Sonic Mania’s Secret Mode Cements Its Place as a Love Letter to Fans

We chuckled.

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Sonic Mania is out today, bringing old school Sonic the Hedgehog goodness to modern gaming consoles. The game has already done plenty to show its love for Sonic fans, with remixed classic stages, retooled yet familiar sprite animations, and the utilization of fan-gone-pro talent for development. With so much love poured into it, it’s really no surprise that the game features some great Easter eggs, including a delightful hidden mode.

Sonic & Knuckles, and its creation of Sonic 3 & Knuckles (and Sonic 2 & Knuckles), wasn’t just a gimmicky concept with its two-cartridge “lock-on technology,” but it was a truly great Sonic game that introduced one of the series’ most iconic characters. Still, it’s the gimmick and the love together that turned “& Knuckles” into a meme among fans, and now it’s become a playable mode in the franchise’s newest game.

Mania already allows gamers to play as Knuckles, alongside the other standard character options of Sonic, Tails, or both Sonic and Tails together, but & Knuckles mode does exactly what you’d expect: adds an additional Knuckles. He follows the player’s character around just like Tails would in the more standard pairing, even if the player has chosen Knuckles as his character, as in the video above—and why wouldn’t you, if you were going for maximum comedic impact?

The mode’s humor is only enhanced by the fact that it’s a bit broken when Knuckles is paired with himself—the follower Knuckles only uses his gliding ability to return to the player after getting lost, rather than using it to follow along with the player’s movements. That means he’s going to get helplessly left behind a lot, for no good reason, when used together with a playable Knuckles. It all brings back fond memories of poking around with cheat codes to make these games do things they weren’t supposed to, often with ridiculous and hilarious results.

If you’re playing Mania today and need to experience this for yourself, the mode is apparently unlocked through the blue sphere bonus stages.

(via Polygon, image: SEGA)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>