Sonic Mania is a promising upcoming-project from SEGA of America & is a collaborative effort from different development studios (Christian Whitehead, Sonic Team, Head Cannon Games/Stealth and ProgodaWest Games) to revive the Classic Sonic gameplay many love from the 16-Bit Classics. One of the goals of Sonic Mania is to take classic zones from Sonic the Hedgehog all the way to Sonic & Knuckles and remaster them with new level designs, gimmicks and more.
Today, I will be listing my top seven classic zones that want to see join the original zones like Studiopolis and other unannounced zones in Mania.
Sonic the Hedgehog – Starlight Zone
Starlight Zone from Sonic 1 is next to Green Hill Zone one of the fastest zones in the game. So what could Mania bring to the table that can spice up this iconic zone from Sonic’s first adventure? I could imaging Sonic running inside some of the buildings in the background while mixing in some of the Casino elements from Casino Night.
I can picture the lower route having Sonic enter the city streets and having to do platforming over moving cars or the upper path having Sonic running through pinball-esc level designs.
Starlight’s bosses could be quite interesting, with Act 1 being a remix what we fought in Starlight Act 3 in Sonic 1 while Act 2 could play with a chase-style boss (maybe a race with Metal Sonic?).
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Mystic Cave X Hidden Palace
Sonic 2 on iOS has Sonic running through a new take on this zone, with the infamous spike pit being a portal to a new zone. Hidden Palace Zone. Taxman and Stealth was able to re-create this iconic lost Sonic zone with Sonic Team’s blessing, leading to a really great level with a fresh new boss fight for the Sonic series.
I would like to see Mystic Cave being fleshed out in Mania with Act 1 exploring the haunted elements of the cave (maybe elements from Sandopolis from Sonic 3&K popping up) while Act 2 is a massive act that has new paths to take on Taxman & Stealth’s recreation of Hidden Palace from Sonic 2 iOS/Android.
It personally think this is the safest pick on my list, considering the work is largely done (both zones were ‘remastered’ in Sonic 2 iOS/Android, which runs on the Retro Engine powering Mania) and how Hidden Palace is an iconic level of Sonic history (the zone pops up in a major story scene on Sonic & Knuckles).
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – Ice Cap
Ice Cap is a famous zone in Sonic, as not only does it appear in Sonic 3 but it also pops up in Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. The zone has Sonic exploring a snowy mountain before crashing into a icey cave. The Sonic 3 version can be blended with the Sonic Adventure version in some clever ways.
An example I can think of is the level opens with Sonic on a snowboard riding down the mountain like in Sonic 3, but the sequence lasts longer with Sonic being pushed into jumping over things in his way and then landing on some snowy platforms. Then we can have the Blue Blur running across a new portion of the level we didn’t see in Sonic 3 unless we got the higher paths.
Act 2 could focus on Sonic exploring the caves of Ice Cap, with Sonic Adventure elements coming into play (Sonic grabbing Ice Pillars and jumping across them for example). Boss fights could be quite fun, as we could fight a giant robotic polar bear (designed similar to one seen in Sonic 4: Ep. II) while the Act 2 boss can have Sonic fighting a remixed version of the Act 2 fight from Sonic 3.
Music is tricky, considering legal issues regarding Ice Cap’s track. But in Press Releases, SEGA stated that zones from Sonic 3 will appear in Mania. In addition, Green Hill Zone is using its iconic theme (something SEGA has to licence out every time they use it, considering they legally don’t own the song); they can get the original track in the game and maybe even let Tee Loops remix it. He made a really great remix of the track in the past, so seeing that appear in Mania would be cool.
Sonic & Knuckles – Lava Reef X Flying Battery
Both of these zones from Sonic & Knuckles are some of the most enjoyable ones in the game to me, with the former being part of one massive set-piece leading into S&K’s Hidden Palace and the breathtaking Sky Sanctuary Zone while the later has one of my favorite musical tracks from S&K.
With Mania, blending the two zones together could lead to very interesting results. Act 1 could have Sonic running through an expanded take on Flying Battery and maybe even taking bits from other Sonic’s (like Sonic running on a wall for a bit not unlike in Sonic 4’s Sky Fortress Act II). I could also see Sonic running across multiple flying battery’s with him using momentum to get from ship to ship.
Act 2 could have Sonic starting on a ship falling out of the sky, with fire engulfing the battleship. After a minute or so, it crash-lands in an lava-filled cave and this is will be the Lava Reef portion of the zone. I would like to hear Tee Loops remix of Flying Battery personally here.
Sonic Mania is having stage transitions, so this stage mash-up could work out well I feel.
Sonic CD – Quartz Quadrant
This is one of my favorite zones from Sonic CD, so this is a choice I really really want to see happen. Between the zones fantastic musical track for the present version of the zone (JP version), fun level design with upper and lower paths and using the time travel gimmick well. With the Mania version of the zone, I can picture it being a celebration of Sonic CD in many cases. The upper path having elements from Collision Chaos with flippers that launch Sonic when pressing jump, lower paths blending the conveyor belts from the original stage with the massive loops & roads from Stardust Speedway and the middle route being similar to original version of the zone from CD.
I would love an Act 2 where Sonic runs through a crystallized mine, bouncing from crystal too crystal, riding on a mine cart and more. Boss fights could be interesting too, with the Act 1 boss being ripped from the original CD (Sonic running on a conveyor belt to break Eggman’s machine) but with some twists while Act 2 could play-up the mine gimmick I think could work out nicely.
This is a favorite zone for me and I would be so happy to see it pop up in Mania.
Sonic R – Radical City X Resort Island
You may be reading this choice saying ‘Wait a minute! That isn’t a Classic Sonic game RK128?!’ But it IS a Classic Sonic game, as it released during the Saturn era, something that team working on Mania is trying to capture with this new project.
So what better way to celebrate early 3D Sonic than making an 2D version of a Sonic R track! I think Radical City would be a good fit, as not only is the tracks musical them is fantastic, but I could see it taking some pages out of City Escape Classic from Generations.
Sonic can jump from rooftop too rooftop, roll down massive slope roads and maybe even ride on some cars during the middle of the zone. Act 1 could focus on exploring the city and roads while Act 2 could start at Radical City but then get dropped off at a Resort Island. That would be great, as we could have two Sonic R remixes from Tee Loops in that case (Work it Out & Can You Feel the Sunshine).
Bosses would, of course, be Mecha Knuckles (Radical City) and Tails’ Doll (Resort Island). I could see the team having some humor and making the boss with Tails’ Doll being needlessly dark at first but then after hitting him four times, he lays on the floor all sad, with different animations depending on your character happening afterwards (Sonic pats his head to make him feel better, Tails is still freaked out, Knuckles just shrugs it off).
Sonic 3D Blast – Rusty Ruin
This would be a blend of many ruins zones across many Sonic games but with a remix of the Saturn version of Act 1 playing.
I could see Act 1 of the zone seeing Sonic starting off at an door to a large temple with the colored Flickies. They can even follow Sonic around, acting as hit points for the Blue Blur while also being a reward (you clear the act with no hits, you get a life for each one you bring to the goal as they fly through a gold ring after you hit the goal post). Sonic can use gimmicks from the zone such as running into machine that turns him into a spinning top to smash through objects and new gimmicks like maybe a waterfall in Act 2.
I mainly would like to see this to honor Travelers Tales impact on Sonic, as 3D Blast was the studios first shot with Sonic. Seeing both Sonic R & Sonic 3D Blast get zones in Mania would be quite cool.
Thank you for reading my little list and I hope you all enjoyed this! Feel free to leave your own top seven zones you want to appear in Mania and share why you would like them to appear in the game!