"Sonic Mania" is almost upon us, and before the game's Aug. 15 release date, they showed me some of the secrets that will await players.
The first new element Sega revealed were the Bonus stages. These appear as sparkles when Sonic hits a checkpoint. All players have to do is jump on them and they'll be transported to a special area where Sonic must run and grab blue balls while avoiding red ones. It's a stage that's a lot harder than it looks and will take some getting used to. The stage has yellow balls that make Sonic jump and white balls that the hedgehog bounces off of. If players collect all the blue balls, they'll earn a special award.
Unfortunately, Sega left that as a mystery, but the stage adds to the retro feel of "Sonic Mania." It's reminiscent of the special stage in "Sonic 3."
The second feature is the special stages. These are far fewer and players enter them through a giant gold ring that's hidden in the level. The special stage puts Sonic in something similar to an infinite runner. He'll have to avoid obstacles and grab rings and blue balls. The rings give him more time in the stage while the blue balls increases his speed. All of this is done to catch a UFO that holds a Chaos Emerald.
Because these special stages are centered on Chaos Emeralds, expect to encounter them fewer times than the entry points to bonus stages.
Lastly, Sega introduced a time attack mode that supports all three characters in the game -- Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. Each time attack is tailored to the character. Knuckles will have a different starting point than Sonic because of his abilities.
With the time attack mode, Sega built in some quality-of-life comforts such as an instant reset button. (Just hit Y.) There's also a leaderboard which tracks the fastest time for each level. ___
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