 1 in Time Attack. While resisting hitting that restart button over and over, his playthrough did show off the tally screen. After a resounding “GOAL!” by a very excitable sounding man, we see that not only do time and rings give you a bonus, but so does “cool.” What could “cool” be? Well, if the 90’s taught us anything, Sonic and Cool go hand in hand. If Mania can teach us all to be a little cooler, how can we say no?
Earlier in the week, Sonic’s YouTube account also put up another musical track from the game. This time, “Stardust Speedway” Act 1 was featured, yet another delightful groove from Tee Lopes. If you haven’t given that a listen, be sure to do so.
Finally, for anyone who missed out on the SDCC Mania panel, the kind folks over at Sonic Stadium were able to record the entire event. Hosted by Aaron Webber, Mania team members Christian Whitehead, Simon Thomley, Tom Fry, Tee Lopes and Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka gave a candid look at the development of the game. This is the sort of behind-the-scenes look that one wishes they could have gotten back when the original games were developed in the 90’s. There’s a lot of cool info hiding out in there, so even if you’ve seen the many recaps out there, watching certainly has its advantages.