Emulating the style of the original Sonic Sega Mega Drive games, Sonic Mania is a 2D side-scrolling platform game with Sonic, Tails and Knuckles as playable characters. The goal is to race to the end of each Act of a Zone (a level in the game). The game’s levels consist of remixed Zones from past games, such as Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and new Zones as well. In addition to the standard Spin Jump, Spin Attack and Spin Dash maneuvers, Sonic Mania introduces the Drop Dash, which allows the player to instantly dash into a Spin Attack upon landing from a jump. The game will also feature the elemental shields from the early games.
The player can choose a second playable character to follow the lead character. Here, player 1 can control Sonic, and player 2 can control Tails. If Tails takes damage, he does not lose Rings. Tails can also fly while holding Sonic. By putting this to use, the player can reach areas that is hard for Sonic to reach on his own.