Sonic Mania’s Blue Sphere, special stages, time attack modes (hands-on)

Sonic Mania
It’s been just over a year since Sonic Mania was first revealed. And as a long time Sonic fan, this is the type of game I’ve been waiting for; something that brought Sonic back to his 2D roots while also feeling new and unique. Here, you can see all three new additions to the game followed by a break down of each one below.

Sonic Mania Mach Speed!

Sega revealed the new special stage at San Diego Comic-Con during the Sonic Mania panel along with the track that plays during these stages, “Dimension Heist.” What wasn’t announced was how you would be able to access these new stages, and we finally have our answer. You access the special stage by finding the Special Rings known as Giant Rings from Sonic 3. Similar to Sonic 3, all the special rings are spread out around each zone, making you explore different paths.

Entering the special rings transports you into an area that is completely different from the rest of game, and I absolutely love it. It’s reminiscent of the concepts in Sonic CD’s special stage where you have to chase down a UFO, except it is way easier. Additionally, it adds elements of what feels like both Sonic R and Sonic Jam, using Pseudo-3D models. Plus it has a nice challenge to it.

To reach the alien, you need to collect blue spheres, and if you are running out of time, collecting rings adds extra time. In addition, the more you collect, the faster Sonic gets. I was able to reach Mach 3 but only found one special stage in my quick playthrough of Green Hill Zone. Sure, the first stage was easy, but I can only imagine how crazy it will get as you reach the final Emeralds.

Blue Spheres

Sonic 3/Sonic 3 & Knuckles fans will remember the challenge that was Blue Spheres. While it played an important role in obtaining all seven Chaos Emeralds and Super Emeralds, it seems they serve a different purpose in Sonic Mania. What’s really interesting is that the stages are pulled directly from Sonic 3 (possibly also Sonic and Knuckles). This means you get to enjoy punishing yourself all over again by trying to dodge the red spheres and finding every blue orb while the stages speed up. Completing each of the Blue Sphere stages rewards you with a Gold Medallion, but what they do is still a mystery. My guess is that the Gold Medallion will unlock some type of new content.

It never hurts to add a fun familiar element to a game. I tried about four of these stages and only passed one. (It’s been quite some time since I attempted the Blue Sphere special stage.) It just made me remember why I enjoyed (and at times got frustrated) Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which is still my favorite entry in the Sonic series.

Time Attack Mode

Finally, we were able to try Time Attack Mode. While previous games in the series did include a Time Attack Mode, Sonic Mania’s version includes an interesting feature that will really interest Sonic speed runners. Let’s say you’re missing the path you wanted to take because it’s faster or miss hitting an item box that costs you time, rather than quitting and restarting from the menu, players can just hold down one button and bam, instant restart from the beginning with your time reset.

It’s a very simple feature, and most importantly very useful if you want to have the fastest time in each act. Sonic Mania will feature online leaderboards because who doesn’t want to show that they are the fastest thing alive! Of course, with each character comes their various strengths and weaknesses, so learning to take advantage of that will be key. With the announcement that Sonic Mania will have as many stages as Sonic 3 & Knuckles combined, if not more, it’s going to be a challenge to be on top of them all.

Final Reaction

These are definitely some great additions to something that is already solid. I was already excited for Sonic Mania, and seeing all of these little extra additions makes me even more hyped for the game, especially the Sonic statue that comes with the Collector’s Edition. Here, you can actually see the size of the statue which is being held by Mr. Yuji Naka!

Yup, the statue is actually that big (12″ to be exact). And while it’s not signed by Mr. Naka, for $70 bucks, I couldn’t be any happier. It also comes with a metallic card and a download code for the system of your choice and Sega Genesis cartridge cast with a golden ring.

Sonic Mania releases on August 15th for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Stay tuned for our full review.

About author

Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.