- For Bonus Stages in general, see here.
Pinball Stages in Sonic Mania Plus are Bonus Stages that the player can visit separate from the main game. To enter a Pinball Stage, the player has to pass a Star Post after obtaining all thirty-two gold medallions from the Bonus Stages while carrying at least twenty-five Rings in Mania Mode, or just carrying at least fifty Rings in Encore Mode. This will in turn create a Star Circle above the post that, when jumped into it, will take the player to the Pinball Stage.
The Pinball Stages are pinball-themed, having inspired designs from the Bonus Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball. The Pinball Stages also incorporate elements of the Combi Catcher from Knuckles' Chaotix. A Pinball Stage ends when the player misses the flippers.
The Pinball Stages take place inside a gigantic pinball cabinet in a dark void with green and red diamond figures floating through the sky. The pinball field inside the cabinet itself is purpur with differently-colored figures like stars, arrows and icons of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Mighty, and Ray on it. The walls around the pinball field on the other hand are light purple with gem-like blocks in different colors decorating them. Also, in front of the pinball field are a pair of screens that move up and down the cabinet depending on how far up the player is on the pinball field. The front screen depicts Dr. Eggman, and will slide upward to reveal the back screen whenever the player is qualified to grab an item.
Bumpers and other obstacles are spread around the arena. Hitting these give points, which are displayed on the back screen.
This Pinball Stage is a pinball mini-game where the player aims to score points and win bonus items. The player's character rolls around a giant pinball table, collecting Rings and bouncing off bumpers and Drop Targets to earn points. When the player reaches the top of the table, they are given the chance to win a prize from the Combi Catcher, which can be a Shield, an extra life (Mania Mode only) or a character the player does not have (Encore Mode only). The player can also catch a Ring capsule that will deposit all the Rings collected within the Bonus Stage into the player's Ring count, or a capsule with a small Ring surrounded by arrows which will restore all the Rings and drop targets on the table. If the player catches an Eggman bomb, the points they have accumulated in the Pinball Stage are reset to zero. For every 10,000 points scored, the player earns a Continue.
By repeatedly attempting the Combi Catcher, more sections of the pinball table will open up to the player, which makes reaching the top more difficult. However, it also gives the player more Rings and targets to hit and further increase their score. When the player's character is not within the upper sections on the pinball table, then those sections' Flippers will be retracted into the ground, allowing the player to roll over them. Once the player moves past them, they will pop up and become operable until the player moves down to the lower sections. Once the player falls down the bottom of the table, the Pinball Stage ends.
- The Pinball Stage features several references and Easter eggs:
- The music for the Pinball Stages is a remix of the music from Trap Tower in SegaSonic the Hedgehog.
- The word "PLUS" can be seen on the pinball cabinet, referring to Sonic Mania Plus itself.
- The writing at the bottom of the screen where the player selects their "prize" says "COMBI", which is derived from the Combi Catcher.
- The rectangular bumpers produce the same sound effects as the Drop Targets from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when hit.
- The Bumpers on the pinball table are designed like the Bumpers that appear in Collision Chaos In Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The Flippers in the Pinball Stage are designed like the those in Collision Chaos and Metallic Madness in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- Dr. Eggman's animations in this are based on his animations from SegaSonic the Hedgehog when a player begins a level.
- The bombs in the prize machine are the same as the Death Egg Robot's bombs from the boss fight in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- In the second Sonic Mania Plus Dev Diary, it was revealed that the background used in this Pinball Stage was actually the background for the Sonic Discovery (original version of Sonic Mania) title screen.
- The screen on the machine features the logo “System32” in blue letters, a reference to the arcade platform of the same name.
- There is a set of unknown sprites in the files for the Pinball bonus stage depicting a hole of some kind. What its purpose would have been is unknown.
- The green wall backdrop used during the combi catcher portion of stage does not actually cover the whole “screen“ on the pinball machine. There is a small, two-pixel wide gap on either side where the player can still see the scrolling background of the main stage.