The Zone is a vast desert area on West Side Island with wild west structures. As with most other Zones in Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, Mirage Saloon Zone is composed of two Acts, with a boss fight at the end of both.
This Zone takes place in a vast desert based on those in America during the wild west. The landscape features canyons, mesas and other rock formations, along with cactus vegetation in various forms.
Act 2 of the Zone features multiple indoors areas modelled after wild west saloon bars. These include swivel stools, an ice cream parlor, barrels, and giant piano key-like platforms. Alongside these elements are also elements from casino/pinball stages. On the walls indoors are also numerous "Wanted" posters of Fang the Sniper, Bean the Dynamite and Bark the Polar Bear.
Continuing their hunt for Dr. Eggman and the Phantom Ruby, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles arrive in Mirage Saloon Zone onboard the Tornado. While in the air however, the Heavy Magician, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies, ambushes them, knocking Knuckles off the Tornado in the process. As such, while Sonic and Tails ward off Eggman and the Heavy Magician's tricks from midair, Knuckles is left to catch up to his friends from the ground. Eventually though, Sonic and Tails are forced down to the ground too when a familiar face causes the Tornado to crash.
Reunited, Sonic and his gang continue their trek through the Zone. At the end, they are attacked by the Heavy Magician, who is revealed to be the one who shot down the Tornado as she is able to disguise herself. After defeating the Hard Boiled Heavy, Sonic and co. use one of Mirage Saloon Zone's giant revolver contraptions to shoot themselves towards Oil Ocean Zone in the horizon.
After escaping Hydrocity Zone, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Mighty and Ray find themselves in Mirage Saloon Zone. Still determined to get the Phantom Ruby away from Dr. Eggman, the group of heroes presses onward through the Zone. After overcoming an Uber Caterkiller, Sonic and co. eventually cross paths with the Heavy Magician. After defeating the Heavy Magician, Sonic and co. come across one of Mirage Saloon Zone's giant revolver contraptions, which they use to shoot themselves towards the Oil Ocean Zone on the horizon.
Later, after having defeating Eggman for good, Sonic and his friends go to one of the ice cream parlors in Mirage Saloon Zone to celebrate their victory. There, they get a visit from the Heavy King, who surprises them with a giant sundae.
The Mirage Saloon Zone features gimmick mechanics reminiscent of Western play. These include giant revolvers that (depending on the player's aim) shoots the playable characters certain distances, giant seltzer bottles that create a guided path for the characters to run on, and piano keys that the player can bounce on like bumper walls. The Zone also features the return of many pinball-themed gimmicks, such as Flippers, Bumpers, and breakaway bumpers.
Sonic, Tails, Mighty and Ray
In Sonic, Tails, Mighty and Ray's playthrough of this Act, the player must use the Tornado to fly across the Zone. This is similar to Sky Chase Zone, with the player being caught in an auto-scroller where they must avoid enemies summoned by the Heavy Magician to progress. Soon, the player has to get off the Tornado and progress on a freight train driven by Dr. Eggman, until the player can jump into the train's pistol and return to the Tornado in the sky.
After defeating the Act 1 boss, the player encounters what appears to be either Fang the Sniper, Bean the Dynamite, or Bark the Polar Bear riding on one of the Armadiloids. They will then attack the Tornado, causing it to crash and transition into Act 2.
Knuckles takes a different route in this Act after being knocked down into a canyon by the Heavy Magician. In this version of the Act, the player travels through various tunnels and cave-like areas. Several Seesaw gimmicks are present throughout as well as sections that require the player to utilize Knuckles' gliding and wall climbing abilities in order to progress.
In Encore Mode, the Act is based on the Knuckles' variant. In addition to adjusting the level layout to suit all of the characters, it has many unique features and changes such as the train sequence from the other version of Act 1 in Mania Mode.
This act is the same in their respective game mode regardless of the playable character.
In Mania Mode, the player will fight an aerial battle with the Uber Caterkiller by playing as Sonic, Tails, Mighty or Ray in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1. This battle is fought aboard the Tornado. At the beginning of the battle, the Heavy Magician will reappear and make a Rattlekiller Badnik appear out of her hat, which then transforms into the Uber Caterkiller. This boss will leap out of the sand at the Tornado from various angles and it must be hit in the head to do damage. To defeat it, the player must hit it six times.
Also in Mania Mode, the player will fight a ground-bound Uber Caterkiller by playing as Knuckles in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1. Unlike Sonic and Tails' version of this boss, this one will launch its segments at Knuckles either by rolling them or bouncing them along the ground. Knuckles must avoid these and hit it in the head to do damage. When the Uber Caterkiller runs out of segments, it respawns three new segments and the fight continues. Land six hits on this boss in order to defeat it.
In Encore Mode in Sonic Mania Plus, the player faces Knuckles' version of the Uber Caterkiller, regardless of which character the player is currently playing.
The boss of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 is the Heavy Magician, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies. In battle, the Heavy Magician uses a box above the area to transform into either Fang the Sniper, Bean the Dynamite or Bark the Polar Bear. Each of these disguises comes with its own attack patterns. Attacking the Heavy Magician will dispel her disguise and stun her however, allowing the player to hit her. After successfully landing eight hits, the player will have defeated the Heavy Magician.
- Mirage Saloon Zone features several references and Easter eggs:
- The overall concept and aesthetic of Mirage Saloon Zone is identical to the scrapped Sand Shower Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Desert Dazzle that was intended to be featured in the 2011 re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Christian Whitehead later confirmed that Desert Dazzle was the inspiration for the Zone.
- The gameplay style of Sonic, Tails, Mighty and Ray's edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 is based on Sky Chase Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Both Zones feature the player riding the Tornado and feature similar Badnik designs. The music for this Act also incorporates elements of Sky Chase Zone's music.
- The way Sonic and Tails run on top of a moving train in their edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 may be a nod to Sunset Park Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble.
- The spinning emergency light on Dr. Eggman's freight train in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 are based on the same objects from Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
- In Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1, the freight train the player comes across includes oil tanks with the letters "OOZ" on the side and the Oil Ocean color scheme. These letters and objects are taken from Oil Ocean Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- This also hints at the Zone that follows Mirage Saloon Zone.
- In Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1, there are Seesaw with cactus-like ball Badniks on them. Those are based on the same set of objects from Hill Top Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- The spinning chairs in Act 2 act like the spinning platforms in Palmtree Panic and Wacky Workbench in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The Rattlekillers in Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 and the shared Act 2 for all playable characters behave much like the Crawltons from Mystic Cave Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- In Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 and the shared Act 2 for all playable characters, there are rocks in the shape of a trapezoid, both solid and destructible. Those rocks are based on the same objects from Sandopolis Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- The Roller Mk. IIs in Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 and the shared Act 2 for all playable characters are based on the Rollers from Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
- The rotating columns of iron balls in Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 and the shared Act 2 for all playable characters are based on the same objects from Collision Chaos in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The vines in Knuckles' edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 are based on the same objects from Angel Island Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- Knuckles' battle against the Uber Caterkiller in his edition of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1 is based on the battle against the Bead Worm Boss from Gigalopolis Zone in Sonic Chaos.
- Multiple wanted posters of Fang the Sniper, Bark the Polar Bear, and Bean the Dynamite can be seen in the background throughout the Zone. This trio of characters originally appeared on wanted posters in City Escape in Sonic Generations.
- The cans labeled "SH2 Cream" in the bar sections of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 use the same initials as the Sega 32X. that was used in the
- The piano bumpers in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 are seemingly based on the same gimmicks from Music Plant in Sonic Advance 2.
- The characters that the Heavy Magician turns into in this Zone (Fang, Bean and Bark) are all characters that previously appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble and Sonic the Fighters respectively.
- The label on the seltzer bottles in this Zone reads "Egg•seltz•ior" a pun on the word "excelsior."
- The sound effects used during the fight against the Heavy Magician in Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 are taken from Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble.
- The "EG" Eggman symbol previously seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 appears on multiple objects in this Zone, much like it did on the popcorn machine gimmicks at Studiopolis Zone.
- The revolver-like launcher gimmicks use the same designs as the guns wielded by the Eggrobos in Sonic & Knuckles.
- Coincidentally, they also function in a similar way to that of the cannons in Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Carnival Night Zone, albeit with different aiming mechanisms.
- The animation sequence at the end of Act 2 of this Zone has the character jumping into a gun-like launcher that launches him towards Oil Ocean Zone (also referencing Sonic/Tails' cutscene transition from Carnival Night Zone to IceCap Zone). This could lead to the likely conclusion that this Zone is located on West Side Island.
- Being located on West Side Island also references the scrapped desert Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- If Debug Mode or the Dev Menu is used, Knuckles can be made to play the other characters' edition of Act 1 and vice versa. To play the the latter four's version of Act 1 as Knuckles, the player must clear Hydrocity Zone Act 2 by using a Goal Plate placed via Debug Mode while for the other four characters to play Knuckles' version of Mirage Saloon Zone Act 1, they must clear their version of Act 1 in the same manner. This leads to some issues:
- Due to Knuckles' version of Act 1 being intended to be cleared with Knuckles' unique abilities, it is not possible for the other characters to clear it without using object placement to phase through such obstacles or routes requiring Knuckles' abilities.
- In the cutscene after defeating the sub-boss, Knuckles uses a set of crouching sprites otherwise not used in game.
- After Act 1's ending cutscene, the player's character immediately appear at their respective character's intended starting places of Act 2.
- A car skin called "Mirage Saloon" appears in Team Sonic Racing.
|"Skyway Octane"||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||2:13|
|"Wildstyle Pistolero"||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||2:12|
|"Rogues Gallery"||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||2:29|
- Sonic Mania OST - Mirage Saloon Act 2. YouTube. Sega (7 September 2017). Retrieved on 7 September 2017. "Out in the wild west deserts, the outlaws roam. Can Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles survive the cadre of hooligans lurking in the shadows? Even Eggman's ice cream parlors can't withstand the heat. Sonic Mania OST Mirage Saloon Zone Act 2 - "Rogue's Gallery" Composed by: Tee Lopes Mixed / Mastered by: Falk Au Yeong"
- Sonic Mania official website (Japanese). Stages: Mirage Saloon. Sega. Retrieved on 14 April 2017.
- Christian Whitehead on Twitter. Twitter (26 October 2016). Retrieved on 26 October 2016. "Prem: So just to confirm: Is this considered a new zone? Or is it a re-imagining of Sandopolis/Dust Hill? / Christian Whitehead: It's a new Zone - inspired by a new Zone I originally wanted to add to Sonic CD"