Almost three weeks remain until Sonic Mania finally launches on digital storefronts. San Diego Comic-Con 2017 is wrapping up today, and among the many panels hosted at the blockbuster convention was the Mania developer panel last night, starring lead programmers Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, Sonic series director Takashi Iizuka, social media manager Aaron Webber, Mania composer Tee Lopes, and artist Tom Fry.

The panel gave a behind-the-scenes look into Sonic Mania's production since it was first pitched to Iizuka in early 2016, as well as a sneak peek into the game's story and its Special Stages.

Here's a summary on everything the panel touched upon:

  • Sonic Mania was codenamed "Sonic Discovery" early in development
  • A working demo was already playable when the game was first pitched to Iizuka, featuring Studiopolis Zone and a small number of other original stages
  • "By the Mania, for the Mania." Iizuka suggested paying tribute to the classic titles as well, listing them on a whiteboard with that phrase
  • Concerning the game's plot, the concept of a retired and depressed Eggman was proposed, with the Hard-Boiled Heavies taking charge
  • Preorders for the vinyl album are now live, with the Limited Edition version only being available through tomorrow at 12:00pm BST. The album will be released sometime in September
  • Sonic Mania's unique low 3D-poly Special Stages were revealed, inspired by Sonic CD and Sonic R. Players must chase a UFO down for a Chaos Emerald, with Rings extending the time limit and Blue Spheres increasing your speed. The theme music, "Dimension Heist" (below), was played at the panel
  • Sonic Mania will feature sprite cutscenes between each Zone, similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles
  • The game is about as long as Sonic 3 & Knuckles as well, likely featuring just as many total Zones
  • Sonic Mania will also feature a fully-animated opening sequence, just like Sonic CD. The opening is produced by the same team behind the preorder trailer, including Tyson Hesse. Fans can look forward to seeing it in the upcoming launch trailer, come August 14
  • During the Q&A, Aaron Webber confirmed that the Super Emeralds (a Sonic 3 & Knuckles lock-on exclusive) would not be returning to Sonic Mania
  • Attendees received a free SEGA Genesis-like "instruction booklet," detailing the game's story post-Sonic 3 & Knuckles, developer profiles, Hesse-drawn sketches, and concept art (below). The concept art also hints at a possible Japanese winter-themed stage in the final game, showing Sonic frozen in a block of ice

Sonic Mania launches on August 15 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Source: The Sonic Stadium