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  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Metal Sonic was a decently challenging boss in the original version, but the update implemented in Sonic Mania Plus made him easier. His Silver Sonic-producing machine can be defeated just by attacking the enemies normally, bypassing the confusing original method, the second chase phase is cut out, and his final phase is overhauled; while Phantom Ruby-powered Metal Sonic looks intimidating, he only has two attacks outside of advancing and his weak point can be hit quickly, especially with Sonic's Drop Dash. The only harder aspects are that you can't recover your rings in the final phase as easily (in the original version, dropped rings would be pushed by an advancing spike wall, making them easy to grab) and that bumping into Metal Sonic may knock you into the pit behind him. Oh, and the game also give you a checkpoint before entering the aforementioned second phase of the boss this time around so you don't have to redo the entire fight all over again if you die.
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    • Even though the final boss can typically be tedious and challenging due to its multiple phases, it becomes surprisingly easy and brief if you get the hang of positioning yourself right above Robotnik without excess horizontal momentum whenever his electric shock phase begins, and landing as many hits as possible on Robotnik during his downtime. As you break off his chains by damaging him, it becomes easier to get an optimal position, since his shock will have a smaller area of affect. Alternatively, if you're able to get a Lightning Shield or Super Mode and keep them before entering this particular boss, his electric shock phase becomes a complete joke, as you're immune to it.
    • Depending on your experience, the True Final Boss fight can be deceptively easy. Sure, the Heavy King is actually capable of harming Super Sonic, costing you 10 rings each time, but during the entire final battle, an unlimited number of rings spawn and drift around the arena, and they're attracted to you as if you have a Lightning Shield,note  so it's not a big problem if you manage to dodge his attacks, and the invincibility frames are often easy to exploit to get a free hit. Dr. Eggman simply harmlessly knocks Super Sonic around with his machine's arms and only becomes a threat if you leave him offscreen long enough where he starts charging at you; while this does stall Super Sonic, he can easily be hit when he pauses. Super Sonic can do a special dash maneuver that's only available during this fight, but it's not required to beat them and it costs precious rings. And unlike other Super Sonic fights, the arena has a full floor you can safely land and jump from.
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    • The true final boss for Encore Mode is just Mania Mode's pre-final boss.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • The whole game is one, as it's a tribute to long-time fans headed by the man who made Polished Ports of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD. This is especially the case for fans who were less than satisfied with Sonic 4.
    • Tails and Knuckles are finally playable again in a mainline Sonic game after being Demoted to Extra for so many years. Knuckles in particular is worth mentioning: videos taken during the reveal event which had his specific portrait shown on the roll call were met with thunderous applause by all the attendees.
    • The Steam version of the game added the ability to become Super with a separate button. This was later carried over to the console versions.
    • In March 2019, the much maligned Denuvo DRM was removed in the Steam version.
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    • The return of Super Knuckles and Super Tails after the "only male Hedgehogs get super forms" thing for so long.
    • In both a free content update for the original version and Plus, some improvements were added generally to fix the most prominent complaints or to just make the experience more enjoyable:
      • Some players were disappointed with the fact that you could only use Sonic's era-specific special abilities on a No Save File. Plus makes it so that you can use them on save files. You can also disable the time limit on levels if you want.
      • New transitions were added to stages that didn't have them, fixing a few Plot Holes in how the characters made it from Point A to Point B.
      • The Metal Sonic fight was rebalanced so that its puzzle phase is beatable even if you don't understand the solution and the chase sections are now a bit shorter. The third phase was even overhauled to sweeten the deal. And in case the fight still feels long, there's a checkpoint added just before the last phase.
      • The classic "getting spiked" sound effect returns as well.
      • Plus is available in a physical format for consoles, unlike the original version which is digital-only.
      • Blue Sphere as the star post bonus stage is a highly-controversial feature, due to many players finding it tedious compared to other bonus stage formats. Encore Mode replaces Blue Sphere with a new pinball bonus stage, which in addition to being less repetitive also allows the player to (re)gain party members and shields.
    • The return of Mighty and Ray in Plus, who had been forgotten for decades outside the comics.
  • Awesome Animation: Tyson Hesse's gorgeous Sonic CD-style animation from the pre-order trailer. Hesse also provides the game's opening animation.
  • Awesome Bosses: The game was praised for having a very varied selection of boss battles. Not only do you face Eggman, but his new elite guard, the Hard Boiled Heavies, as well as a few of his inventions he sets on you:
    • Betcha thought you would fight old Baldy McNosehair with that ball and chain like in the original game and Sonic 4 in Green Hill Zone, right? Not this time! Sure, you fight a ball and chain, but they're tethered together and can become spike-covered at will. As for Robotnik himself... Remember the infamous Death Egg Robot from Sonic 2? Yeah, it's the first boss of the game.
    • The battle against Dr. Eggman in the Chemical Plant Zone, a.k.a. the Mean Bean Machine Duel, is widely considered one of the most creative and entertaining boss battles in the whole franchise, and is cited as one of the biggest highlights of the game.
    • Studiopolis has some pretty good ones. A High-Speed Battle with Heavy Gunner in Act 1 and then the battle with Eggman proper in Act 2, where he attacks you with weather reports.
    • Flying Battery returns, and once more, you have to fight the laser... only you're dumped into a trash compactor and have to destroy it before you become a pancake. The second boss involves a spider mech and using the propellers to hit it and knock it into some spikes.
    • Heavy Shinobi's fight in Press Garden is just a straight-up battle, where the gimmick is that he'll freeze you if you get near him when he's not jumping. It's a pretty entertaining fight.
    • Stardust Speedway heralds the return of Metal Sonic. It's one of the best bosses in the game due to the 3D tower in the background, the music, and the second phase where you have to use the mini-Silver Sonics against him. Plus modifies elements of this fight, in particular the last phase where Metal Sonic is transformed by the Phantom Ruby into his final boss form from Knuckles Chaotix and you have to dodge lasers and bombs while striking the Phantom Ruby in his chest and not falling off the collapsing walkway behind him.
    • Despite the last bit with the "washing machine" fight, which feels very tacked-on, the bosses of Hydrocity are great. Act 1 has you piloting the water twister machine and sucking Eggman up into the propeller to beat him in one of the rare instances you fight him outside a mech. The second pits your character in underwater tunnels being blown through them by Eggman toward spikes and walls, with you having to navigate through them while keeping your character from drowning and using bombs to destroy Eggman's sub.
    • By far, the fandom's favorite boss fight is the one from Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2, a.k.a. Heavy Magician masquerading as Fang, Bean, and Bark.
    • Metallic Madness's boss gets the reward for the funniest fight in the game. To enter the arena, you have to run into a shrink ray, the main gimmick of Act 2. To fight a tiny hedgehog/fox/echidna, Eggman uses what amounts to a flying gashapon machine. When you hit its dial, the machine drops a capsule containing either a miniature version of the Marble Zone boss, a miniature version of the Emerald Hill Zone boss, or a "doll" styled after Classic Amy, which tries to hug you and then self-destructs. After taking out the boss's reinforcements, you have one last thing to do: Spin the dial on the malfunctioning machine, and it'll dispense Eggman, who runs off as the machine explodes.
  • Awesome Ego: Knuckles shows a few signs of being this; during his idle animation, he throws a volley of punches and chuckles smugly afterwards. Later, his "& Knuckles" ending has him embellish his own version of the game's events.
  • Awesome Music: Being a Sonic game, this is inevitable.
  • Best Level Ever: A lot of fan favorite levels have returned, but the original levels really stand out:
    • Studiopolis: A very fast-paced level with Act 1 filled with lights, some cool gimmicks such as the TV vans teleporting you around the stage, a cool popcorn machine blasting you out, and being able to go fast to the point that you can break the glasses. Act 2 takes you inside a TV station, which has a unique spin on replacing the slot machines with lotto balls and a good balance between bouncing around and pure speed with a very creative boss using the weather forecast against you.
    • Press Garden: Sonic's first 2D Wutai stage doesn't disappoint, as Act 1 has a bunch of bouncy conveyor belts taking you higher up the stage and Act 2 is considered to be one of the most beautiful stages out there, with the cherry blossoms in the background with a fun freeze puzzle that actually makes you go through at high speed. The Shinobi-inspired sounds and music doesn't hurt either.
    • Mirage Saloon: Despite Sonic and Tails having to do a carbon copy of the infamous Sky Chase Zone in Act 1, Knuckles' version is actually a pretty fun test of showcasing his abilities to climb walls and glide while listening to his relaxing version of the music. Act 2 more than makes up for Sonic and Tails' version of Act 1 by making it a fun Breather Level with pinball flippers and a gun that can blast you across the stage. With a special cameo appearance of Nack, Bean, and Bark as illusions during the Heavy Magician boss battle.
    • As far as returning levels are concerned, special mention goes to Metallic Madness Zone for actually being a great penultimate level with a good combination of both challenge and fun platforming with excellent remixed musics on both acts to go with it. While many did not expect Metallic Madness to be the other Sonic CD level to return, those same people agree that it was one of the best surprises out there.
    • The second acts of Flying Battery and Hydrocity Zones. In Flying Battery’s case, you get Wing Fortress Zone elements, a thunderstorm, nonstop speed, and one hell of a music remix. Hydrocity’s original Act 2 is redone to perfection, with slides, speed, even better sounding music than before, and best of all, no Advancing Wall of Doom!
    • Titanic Monarch: One of the most ominous looking final levels out of the series, it has a really epic music that goes along with the grand finale of the game as well as having a pretty creative final boss compared to most classic Sonic games. Despite it also being under That One Level, or perhaps because of it, many fans looking for a challenge also appreciate the difficulty of the entire level while also having the same level of speed as other fast paced zones.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Done intentionally and hilariously with the Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 boss, as Dr. Eggman challenges you to a game of Mean Bean Machine, yet he is so bad at it that the player can easily stack up Puyos on purpose and do big combo chains to flood the doctor with Garbage Puyos.
    • The mini-boss of Hydrocity has Sonic giving Eggman a taste of his own medicine by piloting his own Waterspout Egg Mobile against him. It's enough for one to even consider it a Zero-Effort Boss, but you still need to move around and catch Eggman.
    • The Meter Droid, fought in Oil Ocean, is an incredibly easy mini-boss for one that appears in the last third of the game as it hovers around and has a predictable attack pattern.
    • There's at least two cases where a zone's boss is easier than its mini-boss. Studiopolis Zone Act 1 doesn't let you collect lost rings while running alongside Heavy Gunner's helicopter, so its slow ground-running missiles become extra dangerous (notably, this is the only Hard-Boiled Heavy that isn't fought in an Act 2); the Act 2 boss is an unprotected Eggman floating barely in reach of jumps, and the arena's weather effects are fairly predictable. Metallic Madness's boss is a Flunky Boss where you control when the enemies come out, while the mini-boss is an upgraded version of the first Sonic game's Final Boss that's just as capable of smashing you to death. It's also telling that both of these bosses only get a remixed version of the mini-boss theme, as if the developers were aware that they were too silly and non-threatening to warrant the normal boss music.
  • Breather Level: After dealing with aquatic shenanigans at Hydrocity and trying to remain in control during its own Act 1, Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 is relatively merciful, letting you take a short break before you get to tackle the painful Oil Ocean and Lava Reef.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: While Encore Mode itself isn't that much harder than the regular game, the Encore Special Stages take a huge leap in difficulty from the original set, with tighter pathways, fewer rings and blue spheres, bumpers that must be jumped on precisely in order to cross wide gaps, and UFOs that widen their lead much more quickly, leaving far less room for error than before. Even those who have mastered the original set will likely be caught off guard by the massive Difficulty Spike.
  • Character Rerailment: Knuckles returns to his Sonic 3 & Knuckles characterization of a gullible, but street-smart guardian. When Heavy King tries to steal the Master Emerald, he actually remembers the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles and picks him off rather easily. This is in contrast to modern games and spin-offs that portray him as a Dumb Muscle.
  • Demonic Spiders: The suicide bomber robots from Sonic CD are back in Metallic Madness, only now they are even more annoying. Not only is the shrapnel they release larger, but when they are alerted, they release a smaller bomber robot from inside them, which in turn releases its own smaller bomber, meaning there's a total of 12 pieces of shrapnel you have to dodge when they explode. Oh, and just like in Sonic CD, trying to attack them just hurts you.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Titanic Monarch Zone, while not heavily disliked, isn't as popular as the other new Mania zones nor the level preceding it, Metallic Madness Zone. It isn't as interesting visually since it aims for an intimidating Death Egg-style vibe instead of Scenery Porn, and while the penultimate zone had unique gimmicks for each act, Titanic Monarch relies on the gravity orbs taken from one of the Bonus Stages from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which can slow down players who aren't used to them. Both acts are very long, which makes the time limit a major danger unless it's disabled. It also suffered from the lack of level transitions before Plus added them, since there wasn't any buildup to the final level being the insides of Eggman's latest Humongous Mecha.
  • Ending Aversion: The game, in a first for the Classic series, ends on a Sequel Hook for Sonic Forces. Considering how divisive Forces is, and the ending having Sonic sent away, some fans were not happy. Said fans then understandably celebrated when it was announced that Encore Mode would take place chronologically after Sonic returns from Forces, finally allowing Mania to get a true ending all to itself.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Hard-Boiled Heavies are collectively loved for being unique, entertaining Eggman minions, but Heavy Magician is the most popular because of her trickster shenanigans and her boss fight in Mirage Saloon, where she transforms into Fang, Bean, and Bark. She even gets a role in reviving the other Heavies in the opening to Encore Mode.
  • Fandom Heresy: Admit you don't like the game. Go on, we dare ya.
  • Funny Moments: Mania is a pretty comical game, so it has its own page.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • If you're exploratory and persistent enough, you can get all the Chaos Emeralds before Chemical Plant Zone Act 2, which gives you access to the super transformation from just the second zone in the game. This allows you to almost easily breeze through the rest of the game, especially since most stages are very generous with rings.
    • Plus adds two characters who act as game breakers:
      • Mighty is basically Sonic except the Drop Dash is replaced with a ground pound. However, when curled up into a ball, either through ducking, Spin Dashing, or jumping, projectiles bounce off of him and he bounces harmlessly off of spikes, rendering him nigh-invulnerable. What keeps him from being too overpowered is that he can still take damage when not curled up into a ball.
      • Ray is absolutely ridiculous. His glide can reach insane levels of speed and he can speedrun a level faster than Super Sonic can ever hope to. Now, knowing that the super forms grant you Super Speed, try to think how fast Super Ray can get the job done.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Vertical areas in Studiopolis Zone have snail Badniks that cling to walls while firing sprays of film frames. Those projectiles slowly fall after reaching a certain distance. In previews of the game, hapless players can often be seen being hit by the film and then struggling to get up again because they're still in the way. The camera enemies can likewise be a pain to deal with since they tend to swoop in from out of nowhere.
    • The Roller Badniks from Spring Yard Zone reappears in Mirage Saloon Zone, and after jumping over you, they now follow you around. However, jumping on their spinning form only bounces them off instead of harming your character.
    • The firefly enemies in Stardust Speedway make the first Act of the Zone be extremely irritating to complete, as the player is forced to occasionally come to a full stop, lest they be pelted by the laser that they emit.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • While the AI is laughably easy during it, the Act 2 boss fight of Chemical Plant Zone can drag on for a bit for those who don't know how to play or are not good at Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
    • Heavy Shinobi, Press Garden's boss, is not particularly hard, but it's almost impossible to not get frozen at least once by his sword attack, which, while harmless, is stupidly fast and annoying to recover from. And if you get stuck between him and a wall, it's possible for Shinobi to keep striking Sonic several times in a row (which, again, is harmless, but a complete waste of time) until he decides to do something else. And this is not even getting on the fact that he actually uses one of the series' most notorious Goddamned Bats (Asterons) as a secondary weapon.
    • Metal Sonic for some, at least his second phase where the player needs to carefully ricochet Silver Sonics into Metal. The problem is these Silver Sonics can die in one hit and can only be bounced during their spindash, all while Metal is firing at the player as well. Even for those familiar with this boss, it can take up to a few minutes depending on the attack patterns. Thankfully, Plus toned down the headache a little.
    • Heavy Rider, Lava Reef's boss for Sonic and Tails, is a very mobile target who does a good job of protecting her hitboxes with a flail that's as big as her, and her wheelies can easily take someone by surprise. You can't even spin attack her, as the Motobug she rides is impervious to damage and can bounce over Sonic.
    • Crimson Eye's second phase can get annoying if the elevator you are standing on keeps going up instead of down, as this reduces your jumping height to the point where you can't attack it at all, especially as Knuckles.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • A bug involving the Super Peel-Out input and the Super Sonic transformation input yields Blue Super Sonic.note  Quite a bit of fans want it to become an official transformation.
    • In the Special Stages, bouncing off a particular bumper wall at a specific angle will cause the UFO to think that you're approaching it from the other direction and immediately turn around, allowing you to easily nab the Chaos Emerald without the need to increase your speed. Additionally, if you purposefully rebound off the walls, it is possible to begin accelerating to speeds far faster than intended to slingshot your way to the UFO. Obviously, this doesn't work in the later Special Stages where there are less walls.
    • Because Star Posts aren't sequenced like they were in the original series, it's possible to get all of the Medals and, consequently, unlock all of the bonus features in the game before you've even made it halfway through Green Hill Zone Act 1 simply by going back and forth between the first two posts in the level. This ended up getting patched out in Plus.
    • Older Sonic games remember whether or not you've already collected 100 / 200 rings (so if you collect 100, take damage, and then collect 100 more, you won't get a 1-up the second time). This is not the case in Mania, which means if you collect 100 rings while you have the Hyper Ring powerup, you can immediately take damage and then gather up the larger rings to get them all back, effectively giving you two 1-ups for the price of one.note  Like the glitch above, this too got patched out in Plus.
    • In modes where you have an AI-controlled partner, ending an act with both characters overlapping can cause the player character to be flung away during the clear animations. Using Debug Mode to place goals in odd places allows you to die during the results screen with this glitch.
    • In Encore Mode's rendition of Lava Reef Zone Act 2, you're given the choice to either take a lower path to fight Heavy King or an upper path to fight Heavy Rider (in Mania Mode, which one you fight depends on the character you picked). Heavy Rider's arena is directly above Heavy King's arena; with Super Tails' increased speed, you can fly all the way from the latter to the former, triggering the Heavy Rider fight. Doing this appears to cause a softlock (after the results screen, the transition scene meant for post-Heavy King triggers, causing your character to run towards the inaccessible teleporter and get stuck on a wall), but eventually the game moves on to the next zone.
    • In the PC version, it's possible to instantly give yourself a speed up in the Special Stages by pressing W.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When GalaxyTrail's Freedom Planet came out with a graphical style that mimicked the Genesis Sonic titles while having enhanced animations, many gameplay improvements, and boasting larger levels than anything the 16-bit console could handle, fans of the game semi-jokingly called it the best 2D Sonic game in years, wishing Sega would follow their example. Come the trailer, and they appear to have done just that; both teams even have Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead programming the physics engine and compare the games to what a hypothetical title on the Sega Saturn could have been.
    • Press Garden Zone's Wutai-themed design might conjure up images of Freedom Planet's Wutai-themed setting.
    • Over the long course of development on the fangame Sonic Robo Blast 2, a bouncy slime pool gimmick was added to Techno Hill, an expy of Chemical Plant. Now its inspiration happens to use it as well.
    • Death Egg Robot on Green Hill? So Dr. Eggman did get a little smarter. Furthermore, it looks like this is attempt number five.
    • This video claimed that the stars hovering above the checkpoint were a giveaway that Blue Sphere would be in Mania, same as Sonic 3. The joke is that in Sonic 3, Blue Sphere is accessed through Giant Rings and not through checkpoints, and so the prediction made no sense. Two and a half months later, it was confirmed that not only would Blue Sphere be in the game, but it would also be accessed through the checkpoint stars, exactly as the video claimed.
    • The fangame Sonic Time Twisted, released a few months before Mania, made some close guesses in regards to the racing gameplay of the Special Stages and the Sky Chase mechanics in the desert level. Both developer teams also happened to give a larger role to a magnetic orb gimmick that used to be relegated to a bonus level in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
    • Amy's small cameo as Amy Doll is reminiscent of a time when fan games such as When Tails Gets Bored and Sonic MADventure would set Amy as an antagonist for a quick laugh (Amy even fires dolls of herself in the first one), but it is very unlikely the Mania team also did it out of malice.
    • An Easter Egg in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided depicted a joke Game Within The Game called Knuckles the Echidna in Knuckles & Knuckles & Knuckles, complete with two Sonic Boom Knuckles fist-bumping each other. In this game, you can indeed play as (classic) Knuckles with another Knuckles tagging along.
    • Metal Sonic's theme here is the Japanese Stardust Speedway's Bad Future theme, arranged by non-Japanese composers. In Sonic Forces, it's the reverse, being the US Stardust Speedway's Bad Future theme remixed by Japanese composers.
    • The main game revolves around Sonic travelling through several Nostalgia Levels while battling Eggman, who has recently gotten hold of a MacGuffin which can warp reality and create portals. Wait, didn't we see this before twice? Additionally, in LEGO Dimensions, you can explore an Adventure World in the Sonic the Hedgehog dimension, where you can help Eggman at Chemical Plant by finding chilli dogs for a trap for Sonic. The one you find at Chemical Plant will cause him to reference Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. The boss for Chemical Plant Act 2 in Mania has Eggman challenge the protagonist to a game of this.
    • Mania's outstanding reception is this in light of IGN's dismissive preview of the game that concluded that "Sonic was never good." Even more so when IGN themselves gave it an 8.7.
      • It wound up becoming even more hilarious when Sonic Mania Plus came out and IGN once again gave it a "meh" rating of 7/10 (allegedly because they judged it as a separate game rather than just an update), which led to many to hate them once again.
  • Ho Yay: A particularly odd example. The Dummied Out love tester in Casinopolis shows Tails having a happy reaction to being paired with Sonic, and Knuckles having an interest in Eggman!
  • Hype Backlash: With Mania receiving such accolades like being called "the best Sonic game in years", some fans are annoyed with all the gushing it has been receiving and have accused it of being somewhat undeserving of its acclaim, arguing that it is blatant Pandering to the Base and similar to the classics to a fault. Additionally, there are those who believe that its acclaim will work against the franchise as subsequent games will be compared to it.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • The Puyo Puyo / Mean Bean Machine boss fight at the end of Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 was one of the biggest surprises when the game was first released, so naturally it is one of the most well-known spoilers of the game today.
    • The connection to Forces became common knowledge less than a month after the game's release.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Some who consider Mania overrated express distaste for all of the attention both fans and Sega have given it, arguing that it takes attention away from other parts of the franchise, sometimes detrimental in regards to the people who treat all non-classic games, and modern Sonic Team (who had little involvement with this game), as Acceptable Targets.
  • It's the Same, So It Sucks:
    • One critique of Mania prevalent among the otherwise glowing acclaim is how derivative it is, instead of focusing more on original content. Not helping is the ports by the same creators still being relatively recent, the previous milestone celebration already focused on remixed zones, and Sonic Forces (a game which itself has been accused of heavily recycling assets from Sonic Generations) being released only a few months later.
    • Unlike a previous entry in the series, playing through the game as Knuckles is not a substantially different experience from playing as Sonic and/or Tails. Aside from a couple of exclusive areas, one exclusive zone (Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1), and boss fight against the Heavy King, Knuckles' playthrough is nearly identical to Sonic's, in contrast to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which featured many differences between the campaigns. Knuckles' unique elements are further degraded by the fact that Encore Mode in Plus uses his version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 and makes the Heavy King boss reachable by anyone.
    • The remixed levels in Encore Mode feature no new enemies, level mechanics or bosses (Metal Sonic's new form and general changes to bosses are applied to both Encore and Mania). A few acts aren't even all that different from the originals.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The title screen has Sonic rising out of an emblem as usual. The animation is based on the one from Sonic 1, but he also does a very fluidly animated spin before his finger waggle pose. A particular frame of that spin makes Sonic look very silly and has been the subject of parodies, much like that one scene from an early Sonic Unleashed trailer. Even the official Sonic YouTube channel has got in on it.
    • Given the sheer number of Promoted Fanboys working on the game, jokes about Sega finally getting fed up with the constant complaints and letting the fans handle things for a change are rather common. Similarly, subtitling the game as "Sonic: You f**king make it then if you're so damn smart!" is also pretty common, similar to reactions to Super Mario Maker.
    • "As you truly imagined it!" makes a return, albeit in a less sarcastic sense, in that this is a Sonic game for the fans, made by the fans.
    • Sonic gazing at the horizon is exploitable.
    • Due to a few mishaps that happen to Knuckles during the game, "OH NO" has made a return.
    • An imageboard poster once claimed the level with ice and cherry blossom elements was called "Sakura Synagogue Zone". Afterwards, it was proven that all their information was fake, but some people still jokingly insist Press Garden Zone really is called that.
    • When the game was leaked due to the Switch version breaking the street date, curious fans had to endure watching a rather clumsy and impatient player make his way through the game. Oil Ocean in particular was a major roadblock for him, enough that it took 12 game overs until he cleared that zone. This led to running jokes such as pretending that zone was half of the game. Even Sega's apology video for the PC version's delay made fun of the incident.
    • A glitch involving using the Super Sonic transformation while holding up, as seen here, will cause Sonic's quills to stand up and start the Super Sonic theme, but otherwise not change Sonic at all. This includes his coloration, leaving him as blue. Thanks to the newest Dragon Ball anime introducing the Super Saiyan Blue transformation, and Super Sonic's original inspiration being Super Saiyan... well, Super Sonic Blue is born.
    • During the fight with the Egg Spider, Eggman's face can be seen from the cockpit upside down. Some people at first glance misinterpreted it, as this way the doctor's thick mustache, nose, and cape make it look like a face. One fan rolled with it, thus "Eggette" was born, probably the most-liked fan character in the Sonic fandom. With an already impressive amount of fan work around her, many fans are calling Sega to make her an official part of Sonic canon.
    • The irritating difficulty of the fourth Chaos Emerald Special Stage has led to many fans referring to its respective Emerald as "that DAMN fourth Chaos Emerald".
    • The sound effect and negative coloring of the Phantom Ruby when activated led to ZA WARUDO jokes from JoJo and anime fans.
    • Seeing the mini-boss for Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 has caused fans to shout “It’s an ALASKAN BULL WORM!”
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The announcer in Time Attack, especially when he shouts "GOAAAAAAAALL!!" and "NEW RECORD!" Especially for those who have played Daytona USA and are familiar with its famous soundtrack vocals, because they're done by the same person.
    • The Spin Dash sound when you finally catch the UFO in a Special Stage.
  • My Real Daddy: After the game received widespread acclaim, and even more after Forces came out to a mediocre reception, many fans proclaimed Promoted Fanboys Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, and PagodaWest Games to be the better handlers of the franchise than Sonic Team themselves.
  • Narm: The series has its own subpage.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Now has its own page here.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The Mania Mode in the unlockable Blue Sphere minigame actually originates from a conceptual "Blue Spheres 2" that Stealth created for a joint project between himself and Whitehead to remake Sonic 3 & Knuckles in the style of the mobile re-releases of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2.
    • In a meta sense, the "Super Sonic Blue" glitch; there actually is a Super form for Sonic where his fur doesn't change color; Ultra Sonic from the Archie Comics, all the way back in Issue #66 (and then brought back for a few other issues). Amusingly, it fits right in with the rest of this game's references, accidental or otherwise.
    • As was revealed when an early prototype of the game was dumped and released to the public in November 2019, the Drop Dash was actually intended to debut in Sonic 3 with slightly different mechanicsnote . When someone brought this to Christian Whitehead's attention on Twitter, he called it an "uncanny coincidence".
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Metal Sonic only shows up for one boss fight, but it's a pretty memorable one.
    • Fang, Bean, and Bark showing up in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 is this as well, even if it's only Heavy Magician masquerading as them.
  • Pandering to the Base: With how much Mania reuses from and references the original classic games while offering little new, it's clear that the game is made mainly to pander to fans of said classic games.
  • Sacred Cow: Many who call Mania one of the best Sonic games in years tend to be very defensive of it and shoot down any and all criticism. This is part of the reason for the game's Hype Backlash.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The 10 minute time limit is still present as always, and before Plus, there was no option to disable it, unlike in the Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush games. Coupled with some of the longest acts in a sidescrolling Sonic game and several tricky Goddamned Bosses, it can be said that you will die due to Time Over at least once. To make it worse, the timer wouldn't even flash or give a warning when it reached the last minute like it did in previous Sonic games until a patch made it do so a couple of weeks later. Fortunately, the time limit is disabled entirely during the Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine-inspired match at the end of Chemical Plant Zone Act 2, and it resets when you reach the Final Boss at the end of Titanic Monarch Zone Act 2. The option to disable the time limit was also added back in Plus.
    • There aren't many fans of the mechanic in Oil Ocean Zone Act 2 in which the screen gradually becomes redder and redder due to the buildup of fumes, both because it renders everything difficult to see and because it drains away your Rings. There are levers to pull scattered throughout the stage to clear it away, but they become further apart as the stage goes on and are gone completely for a long stretch towards the end. This is based on the dimming lights mechanic in Sonic 3 & Knuckles's Sandopolis Zone Act 2, which was equally disliked.
    • The "classic" shield from Sonic 1, CD, and 2 (which only grants a single hit of protection) is back, and unfortunately, if you happen to be carrying one of the elemental Sonic 3 shields (which grants immunity to bullet-type projectiles and specific types of attacks and hazards, as well as special jump abilities for Sonic), yes it will be overwritten with the basic shield. While it's obviously better than no shield at all, this poses a problem for Zones that become much easier with a specific shield (Hydrocity Zone is easier with the bubble shield, Lava Reef Zone is easier with the flame shield, etc.), and in Plus the bonus stages can easily make you suffer the downgrade if you ill-time the clab-grabbing minigame. The only saving grace about getting a basic shield is that unlike two of the elemental shields (fire and lightning), it won't be erased by going underwater.
    • In Encore Mode, you cannot access anyone who's not currently under player control or tagging along without breaking a character switch monitor. That's not necessarily the scrappy part. There's also "?" monitors that will randomly replace not just your current character with one of your backups, but the trailing partner as well, and they are often placed in spots where it is easy to break them. Were you counting on Tails, Knuckles, or Ray to get to a high platform up ahead? Nope, have Sonic and Mighty instead and enjoy having to take a more conventional path!
  • Signature Scene:
  • Special Effect Failure: The game has zone transitions similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. However, after the first few zones (after Stardust Speedway), they just stop occurring, with the exception of the transition between Mirage Saloon and Oil Ocean. Plus thankfully rectifies that, with every stage now having a transition to the next one.
  • Spiritual Successor: Encore Mode is probably the closest we'll ever get to a Knuckles Chaotix sequel.
  • Tainted by the Preview:
    • Many believed that, when first revealed, the game was the series' Milestone Celebration, leading a few to think that the game was overhyped. Fortunately, this didn't last very long, Sonic Forces was revealed soon after (as in the same day), and fan reception has been positive.
    • Although the stunning Studiopolis Zone amazed fans, the remake of Green Hill Zone and the plans to have more levels from previous games raised concerns about just what the remake to new content ratio was going to be and how much of the level designs for the old levels were going to be unique. According to Whitehead, Green Hill Zone Act 1, as featured in the demo, was the "tamest classic level of the lot".
    • The utter fiasco that was the 25th Anniversary party at which the game was revealed has also affected expectations somewhat. Thanks to its numerous technical problems, apparent lack of organization, and general chaos and disarray, many compared it to Konami's disastrous E3 2010 presentation, and half-jokingly stated that Sega's bungling of the event proves that they simply can't do anything Sonic-related right. The game itself actually subtly jokes about this: after the Studiopolis boss fight, a technical difficulties screen comes up with the 25th Anniversary party's date on the corner (there's also a weird buzzing sound that can be heard in the aftermath of the Studiopolis boss battle which was originally heard in the livestream of the event).
    • The unexpected announcement of the PC version being delayed to August 29th (from the original release date of August 15th) caused a large amount of online vitriol and vindictiveness within the fanbase, especially since not only was the announcement made four days prior to the originally intended release date, but the versions on all other platforms were not delayed like the PC version was. Sega has offered a free copy of Sonic 1 to compensate those who pre-ordered, but this did little to calm the anger, as the Steam version is just an emulated version of the original ROM, and the remastered version is already available for free on mobile devices.
  • That One Achievement:
    • "Professional Hedgehog" for those who haven't collected all seven Chaos Emeralds, which requires completing a No-Damage Run on Titanic Monarch Zone Act 1. Even worse, because this includes the boss, that means that you can't utilize Time Attack's instant restart button, which means every time you get hit, it's back to the menu to restart manually.
    • "No Way? No Way!" requires a perfect on every Blue Sphere stage. That will take quite a bit of practice and patience, especially if that minigame isn't your cup of tea to begin with.
  • That One Boss:
    • Heavy Gunner (Studiopolis' mini-boss) as Sonic is tough considering its placement in the third zone of the game. You are constantly running forward, which means getting enough momentum to jump over red missiles, which need to avoided entirely, offers little room for error. Doing damage to the boss requires hitting the blue missiles, which will often get overlapped by the red ones. Rings fly off the left side of the screen when lost, and while more rings appear on the track after the first and second hits on the boss, they aren't guaranteed to appear after the third, meaning you may need to get both the third and fourth hits on the boss with only one set of rings to work with. It's easier with the lightning shield as Sonic, at least.
    • The battle against Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 is also one of the harder bosses in the game, particularly the second phase where you need to deflect the miniature Silver Sonics into him, as the process for how to do that is unclear at first. Additionally, the first and third phases, much like the Studiopolis Zone Act 1 boss, take place while running, and some of his moves can be hard to avoid, such as the spinning and fireball attacks. It doesn't help that when he's curled up in a ball, it hurts to touch him, even if you're curled up too!
    • The Mega Octus in Oil Ocean Zone Act 2 is merciless compared to most other fights. It's an expanded version of the original fight in Sonic 2, as it features the same attacks but additionally removes some of the arena's platforms for a temporary moment, making the oil below more dangerous. The boss also has turrets, which are taken from the original Lava Reef miniboss, that appear just before the platforms are taken out, so if you want to make the fight easier, you're going to have to destroy them one-by-one. If that wasn't bad enough, if you happen to be standing on the platforms the exact moment they are removed, you will be dragged down along with them, straight through the oil, resulting in an instant death.
    • The fight against the Spider Mobile in Flying Battery Zone Act 2. To hurt him, you have to bounce him into the spiked walls as they pass by, but the boss is often hanging out of reach, which often does not sync up with the passing spikes. Furthermore, the boss' hitbox is off, sometimes it doesn't register a hit even if you do hit him into a spike wall, and sometimes you'll pass through him entirely and likely send yourself hurling towards the spikes instead. It's very possible to spend long enough on the battle to die due to Time Over.
    • For Knuckles particularly, the battle against Crimson Eye in Titanic Monarch Zone Act 1. Originally, its predecessor in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Red Eye, could not be beaten with Knuckles at all (the eye was just too high). In Mania, the weak point is now reachable by Knuckles, but just barely. You need to get a fair running start at the eye to even have a shot at hitting, it and there's a good chance that you won't have enough momentum on the rebound, so you'll take a spill onto the eggs. You need a lot of good timing and smooth control to avoid taking damage in the first phase. The second phase isn't as bad, but you can get screwed easily if the lift keeps going up, thus forcing the gravity to pull you down, as it just wastes time.
  • That One Level:
    • Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1's checkpoint is after two minutes of level and just before you disembark to fight the act's boss. Said checkpoint is on a solid platform which comes in at a very high speed with little to no warning, and if you're low enough onscreen, can shove you offscreen and kill you. Time to watch Heavy Magician introduce herself again!
    • Oil Ocean Zone Act 2 is rather difficult due to its mazelike structure, the toxic gas that fills the level will eventually drain you of rings unless you vent it at set switches, and the aforementioned boss above.
    • The final zone, Titanic Monarch, is a new contender for being one of the hardest Sonic levels of all time, right up there with Cannon's Core, Sandopolis Zone, and Eggmanland. It's extremely long (both acts can take upwards of eight minutes to complete and the timer doesn't stop for the Act 1 boss), confusing, packed to the brim with dangerous and difficult to hit enemies, is filled with spikes, and has some of the nastiest sections of platforming since Scrap Brain Zone from Sonic 1. And since this game doesn't checkpoint at the end of each Act, if you game over during the fairly difficult final boss or any part of Act 2, expect to go through the whole thing all over again.
    • Flying Battery has very similar issues. However, unlike Titanic Monarch, they don't reset the timer for the boss fight at the end of Act 2. Said boss is filed under That One Boss up above. Now imagine trying to beat that in under two minutes with all of the mentioned issues working against you.
    • The Special Stages become more difficult with each stage. Special mention goes to stages 4 and 5, with additions of more spikes and adding bombs that reduce rings even more, along with tricky paths to cause Sonic to fall off-course. With each mach increase, Sonic becomes tricky to control and making one mistake could cause a player to fail the stage. Mercifully, the seventh and final stage dials back on the difficulty considerably, but getting there in the first place is not easy. Encore Mode in Plus ramps this up: even the first stage can be a challenge to complete on the first attempt and they just get more difficult from there (by the third stage you have to use new bumper items exclusive to Encore's Special Stages to carefully hop yourself over gaps).
    • The spiral-like Blue Sphere maze that was initially Dummied Out of Sonic 3. Much of the level is spent going forward, and occasionally jumping over bumper spheres while grabbing blue ones and rings. However, there is zero room for error, as you can easily jump over one of the blue spheres by accident, and the spiral layout of the stage makes it near-impossible to correct your mistakes. Add in the standard Difficulty by Acceleration and the fact that the turns become closer as you near the end, and you've got a very frustrating Blue Sphere level.
    • The Blue Sphere revolving around clearing 2x2 and 2x3 spaces filled completely with blue spheres and a yellow sphere to bounce you to the next cramped area where you have to turn immediately or fail. The stage is thankfully short, but the entire thing from start to finish requires either godly reflexes or memorizing the stage through many, many failures.
    • Another noteworthy Blue Sphere is the stage where there are four blue spheres in the whole level. This stage is deceptively easy: if all you want is a silver medal then you'll have no trouble at all. Going for the gold medal ends up being very confusing as, if you just follow the pathways, you'll never earn a Perfect. The way to get a Perfect here is to break out of the established path and jump between the "neutral" areas by crossing bumper-laden buffers that separate said areas. Even if you do figure this out, it's still tricky to know how to rejoin the pathway in order to properly collect the rings before the final sphere or to not end up getting vaulted straight into the path of a blue sphere-turned-red that you already encountered.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: When the game was finally released on PC, it came with the Denuvo anti-piracy program installed on it, without the addition being mentioned on the Steam store page or the EULA. Read the Fine Print is impossible when there's no fine print at all. Almost every negative review on Steam was seething over the unannounced Copy Protection, and many were asking for refunds. It's telling that Aaron Webber, a social media coordinator at Sega of America, sided with the consumers against his employer. Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead even went on record to state that his team were not consulted on the DRM, and that it was all Sega's idea.note  Simon "Stealth" Thomley also had words with Sega when it looked like they were passively dumping a lot of the ire they were receiving back to the development team.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Encore Mode not only lacks a unique final boss, but actually teases in its prologue and bad ending a main villain role for Heavy King that never happens. Him gifting ice cream to the heroes after the good ending can be seen as an apology for this.
  • Tough Act to Follow: The Metal Sonic boss fight in Sonic Generations is a fan favorite. As such, its equivalent for this game wound up being more divisive, mainly due to its length and one particular phase being less intuitive than it needed to be.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • The Knuckles' Chaotix items and level inspiration wasn't expected, as the game itself was obscure to begin with and mostly forgotten by Sega as a whole.
    • Knuckles himself could be considered one as well, as he hasn't been playable in a main series title since Sonic '06. He hasn't even been playable in an original 2D Sonic game since Sonic Advance 3 in 2004.
    • Metal Sonic was pretty much expected to be in the game. 8-bit Silver Sonic was most definitely not.
    • Towards the end of the game, you come across Amy... Doll. Of all things, you get to fight that as part of a gashapon contraption Dr. Eggman has prepared.
    • No one expected Bark, Bean, and Fang to appear outside of the wanted poster cameo. Technically they still don't, since they're illusions cast by the Heavy Magician, but it's the thought that counts.
    • More like Unexpected Gameplay Change, but really, who in their right mind would ever expect that the Mean Bean Machine gameplay would ever see the light of a Sonic game again?
    • The Chaos Emeralds are in this game, so of course Super Sonic was expected, and Super Knuckles was nice to see. Super Tails, with no additional requirements, was completely unexpected. Mighty and Ray can turn super as well, which goes against a known restriction imposed by Sonic Team about only male hedgehogs being able to transform via the Chaos Emeralds in the lastest games.
    • While many fans knew that there was going to be another Sonic CD level alongside Stardust Speedway, Metallic Madness was practically the last zone people thought was going to be chosen for this game. It was specially surprising because level mechanics from it such as multi-path tubes and chained walker platforms appear in previous zones.
    • Plus adds Mighty and Ray as playable characters, neither of which have been seen in the games outside of cameos in decades. While Mighty and Ray had been featured frequently in the Archie Comic, many fans feared that said comic's cancellation would lead Sega to just quietly forget their existence like it had happened to so many other (semi-)obscure Sonic characters. Takashi Iizuka has in fact remarked more than once that as far as he's concerned, the two would've remained shelved forever if not for Mania. Presumably this also applies to Fang's gang.
    • In Plus, Stardust Speedway features the surprising return of Metal Sonic's final boss form from Knuckles Chaotix.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: If it weren't for it being All There in the Manual, you'd never guess the Heavy Magician and Heavy Rider were female, or that the Heavies even had genders in the first place.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Despite harkening back to the 16-bit era with the graphics, the game sets out to surpass them in fidelity. The animation for the logo, for instance, is movie-quality smooth.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The game's reveal was largely met with positivity, thanks to its enhanced-retraux graphics, the classic Genesis gameplay being present, and Tails and Knuckles returning as playable characters. Some even praise it as the "true" Sonic 4. The fact that it's being worked on by Whitehead, known for his top-notch ports of Genesis-era Sonic games, certainly helps, too.

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