Sonic Mania, the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog game that throws back to the franchise’s 2D platforming era from the early-to-mid 90s, just unveiled the gameplay involved in the game’s Special Stages, Bonus Stages and Time Attack. Like the rest of the game, these features are largely based on features from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
A video recently posted to the official Sonic the Hedgehog YouTube channel shows that players can reach Special Stages in Sonic Mania by discovering and jumping into large rings hidden somewhere in the main levels. Once the player jumps into the ring, they’ll be transported to a Special Stage, which involves Sonic (or whichever character you’re playing as) to run along a street, collecting blue orbs and rings in “3D,” similar to the Special Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
If the player jumps into sparkles that can appear above checkpoints, they will be transported to a Bonus Stage. The Bonus Stages in Sonic Mania look almost identical to the Bonus Stages in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Once again, the player is transported to a “3D” area in which blue spheres and rings must be collected and the entire camera shifts when the character turns a different direction. It’s not entirely clear at this point if Special and Bonus Stages are just for getting more points or if there are Chaos Emeralds to be won from them. Given how much the game is emulating early Sonic games, my bet would be that there are Chaos Emeralds involved.
The last game footage shown in the video is from Sonic Mania‘s Time Attack mode. In this mode, players compete against themselves to get the best time they can on a level, just like the name of the mode implies. The footage simply shows Sonic running through a level resembling the Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2, but every time the player messes up their run, the screen fades to white and the level starts over. So, those interested in Time Attack can rejoice in knowing that if you mess up, you don’t have to finish the level or pause and exit to start the level over; you can just press a button to start over and waste little time.