Video Game / Sonic Mania

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"This is where it begins."

Sonic Mania is a Retraux successor to the Genesis-era Sonic the Hedgehog titles, re-imagining classic elements and zones along with new, original ones. Rather than being developed by Sonic Team, it is spearheaded by a collaborative team comprising Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead,note  Simon "Stealth" Thomley of Headcannon,note  and studio PagodaWest Games.note 

The game's story goes as follows: sometime after the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Miles "Tails" Prower picks up a mysterious energy reading; though different from the Chaos Emeralds, the reading is remarkably powerful, so he convinces Sonic the Hedgehog to take the Tornado and investigate. Leading the biplane to Angel Island Zone, it is soon discovered that the nefarious Dr. Eggman is one step ahead of them and has already sent a squad of Eggrobos to claim the source of the signal. It turns out to be a gemstone with strange space-time qualities called the Phantom Ruby that suddenly distorts reality, transforming those ordinary Eggrobos into an elite squad called the Hard Boiled Heavies and warping the immediate surroundings. This wave also happens to engulf Knuckles the Echidna, the guardian of the Master Emerald on Angel Island. It's up to our heroes to pursue the thieves' trail throughout various zones before it's used for world domination.

Sonic Mania is the first half of the franchise's 25th anniversary celebration; the other half is Sonic Forces. It was released on August 15, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with the Japanese release being the next day. The Microsoft Windows version was delayed until August 29, 2017 due to optimization issues, so pre-orders included a copy of the original Sonic the Hedgehog to compensate.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Heavy Shinobi uses Asteronsnote  as shuriken.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: Just like Sonic CD, there's an animated opening movie. It's directed by Tyson Hesse, who also illustrated Sonic Mega Drive.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The encounter with Dr. Eggman in Green Hill Zone involves the player being pursued by the Death Egg Robot. As the Robot walks, the ground is constantly deformed, and the player must take advantage of it to reach the Robot's weak point and damage it. You also have only 90 seconds to do so before you run out of land to stand on.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom:
    • During the final part of the Metal Sonic fight, a spiked wall chases you. You can actually use this to your advantage thanks to the Mercy Invincibility; since the wall pushes the rings you lose along its path, you can easily pick them right back up when you're flashing.
    • There's a section like this in Hydrocity Zone, but it's much less terrifying than in the original, and more similar to the earthquake sections in Hill Top Zone and Marble Garden Zone.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Eggman's Flying Battery aircraft returns in this game.
  • Airplane Arms: When Sonic is running at top speed, he throws his arms behind him, which is a nod to CD's Peel Out maneuver. This also occurs in the Special Stages when you hit Mach 3 speed.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The in-game digital manual explains some of story reveals that wouldn't be obvious during gameplay, such as the purple gemstone being known as the "Phantom Ruby" and the name of each Hard Boiled Heavy.
    • Simon "Stealth" Thomley did a longplay livestream with several developer's notes, including attributing names to several of the game's new enemies.
  • Alternate Timeline: While it was originally considered that this game's events may just have happened sometime before Sonic matured into his Modern self, the story leads directly into Forces with it now established that, after Generations, the Classic Sonic setting has become a world unto itself, and these events never happened to Modern Sonic and company.
  • Amazing Technicolor World: The game uses an extremely stylized palette. Taken Up to Eleven with the Chaos Emerald stages, which are outright acid trips.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Sonic Forces reveals the Phantom Ruby's true power is to cast illusions, so how much of this game actually happened is up for debate.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Knuckles' story happens at the same time as the other two, but like in Sonic 3 he can access several unique paths, including an exclusive version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1, and a confrontation with Heavy King.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Most of the level layouts, enemies and obstacles taken from previous games have been toned down in difficulty, starting with the platforming sequence from Green Hill Act 2 that now has a bed of spikes instead of a bottomless pit. Mechanics that slowed the pace too much, such as the elevators from Flying Battery, have been left out as well.
    • The boss of Chemical Plant Zone removes the stage timer for the duration of the fight, mainly because of the Unexpected Gameplay Change into Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (Puyo Puyo) and the RNG involved therein. Furthermore, Eggman's AI for it is also pretty bad, so as to give the player a good chance to win since it's an early-game boss and players may not be familiar with the source material and its strategies within.
      • Despite being based on original rules, the aforementioned boss includes Double Rotationnote , a function that was originally introduced in Tsu.
    • The Final Boss area is considered separate from the atrociously long Marathon Level that precedes it, and thus resets the timer upon entering the area, as well as setting a checkpoint right before the boss.
    • Time Attack mode allows you to restart the level at the press of a button, sparing players the hassle of having to go into a pause menu and then wait for the stage to reload every time they mess up.
    • Though the Special Stages have a simulated low draw distance, the Chaos Emerald-carrying UFO always remains visible regardless of how far away it is, preventing the player from losing track of it.
      • As well in regards to Special Stages, you can go back and reclaim all the emeralds you missed after you beat a file and unlock level select as every Special Stage ring perpetually respawns, as they do in '"Sonic 3 and Knuckles''.
    • The medals that you earn in the Blue Spheres bonus stages are carried over across all saves, meaning you don't have to beat them all in a single sitting.
    • Unlike in past entries, stage elements aren't used up by the AI-controlled Tails in a Sonic and Tails game, so Tails won't deprive Sonic of an oxygen bubble, platforms won't fall before Sonic stands on them, etc. Same goes for "& Knuckles Mode" with the AI-controlled Knuckles that follows the player around.
    • The boss of Press Garden Zone, Act 1, has a brief "intro scene" where it breaks one of its saw blades on the brown boxes, hinting to the player the strategy needed to defeat it.
    • In Oil Ocean Zone Act 2, entering a submarine and then exiting it will reset the ring-stealing toxic fumes. Additionally, the fumes mechanic is removed completely for the boss fight.
    • At the start of the True Final Boss fight that is only playable after getting all seven Chaos Emeralds, just before your character turns Super, they are silently given a Lightning Shield to help collect the rings that fly across the stage.
  • Art Evolution:
    • While the game's 2D graphics are clearly inspired by the Genesis games and CD, it uses a color palette similar to that of Knuckles Chaotix.
    • The 3D graphics used in the Special Stages are clearly inspired by Sonic's Sega Saturn outings, such as Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R, but with more extravagantly abstract backgrounds and a saturated palette similar to the 2D sections. The models used also have a considerably higher polygon count than any Saturn game.
  • Artificial Stupidity: For the player's sake (it's an Unexpected Gameplay Change and an early part of the game, after all), Eggman is fairly bad at Puyo Puyo during the Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 boss battle. He appears to ignore Nuisance Puyo and prefers to play around them instead of actively trying to get rid of them, and constantly allows his stack to grow more often than he actually makes matches. When he does make a match, he can't make any match greater than a 2-Chain.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Mania is the first time Knuckles has been playable in a main Sonic game since Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and the first time he's had a non-supporting playable role since Sonic Heroes.
    • To a lesser extent, Tails, at least as far as being a playable character as opposed to the supporting character he was in Sonic Unleashed,note  Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and Sonic Lost World. While he was playable in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, he could only be directly controlled by a second player in Co-Op Mode.
  • Ascended Glitch and Canon Immigrant: Quirks in previous games (such as Sonic 2 and Lost World) and a deliberate implementation in the Super Smash Bros. series let Sonic charge up a Spin Dash in mid-air and release it upon landing; the Drop Dash introduced in this game is an official and canon version of this.
    • "& Knuckles" mode also counts as an ascended glitch. According to an IGN interview with Christian Whitehead, this started as a bug that had three Knuckleses at once in the final cutscene. Instead of patching it out, they liked the idea so much that they made it an unlockable mode.
  • Ascended Meme: One of the unlockables in the game is "& Knuckles" mode. And it does exactly what you'd expect, it adds an AI-controlled Knuckles for the player similar to how Tails is paired with Sonic. The kicker: it does this even if you play as Knuckles himself. In fact, doing so not only nets you a special ending, but collecting all the Chaos Emeralds in this mode lets you fight the True Final Boss, which is normally only accessible to Sonic!
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: If you're playing as Sonic or Tails in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1, you have to fight a giga-sized Caterkiller as the boss. Knuckles also has to fight a giant Caterkiller, but it's far smaller than the one you fight as Sonic or Tails. It's also a reference to the boss in Gigapolis Zone in Sonic Chaos.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: During the True Final Boss battle, Super Sonic can use a special Dash Attack activated by pressing Jump while in flight that causes him to flash forward in a burst of speed. This can be useful to close a gap if you get a shot. Problem is, this move eats 5 Rings. Rings are rather scarce during the fight, and usage of the dash will only burn them faster (and this is compounded by the fact that Heavy King is actually capable of damaging Super Sonic, which makes Rings even more critical than normal). It's easier to just body-check the bosses to inflict damage instead.
  • Band Land: Mirage Saloon Zone features over-sized honky-tonk piano keys as level obstacles, while Stardust Speedway Zone features brass instruments.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • The mini-boss of Hydrocity Zone Act 1 involves Sonic piloting the original Act 2 boss machine, attempting to suck up Eggman into the propeller blades as Eggman did in Sonic 3.
    • Also done literally with the boss of Chemical Plant Zone Act 2, which involves fighting Dr. Eggman in a game of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Eggman and his Hard Boiled Heavies are the main antagonists.
  • The Big Race: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are racing to reach a powerful new energy source before Dr. Eggman and the Hard-Boiled Heavies can. Unfortunately for the heroes, the intro cutscenes shown that Dr. Eggman got it first, as the Ruby transform the surrounding ordinary Eggrobos into the Hard-Boiled Heavies.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good ending has Sonic managing to free Little Planet once again, but during the final clash with Dr. Eggman, the Chaos Emeralds react with the Phantom Ruby and disable Super Sonic, sending him into a void that transports him to an unknown location as a Sequel Hook to Sonic Forces.
  • Blackout Basement: In Oil Ocean Zone Act 2, toxic fumes begin covering the screen until you can barely see anything and your rings start being drained, so you must look for switches that clear it all away. You don't need to worry like you're underwater, though, as the fumes can't actually kill you at zero rings.
  • Bonus Feature Failure:
    • With enough Bonus Medals, you can unlock the Insta-Shield (from Sonic 3 & Knuckles) and the Super Peel-Out (from Sonic the Hedgehog CD) for Sonic's use in the game. This would be a fantastic reward, but unfortunately, they come with two major caveats: One, you can only use them in a No Save game. Two, you cannot use these abilities plus the Drop Dash at the same time; you have to swap between one of the three abilities. For reference, Generations allowed you to unlock both abilities for Classic Sonic's use in all stages with no need to swap them out.
    • & Knuckles mode is also limited to a No Save run, which is a bigger issue in this case because it has an exclusive ending.
  • Bonus Stage:
    • Based on the ones from Sonic CD, with elements from Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic Heroes, and aesthetically inspired by the Sega Saturn. The player must catch up to a UFO and blow it up to obtain a Chaos Emerald. Collecting rings adds to the time limit and blue spheres makes the character run faster.
    • For the Star Post bonus stage, you play a round of Blue Sphere from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, where you run around a big globe and snatch up blue spheres while avoiding the red ones. There are about 32 levels for this one and each one is worth a medal for unlocking extras. Clearing each level perfectlynote  awards you with golden medals instead of silver ones.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy:
    • The boss of Studiopolis Zone Act 2 would have an unavoidable attack (the winds blowing from below that will push the player into spikes above) if not for the hanging bars they could grab onto at the sides of the area.
    • The boss of Flying Battery Act 1 is a trash compactor machine that slowly closes the walls of the compactor inwards. Each time it does so, the scrap you're standing on compacts and is pushed upwards slightly, eventually allowing you to get in range of the weak point.
    • The boss of Flying Battery Zone Act 2 would be unbeatable if not for the conveniently-placed spikes and propeller stands around the area.
    • The boss of Press Garden Zone Act 1 would be a lot trickier to defeat if not for the brown boxes spread around the area, which will temporarily destroy its saw blades if it strikes them, allowing the player to get a good hit in.
    • The boss of Hydrocity Zone Act 1 wouldn't have happened if Dr. Eggman didn't leave his Egg Mobile out in the open.
    • The boss of Lava Reef Zone Act 1 would be nearly invincible if not for the lava in the rocks underneath it. Each time it lands on the rocks/platform, lava spurts up and hits it, heating up and damaging its armor until the armor breaks off and leaves it vulnerable to regular attacks.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Just before the Final Boss fight begins, several "caution" and "alert" lights briefly light up in the background. Interestingly, these lights reappear once the boss is defeated and the place begins to self-destruct, but only if you haven't collected all the Emeralds.
  • Bottomless Pits: A couple of zones have platforming over bottomless pits.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Gold medals at Get Blue Spheres don't unlock anything, but they do let you immediately play another round from the same checkpoint.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • The clapboard ramps in Studiopolis track your current time in the zone and have text crediting Sega and the dev team.
    • As usual, Sonic glares at you if you keep him idle long enough with an addition of him being steady as he flexing his body, telling you to move already.
  • Boss Remix: Metal Sonic's boss theme is a darker remix of Stardust Speedway, complete with opera singing.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Tails and Knuckles return as playable characters in this game after an absence of 2D Sonic games. In addition, their Super Modes that haven't been seen since Sonic 3 & Knuckles finally return as well.
    • Bark the Polar Bear, Bean the Dynamite, and Fang the Sniper (a.k.a. Nack the Weasel) don't appear on wanted posters in Mirage Saloon Zone just as a cameo. They in fact stand in your way as bosses... or so it seems at first. They're actually illusions cast by Heavy Magician.
    • The Silver Sonic from the 8-bit version of Sonic 2 appears as a minion Metal Sonic can repeatedly summon during his boss fight.
    • Replicas of the Super Emeralds are present at the shrine with the Master Emerald.
  • Call-Back:
    • The first few seconds of the game are a shot-for-shot recreation of the beginning of Sonic 3, except Knuckles is missing, replaced by the Hard-Boiled Heavies.
    • Who was really expecting a reference to Mean Bean Machine?
    • Stardust Speedway Zone has, at the end of each Act, the player destroy one of the two devices Eggman hid in the Past stages of Sonic CD, with the first Act even ending with them using a time travel post from the same game. The boss fight even merges elements of the original Stardust Speedway boss fight with the Generations version.
    • Both Stardust Speedway and Metallic Madness Zones use the appearance and a music remix of the past in Act 1 and the present in Act 2. While it was explicitly shown that Act 1 was in the past in Stardust Speedway, Metallic Madness merely had Act 1 be the outside of the base that happened to look like the past version.
  • Call-Forward:
    • In the beginning of Sonic Unleashed, Super Sonic gets defeated, which becomes the catalyst of the plot. In the "good ending" of Sonic Mania, Super Sonic gets defeated again, then gets transported to an unknown location.
    • Sonic Mania ends with Sonic making the same pose from the Sonic Forces debut trailer. It turns out that the portal that he gets sucked into in the true ending is a portal to the Forces dimension.
  • Cast Speciation: The three playable characters behave in a largely similar manner to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, except Sonic now has the exclusive Drop Dash ability.
  • Character Customization: After earning enough medals from Blue Sphere stages, when playing a no-save game, you can opt to give Sonic the Super Peel-Out from Sonic the Hedgehog CD or the Insta-Shield from Sonic 3 & Knuckles in lieu of the default Drop Dash.
  • Cheat Code:
    • Exclusive to the Switch version. Press B+Y on the title screen to open a Sonic 2-themed level select. This also enables Debug Mode by default. You can also access this screen in the PS4 and Xbox One versions, but only once you've unlocked Debug Mode the normal way. To do it, enable Debug Mode in the Secrets Menu, and hold Square+Options or A+X on the No Save option.
    • In Hydrocity Zone, hang on any hook and enter the Level Select cheat from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. If performed correctly, you will hear a Ring sound effect, and for the rest of the Zone, the boosters' "revving" sound effect is replaced with a sound clip of Videogamedunkey mimicking the original sound effect from Sonic 3 & Knuckles in his "Best of 2016" video.
      • This used to be available on all platforms, until a patch removed it, for reasons unknown. The Switch version curiously keeps the code.
  • Cherry Blossoms: At the start of Press Garden Zone, Act 2, you're greeted with a rain of sakura petals falling across the screen.
  • Climax Boss: Metal Sonic marks the halfway point of the game as the boss of Stardust Speedway, the sixth regular zone out of twelve.
  • Conspicuous CG: Invoked. The giant gold rings that take you to the special stages are very obviously 3D. This is to convey that the special stages themselves also take place in full 3D.
  • Continuing Is Painful: If you get a Game Over without continues, you'll have to replay the current zone from the beginning. To earn continues, you must get the post Mach 3 bonus during a Special Stage, which requires you deliberately prolong the UFO chase for a while and is basically suicidal in the latter ones. Now here's the catch: the continue function is restricted to No Save mode for some reason.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Special Stage is heavily based on the unused Special Stage from Sonic CD, but with the goal of catching up to a UFO.
    • Knuckles remembers the last time someone took the Master Emerald.
    • In Act 2 of Lava Reef Zone near the end of the level, you'll remember that the Death Egg was stuck in the rock ceiling in Sonic and Knuckles. In this game, there's no Death Egg, but you can see the impacted area where it was, now showing the sky, as the machine was lifted from the area after Eggman used the Super Emerald to get it to fly again in the previous game.
  • Creepy Doll: During the fight with Dr. Eggman in Metallic Madness Zone, he'll summon a doll styled after Amy to attack. These dolls have the same general characteristics as the Tails Doll, such as blank eyes and a red gem sticking out of their head.
  • Crosshair Aware: The bosses do this quite a bit. In particular, the Death Egg Robot, just like before. Also, one of the Badniks in the final zone has a very grandiose 3D targeting system. The Final Boss also has these appear when he launches missiles from his suit.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • The unlockable Blue Sphere minigame has a Mania Mode that adds a new Green Sphere, which turns into a Blue Sphere when touched. This can be very disconcerting to play around, since if a square formation has any Green Spheres in it, it will not turn into Rings, meaning that you must go inside the square and turn all Green Spheres into Blue before you can make a square.
    • Heavy Shinobi throws Asterons that you must get rid of once they get stuck on the floor. However, those badniks look spiky, are explosive, and in Sonic 2 most of them were set outside of the player's reach. This causes a misconception that they can't be destroyed and makes the battle harder than it should be.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Reaching each multiple of 100 rings awards a 1-up, which resets whenever rings are spilled. The Hyper Ring power-up makes it much easier to reclaim rings the next time they're spilled. By collecting over 100 rings and then spilling them with the Hyper Ring active, it's possible to earn additional 1-ups.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • If you lose a Special Stage and are booted back out into the level, the game greys out said Special Stage Ring for the entire playthrough — restarting the level won't help you, as it remains greyed out until you beat the game.
    • As well, if you decide to stop and race backwards to chase the UFO, thinking you can end the race early by meeting it head on, it ends up turning around and following you, meaning you have a long way to go to catch up to it! If you did somehow go past the UFO, however, you are allowed to slow down so the UFO can catch up to you.
    • Touching oil with a Fire Shield in Oil Ocean Zone will set it on fire.
    • Despite not having any legitimate way of playing it, the Knuckles version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 is beatable by Sonic and Tails or Tails alone without having to use any techniques outside of what is possible through normal gameplay.
    • An infamous trick to gain Infinite 1-Ups in Sonic 3 & Knuckles involved holding a constant spin dash at a point close to the beginning of Launch Base Zone that spawned infinite enemies. The ink jars in Press Garden Zone likewise spawn enemies infinitely; however, they won't spawn if the player is holding a Spin Dash, thus preventing the trick from being abused again.
  • Difficulty by Acceleration:
    • Like the Blue Sphere special stages, the special stages of Mania will increase speed the longer you survive, rated by a "Mach" meter at the top that ramps up the more spheres you collect. The increased speed improves your chances of catching the UFO, but it also makes it easier to slam into a ring-stealing hazard, and hitting zero rings boots you out with no Chaos Emerald. You also experience an increasing loss of traction the faster you go, making it harder to corner smoothly and it can make you miss rings or spheres.
    • Blue Sphere itself also returns as a Bonus Stage this time and the rules remain the same, so the longer you take to collect all the blue spheres, the more you must contend with the elevated pace and lowered reaction time.
  • Difficulty Spike: Special Stages 4, 5, and 6 are noticeably harder than the first three, while Special Stage 7 (despite lots of Bottomless Pits) is an inverted spike and not as large and hazard-heavy as Special Stage 6 and can be easily cleared without reaching Mach 3.
  • Double Jump: If the Lightning Shield is equipped, Sonic can do a second jump in midair.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: It's not clear if the Heavies simply remained loyal to Dr. Eggman after their transformation or if they made a deal with him, but if the conditions for the good ending are achieved, Heavy King takes hold of the Phantom Ruby after Dr. Eggman is defeated by Sonic. Eggman attempts to take it back, but is warped away. Amusingly enough, Sonic must fight both of them, as they take turns catching the gem every time one takes a hit.
  • Dramatic Disappearing Display: The normal HUD goes away during the Mean Bean Machine match at the end of Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: In special stages, you already move faster than the UFO at Mach 2. Since Mach 3 makes your character much harder to control, some stages are easier to beat by intentionally avoiding collecting enough blue spheres to reach Mach 3. This is especially the case with the 7th special stage, since you're far more likely to fall off than run out of time.
  • Dual Boss: The finale in Egg Reverie has Super Sonic fighting off both Eggman and Heavy King, who each want the Phantom Ruby. Each time one of them is hit, the other catches the Ruby and comes into the battle and they each need to be hit eight times to finish the game. Of the two, Heavy King presents more of a threat as Eggman's machine can't harm Super Sonic initially, having to charge up an attack, whereas Heavy King is fully capable of killing Super Sonic without having to prepare an attack.
  • Dungeon Bypass: It is possible to cheese Special Stage 2 in only a few seconds by staying along the right edge of the track immediately when the stage starts, going into the right path where the UFO flies down.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Because the Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 boss is based on Mean Bean Machine, which is itself based on the first Puyo arcade game, it doesn't feature Offsetting. This can be rather jarring to modern Puyo players, since that has been a major mechanic for most of the series.
  • Easter Egg:
    • If you beat the game as Knuckles in "& Knuckles" mode, you'll get a bonus image where Knuckles reads from a "Sonic Mania & Knuckles" book to a group of impressed little animals while Sonic and Tails look on in confusion. The music that plays during this scene is a remix of the main theme from Knuckles' Chaotix.
    • A secret room in Press Garden Act 1 has stamps that spell out "Hello". It's only accessible via Debug mode.
    • In Hydrocity Zone, grabbing onto a hook and entering the Sonic 3 & Knuckles level select code (Left three times, Right three times, Up three times; you'll hear a Ring chime if inputted properly) will replace the sound effect of the boosters with a Dunkey sound clip. (Though, this was patched out in a game update, yet retained in the Switch version.)
  • Eject the Loser: This happens when either the player character or Eggman loses the Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine boss fight of Chemical Plant Zone, where the floor under the loser opens and dunks them into Mega Mack.
  • Elite Mooks: A series of custom Eggrobos called Hard-Boiled Heavies serve as the bosses for certain zones.
  • Enemy Mine: The situation during the true final boss. Both Eggman and Heavy King want control over the Phantom Ruby, but killing Super Sonic takes priority. Every time one gets damaged, the other catches the gem and moves in.
  • Eternal Engine: In addition to the returning Chemical Plant, Oil Ocean, and Metallic Madness Zones, there is the new Zone Titanic Monarch, a truly colossal robot that the first act consists getting to and the second act takes place inside the robot to fight Eggman.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Phantom Ruby acts as this to the Chaos Emeralds, warping reality in mischievous and malevolent ways on a whim while the emeralds are understood to be of a naturally benevolent alignment.
  • Evil Laugh: Eggman's laugh kicks of the main boss theme and the Mean Bean Machine theme.
  • Feelies: While the game is mostly a digital distribution title, there is still a Collector's Edition that comes with a statue of Sonic that plays a SEGA scream, a metallic Collectible Card with the download ticket printed on it, and a Genesis cartridge with a cast golden ring.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: Egg Reverie, a purple pocket dimension created by the Phantom Ruby.
  • Flunky Boss: During the Final Boss battle against Eggman, he'll sometimes create a pair of hands from the Phantom Ruby that will grab the characters and whisk them away to fight one of the Hard-Boiled Heavies (minus Heavy King). These short fights only last a few seconds and you can't defeat any of them before you're taken back to fight Eggman (you can also restock on Rings when you get taken to the Gunner and Rider fights).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Before Eggman drops you down into the garbage pit where you fight the Flying Battery mid-boss, you can see blueprints on the back wall of a spider-like robot. These are the blueprints for the boss you fight at the end of Act 2.
    • At the end of Press Garden Zone, Act 2, our heroes confront Eggman working at a monitor that shows Metal Sonic and the chained-up Little Planet. Metal Sonic's the next boss and the game ends at Little Planet.
    • In Sonic and Tails' Mirage Saloon Zone, Act 1, they come across a train being driven by Eggman and transporting oil tanks with a familiar green, yellow, and purple color scheme, with the acronym "OOZ" labeled along the bottom of the tank. Unsurprisingly enough, Oil Ocean is the next zone.
    • The Act 2 boss of Oil Ocean Zone uses elements from the original mini-boss of Lava Reef Zone. Guess which zone is next?
    • The bad ending of the game has a shot of Eggman, surrounded by the Chaos Emeralds, tossing the Phantom Ruby back and forth in his hands. While this is the requisite "get all the Chaos Emeralds" hint, it also foreshadows the True Final Boss, and how the Phantom Ruby is tossed between Eggman and Heavy King.
    • The Collector's Card that comes included with the Collector's Edition of the game has the phrase "Fun Is Infinite" printed on the very bottom-right of the back of the card in extremely tiny, almost unreadable transparent fine print. While it's obviously a reference to a certain secret in Sonic CD, it's also a subtle hint towards Infinite's ties to the Phantom Ruby, and by extension the plot of Mania.
    • The standard and final boss tracks are called "Ruby Illusions" and "Ruby Delusions," foreshadowing what the Phantom Ruby really does. Also, the joke ending where everything is a story told by Knuckles is listed as the "true ending?" in the Developer Menu...
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Hard-Boiled Heavies start off as ordinary Eggrobos, but the Phantom Ruby turns them all into their deadly forms.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The Switch version has some issues with the Home Button and Sleep Mode, in that there's a delay between the button being pressed and the action being performed. This can occasionally cause a game crash as well.
    • After defeating the Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 boss, there's a chance that you'll wind up glitching through the floor even if you defeat Eggman, resulting in death. This prevents you from progressing the game.
    • In the Blue Sphere minigame in Mania Mode from the Extras menu, there's an off chance that touching a Pink Sphere will cause the game to soft-lock mid-warp.
    • If you roll by the last checkpoint in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 in a specific way, the game may mistakenly think you're in a tube and put you into a spin you can't jump out of, leaving you stuck at the right edge of the boss fight, where the boss will never make contact to get you out of it. Even if Tails as a second player defeats the boss, the game remains soft-locked.
      • You can also trigger a soft lock in Stardust Speedway Act 1 simply by finding a monitor after the mid-boss is defeated then standing to the left of it. Because the characters are programmed to run to the right to enter Act 2, the game didn't account for this and just has them infinitely pushing the monitor, finding no way to get around it. Weirdly, the game can detect if it needs to move the characters to the right and there's something in the way preventing that (demonstrable on the Lava Reef Act 1 midboss if you let a spike ball destroy the floor then stand to the left of the broken piece when the level ends; the characters will jump over the missing floor in these instances), but it doesn't apply to Stardust Speedway for whatever reason.
    • Some of the bosses have flags that on rare occasion don't flip when they're supposed to. One example is the machine at the end of Metallic Madness Zone, Act 2; the boss can fail to return even after all of the enemies released are defeated.
    • Using debug mode, it's possible to play Sonic's Mirage Saloon Act 1 as Knuckles. However, the gun that normally shoots Sonic to the boss won't shoot Knuckles, causing a soft lock.
    • If flying too far to the right side of the screen when the train appears in Mirage Saloon Act 1, the plane may suddenly fly off the screen, causing you to immediately fall to your death.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The Phantom Ruby is, in the story, believed to be perhaps above even the Chaos Emeralds. During the True Final Boss, this is the main threat as, much like in Rush's final bossnote , Heavy King can channel its power to hurt Super Sonic.
  • Gelatinous Trampoline: These appear in the new second act for Chemical Plant Zone, but aren't too powerful on their own. You must use nearby syringes to inject more chemicals in them, which makes them bouncier and allows you to reach higher paths.
  • Genre Shift: The boss for Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2, shifts the gameplay from a platformer to a puzzle game.
  • Genre Throwback: To the gameplay style of the Genesis games, even more so than Sonic the Hedgehog 4.note  It's notably the only Sonic game made after Sonic Adventure to use the "Classic" character designs exclusively.
  • Golden Super Mode: Super Sonic is in. And so is the pink Super Knuckles and golden Super Tails, though Tails doesn't have his Flicky army...
  • Green Hill Zone: The Trope Namer returns once again as the first level in the game.
  • Guide Dang It!: The second phase of the Metal Sonic fight has a puzzle element that requires the player to ricochet Silver Sonics at him. Unfortunately, that is not exactly intuitive. People who have finished the 8-bit version of Sonic 2 will quickly realize what to do, but those who have no idea who Silver Sonic is are likely going to avoid bouncing them off because while the method is consistent with how Heavy Shinobi and the pillbug badniks are beaten, trying to do the same on Metal Sonic during the preceding chase doesn't work.
  • Gusty Glade: The outdoor segments of Flying Battery Zone Act 2 take place in a rainstorm.
  • Harmless Freezing: In the second act of Press Garden Zone, you can be frozen by cold air blown from pipes. Unlike in Sonic CD or Sonic 3, however, this is only a minor annoyance that isn't harmful by itself. You're actually required to get frozen in certain spots and let springs send you through barriers and frozen spikes that the Spin Dash can't break.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Press Garden Zone mixes The Lost Woods, Slippy-Slidey Ice World, Wutai, and... a newspaper factory.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: For the Act 1 boss of Hydrocity Zone, you get to pilot Eggman's machine from the original version of the zone and turn it on him!
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • Bet you weren't expecting the Death Egg Robot to appear in Green Hill Zone. The fight appears to borrow aspects from the one in Sonic Generations, where it was also reduced from a Final Boss to a Warm-Up Boss.
    • The Titanic Monarch is an enormous robot Eggman has built in the heart of Little Planet. It's so big, in fact, that its interior makes up an entire Act in Titanic Monarch Zone.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The amount of "egg" Visual Puns seen in Studiopolis Zone is staggering. Such as "Eggnog." Mirage Saloon Zone gets in just as much — of particular note is a Seltzer bottle labeled "Egg-seltz-ior!"
    • Even better when you realize that it's a sundae bar and seltzer is used to make egg creams!
  • Idle Animation: As per usual, waiting around a bit will have the characters do something. Sonic will naturally glare at the player and, after a bit, getting into a running postion to encourage the player to move on. Tails will start yawning and nodding off to sleep, sometimes jarring himself awake. And Knuckles will loosens up his arm before shadow boxing a bit and laughing to himself.
  • Incendiary Exponent: A few of the returning Zones have been modified to react to fire in some way. Namely, the spiked bridges in Green Hill Zone burn down when they come into contact with the Fire Shield, and in Oil Ocean Zone, any oil the Fire Shield or otherwise any other source of fire comes into contact with will light ablaze, and will harm you if you do not have a Fire Shield.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The Shrink Ray returns in Metallic Madness Zone, Act 2. This time, however, you have to fight Dr. Eggman while still tiny.
  • Interface Screw: During the real final battle, the strange forces at work make the time counter display random numbers.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • There are certain cases where it is possible to become harmed or otherwise killed after having defeated the boss in question. For example, if you take too long on the Death Egg Robot and you aren't paying attention, you may wind up accidentally bouncing into the Bottomless Pit at the end due to rebound from landing the final hit on the boss. This especially holds true if you use Super Mode to ignore objects that would otherwise harm you, as defeating a boss causes the Super status to wear off immediately, while the object may not.
    • Due to the rolling topography of the area and its bobbing motion, it's possible for the animal capsule in Green Hill Zone to push you through the floor and to your death, even during the victory animation. See it in action here.
  • King Mook:
    • The boss of Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 is a giant version of the firefly enemy. It summons regular-sized versions of itself during the course of the fight.
    • The boss of Oil Ocean Zone Act 2 is a giant version of the Octus Badnik, combined with the boss of the original Oil Ocean Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and a portion of the mini-boss of Lava Reef Zone from 3 & Knuckles.
  • Left Hanging: Just where did Sonic disappear to in the good ending?
  • Leitmotif: Metal Sonic's boss theme incorporates parts of Stardust Speedway's Bad Future theme into it despite the fight taking place in the Present due to how iconic the theme is for him.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Lava Reef Zone from Sonic & Knuckles returns and the first act is a fiery volcano.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: The music from the first level of the first original zone, Studiopolis Zone, has come to represent this game in the popular imagination far more than the title theme or even the theme for the opening animation.
  • Levels Take Flight: Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 acts similar to Sky Chase from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in that you'll be spending the majority of the level on top of the Tornado (unless you're playing as Knuckles).
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Defeating the Final Boss causes the Titanic Monarch Zone to self-destruct.
  • Locomotive Level: Halfway through Sonic & Tails's version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 you'll drop from the Tornado and onto a train driven by Eggman.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The updated mix of Angel Island Zone Act 1 gets cut off by the Hard Boiled Heavies during the intro sequence. Sadly, it isn't even available in a fully-featured form in the secret level select sound test either as an Easter Egg (it just cuts off hard where it would in the intro sequence).
  • Made of Iron: The Hydrocity Zone Act 1 boss is Eggman out of his machine in scuba gear while Sonic rides the propeller machine from the original Hydrocity Zone Act 2. When Eggman is hit by the propeller, it still makes the same "machine hit" sound that most bosses use, and even when he takes enough damage to be defeated and his scuba gear explodes, he merely falls off the screen and he's right back in the next Act none worse for the wear.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Large red biomechanical carnivorous plants appear as a new hazard in Stardust Speedway Zone, stretching vines through the level when you break flower capsules. You can platform off their leaves, but the toothy creatures themselves are invincible.
  • Marathon Boss:
    • The fight with Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway Zone has four phases (trying to avoid Metal while making your way up the stage, the machine where he sends mini Silver Sonics at you, another race up the stage, and finally the spike wall encounter), and no checkpoint.
    • The Eggman fight in Hydrocity involves you having to avoid obstacles while being blown through a water tunnel while trying to keep yourself from drowning and sending bombs into Eggman. Afterwards, you're sent into another area where you must fight his Whirlpool Machine (from Sonic the Hedgehog 3) to complete the level. There are no rings in the area, so if you come in with zero rings, damage avoidance is a major priority at this point — otherwise, you'll be starting the fight from the tunnels again.
  • Marathon Level:
    • Flying Battery Zone Act 2, a mash up of the original and Wing Fortress, is the first level that feels noticeably longer than the ones before and after it.
    • The final zone is the lengthiest in the game, comparable in size with notorious levels such as Carnival Night 2 and Sandopolis 2. It has appropriately demanding platforming for a final challenge, so each act can last for around 4 to 8 minutes depending on the player's skill. On top of that, the Act 1 miniboss can be a drawn out fight and cause you to time over anyway. Thankfully, the timer resets when you reach the Final Boss in Act 2.
  • Master of Illusion: Heavy Magician is one, demonstrated when she turns into Bark the Polar Bear, Bean the Dynamite, and Fang the Sniper (a.k.a. Nack the Weasel) as bosses to fight Sonic.
  • Meaningful Rename: The zones in Sonic CD were called "rounds" (though not on the title card) and the acts called zones ("Tidal Tempest Zone 2", for example). For Mania, however, the returning zones use the standard nomenclature.
  • Mle Trois: The implication of Egg Reverie is that Eggman and Heavy King are struggling to take control of the Phantom Ruby while Super Sonic fights to keep it out of both of their hands.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The plot revolves around the Phantom Ruby, a strange and powerful purple gem that was detected on Angel Island.
  • Motif Merger:
    • The original Sonic game used lampposts for checkpoints, while the later 16-bit games used star-posts, which are emblazoned with a star at the top. Mania uses the classic lampposts, with the star-post emblem added to the base to combine both into one design.
    • The Special Stages are a Motif Merger for multiple across the series' history: they draw mainly from CD, with the Blue Spheres from 3 & Knuckles, the bomb obstacles from Sonic 2, 3D graphics based on the Saturn's 3D Blast, and the trippy backgrounds from the original game.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Normal / Bad Ending: Sonic and co. destroy Dr. Eggman's Titanic Monarch mecha before it can be activated, but as usual The Stinger shows Eggman alive and well with both the Phantom Ruby and the Chaos Emeralds you missed in hand, ready to start another plan. Although this is not the case if you get all the emeralds as Tails or Knuckles.
    • Good Ending: Super Sonic defeats both Eggman and Heavy King but the Phantom Ruby suddenly dispels his super form and warps him through a void. Titanic Monarch is destroyed and Little Planet is unchained, but Tails and Knuckles are left wondering what happened to their friend.
    • & Knuckles Ending: The whole game was just a tale Knuckles was reading from a book to some animal friends. Only available when playing with Knuckles & Knuckles.
  • Musical Nod:
    • The file select theme has a brief nod to the one from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 near the beginning.
    • The theme for Studiopolis Zone, Act 1, is very similar to Collision Chaos Present's Japanese theme.
    • The true final boss music has a brief riff from Fist Bump.
    • Chemical Plant's boss music is a remix of Satan's theme from Puyo Puyo, which was used as the 2-player theme in Mean Bean Machine.
    • Mirage Saloon Zone's music contains a small nod to the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Its Act 1 variation for Sonic and Tails includes a brief nod to Sky Chase Zone from Sonic 2, befitting the gameplay.
    • Metallic Madness Zone, Act 1, includes a riff from the Ghostbusters theme.
    • The game's final boss theme references Sonic 3 & Knuckles's final boss theme 28 seconds in.
    • The Competition Results theme quotes Sonic 2's version of the theme.
    • The Special Stage theme, "Dimension Heist", has a brief snippet of Seaside Hill halfway through.
    • The staff roll theme has a small nod to Bridge Zone.
  • Musical Pastiche: A few of the game's original songs are made to feel reminiscent of other Sega and Sonic games.
    • The Main Menu theme, "Comfort Zone", was inspired by Sega Rally Championship's Car Select theme, "Judgement".
    • The File Select theme, "Sunshine Cassette", is done in a calypso style like Sonic 3's File Select and even quotes it briefly.
    • The Competition Menu theme is heavy on brass and guitar, reminiscent of Daytona USA, while the Competition Results theme has the distinctive beat of Sonic 2's Competition Results theme.
    • Press Garden's music has less of a bass-and-snare Sonic motif but more of a slower-paced, sweeping feel reminiscent of the Shinobi series, which may even double as foreshadowing since the stage boss is Heavy Shinobi.
    • The theme of Mirage Saloon Zone, Act 1, for Sonic and Tails, "Skyway Octane", uses backing guitars and arpeggios as a reference to the After Burner soundtrack. Knuckles' mix for that level, "Wildstyle Pistolero", has a more hip-hop feel that'd be at home with his Sonic Adventure 2 raps.
    • The Hard Boiled Heavies' theme, "Hi-Spec Robo Go!", was specifically inspired by the works of Hideki Naganuma, such as Sonic Rush and Jet Set Radio.
    • The True Final Boss theme is a hard rock song—it sounds reminiscent of "NiGHTS and Reala" from NiGHTS into Dreams..., as both use a synth and brass combo with backing guitars.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: Only one of the shields can be active at any given time. Grabbing a new shield will have it replace the old one.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page here.
  • Nested Story Reveal: The ending of & Knuckles mode when playing as Knuckles reveals that the events thus far are actually just a story called Sonic Mania & Knuckles that Knuckles is reading to some animal friends.
  • New Game+: In a sense; continuing a game from a Clear save will carry over your score from the end of the game, in addition to the usual Chaos Emeralds and life counter.
  • New Jack Swing: Thanks to going back to a more Sonic the Hedgehog CD-influenced soundtrack, the game features New Jack Swing inspired songs, such as the mini-boss theme and Studiopolis Zone.
  • Ninja: Heavy Shinobi. His boss fight even includes sound effects from the Genesis-era Shinobi games.
  • Nerf: In the unlockable "& Knuckles" mode, Knuckles has his ability to destroy certain blocks removed to prevent Sonic or Tails from accessing areas typically only accessible by Knuckles.
    • The Combi-Ring (here renamed Hyper Ring for some reason) causes the player to drop 8 big rings upon getting hurt, rather than just one, making it harder to re-collect your rings. One the flip side, regaining your rings like this can net you extra lives, unlike previously, likely due to an oversight by the devs.
    • The Water Barrier/Shield's special attack can't be spammed like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. As a result, it gives the player less control, evoking Damn You, Muscle Memory! for people who are familiar with said game.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The reason why Oil Ocean Zone, Act 2, has the toxic fumes everywhere? It's because Sonic/Tails/Knuckles destroyed the mini-boss, a repairman robot whose duty was venting the gas (which is even used as one of its attacks). By destroying it, the gas builds up, exploding the pipes and releasing the fumes around the area.
  • Nintendo Hard: While not explicitly more difficult than the games it harkens back to, Mania doesn't hold its punches either, especially in certain boss fights and the final zone. Bring a lot of extra lives, or a possible game over may cost you your whole progress in the zone. Don't be surprised if later zones also cause a Time Out; this is especially apparent in Titanic Monarch Zone, Act 2, where it's a Marathon Level that can go on long enough that the final boss fight actually resets the timer to avoid this problem.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • Just like normal Puyo Puyo, pausing the game during the Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2, boss will hide all Puyos onscreen.
    • If you decide to race backwards to chase the UFO in an attempt to meet it head on early, it ends up reversing its direction and giving you a far longer distance to catch up to it.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The True Final Boss plays as this in the player's favor, with Super Sonic cutting loose on Eggman and Heavy King as they struggle in vain against him.
  • Noodle Incident: How you suddenly get dropped into Hydrocity Zone isn't clear, since there's no transition from Stardust Speedway.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The moment the blue missile hits the Heavy Gunner's mooks, the red missiles still already flying somehow gets disarmed.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: If you fail to platform in certain areas of the final zone, you might fall on teleporters that send you a few steps back.
  • Nostalgia Level: Several Zones from the classic Sonic games made for the Sega Genesis and Sega CD (Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Oil Ocean, Hydrocity, Flying Battery, Lava Reef, Stardust Speedway and Metallic Madness) are all revisited in this game, with each one revamped with new level designs, graphics, and stage gimmicks and bosses. The Special Stages from Sonic 3 & Knuckles also return (albeit downgraded to bonus stages), with at least some of them being direct copies of the originals.
  • Not His Sled: Thanks to the nature of the Remixed Zones, they are many modifications, such as the presence of new items, enemies imported from Zones in the other games, obstacles and gimmicks that are new or given a twist, old bosses with new attacks, new bosses, and sometimes even bosses from different games.
  • Obvious Beta: The initial release had quite a number of bugs, even some game breaking ones (like one that soft locks the game if you hold a direction after the first Chemical Plant boss, which required a stage reset to fix).
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: At the start of Studiopolis Zone, Act 1, if you turn around immediately and go left, you'll find a red spring that bounces you to the right. If you jump up while standing right in front of the spring, you'll hit a Monitor containing a 1-Up that will drop to the floor. In a Sonic & Tails game or Tails Only game, Tails can also fly up above the structure to grab four Rings.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Oddly enough, while some zones neatly transition to each other, like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, others simply move on to the next zone with no explanation.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: When the Phantom Ruby is about to send Sonic to another dimension, it glitches for a brief instant.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: Orbinaut Badniks are featured in Studiopolis Zone, but their shields are merely bumpers instead of spike balls. If you destroy every bumper, the Orbinaut gets sad.
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: These return alongside Hydrocity Zone. Some switches will activate ones big enough that you can float in them a la Aqua Lake and Tidal Plant.
  • Outrun the Fireball: In the Normal/Bad Ending, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles hop onto a sled to escape Titanic Monarch Zone as a massive wall of flames hurtles towards them.
  • Perspective Flip: The Hydrocity act one boss has you piloting the boss vehicle Eggman used against you in the original version of the zone. Eggman himself is snorkling below and you have to use the propeller to suck him up and damage him. The only danger comes from the mines he plants which will hurt you if you suck them up.
  • Pinball Zone: Studiopolis Zone features the usual pinball bumpers from Spring Yard Zone and the like. Mirage Saloon Zone also gets flippers and bumper objects similar to those from Collision Chaos.
  • Platform Hell: That one shaft with rising water (aka "Mega Mack") from Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2, appears on Act 1 here, and the water now rises too fast for even skilled players to avoid getting submerged.
  • Plot Hole: While Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Studiopolis Zone, and Flying Battery transition to each other, almost every stage after the latter often gives no explanation or context for how the player character got there. It's particularly strange with Hydrocity Zone, as it comes after Stardust Speedway in Little Planet and is followed by Mirage Saloon in Westside Island. Worse is that Knuckles then reunites with Sonic and Tails from out of nowhere as well.
  • Poison Mushroom: Eggman Mark monitors that damage Sonic and friends are back.
  • Power Trio: The classic era trio (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) are the main playable characters of the game.
  • Purple Is Powerful: The plot focuses on the Phantom Ruby, a strange and powerful purple gem. Its power is demonstrated when it disabled Super Sonic.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Quite literally, in Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2. Sonic is forced to engage Eggman in a Puyo battle.
    • A more traditional example is Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway Zone, Act 2. When engaging his second phase, Metal Sonic spawns an infinite number of Silver Sonics while blasting you with laser balls. You can go killing the mechas repeatedly for minutes only for the fight to never end. You're supposed to strike the mechas, either Spin Dashing them while they're revving or jumping into them once they take off.
    • The Act 1 boss of Lava Reef Zone is an armored version of those mining drills in the area and is very resistant to damage. To damage it, you need it to get it to target the rocks and drill through them, causing lava to spurt up and damage its armor casing, eventually causing it to fall off and the boss to become vulnerable.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Hard-Boiled Heavies, but to a more literal extent, Heavy Magician's illusions of Bean the Dynamite, Fang the Sniper, and Bark the Polar Bear during her boss fight in Mirage Saloon.
  • Railroading: Notably, some of the new Blue Sphere stages made specifically for Mania are designed in such a way that there's only one possible route you can take. Any other route inevitably leads to a red sphere.
  • Rearrange the Song: Just like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the music for Act 2 of each zone is a remix of the music for Act 1. For example, while Green Hill Zone, Act 1, is a faithful remaster of the original song, Green Hill Zone, Act 2, has a funkier Palmtree Panic-esque take on the song.
  • Retraux:
    • The game as a whole is this, in the style of the classic era titles. The graphics in particular take inspiration from Sonic CD and Knuckles' Chaotix, having a pixelated art style with a color palette that's brighter than the original Genesis games. Word of God has stated that this game is being made as if it were a 2D Sonic game for the Sega Saturn. You can even enable a CRT-inspired filter to complete the effect.
    • Meanwhile, the game's Special Stages are in the Saturn's distinct low-poly 3D style, with extravagant 2D backgrounds based on the original game.
    • The trailer for the Collector's Edition is designed to look like a commercial from the 1990s (specifically, it's a parody of a real informercial for a Sonic 1 & 2 Genesis bundle), complete with a filter that gives the impression of watching it on an interlaced screen.
  • Rolling Attack: The Drop Dash is a technique new to this game. Sonic can charge a Spin Dash in midair and then release it upon landing to keep up the pace.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The game's digital manual refers Heavy Magician and Heavy Rider as females.
  • Sanity Slippage: Word of God states that Eggman is slowly going insane from prolonged exposure to the Phantom Ruby. Given that its true power is to cast illusions, its mental effects must be taking a toll on him.
  • Scatting: Just as it did in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, the themes to Metallic Madness zone feature almost-indecipherable rapping at several points. Listening hard enough, one can make out that the rapping is Sonic and Eggman dissing each other.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Downplayed in level design compared to the original games, but it's there. An obvious example is in Chemical Plant 1, which has a famously tough part of Sonic 2's Chemical Plant 2. As in Sonic 2, Chemical Plant is just the second zone in Mania. The bosses also vary a lot in difficulty.
  • Score Screen: The traditional one appears. This time, alongside the Ring Bonus and Time Bonus is a new Cool Bonus, which rewards style and discovery.
  • Self-Deprecation: After beating Studiopolis Zone Act 2's boss, the TV in the background features a "technical difficulties" message, with loud static. Said static is directly taken from Sonic's 25th Anniversary livestream, which was infamous for plaguing the entire stream.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: This seems to be the whole point of the no save slot.
  • Sequel Hook: In the good ending, Sonic is sent through a portal to an unknown location; setting up the events for Sonic Forces.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • When going against Metal Sonic the player first must run foward while avoiding his attacks until they come across a machine room. After the player figures out how to bounce four Silver Sonic mooks at him there's another chase sequence and a finish where a moving spiked wall comes up and Metal Sonic can finally get damaged. This battle is so expansive that it internally counts as its own level.
    • The boss for Hydrocity is Eggman piloting a bigger version of the zone's original miniboss while chasing you on underwater tunnels. After causing him to drive into a few bombs, you must face a recreation of the original "washing machine" fight that is a bit harder due to the Whirlpool Mobile's new size.
    • The miniboss for Metallic Madness is an easier version of the Egg Piston final boss from Sonic 1 that always allows you to stand between two of them. After only 4 hits it gets faster but drops the guessing element as only one piston will come at a time and Eggman will always be on the fourth one to move.
  • Serial Escalation: The Death Egg Robot was the Final Boss of Sonic 2. Here, it's the very first boss of the game (second if you count the Act 1 Mini-Boss as one). Granted, Sonic does have easier ways to get a good hit on it or outright avoid its attacks.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Mirage Saloon Zone, which is new to this game, is a Wild West-inspired level.
  • Shmuck Bait: Feel like using the Eggman phase of the Egg Reverie boss fight to stock up on rings for the more threatening Heavy King? If you take too long, Eggman quits fooling around and charges up his slapdash mech with the Phantom Ruby to charge at you at unavoidable speeds for three passes and a massive aura to punish your complacency.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The red light at the beginning of the title screen sequence is reference to the power light of the original Sega Genesis, which was also red and in a red strip at the bottom of a circle. The yellow ring that appears over it in the title screen proper contains arrows and dots similar to those around the d-pad of the Genesis controller.
    • The moving purple slime platforms/walls found in Chemical Plant Zone, Act 2 ,use the exact same sound effect used when landing puyo in the arcade and Mega Drive versions of both Puyo Puyo and Puyo Puyo Tsu. The game even takes the callback even further... by having Eggman challenge you TO Mean Bean Machine outright in the same stage! It plays exactly the same as the original with the only difference being the inclusion of the double rotation introduced in Puyo Puyo Tsu.
    • Studiopolis Zone is an entire stage referencing many things related to Sonic and Sega in general, starting with the name itself: it shares its name with the voice acting studio which Sega has been using for the modern Sonic games since Sonic Colors.
      • In Act 1, one of the objects that transports you to the next area of the stage is a popcorn maker, which references a not-well-known arcade game called SegaSonic Popcorn Shop.
      • Daytona USA gets two cameos: One is the news vans in Act 1 featuring the "Hornet" logo that teleport you to the next part of the stage, and the other is the lottery machines with the "Gallop" logo in Act 2. The TVs the Hornet vans send you into bear the red, green & blue dots of the Game Gear logo, and the sound effect they make is pulled from Sonic Spinball.
      • In Act 1, large signs appear in the background advertising "Club Spin," appearing similar to the logo for "Club Sega", a chain of arcades in Japan featured prominently in the Yakuza series. Below this is an "Ages" logo, which is "Sega" backwards and a reference to Sega's former slogan: "To be this good takes ages..."
      • The "Pink Bot" shops are a nod to the Pine Pot bar seen in the first level of the first Streets of Rage. And, on that note, the buildings in the background of are actually from Streets of Rage.
      • Studiopolis Zone, Act 2, pays tribute to Wheel of Fortune by having panels that, when flipped over, spell out Sonic-related phrases (such as "GENESIS DOES" and "LOCK ON").
      • The sun in the weather report of its boss fight is directly traced from Master System game manuals. After the boss is defeated, the TV shows The BBC's test card, with an Eggman symbol swapping out the original girl and clown. To top it all off, the tone that plays on the test card is identical to the notorious tone that sadly afflicted much of the 25th Anniversary Party livestream due to technical issues (through which Sonic Mania was first revealed to the internet at large). If there was any doubt about this being a coincidence, the numbers on the test card even match the date of said party.
    • Heavy Shinobi not only uses sound effects taken from the Shinobi series particularly The Revenge of Shinobi but his attack pattern is reminiscent of the latter's game's second boss.
    • The Act 1 boss of Mirage Saloon Zone is a reference, in appearance, to the bosses from Space Harrier.
    • The Collector's edition infomercial tosses out a reference to a certain image macro: "Alone on a Friday night? No problem!"
    • The hexagonal warning signs that appear in the background at the start of the Phantom Egg boss fight are a less than subtle homage to NERV's HQ.
    • The mini-boss theme, "Danger on the Dance Floor" references the Michael Jackson song, "Blood on the Dance Floor." Also doubles as a Mythology Gag given Jackson's involvement with the Sonic 3 & Knuckles soundtrack, with "Blood on the Dance Floor" potentially having been a basis for the Sonic 3-exclusive versions of Knuckles's theme and the miniboss theme.
    • A few achievements include shout-outs.
    • The Hard Boiled Heavies share the same color scheme as the original Super Sentai team, Himitsu Sentai Goranger, and Magician and Rider being female references how yellow and pink Sentai rangers and Power Rangers are usually female. While this is more likely a coincidence than anything when taking development time into account, Heavy Shinobi is green, matching up with Chameleon Green, the Green Ranger of the incumbent Sentai team at the time of Sonic Mania's release, Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, who happens to be also the lone ninja of her squad.
    • The HUD in the Chaos Emerald Special Stages looks a lot like the top part of Daytona USA 2's HUD.
  • Sigil Spam: Both the EG icon from Sonic 2 and the icon of Dr. Eggman's face from the later games are seen all over pretty much everywhere except Green Hill Zone.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The second act of Press Garden Zone.
  • Speed Echoes: When Speed Shoes are acquired, the character gains afterimages when they run a la Sonic Advance.
  • Speed Run: The game features a Time Attack mode that cuts the boss fights and features a quick reset function. The game is beatable in under two hours and even the final stages can be cleared much more quickly than you'd think at first.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The game can be considered this in regards to Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Both are throwbacks to Sonic's early games, but while Sonic 4 featured 2D graphics, a retraux soundtrack inspired by the Sega Genesis games, and the modern character designs, Sonic Mania uses 2D graphics, a modern soundtrack inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog CD, and the classic character designs.
  • Spooky Painting: Mirage Saloon Zone has portraits depicting Heavy King that stare at you when you're looking away. Likely justified as security cameras rather than something supernatural.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix:
    • Though the main gameplay is mainly 2D, there are some minor 3D elements a la Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, such as the Special Stage Rings and certain signposts in Studiopolis Zone.
    • The Special Stages use 3D models for the characters, the UFO, item boxes, and certain scenery objects. Everything else is 2D, including the terrain, which is flat like in Sonic CD.
  • Stealth Prequel: At the true end of Mania, Sonic is sent into a portal, which turns out to be a time warp to the time of Forces.
  • Super Mode: As usual, collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds with Sonic or Knuckles will allow you to transform into Super Sonic and Super Knuckles respectively if you have 50 Rings. This also applies to Tails, who will become Super Tails. However, he no longer has killer Flickies as in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Particularly astute players can find the rather abundant amount of 1-up monitors spread out in the Zones. They will need every single one of them.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • The Death Egg Robot has the same glaring weakness it had in Generations. Climb up his arm when he tries to Rocket Punch you.
    • Heavy Gunner would be unbeatable if he didn't shoot the blue, reflectable rockets.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • In a sense. If you pop a Gohla in Oil Ocean Zone and don't have a Fire Shield, be wary if it's near a pool of oil because if one of its detached fireballs lands in the oil, it will set the whole pool on fire and the flames are damaging without the right equipment.
    • Also done literally with Amy Doll in Metallic Madness Act 2 boss, who's proceed to explode once it hug you.
  • The Day the Music Lied: If you play as Knuckles, the regular theme of Mirage Saloon Zone, Act 1, immediately stops playing after Heavy Magician knocks him off the Tornado.
  • This Just In!: After the boss of Studiopolis Zone Act 2 is defeated, the TV in the background shows a breaking news report on the return of Flying Battery Zone.
  • Time Crash: Given the timer going haywire, that seems to be the implication of the effect of the Phantom Ruby in Egg Reverie. Foreshadowed in Metallic Madness Zone, which now consists of the Past (the background for Act 1), Present (the foreground for both Acts) and Bad Future (the background for Act 2) versions combined together.
  • Time-Limit Boss:
  • Took a Level in Badass: Previously, Tails couldn't transform into Super Tails without the use of the Super Emeralds in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. In Mania, he can now do so with the regular Chaos Emeralds, just like Sonic and Knuckles can (though he doesn't get his Super Flickies, this time).
  • Trailers Always Lie: Promotional material for the game suggested Dr. Eggman created the Hard Boiled Heavies. In the game proper, he sends a squad of normal Eggrobos to seek the Phantom Ruby, which is what actually transforms them into the Hard Boiled Heavies.
  • True Final Boss: Just like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles there is an extra boss after the Final Boss if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds, in which Eggman and a rogue Heavy King team up and harness the Phantom Ruby's power to fight Super Sonic. This boss can only be fought as Sonic, unless you're playing as Knuckles in a No Save game with "& Knuckles" mode toggled on, in which case Knuckles becomes Super Knuckles and challenges the boss instead.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • The boss battle in Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 involves battling against Eggman in a round of Puyo Puyo, paying reference to the Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine reskin it had in the West. This can be unlocked later as a side game mode.
    • If you're playing as either Sonic or Tails when you reach Mirage Saloon Zone, Act 1, you spend most of the level controlling the Tornado with forced side-scrolling. Knuckles gets blown off and has to make his way below on normal gameplay, though.
    • The mini-boss for Hydrocity Zone presents an odd challenge: a role reversal. You pilot Dr. Eggman's machine from the original while he swims below and must try to suck him into the machine's blades.
  • The Unfought: Tails never fights the Heavy King under any normal circumstances, and Sonic only fights him in his good ending.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left!: The Hard Boiled Heavies don't die in their initial boss fights, instead leaving to fight another day.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Those who have played Sonic 2 before will know that it's a wise idea to stay clear of Asteron Badniks. In fact, since most of them were out of reach a sizable amount of people don't realize those starfish weren't actually invincible. During Heavy Shinobi's boss fight, you can imagine the confusion when he begins throwing these like shurikens that stick in the ground, and the best way to destroy them is to spin or jump into them before they blow up into spikes.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The boss of Green Hill Zone, Act 2, is the Death Egg Robot from Sonic 2. It's merely comparatively tougher than the Act 1 mini-boss, but still.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: The boss of Flying Battery Zone, Act 1, is a trash compactor-like machine that spawns flunkies from the junk, each time after closing the compactor walls a bit until it crushes you. It's initially too high to reach, but as the junk you're standing on gets compacted, it also gets pushed up higher, eventually allowing you to get in range.
  • Wham Shot: Super Sonic collides with the Phantom Ruby, and when the scene clears, Sonic is back to normal and the Chaos Emeralds are now surrounding the Ruby. Then a portal opens up and send both Sonic and the Ruby into a void leading to an unknown destination... which is implied to be the Bad Future seen in Sonic Forces.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Heavy King isn't fought with the other Heavies in Titanic Monarch Zone. Instead, he consists of part of Egg Reverie when you collect the Emeralds. However, you're able to fight him in Lava Reef Zone, Act 2, as Knuckles.
      • The Hard Boiled Heavies also have unresolved fates; none of them are destroyed when beaten normally, and they cannot be destroyed in the Final Boss, leaving only Heavy King's fate to any resolution when defeated by Super Sonic.
    • The Phantom Ruby goes into the same portal Sonic entered, traveling to an unknown destination but what became of it afterwards isn't revealed until Sonic Forces.
  • Wreaking Havok: As Mania is created to be a throwback to the classic Genesis games, it shares the classic games' propensity for physics demonstrations.
  • Wutai: Press Garden Zone, Act 2 has some East Asian influence in the background.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: The Phantom Ruby reacting with the Chaos Emeralds sends Classic Sonic to the world of Sonic Forces.
  • You Are Too Late: A strange example in that it happens at the beginning of the game; the entire reason Sonic and Tails visit Angel Island again is to unearth the mysterious energy source before Eggman does, but the moment they get there his Egg Robos beat them to the punch and cause the Phantom Ruby to activate and Knuckles to get caught up in the events. The entire rest of the game has them racing to prevent Eggman from using the ruby to its full potential.

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