Video: See Sonic Mania’s Special Stage and Time Attack Modes

SEGA has given us our first glimpse at Sonic Mania’s extra game play modes today, including the game’s special stages, bonus stages, and time attack mode.

The special stages, which were first revealed at last month’s San Diego Comic Con, feature old school 3D models of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles running around sprite-based pseudo 3D worlds. As was speculated at SDCC, the stages mix gameplay and visual elements from the special stages in Sonic 1, 3, and CD. Sonic and friends must chase down a UFO while gathering blue and yellow spheres to increase their speed, while gathering rings extend time. Catching the UFO will, of course, earn you a Chaos Emerald.

The video also debuts Sonic Mania’s Bonus Stages. These stages are directly inspired by Sonic 3 & Knuckles’ special stages. Given that these stages were originally designed to reward chaos emeralds, it’s unclear what they will give you now. If they are anything like past bonus stages, they will probably just reward you with lives, rings, and power-ups.

Finally, the video also debuts time attack mode. This mode has a sign post at the start of the stage that formally starts the timer, as well as special blue ring boxes. The video also appears to demonstrate an instant-restart button, which send you back to the beginning of the stage if you mess up.

With Sonic Mania’s release date fast approaching, we can expect to see more from the game in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

The Sonic Stadium may link to retailers and earn a small commission on purchases made from users who click those links. These links will only appear in articles related to the product, in an unobtrusive manner, and do not influence our editorial decisions in any way.

Published by


Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Nothing special about the special stage.
    But I had the biggest jaw drop in my entire life after seeing blue sphere stages returning.

      1. Did you just play yourself or was that intentional. Either’s fine cause I had a good laugh at that.

  2. Blue spheres is basically what they (wanted to be) built for S3&K iOS/Android which is nice we have it. This entire team have proven Sega and Sonic Team how it’s done and in light of that, I feel you’re right about lives/rings/power-ups however, I’m hoping it have a deeper meaning rather than appeasing the nostalgia.

    12 more days, people!!

  3. I hope they include the Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn) half pipe special stage – in S3&K there were at least three bonus stage varieties. It would definitely be in keeping with the Saturn aesthetic they are going for! I’m just saying. . .

    1. Of course, if that stage was seen as competing with the new bona fide special stage, I would gladly take the widescreen Christian Whitehead Sonic 2 half pipe as an alternate bonus stage.

  4. 12 days to go and their pulling out the big guns now. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t remember if its’ Sonic R/CD or a mix of the two that the big ring stage reminds me of but I’m liking its approach with the circuit style gameplay, plus the simple polygon models fit the already retro style of the game. I was having serious flashbacks seeing the return of the sphere stage. I haven’t finished a single one of the classics but I dreaded those when I was younger, they weren’t so bad after my dexterity imrpoved though. The time attack mode has me interested had me confused. I couldn’t tell if it was an endless loop or something but the concept just seemed intriguing. Great reveal overall. I was so sad that there was no emerald get sound though. I’ll have to wait till release to hear it I guess, assuming there are emeralds of course.

  5. This is beyond ridiculous. First it turned out that they recycling old levels with the same old layouts and graphics except for minimal alterations. Then it was revealed that these recycled levels will make up THE MAJORITY of the game. And now it has been revealed that they’re recycling the S3K special stages as well, and bringing back the old layouts without changes.

    And people gave Sonic 4 and Forces shit for rehashing old levels. Yet for some reason, it’s perfectly fine for Mania to do it to a much larger extent. Biased much?

    1. Sonic 4 also had the worst physics to date and hardly fixed in Part2.

      Forces has hardly shown off anything, but if that goes the same path then I’m not sure as to why they’re afraid of diverse maps and comfortable with “familiar.”

      Sonic Mania IS S3&K HD swamped with easter eggs and nostalgia (All Sonic seems to be good for when damage has been done; reminiscing) because I’m sure Whitehead’s team were out to prove their worth more than the mobile rehash (which I hope get ported to PC/various consoles)? Honestly, if it gains a sequel, then I will expect every level to be unique and not rehashed to the ground.

      1. “Sonic 4 also had the worst physics to date and hardly fixed in Part2.”

        Have you actually played Ep II, or you’re just being a bandwagoner? I think you just proved my point about the bias.

        1. Ep. II fixed the physics for speed, great however;
          – The constant Speed ramps and lack of enemies making it feel open field beta?
          – The tag team gimmick disrupting the flow of the game?
          – Really empty narrative? (beta)
          – Constant prompt signs of EVERYTHING you need to do? (death/use X to do this in later levels)
          – It’s freaking episodic and they should never do this ever again.
          – The music improved but still using that horrible Sonic4 sound font (Nothing will be worse than Bioware, we know this.)
          + Sonic 2 Special stages were nice.
          – Map layout was still forceful linear IIRC like Ep. I
          + Gave us a nice Metal Sonic fight
          – Metal Episode was god awful; just re skinned with minor physic tweaks to Metal with almost identical level? Sloppy.

          1 playthrough and never touched it again.

          So yeah, guess I’m “jumping” the bandwagon on that by the way, I’m the one steering it.

    2. Sonic 4 and Forces are rehashing for the worst. Sonic Mania is improving them for the better. Big things like these new special stages and small things like having the elemental shields interact with the enviorment. But I guess you didn’t stop to think about that, did you?

    3. I know it might seem like bias, but the fans here have every right to be kinder and more positive about Mania because of the people behind the project. Sonic 4 didn’t much new to the table. Anything new it did bring was overshadowed by how many steps it took backwards. No bonus stages, elemental shields, Tails, Knuckles, the level design was as expansive, and it almost every stage was either bland or just plain not as good as the original games. Forces is a little better seeing as how it’s at least putting in a new twist with the industrialization of Green Hill. But again, it’s all redundant. Why not just keep Forces 100% 3D and original and leave Mania to handle all the 2D and nostalgia? I see what you are trying to say, but Mania is just improving and reviving so many elements of the classics that it’s just to hard to ignore that yes, it is biased. But be honest, which game do you think has more passion being put into it? Sonic 4, Forces, or that game being made by maniacs coming from the fanbase?

      1. Oh, I agree that Sonic 4 took many steps back from previous games, and I’m looking forward to Mania. But I’m not hearing nearly as many complaints about the recycling old levels as I heard back when Sonic 4 came out. Which I find really ridiculous, considering that unlike with Mania, the Sonic 4 levels had new graphics, layouts, and a completely different engine. Similarly, Forces got A LOT of flack from many (myself included) for including Green Hill, even though it was just one level.

        It’s like Mania’s retro-ness keeps blinding the fans to its flaws, and making them act like it’s something bigger than it is. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s basically just a compilation of old levels with some tweaks and a few new levels thrown in. Yet the fans treat it like it’s Sonic’s second coming and the true successor to S3&K.

        1. I think the reasons people are more lenient about Mania’s rehashing is because, while not 100% original, it showing signs of potential future for Sonic games that everyone can get down with. Say what you want about Sonic 4, but while the layout was new, it was exactly good. Springs and speed boosters made all the stages feel too much the same. And it wasn’t until the sequel where they got the physics right, but even then the stages got blander. No matter which episode, they both had problems that shouldn’t have been there in the first place with little to no originality until Ep II. Even then, it was just one stage. Nothing about what made the classics great was carried over or even improved on.

          Meanwhile, Mania may be remixing stages, but at least it has the excuse that it’e meant to be a celebration of the classics like Generations. Not a sequel to one of the greatest platformers of all time. It’s bringing in new stages, bosses, enemies. It may not all be brand new, but it’s much closer to looking and feeling like the classics, which is what Sonic 4 should’ve been in the first place. Can’t you see just by looking at the game that this is a true Sonic 4?

        2. Its a combination of acts 1 and 2 of the levels they are adding remixed into 1 stage to make a new stage, with the second stage being completely original. They could of just shoved Chemical plant zone 1 into it and called it a day, but they want through the efforts to change up ever level slightly, you’ve got quite a elitist attitude perusing this comments section and you sound like a insufferable person to be around.

  6. Here’s an idea, what if Blue Sphere is an alternative method to getting the Chaos Emeralds should UFO Chase/Dimensional Heist be too tough for more casual players? Of the original games, I personally found Blue Sphere to be the best special stage. It was also, for me, easier than Rotating Maze, Tunnel Race, and UFO Hunt. I only recently managed to beat Tunnel Race 7 with both Sonic and Tails together. Blue Sphere was in the hand for me before Sonic Adventure was even a thing. Sonic 3, S&K, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles bonus stages were pretty simple affairs, having more to do with Sonic 1 8bit’s Special Stages in their simplicity.

    Of course, I could be wrong, but look at the counter for the Blue Sphere stage Sonic starts out on in the video. Only a few Blue Sphere stages had 100 or more Blue Spheres in their game of origin, and those were later Emeralds for the most part. Course, that could just prove they’re nothing more than bonus stages this time around, but if the UFO Chase Special Stages are really that hard, it would make sense that the Blue Sphere stages would have higher blue sphere counts in order to compensate, and provide an equally thrilling challenge that is quite learnable for the casual players. Also note, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are in different Special Stages and Blue Sphere Stages each. Why would there be three different blue sphere stages I wonder?.. Though as to what would be used as incentive for those who want to play the UFO chase… I don’t know, honestly. We’ll find out soon enough, as reviewers should be getting review copies/download codes in the next couple of weeks. And of course, my men Jirard the Completionist, Johnny of SGB, and Rabbid Luigi are going to spill the deets along with Game Explain. So we’ll know soon enough, and whether I correctly called it or not.

    1. Good. This game shouldn’t get a free pass just because it’s retro and “made by the fans”.

  7. I read in another article that completing the Bonus Stages earn you a silver medallion, while completing them with a Perfect earns you a gold medallion. I think I read it in the below article:

    What exactly the medallions are for is anyone’s guess. Achievements? Bragging rights? Bonus content?

    Either way, looking forward to the whole experience in store for us! I am going to be downloading and playing this on DAY 1. 🙂

    1. Also, what’s that “new” zone that sonic enters the sign post star circle in? It looks carnival-esque. It’s not Studiopolis Act 2, is it??

      1. It is indeed. The music is from Studiopolis but sounds like a fuller, act 2 version like the other levels have.

  8. chasing the emerald reminds me of Sonic Heroes – i hope the difficulty of the special stages dont ramp up too fast because Mach 3 looks pretty insane.

  9. *sighs* The only rehash that I really wanted was a fixed and complete remake of Sonic 4 by Taxman. 🙁

Comments are closed.