Sonic Mania is here! And about frickin’ time too. Our PC-specific review's coming soon, but for now we’ve had a chance to play the game all the way through already and we’re kinda experts on all things Sonic Mania now. Let us spread our skills around like chili on a chili dog. Below you can expect general tips, tricks and advice, a Guide To Power-Ups, help getting those Special Stages, Medals and Chaos Emeralds, and Boss Encounter Walkthrough Guides (curse you Oil Ocean!). Gotta go fast!
Drop Dash! This is the new move for Sonic Mania. Simply hold the Jump button in mid-air and Sonic will roll into a ball, then release the button as he hits the floor. He’ll shoot forward like a slightly less powerful Spin Dash! Very useful!
Always have Tails with you, as unlike in Sonic 2 he’s not a pain in the two-tailed ass. He’ll pick up rings, hit the boss for you, and here’s a tip: if you hold Up and press Jump then Tails will fly, and Sonic can grab hold of his hands. Just keep pressing Up to make Tails fly higher, then Jump off when you’re somewhere new!
Beware of any new enemy you face! Treat them Dark Souls-like, as all of them have a catch. Some can’t be hit at certain times, or from certain directions, and some even explode! Others you might have to wait for them to attack first before you attack them. Almost all barring the exploding bots are vulnerable to a good spin-smashing, but mind your timing and be careful they don’t fight back!
Don’t worry about entering Special or Bonus Stages. In previous Sonic games, entering Special/Bonus Stages might lose your rings or power-ups. If it’s a temporary one like Speed or Invulnerability you will, but anything else including rings will still be there when you get back. It’s a nice breather!
It’s okay to be hurt, but don’t get crushed. Sonic 101 - always have at least one Ring on you at all times. Remember: as long as you have a single ring, you can’t die… unless you get crushed by something or trapped in a shrinking space, or drown, or hit the 10 minute timer, then you die instantly. But if you’re having trouble with a boss, be prepared to lose your Rings… then use the brief invulnerability to score a free hit! Just, er, remember to pick up some Rings afterwards.
The game only saves at the start of levels, not each Act! This is an important point as most people probably found this out the hard way. Each level comprises two Acts with a boss at the end of each. If you stop playing on Act 2, or heaven forbid lose all your lives and die on the final level boss, you’ll have to start again at the start of that level’s Act 1. If you’re going to play Sonic Mania, don’t stop playing until you’ve seen the next level!
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith! General 2D Sonic advice here. Yes you can run through the levels in the way you’re being shepherded, but then you’ll miss out on secrets, power-ups or just all the alternative paths. You may not be able to see what’s below, or you’re running down a steep path, but sometimes the only way to get rewards is to leap out into the unknown and hope for the best. Either you’ll lose your place or you’ll find something nice.
Just because you’ve seen the credits doesn’t mean it’s over! It’s very unlikely that you’ll beat Robotnik/Eggman at the end of Titanic Monarch Zone and be completely done with the game, despite the end credits rolling. You won’t get the true ending, and real final boss, unless you get all the Chaos Emeralds from Special Stages. And even then there’s lots to unlock through the tough Bonus Stages! And how about Time Attack? Or just play through the game again as Tails, who can fly, or Knuckles, who can climb? Mania’s a lot longer than you think…
How To Guide To Power-Ups!
Lightning Shield! Attracts rings, protects against electricity, and allows you a double-jump!
Bubble Shield! Stops you from drowning and allows you to bounce!
Fire Shield! Protects you from fire and allows you to do a forward fireball attack. Beware: sets wood and oil on fire!
Regular Shield! Protects you from one hit, and then it’s gone! Better than nothing!
Rings! Yer basic Ten Rings! Basic, but helpful!
Blue Ring! New to Sonic Mania (sort of!), the Blue Rings increase the size of your Rings when dropped so they’re easier to catch!
Speed! Increases your Speed, but watch where you’re going!
Invincibility! Temporarily makes you invincible to everything but crushing and falling off the stage, and plays the Sonic Mania theme to boot!
Extra Life! Sonic’s face will give you an extra life! These are often hidden as they’re something you always need to get!
Robotnik/Eggman! DON’T GET THIS! You’ll lose all your Rings or die!!
Find Special Stages, Getting Chaos Emeralds and Medals!
What are Special Stages? They’re separate 3D levels you get to through the main game, where you have to complete a challenge and get Chaos Emeralds. There are 7 of these you need to complete in order to transform into Super Sonic and get the real final boss battle, and ending.
How To Find Special Stages: Special Stages can be accessed through giant, floating Rings hidden around the map in an identical manner to Sonic 3. There are several of these per Act. Sometimes you’ll see them just running around, but most will probably require jumping through hoops or accessing some less-obvious path to get to. We could explain them all but with the way Sonic games are structured it would mean nothing, so here’s a handy video with all 32 Special Stage locations:
What do you do in Special Stages? They’re pseudo-3D racetracks where you chase a UFO carrying a Chaos Emerald.
How do you get Chaos Emeralds? Catch up to the UFO, although you will need the following items:
Blue Spheres increase your speed. Once you reach Mach 3 they will start flashing Yellow, so unless you’re playing in No Save mode you can ignore them from this point and concentrate on catching the UFO and gathering Rings (in No Save mode they’ll give you a Continue).
Rings increase the amount of time you have in the Special Stage, so make sure to pick more up regularly – and don’t hit any traps! Try to get the wireframe Capsules, they’re best, but beware: sometimes they’re over death traps!
How are Bonus Stages different? Despite being modelled on the Special Stage from Sonic 3 they do not give you Chaos Emeralds, only Medals which you can use to unlock Extras.
How to find Bonus Stages: Simply collect 25 Rings, hit a Checkpoint lamppost and jump into the spinning stars.
How do you complete Bonus Stages? They’re identical to Sonic 3’s Special Stages. Sonic continually runs forward, increasing in speed, and you can send him Left or Right, or Jump, or Forward again if you hit a bumper. The objective is to collect all the Blue Spheres. Red Spheres will end the stage.
Any hints? Just one: creating a line around a square or rectangular block of Blue Spheres, even if half are already Red, will turn all the Spheres into Rings – saving you a lot of time.
What’s the difference between Gold and Silver Medals? You get a Silver medallion for finishing the stage by getting all the Blue Spheres, but you get a Gold if you’ve collected all the Rings in the stage first. Other than Achievements or just bragging rights there’s no real purpose in getting Gold Medals, or Rings, since you can unlock Extras with just Silver Medals.
Boss Guide Walkthroughs!
Green Hill Zone!
Act 1: A pair of spinning robots. Avoid them when they’re red and hit them when they’re not. It only gets harder from this point…
Act 2: The Egg Walker from Sonic 2! Get close, wait for it to shoot out its arms, avoid them then use them as a platform to hit the Walker’s head.
Chemical Plant Zone!
Act 1: A robot with balls of spinning goop as a defense. Simply hit it from directly below, easy. Watch out for when it launches the goop balls, but that leaves it defenceless anyway.
Act 2: The greatest boss battle ever! You’re in the puzzle game Puyo Puyo, aka Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine! Press Jump to spin the coloured blobs then land them, and getting four of the same colour connected will make them disappear and send obstacles to Eggman’s side. The more you connect at once, the more black blobs will fall. Outlast Eggman and you win!
Act 1: Helicopter E-101! Ignore all the distractions, just run and wait for it to launch missiles. Avoid the red ones, hit the blue ones – which will get launched at the helicopter. Can be quite tough this one!
Act 2: Weather Forecast Chicken Robot! Rain will send lightning storms your way (avoid), wind will blow you to the spike-covered ceiling (grab the bars on the left or right), and sun will burn everything so get under the Eggmobile. Then hit it!
Flying Battery Zone!
Act 1: Trash compactor! Terrifying but easy this one. Just bounce off the trash robots and hit the claw, and when the trash gets high enough you can just jump and hit it normally.
Act 2: Bumper Spider Bot! This one can be very, very annoying. The object is to use the spinning poles to smash the bumper bottom of the Spider Bot to launch it against the spikes. Avoid its electricity attack and then it’ll drop down into hitting distance. BEWARE getting crushed by the spikes! The construction stuff is all background, though.
Press Garden Zone!
Act 1: Buzzsaw Bot! Avoid its saws and make sure it attacks the Brown Boxes, which will knock out its saw temporarily. Attack before it gets a new one!
Act 2: Heavy Shinobi Bot!
Just attack and avoid his own attacks. Sword attack freezes, thrown shuriken Asterons explode into five stars. Straightforward.
Stardust Speedway Zone!
Act 1: Big Firefly Bot! Take out or avoid the little Firebug Bots, then hit the Big Bot while avoiding his downwards laser. Easy.
Act 2: METAL SONIC! The second biggest villain of the Sonic series returns! For the chase scene just run and dodge his attacks when Metal Sonic flies forward. Finally he’ll plug himself into a machine that spews out tiny Sonic 2-esque Silver Sonics. When they jump at you jump at them and try to bounce them back at Metal Sonic. And THEN there’s ANOTHER chase! Avoid the Spike Wall and Metal Sonic when he’s charged with electricity, but once that’s over he’s vulnerable – attack! Just watch out for those spikes!
Act 1: Cute role reversal! Remember the boss of Hydrocity in Sonic 3, a machine that sends up a waterspout? Now Sonic controls it! Suck Eggman up into its blades by holding Jump, just avoid the mines he puts down and release the Jump button before they hit you!
Act 2: Underwater battle! Sonic is continually pushed away underwater, so avoid the walls and spikes. Press the buttons on the torpedoes to both attack Eggman and send out a bubble that you need to get if you want to survive! Eventually you’ll find yourself in a repeat of the Sonic 3 Hydrocity Act 1 boss, a U-shaped arena. Avoid Eggman when he goes down the walls by jumping over him, then attack when he lands in the centre.
Mirage Saloon Zone!
Act 1: Giant Sandworm! When it jumps from the side, attack the head. When it jumps into the screen you can attack it but it’s safer to stay away, since half the time it jumps immediately back again.
Act 2: Heavy Magician bot! Transforms into three characters from, of all things, Sonic The Fighters. Fang The Sniper bounces and shoots his gun, Bean The Dynamite throws dynamite, and Bark The Polar Bear smashes the floor. Just avoid these attacks and hit them!
Oil Ocean Zone!
Act 1: Mechanic Bot! Throws wrenches at Sonic. Avoid them and hit him. Seriously, that’s it. They’re buttering you up for the main course.
Act 2: Pain-in-the-ass Octobot! Called by some as the most frustrating boss in Sonic Mania. When the platforms are up, avoid the Spike that jumps over one of them and the gun tentacle will shoot lasers than can briefly set the platforms on fire. Then two tentacles will rise, destroying two platforms – hit the black balls on the end first, as these send out spikes, then hit the Octobot while being careful not to drown! Then quickly get on a platform as it rises out, and repeat! Good luck!
Lava Reef Zone!
Act 1: Driller! Let the Driller Bot hit the rocks, then while you avoid the falling spikes lava will surge up and damage it. Do this four times and you’re done.
Act 2: Heavy Rider, and Jimmy! Only attack when he’s swinging his mace, and be careful to stay low and avoid it. If he charges stay out of his way.
Metallic Madness Zone!
Act 1: Sonic 1 Final Zone! The final boss of Sonic 1 returns! Avoid the crushers and hit the random one with Eggman in it. Eventually they’ll go haywire and start going one at a time, but otherwise just keep avoiding them and hitting Eggman!
Act 2: The only appearance of Amy Rose! Easy one this. Eggman will drop a capsule containing one of three robots. Amy Rose-bot will try to lethally hug Sonic, let her get Tails instead or spin dash into her. Flying Eggmobile and Drill Car Eggmobile can just be jumped on. Keep going until he runs out of capsules!
Titanic Monarch Zone!
Act 1: A repeat boss! The Red Eye bot from the Death Egg Zone in Sonic & Knuckles returns, much the same. Avoid it when balls spin around the eye, then when they go to the floor attack, just avoiding when they expand out. The second phase is tougher. The lift will send the Eye to the ceiling or floor, where it will shoot out fireballs in a 45 degree angle. Avoid them and hit him where you can.
Act 2: The Final Boss! … Or Is It?! Eggman will drift or bounce around the stage, avoid him and stay away when he plants his arms and sends out electricity – then as it starts to stop, attack! And avoid the missiles he sends out too! Then he’ll try and grab you – let him, it can’t be avoided. He’ll send you into a fighter with one of his Hard Boiled Heavy robots. You can’t defeat them so don’t bother, just avoid them and collect any Rings. Then return to face Eggman. As you progress his arms get destroyed, so you should be able to attack him when he’s sending out electricity if you avoid them. Then that’s it! You’re done! … Say, you got all 7 Chaos Emeralds right?
Egg Reverie Zone!
Act 1: The REAL Final Boss! If you did get all 7 Emeralds from the Special Stages you’ll get the true final stage and boss! As Super Sonic fly into Eggman or the Heavy King, while avoiding their blasts. Collect Rings as your count will gradually be decreasing, but don’t worry too much about getting hit as you won’t lose all of them as Super Sonic. Just keep hitting them and you’ll make it as long as you’ve got Rings! And now you’re REALLY DONE! CONGRATULATIONS!