This pixel-perfect homage to the Genesis/Mega Drive games that made Sonic a star is the ideal blend of retro and reinvention, capturing the precise, borderline magical, feel of the running and jumping from the original games while weaving in all kinds of ingenious new stage mechanics and level design. In the stages, you have to chase down a UFO to get the Chaos Emerald while avoiding obstacles.
You can play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles in these levels and the object is to collect all of the blue spheres. If players collect all the blue balls, they'll earn a special award. The catch is that once collected, the blue sphere will turn red and touching a red sphere will end the stage instantly. Once you've formed a closed loop of orbs, all the orbs contained in your path turn to rings, which you'll need to pick up if you want a ideal score and the Gold Medallion it bestows (no word on what those actually do just yet).
Unfortunately, Sega left that as a mystery, but the stage adds to the retro feel of "Sonic Mania". The blue spheres give your character an extra speed boost to your meter. It's reminiscent of the special stage in "Sonic 3".
Sonic Mania's special stages were first revealed during San Diego Comic-Con during a panel by SEGA. Just watch out and don't speed off the stage!
Last but not least, Time Attack mode lets you race through the game at top speed, setting a time against the game's global leaderboard. It's wonderful how many headaches this simple function can save when you're restarting your run 20 (or 200) times in the pursuit of perfection.
Sonic Mania is looking more and more like the new 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game that we always wanted, and with the addition of classic-style bonus stages, special stages and a new time attack mode, we're definitely pretty excited for the game.
Sonic Mania will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC on 15th August.