Listen up. Sonic Mania is absolutely amazing. If you don’t believe that, have a read of our review – it’s a fantastic love letter to the classic Sonic games and further a very strong love letter to the spirit of 1990s SEGA in general.
One thing that was more common in the 90s was, well… cheats. These days this stuff is often sold to us as DLC or taken out entirely because of achievements and all that stuff, but Sonic Mania doesn’t mess about: it has a classic level select cheat like the Sonic games of old, plus unlocks both familiar and all-new to the classic Sonic games. Debug mode is in, you filthy cheats.
On this page, we’re going to guide you how to unlock and use these various modes. Needless to say, the screenshots and information on this page will contain some spoilers, so scroll on at your peril. We’ve warned you!
Remember, Sonic Mania’s True Ending requires the chaos emeralds
Sonic fans should know this well already, but the final ending of Sonic Mania is hidden away behind collection of the Chaos Emeralds in the game’s special stages. You’ll need to find giant special rings in levels to access these stages, and when you do you’ll need to catch the UFO and collect the Emerald.
There are seven emeralds in total, and once you get them all you should go and complete the final zone of the game. When you do, you’ll be treated to a little more content than if you finish the game without the emeralds – and that will lead you to the final, true ending of the game.
How to Unlock Sonic 3 & CD abilities – the Super Peel Out and Insta Shield
If you want to access the classic Sonic moves from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles and Sonic CD, you can do so in Mania – but it will replace Sonic’s all new and incredibly useful jump dash ability, so keep that in mind.
Sonic 3’s Insta Shield creates a shield in front of you instantly for a split second thus allowing you to avoid damage, while Sonic CD’s super peel out is an alternative to the spin dash. Both are pretty cool, classic moves.
To unlock them in Sonic Mania, you simply have to play the Get Blue Spheres mini game and get Silver or Gold medals for completing them. Silver medals are gained for collecting all blue spheres and completing the stage, Gold are given out for completing the stage with a ‘Perfect’, by also picking up all rings. These two moves will be some of the first unlocks you get.
In order to use these extras, simply highlight the ‘No Save’ section in the file select in Mania Mode. If you look at the menu you’ll notice one button now prompts ‘secrets’ – and when you hit this, you’ll be able to turn on these modes. You won’t be able to save, however.
Getting and using Debug Mode and the meme-worthy & Knuckles Mode
Two of Mania’s most and least useful unlocks are also stored in the extra secrets menu mentioned above. And again, to access these modes once unlocked highlight the ‘No Save’ option in the file select menu and hit Triangle on PlayStation, X on Switch or Y on Xbox to access the menu. Here you’ll find Debug mode and & Knuckles mode.
& Knuckles Mode is simple and silly – it adds Knuckles as a buddy character. Even if you’re Knuckles a second Knuckles will follow you around, but sadly this doesn’t allow for Sonic Heroes style three-character shenanigans with Sonic, Knuckles and Tails – Knux will simply replace Tails. Alas. It’s a dumb and fun little unlock, a cute reference to the & Knuckles internet meme.
More useful is Debug Mode, which lets you switch into a mode where you can place objects in the environment including checkpoints, rings, enemies and even large special stage super rings, which are often hard to find. It’s great for exploring levels.
To unlock both of these modes, simply complete Get Blue Spheres stages, nailing them to get Silver or Gold medals. The more medals you get, the more unlocks you’ll acquire, so just keep at it.
How to unlock Mean Bean multiplayer and extra Blue Spheres stages
Much as with most of Mania’s other unlocks, these two modes are unlocked by completing Get Blue Spheres repeatedly, getting Silver and Gold medals for your completion of the stages. Silver medals are for simple clears, while Gold are for perfect clears where you collect all the rings in a stage.
These two unlocks are later, but they unlock the ability to play Get Blue Spheres outside of the main game including a new set of ‘Mania’ Get Blue Spheres stages with all new mechanics and features fresh for Sonic Mania, if you’ve not had enough of that mode by that point.
Mean Bean is a fully-fledged version of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, aka Puyo Puyo – featured in Sonic Mania as the Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 boss. There are five different speeds to try, and you can either play against the AI or against another player, making this quite a handy little bonus, especially on Xbox, which didn’t get Tetris vs Puyo Puyo released.
How to access Sound Test to rock out to Mania’s tunes
Sonic Mania has an absolutely amazing soundtrack – and it’s definitely good enough that you might want to listen to it separate from gameplay. Thankfully, Mania has a couple of ways to do so:
First of all, by completing Get Blue Spheres mini-games, accessed at any checkpoint when you’ve over 25 rings, you’ll be able to eventually unlock the D.A. Garden option in the Extras menu of the game. Everything in the Extras menu is unlocked via the medallions you get from Get Blue Spheres. This is a more traditional Sound Test, and it’ll give you the names of the tracks and a cute animation from Sonic Mania’s main menu as you listen tot racks.
There’s an alternative, however: a more simple Sound Test can be found on the Level Select menu we describe below. Simply access that as described and voila – a sound test! That helps if you don’t want to spend time grabbing those pesky Blue Spheres.
Level Select: how to skip to any zone of your choice
There are two ways to select a level in Sonic Mania – one natural with your in-game progression and one that’s more of a traditional cheat in classic Mega Drive Sonic game fashion. So, here’s the two of them:
First off, once you complete the game you’ll be able to warp to any level in the game on the save select screen. Just highlight the completed save file in question and hit up and down on your controller to access the different levels. Simple! You’ll always start on Act 1 of a given Zone and then progress to Act 2 and on from there naturally.
If you want to cheat, there’s also a proper, cheat level select and debug mode, which is featured in the above video. On Nintendo Switch, you access this by simply hitting the main menu and then pressing and holding the B and Y buttons. Keep those buttons held – this will kick you back to the starting. Once you’re on the main menu, simply wait for hit to say ‘Press any button to start’ and then press start. This will bump you to a classic Sonic 2 & Sonic 3 style level select menu.
We currently don’t know how to do this on PS4 for Xbox One – it if it even works. We haven’t been able to make it work – maybe Microsoft and Sony blocked this because of achievements? If you have any idea, drop a message in the comments below.
The level select contains ways to access all of the zones in the game, plus a sound test and access to special zones. You’ll also have access to Debug Mode, so you can turn that on with a press of the X Button, allowing you to place objects including the giant special stage rings. Neat!