7 Amazing Things That Went Unused In Sonic Mania

The PC version of Sonic Mania hit Steam last week, and it didn’t take long for the Sonic hacking community to construct tools to unpack, data mine and mod the game. We’ve assembled a list of the seven most interesting things the community have found lurking inside the game’s source code!

1. Jan-Ken-Pon! An Alex Kidd-themed boss

Tracker_TD has found some interesting sprites that appear to point to a boss that indicate that at some point in the development of Sonic Mania, the Studiopolis boss was originally going to be a Rock-Paper-Scissors battle between Sonic and Eggman! This was likely going to be a nod to yet another classic SEGA title, Alex Kidd, before it was scrapped for the Weather vane boss.

2. Re-Discovering Sonic Mania’s past

Back before Sonic Mania got it’s name (Takashi Iizuka explains the origin of the name at the SDCC Panel), the working title was Sonic Discovery. It appears that the old title card still exists in the data!

3. I’m just a Love Machine

Amy fans might have been disappointed at her omission from Sonic Mania (besides a self-destructing Amy doll in the incredibly cute gachapon boss in Metallic Madness), but seems she was also to be used in this love tester machine, again in Studiopolis. While it is unclear from the sprite artwork as to how the machine was actually to function, it appears that there may have been three results possible, producing one of the three protagonist images. And what about that Eggman Icon?

While not a Sonic reference, we can’t help but be reminded of a classic Simpsons episode…

4. Where you going, You big drip! Unused Tails animation

The Sonic the Hedgeblog Twitter account has produced this neat comparison gif of Sonic Mania sprites, showing the animation from the opening cut scene in Chemical Plant Zone, alongside an unused animation. Rather than utilising the “look up” animation when a drop of the Mega Mac lands on Tails’ head, Tails instead uses his propeller action to dry himself off! It’s unclear why this animation was cut, as it is blatantly the cuter of the two!

5. Escape From The UFO!

Another discovery by Tracker adds intrigue to the UFO Special stage! The graphic below shows the text implemented in the game – and nestled between them is the phrase “Time to escape!”. Does this hint that in early builds of the special stage, the player possibly had to escape either the stage or the UFO itself once the Chaos Emerald had been grabbed?

6. Were Hyper forms once planned for?

Similar to 5., BlueParadox has uncovered text that appears to hint at a feature that either went unused or never made it off the drawing board. Many fans asked if the Hyper forms (as seen in Sonic 3 & Knuckles) would return in Mania, however Iizuka-san has on more than one occasion stated the Super Emeralds are non-canon. It seems strange however that the Super Emeralds appear to be present in the Heavy King fight, and that buried in the data, the text for “Hyper” exists. Perhaps Iizuka-san had a change of heart at one point…maybe we will never know!

7. “I’m outta here!”

If you hang around too long in Sonic CD idling, Sonic unceremoniously jumps off the screen resulting in a Game Over. While not featuring in the final build, all the animation and sound clips are present in Mania’s source code, which has allowed those with savvy enough skills to re-implement the feature in mods (as shown in the video below).

Have you found anything interesting hiding in Sonic Mania’s data files that went unused and that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!

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T-Bird

With a decade under his belt, T-Bird is one of The Sonic Stadium's most seasoned writers, with interests in the music and merchandise of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. T-Bird is the co-organiser for the Summer of Sonic convention.

22 Comments

  1. I’m quite surprised that the Tails sprite animation wasn’t used. I found it strange that Sonic had a unique sprite animation for the start of Chemical Plant Zone (Act 1), and yet Tails simply utilizes his looking up animation. The dedicated sprite looks amazing, and it is a shame that they didn’t use it.

  2. Iizuka’s full of shit is what I took away from the Super Emerald omission thing. The guy jumps around on whatever “is canon” and “isn’t canon” at the drop of a hat. So let me get this straight, according to the guy who INHERITED the job of the head of the franchise (yes I get he did a lot of great things before that, but I hardly think the same skills do much to help with deciding things like this when it comes to the lore), cool stuff like the Super Emeralds and Hyper Forms should “never” be considered canon, but we should also believe that instead of existing in one consistent world that just happens to be inhabited by both anthropomorphic animals AND humans at the same time that Sonic and co. just happen to be traveling between “different worlds” and pretend to exist in the same world all the time between each game? That doesn’t help explain anything, if anything you just made the whole series even more needlessly difficult to understand, you could have just said “actually it’s all pretty straight-forward, the world has many different facets that we just choose to focus on a different particular part of it in each title” and no one would have questioned anything. It’s like he just makes this stuff up on the fly without consulting anybody.

    Why do the Super Emeralds have to be “non-canon”? They’re clearly present in the game, ergo, THEY EXISTED, you’re making a contradictory statement. What exactly does deeming them “non-canon” actually do for the series? Absolutely nothing, you could have just left it alone and it would have had the same impact it’s always had. What, you afraid of bringing them back or something? You seem to love bringing the Wisps back in every game without any given explanation as to why they’re still around. Why is THAT the only question that no one ever seems to ask the guy, he clearly loves the Wisps, I’m sure he’d love to make up another BS explanation as to why they still get to take up space while the Super Emeralds just don’t exist in any capacity I guess. Even his explanation for the moon still appearing whole after Eggman blew it up is hard enough to swallow…but it’s just BS crazy enough for a Sonic game that I’m willing to let it pass, so I’ll let him have that one.

    But everything else he has said with regards to the series in what should be considered “canon”, what “world” Sonic is in at any given point, and what gimmicks are worth bringing back as opposed to other more popular ones has been very aggravating to me. It’s starting to make some of the issues that coexisted with the series’ 2010-present leg make much more sense in hindsight. He’s contributed great things to the series, as a DEVELOPER, but maybe that’s where his contribution should have stayed, because as far as creativity goes when he no longer has to work with his own two hands, it doesn’t seem to me that he has that much left to offer. I’m not bashing everything he’s done BEFORE 2010, it’s just everything he’s done since taking over that I have issue with, the most unforgiving being the hiring of Pontac and Graff, he should have realized after Generations at the very latest that they weren’t worth keeping aboard.

    1. They are only non-canon because Sonic 3 and Knuckles are separated games (even if they are always hinted like one, remember, Super Emeralds only exist because you “lock-on” two SEPARATED games, it’s like a add-on to not remove the other special stages)

    2. The Super Emeralds (and the Hyper forms they enable) only exist because Sonic 3 was split in two. As a result, seven (eight) new Special Stages were added to Sonic & Knuckles, and it makes no sense to have all those stages and just throw them away when you lock on Sonic 3. Except now you have 14 emeralds to deal with, when it’s already established the correct count is 7. So you invent a quick-fix to prevent you throwing stuff away. This would have been a decision taken at the time, and Iizuka is simply repeating what that decision was. To blame him for it is, at best, dishonest.

      Note how no-one complains about Big Arms, a last-minute panic creation added because the laser stack boss would have sucked as the final boss of Sonic 3. But just think about the word ‘Hyper’, and it’s fire and brimstone, torches and pitchforks, and building a gallows for the head of someone who is simply repeating his predecessors’ words.

      And that is why the Sonic fanbase is hated.

      1. Another thought occurred to me: Hyper is *completely unnecessary* nowadays.

        Look at what Super has done since 1994:
        – Survived several space battles
        – Taken on demi-gods and won
        – Taken on an *actual* god and won
        – Rewrote history
        – Rewove the fabric of time and space

        If Super is *that* powerful, where’s the room for Hyper? There isn’t any.

        1. You’re missing the whole point of what I said in regards to Hyper. It was a fun addition, it makes no sense to omit it on the grounds of “we did it cause we had to, now we don’t have to so I don’t want to”, especially when a large majority of the fan base wanted it to come back. I’m not saying that Super is lame and that it doesn’t have enough “story power”. Again, I am referring to it as a GAMEPLAY component. What point is there in not putting it in? It does nothing to harm the game or the franchise. Storywise whatever form you’re in doesn’t alter the plot and the only changes it would make would be in the gameplay, the same way it worked in S3K. You would just have a better version of that super form and there’s already plenty of special rings hidden throughout the whole game to match up the extra 7 stages needed for that.

          Whether they factor into a story in any significant way or not compared to the regular emeralds is irrelevant, what matters is whether or not you have them there at all for the players to play with in the first place. They were clearly going to put them in there, it would have hurt nothing to have them in there. The only strategic bit of thinking Iizuka did in that decision is in trying to keep a frustrating level of consistency on Sonic’s image: he runs thru zones, gets the emeralds, goes super, saves the day, the end. Now it feels like even the Classic franchise is forced to fit into this heavily limiting mold, even though it clearly already showed promise in subverting convention anyway.

          And even if you believed the things that you said to defend this one action, it does nothing to excuse or account for all the other various mistakes I listed before. All this is is just another stone on top of the pile of mistakes that he’s been building up over his tenure as head of the franchise. I am not asking for his head on a stake or whatever it is you seem to be insinuating (god forbid any Sonic fan doesn’t praise every decision the guy makes I guess), I’m simply expressing my disagreement with the decisions he makes and the thought process and inconsistency that seems to go with them. Again, it seriously feels like he makes these answers up on the fly as soon as someone asks him about them and that he doesn’t consult anybody. That’s not an effective way to run a franchise.

          1. Iikuza took over in 2006. In the 12 years before that, Yuji Naka could have reused the Super Emeralds and Hyper Sonic, and he didn’t. Yet you completely ignore that in favour of shitting on Iikuza, who was almost certainly not involved in the original decision not to reuse them. So why does Yuji Naka get a free pass? Surely he’s the one who’s really to blame for the fact Hyper has never returned.

            I have no issue with people criticising Iikuza: I do so myself in another comment on this very article. But if you’re going to criticise him, do it for the right reasons. Do it for Sonic 06, for Lost World, for Colors DS, for Generations 3DS, and for the Storybook games, not for decisions made years before he took over.

    3. I completely agree. The guy’s a primary example of what happens when you promote someone to a position in which their utterly out of their depth.

      If the Super Emeralds are non-canon what does that mean for the entire classic series?
      Also Izukas’ initial explanation for the moon’s visual state and it having no tangible effect on the planet was completely (I don’t mean to sound offensive, but there’s no other way of putting it) uneducatedly ignorant & his current explanation still make little sense. Frankly I think they SEGA should consider bumping him back to development and instead hire someone more competent.

      1. “If the Super Emeralds are non-canon what does that mean for the entire classic series?”
        Nothing. The Super Emeralds were a hack, added purely because Sonic 3 got split in two, and it would have been dumb to throw away seven perfectly good Special Stages.

        And let’s not forget, Iikuza took over in 2006. That meant that Yuji Naka had 12 years to use the Super Emeralds a second time, and he chose not to. If the blame should be placed anywhere, it’s with Yuji Naka. And it’s not like there were no big-ticket games in that time: we had two Adventure games, three Advance games, and Heroes that could easily have had Super Emeralds, yet didn’t.

        “Also Izukas’ initial explanation for the moon’s visual state and it having no tangible effect on the planet was completely (I don’t mean to sound offensive, but there’s no other way of putting it) uneducatedly ignorant & his current explanation still make little sense.”
        I must admit, I’m not aware of what this explanation is.

        “Frankly I think they SEGA should consider bumping him back to development and instead hire someone more competent.”
        Wanting someone demoted just because you don’t like a couple of answers they’ve given is, I’m sorry to say, petty and vindictive. I mean, it’s not like you have to look hard to find legitimate reasons: after all, Iikuza presided over both Sonic 06 and Lost World, two of the worst Sonic games of all time.

        1. For the record, Iizuka’s moon explanation was that when Eggman blasted the moon in SA2, the moon rotated so that it’s intact side is facing the Earth and Sun now, so now it APPEARS as though it is whole in the other games where it looks whole, like Sonic Unleashed. So the indication is that the moon we’ve seen in every game after SA2 is the same one that got it’s face blown off, it’s just that we’re seeing the other side of it that didn’t get blown off, even though if it’s supposed to be based off of OUR moon it would have noticeably more craters and dark spots on it, but in every game it matches the face of the moon instead, as if nothing bad happened to it. It isn’t very scientific and it requires a huge suspension of disbelief, not to mention it sounded totally made up as he was saying it, but it’s a series about a speedy blue hedgehog, you should already have enough of a suspension of disbelief just to be playing platforming video games anyway.

          A moon turning around just to look “whole” after getting half of it’s face blasted off to excuse a few artistic errors isn’t going to make the series any harder to take seriously, the world they describe already has not one but TWO planetoids enter it’s orbit (within the atmosphere no less), one of which can actually disappear and travel in time for about 11/12ths of the whole year, I think everyone’s suspension of disbelief should be fine by this point. It just would have been nicer to have gotten a more thought-out answer to that question is all, I guess. I could still see someone else like Yuji Naka making that kind of explanation, though I would hope that he’d come up with something better as well.

          For everything else, look, I’m more fair than you think. 2006 was a complicated mess that didn’t belong to just any single entity (well except for maybe corporate SEGA). As far as I’m concerned, Iizuka had to inherit a disaster waiting to happen and had little room he could move in between what they had originally wanted to do and what they actually could make the game into with SEGA’s ever shrinking deadlines. I’m not going to place the blame squarely on him for that title.

          Bear in mind though, he wasn’t credited as a producer at that time, or for any lead position for that matter. All that he was credited for was “Special Thanks”, it’s very non-specific. I have no doubt he probably lifted a lot of the weight left behind by Naka when he left, but how much is hard to tell based on acknowledged credit alone. Further, he didn’t “take over” for Naka until 2010 as the series producer. Until 2008 he was the head of SEGA Studio USA which got folded back into Sonic Team Japan, so all that happened before 2010 was him becoming the new head of Sonic Team. He didn’t start taking more leadership and administrative roles in major Sonic titles again until 2010 with Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Ep. I as the Project Lead. So yeah, I’ll forgive him for whatever he could barely manage with 2006, but Sonic 4, that was all him, not a good start as the head of SEGA’s sole remaining money magnet.

          And as I said before, it’s not like I don’t appreciate his previous contributions to the series. Sonic Adventure, the very game that he is repeatedly acknowledged for directing AND designing for, is still one of the most popular and influential Sonic games to date. And the games that followed that he directed were still pretty decent at the very least (well, maybe average for Heroes’ case). And most notable of all, he was the level designer (or at least one of them) for Sonic Unleashed (PS3/X-Box 360 version), my most favorite Sonic title to this day. I have nothing but thanks for him in the contribution he had for that amazing title.

          But my point is that most of those titles that were much better received that he worked on were when he was both a director AND a designer in the games. I’m not sure entirely, but I have a feeling that he’s thinking about all the aspects of a game he’s working on more thoroughly when he has both creative AND physical input into the thing he’s working on. He gets to think an idea and then bring it to life to see if it works. He’s creative, there’s no doubt about it, 2010-onward titles like Sonic Colors and Generations, and even parts of Lost World certainly show signs of that creativity still being alive and well. However, from 2010-on he’s only ever been in a lead administrative role, a producer. He doesn’t get that physical feedback that he used to receive anymore. A lot of ideas that may have sounded good on paper end up having mixed results in execution. Sonic 4 (credited as a “project lead” that time around) was mishandled attempt on recapturing what Sonic fans missed from the Genesis era; Colors’ control refinement, overall level design, and written dialogue felt kind of choppy at times; Generations felt painfully lacking in promising content, both story and gameplay alike; and Lost World felt like a jumbled whiteboard of ideas that sounded cool but didn’t get enough thought put through them and as a result felt like an unorganized mess. I don’t even want to get into Sonic Runners.

          I’m not saying I know how he oversees his teams, for all I know he either keeps a close watch but has trouble expressing his ideas clearly (if his answers to interview questions are any indication), or he may have barely kept track on the teams at all and only gave a few words of input in (such as stepping in for the occasional “why certain characters shouldn’t wear pants” lecture in Rise of Lyric’s development, though to be fair that’s as far as his involvement went) and just kept track of their budget , the bare minimum a producer is expected to do. Either way, it feels like just being in an leadership position alone isn’t where he’s meant to be, it really feels like he’s meant to be physically putting in what he thinks up, getting that direct feedback that probably makes more sense to him as he experiences it.

          He’s got enough leadership skills to be a director, but I feel that it’s more in a way that aids his creative input as an artist. A producer is not an artist, at least not in the way that he’s used to, they’re more like the supervisors of artists, and I don’t think that’s what he is. It really feels like a position that’s just not suited for him, I’d rather see him ACTUALLY produce the games, not simply oversee them to some unspecified degree.

    4. “however Iizuka-san has on more than one occasion stated the Super Emeralds are non-canon.”

      no he hasn’t. his statement in the gameinformer interview (linked in this article!) read more like he didn’t have any plans to bring the Super Emeralds back. and Kazuyuki Hoshino immediately followed that up w/ “They’re gone. I don’t know how it happened, but they’re gone.”

      in a Q&A with Iizuka and Hoshino at Sonic Boom 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nzxRoIX4QU&t=19m40s), Iizuka cleared up the issue a bit, and basically said that the Super Emeralds were only added to Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the combined game, as an incentive to go through one more set of special stages. nothing about canonicity.

      i would find it funny that you got so worked up over misinformation, but this is the same fandom that thought Jason Griffith’s middle name was Anthony until the man himself spoke up in 2011. lol

      1. Lol, I actually forgot I called Jason that. I feel kind bad about that now, he’s probably my most favorite Sonic. X)”

      2. Thank you for proving that there are Sonic fans out there who make an effort to stay informed. Also, thanks for clearing up a few things for me as well, even if by accident 😉

  3. Perhaps there will later be some DLC or something that adds to the story of the game, rather than a completely new game, that involves the Super Emeralds.

    As it stands, however, I’m not sure I’d like that idea. After all, the Chaos Emeralds are the “servers” for the Master Emerald. If that’s true, then where does that leave the Super Emeralds? I suppose I could see the Master Emerald shattered, and if you get all Super Emeralds, their power, after you return the Hyper power borrowed from them, could combine to create a new one, but how would you explain the Master Emerald shattering when it has been indestructible in the other games in which it has appeared? It’ll take a pretty difficult boss to destroy it, I think, else it’ll be difficult to figure out an acceptable story for its destruction.

    All of this is speculation of course as Hyper Sonic was practically game-breaking in the Sonic 3 levels, which is a good case against its inclusion.

    1. Doubt it, Iizuka said that there are no plans for Mania DLC. And keep in mind, he also thought Generations didn’t need any more DLC after it’s release either, and we know how well that went.

  4. Honestly the super emeralds/hyper forms add nothing to the story, removing them doesn’t change anything. The moon though, different story, they should explain that better at some point, otherwise each game stops being canon the moment a new one comes out.

    Also why are there two moons in Sonic Advance 3?

    1. “Also why are there two moons in Sonic Advance 3?”

      Since Eggman uses Chaos Control to rip the planet apart, I think it’s likely a side-effect.

  5. Is EVERYONE forgetting the fact that S3&K showed the Chaos Emeralds being TURNED INTO the Super Emeralds BY the Master Emerald?

    1. Not to mention, again, THEY WERE IN MANIA. Yeah, they’re dulled and grayed out, but they’re all in the placement that they were in Sonic 3 when you collected all of them. It’s a blatant reference to them. To reference something but claim that it doesn’t factor at all into anything is ridiculously contradictory.

      1. IIRC, Whitehead explained that what happened was that when the Chaos Emeralds disappeared from Hidden Palace between S3&K and Mania, they left behind stone replacements as relics.

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