As you play Mania Mode and go through secret stages, you'll unlock a variety of different minigames and other modes that anyone can enjoy. Some have achievements tied to them, while others have been included just for fun.
You can try your skills in Time Attack for any stage in the game after you beat that stage in Mania Mode. There aren't any achievements related to Time Attack, but you can use the above links to get an idea of how to score what I believe are fairly good times. Leaderboards are present for all three characters in almost all of the acts, so there's quite a lot of time you can put into this mode. If you try to get good times in Time Attack, this will be good practice for the game, should you decide to play Mania Mode again after beating it once. Time Attack can also be used for many miscellaneous achievements, but not all of them, as boss battles are not included in this mode.
Finishing a Time Attack run will show you your place on the world rankings. In the base game, there are over 70 different Act-and-character matchups to choose from, so there's a lot here for speedrunning players. The Encore DLC adds another 48 leaderboards through the addition of Mighty and Ray, but also doubles that total through the inclusion of the Encore Mode Acts. As such, the Encore DLC is a good purchase if you're interested in dominating as many leaderboards as possible.
Competition is a game mode that should be familiar to anyone who had Sonic the Hedgehog 2 growing up. This mode is a split-screen challenge where you and a friend can see who can get the best time or score on a stage. Sticking true to the game that this feature came from, Competition Mode is not available for online play, but it's a fun thing to do if you have friends over or you have a sibling you want to brag to. Like Time Attack, there aren't any achievements for this mode. The Encore DLC improves on this two-player mode by upgrading it to include four players.
Special Stages & Chaos Emeralds
You have likely run into a massive ring in Green Hill Zone that you can enter, which takes you to a small stage that gives you the chance to obtain one of the seven Chaos Emeralds. Having all seven in your possession will allow you access to the final boss of the game.
Sonic Mania | Special Stages
Collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds can be done in a single playthrough, although it might be a bit challenging to find at least six more giant rings to jump into; if you fail one of these Special Stages, you'll naturally have to find a replacement ring. You can also simply replay Green Hill Zone (Act 1) after you beat the story and jump in the plain-in-sight giant ring over and over to get the rest of the Chaos Emeralds. Obtaining all seven gems will allow you to turn into Super Sonic, Super Tails, or Super Knuckles, respectively, but only after collecting 50 rings in a level. Jump in the air and jump again in mid-air once you have the required amount of rings to transform. As a Super character, you won't be able to take damage and will move extremely fast, but be careful, as you can still die by falling off into a pit or by being crushed.
In the stage itself, you'll have to collect blue spheres to increase your speed, which you can track in the meter up at the top of the screen. You'll also need rings to keep yourself running, so you may have to go out of your way to get to groups of rings off on the sidelines. Falling off the track will also end your run.
Blue Sphere Stages & Medallions
Sonic Mania | Blue Sphere Stages
Blue Sphere Stages work just like they do in their debut title, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. To get to one, pass a checkpoint while holding 25 rings to make a starry circle appear over it. Jump inside to get to the stage. The Blue Sphere Stages are probably going to be the bulk of your achievement hunting, unless you've gotten some experience with these in the games they originated from.
The goal of each stage is to "collect" the blue spheres scattered around a circular planet. You do this by touching them, which turns them red; touching a red sphere will end the level immediately, so you'll want to avoid doing this at all costs. In any area filled with spheres in at least a 3x3 square, turning the blue spheres on the perimeter red will transform those red spheres and the ones inside into rings that you can pick up. To get a silver medallion on each stage, all you have to do is finish the level, but you get an achievement for acquiring all 32 gold medallions, which will require you to obtain all the rings in the stage before finishing up your blue sphere collection. Your moving speed gets progressively faster as time progresses, so you'll want to get the job done as fast as you can.
You can replay Green Hill Zone (Act 1) over and over again in a new save file to rack up silver medals quickly, or you can just use level select once you beat Mania Mode on a save file. To do this, simply play through the first Act and try to get some medallions using the first two checkpoints, and then quit out once you have a medal. If you don't get a medallion from these two checkpoints, just restart the level; it's not worth your time to get all the way to the end of the Act for the third checkpoint. Once you get a silver medallion on a stage, it will be removed from the rotation of stages available when you jump into another portal; this helps you constantly play stages that you haven't previously gotten a medallion in. Once you have all 32 silver medallions, stages that you get gold medallions in will now be the ones removed from the stage rotation.
The two achievements related to these stages are given to you after collecting all 32 medallions of a certain color. Gold medallions, which are obviously better than silver ones, will still function to give you the Full Medal Jacket achievement.
Blue Sphere Stages (Extras Version)
Once you collect all 32 silver medallions, you'll be able to play some more Blue Spheres levels, if you ever wanted to for whatever reason. You can choose between two different selections of levels, marked as Mania and Original. The Mania levels aren't actually the ones you play for medallions, so you won't be able to use this mode to quickly play the rest of the levels for any gold medallions you're missing. These levels include two new types of spheres, as well. Green spheres require you to pass over them twice before they turn red, and pink spheres teleport you to a different area in the level. Original stages aren't the ones you play to get medallions either, but are fairly similar and don't contain the two new types of spheres.
This minigame, which you come across at the end of the Chemical Plant Zone, is actually a released game called Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, a Sonic-themed version of a game with the same function called Puyo Puyo. This mode can also be done in local co-op.
The game itself is comparable to Tetris, Dr. Mario, and other similar games. Move the little jelly blobs into groups of four to wipe them all off the board and cause at least one black bean to appear on your opponent's board. Black beans can only be eliminated if a group of beans adjacent to it is created, making them a bit of a pain to get rid of. To win a game of Mean Bean, keep making combos to fill your opponent's board until they have no more room to make a move.
There's an achievement related to getting a three-in-a-row combo, which you can do more readily after unlocking the game mode in the Extras menu after obtaining 21 silver medallions. This can be done on any of the available difficulty options, but choosing the easiest would make the most sense. Just make almost-clusters of four on top of each other, and then make your beans collapse into each other to create more groups of the same color until you've made three groups disappear all in the same move. This might take a few tries if you're new to this type of game, but it's certainly not considered a challenging achievement.
Extras & Unlockables
Collecting silver medallions will unlock many extra options and things you can use to make the game a bit interesting, including the Debug Mode that you can use to add items wherever you want around levels. Debug Mode disabled achievements in the original version of the game before a large update, so you should assume that it still does when going for certain achievements. Other extras can be turned on and off for individual save files. Gold medallions are only relevant for the achievement related to collecting all 32 of them, so you'll have unlocked everything once you have all the silver medallions.
|Extra Unlocked||Silver Medals||Description|
|Super Peel-Out||01||Ability from Sonic CD. Hold Up and hold A/S/Q to charge up the dash, which is faster than the standard spin dash attack.|
|Insta-Shield||06||Ability from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. Press A/S/Q after jumping in the air to increase your area of attack and deflect incoming projectiles.|
|& Knuckles Mode||11||Adds Knuckles as an AI companion to your party in Mania Mode. You can use Knuckles & Knuckles as well, but choosing Sonic & Tails with this mode on quickly replaces Tails with Knuckles. This doesn't feature Dante from the Devil May Cry series, though.|
|Debug Mode||16||Allows you to place any item on the map, but is highly likely to disable achievements.|
|Mean Bean||21||The minigame from Chemical Plant Zone and the Genesis/Mega Drive game Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. You can choose to go against the CPU or to play against a friend in local co-op.|
|D.A. Garden||26||A sound test feature. It includes all tracks and jingles in the game by name, so if you're yet to beat the final boss by collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds, you might want to avoid looking through here until then.|
|Blue Spheres||32||Lets you play Blue Sphere levels whenever you want. None of the levels in either Mania or Original stage select are the ones used for medallions, so you'll have to clean up the rest of the gold medallions you're missing in the same way you got the silver medallions.|
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