Sonic Mania Guide: How to Beat Special Stages and What They Unlock
Just like the original Genesis games, Sonic Mania has its own special stages that will send you to bonus areas where players can find the Chaos Emeralds. While these stages might be familiar to long time fans, those who have not played the older titles might not be sure how to access the special stages or how to beat them.
In this guide we'll take a quick look at finding the special stages, how they work, and how to unlock the true ending to this wonderful callback game! (And we'll even give you the secret on how to unlock & Knuckles mode.)
Special Stages in Sonic Mania
In Sonic Mania the main form of Special Stages is similar to the one found in Sonic CD -- but only insofar as the fact that you are running in a mode 7 style stage. These stages are accessed via Giant Rings that are found in hidden areas throughout each stage and act. Unlike in previous titles, there is no requirement to find the Giant Ring to access the special stage other than finding it in the stage.
There is often more than one Giant Ring in each stage, so keep an eye out for them if you want to collect all of the Chaos Emeralds early on in the game.
How to Win Special Stages
Each Special Stage you access will be in an order based on completion. The special stage also corresponds with the Chaos Emerald -- not the zone you accessed the Special Stage from. As such, the first special stage you encounter will be the same no matter what zone you are playing until you get the Chaos Emerald for that Special Stage. Sso don't worry if you missed the Chaos Emerald in the previous act. As long as you make a point of finding the Giant Rings in later stages, you'll be fine.
To complete the Special Stage, your character will have to reach the fleeing UFO, and attack it to free the Chaos Emerald. This is done by collecting blue and yellow spheres to increase your speed until you are fast enough to catch up with the UFO. You can also "race" it at lower speeds by cutting corners or using shortcuts. But in most cases -- especially with inexperienced players -- it is recommended to gather as many blue spheres as possible to boost your mach speed to make catching the UFO easier.
Players should also keep an eye on their rings. Once you run out of rings, your Special Stage run is over. Gather rings, avoid pitfalls and spike traps, as well as other obstacles to prolong your Special Stage attempt. Each special stage gets progressively more difficult as well -- so be on your toes each time you step through a Giant Ring.
Sonic Mania Bonus Stage: Blue Spheres
Blue Spheres is a Bonus Stage found in Sonic Mania that originally was found in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Blue Spheres is another simple concept minigame: touch all of the blue spheres to turn them red. While this sounds easy enough, the challenge can be a bit of a daunting task since the character will move faster each time you convert a sphere.
To make matters worse, Star Spheres will try to bump you back into Red Spheres, ending your run. To counteract this, press up on the D-Pad or Control Stick as soon as possible to avoid going back more than 2 spaces. This only works if there are no Red Spheres behind you though, so be careful.
Also be on the lookout for Gold Spheres that will launch your character 5 spaces forward. While they usually just launch you into the next area, if you're jumping blind you might just launch yourself into a field of Red Spheres.
Completing the stage by converting all of the Blue Spheres will earn you a silver medal for that Bonus Stage. If you manage to get all the rings as well, you will earn a gold medal.
Gotta Go (Fast)!
That's all you need to know to beat the Special and Bonus Stages in Sonic Mania. Most of your success will be purely based in practice and memory, so do your best to get the true ending of Sonic Mania that has a special surprise for fans.
Stay tuned for more Sonic Mania guides to help you get through this brand new Sonic adventure!