Stardust Speedway Zone is the sixth Zone of the Mania Mode of Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, and the seventh Zone of the Encore Mode of Sonic Mania Plus. This Zone is a re-imagination of Stardust Speedway from Sonic the Hedgehog CD for the Sega CD.
The Zone is a cityscape on Little Planet that is divided into two timeframes with different settings. As with most other Zones in Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, Stardust Speedway Zone is composed of two Acts, with a boss fight at the end of both.
Stardust Speedway Zone looks mostly unchanged from its counterpart from Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Each Act takes place in a different timezone. Act 1 takes place in the past, with ancient Greek/Roman-styled city underneath a clean dark blue sky during nighttime int he background. The roads also consist of green highways full of vegetation that has grown rather lush. Also, decorating the area are many yellow statues, vases, and dark red and green temples. There are as well many fireflies flying around and Capsules containing the Little Planet flowers are littered across the Act. Also, underneath the surface, a lake can be spotted. The sky is also full of constellations that can depict either harps, Roman helmets, and Sonic's head.
Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 takes place in the present, which is more urbanized and industrialized. In this Act, the city has been transformed into a modern cityscape full of neon-lit buildings covering the area in the background. The highways are also now cobber-colored, and have many musical instruments decorating them, making the Act look like an orchestra palace. The ancient temples has as well been removed. Instead, there are large, brown buildings under construction. Also, at the very bottom of the background, some tall and glowing blue/purple buildings appear more clearly, as well as a glowing lavender light and some more highways. At the end of the Act, there is also a gigantic, brown-colored Eggman statue.
In Sonic Mania Plus' Encore Mode, Stardust Speedway Zone has received various color palette changes. Act 1 now takes place at sunset, with the sky being red and almost all elements here sporting a yellowish hue. On the other hand, Act 2's new colors make it resemble the original Round's bad future. The sky has also adopted a crimson color, and so have the buildings themselves. The highways and its instruments are now tinted sea green.
Having been transported to the past of Stardust Speedway Zone by Dr. Eggman with the Phantom Ruby in Press Garden Zone, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles begin their search for a way off Little Planet, making their way from the past of this Zone into its present via a Time Warp sign after defeating a Hotaru Hi-Watt. At the end of the Zone, they destroy a Metal Sonic Projector and are met by several happy Animals, only for Metal Sonic, who is ready for a rematch with Sonic, to attack them. After going several rounds with Metal Sonic, the trio finally defeats the robotic hedgehog. The heroes then enter a computer room, where they discover Eggman planning to build a wireframed mech of sorts. Before anything can be done, however, Eggman sics the Phantom Ruby on Sonic and his friends, teleporting them to Hydrocity Zone.
Finding themselves in the past of Stardust Speedway Zone after having been teleported there by Dr. Eggman with the Phantom Ruby in Press Garden Zone, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Mighty and Ray set off to find a way to Eggman and the Phantom Ruby. After clearing out another Hotaru Hi-Watt, the group is able to use a Time Warp sign to go to the present of Stardust Speedway Zone. There, they find a Metal Sonic Projector. After destroying it, the heroes are met by several happy Animals, which are immediately chased off by Metal Sonic, whom Sonic's gang promptly engage. After defeating the robotic hedgehog following a strenuous battle, the heroes find a computer room with Eggman, who is making plans to rebuild the Titanic Monarch, and the Phantom Ruby in it. No sooner, the heroes are sent to Hydrocity Zone by Eggman with the Phantom Ruby.
Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 features several gameplay elements from Marble Garden Zone, with the inclusion of Pulleys, Platform-raising Wheels and downward loops with pillars that the player spirals around. Large Capsules, similar to the ones seen in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, are also located throughout the Act. Destroying these will release Little Planet flowers and one massive plant known as a "Beanstalk". This plant will quickly grow to cover the surrounding area when released, spawning leaves that the player can use as platforms and dangerous bio-mechanical heads that inflict damage. The Act also has stone griffins that carry Rings, bouncy threads of vines that can be used for enhanced jumps, curled up vines that form bridges when walked across, and giant iron balls that swing around horizontally.
Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 includes gimmicks like the Bungee Rope and fireworks the player can ride on.
Both Acts of Stardust Speedway Zone feature gimmicks and obstacles from the original Round. These include iron balls that periodically pop out of holes, and shooters the player can load with the playable characters and then fire in different directions.
Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 takes place in the past. At the end of this Act, the playable characters will automatically destroy a nearby robot transporter before using a Time Warp sign to travel to the second Act in the present.
Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 takes place in the present. At the start of the Act, the player will find themself in a portion of the original Round's Zone 2. Throughout the Act, the level layout is similar to that from the original Round, having many parts featuring ramps, loops, and tunnels.
The boss of Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 is the Hotaru Hi-Watt, a giant version of the local Hotaru. When the battle starts, it will disappear and leave regular-sized Hotaru to battle the player. After the player overcomes them, the Hotaru Hi-Watt will reappear. It then proceeds to rain down a column of energy before disappearing again and restarting the process. It is vulnerable as long as it is visible however. After taking six hits, the Hotaru Hi-Watt will be defeated.
The boss of Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 is Metal Sonic. During the first part of the fight, the player must run to the arena while dodging Metal Sonic's attacks. Once in the arena, the player has to knock the constantly respawning Silver Sonics that appear into Metal Sonic, who is sitting above the arena, by knocking the Silver Sonics up to him with the Spin Dash when the Silver Sonics use the Spin Dash too. After landing four hits, the player must run to the next section while dodging Metal Sonic's attacks again.
Once in the next arena, the boss battle will diverge depending on the version of the game. In Sonic Mania prior to update Version 1.04 and RC 1.05.0713, the player has to run away from an approaching spike wall while attacking Metal Sonic when he is vulnerable. Once eight hits are dealt, Metal Sonic will be defeated. In Sonic Mania as of Version 1.04/RC 1.05.0713 and Sonic Mania Plus, the player will instead face Giga Metal - a transformation of Metal Sonic achieved with the Phantom Ruby. Once eight hits are dealt to Giga Metal's belly, Metal Sonic will be defeated.
Giant Ring locations
- The player should take the path with the pulleys. After exiting the spring maze, they need to take the lower path right until they begin bouncing off the vines. They should bounce up to the path with the Star Post. They need to then enter the next spring maze and take the left path down to the ring chamber.
- Upon exiting the ring chamber, the player needs to take the launchers up to the highest one. They should then launch upward to the right to get on the top path. The player must make sure to jump over the spring to continue right to bounce off the vine to the pulley. They have to break the capsule and climb the Beanstalk all the way to the final leaf next to the launcher moving up and down. They should launch themselves near the top of the swing to reach the upper platform with a Giant Ring on top.
- The player should take the lower path down to the launcher. The need to launch down to the left to go down to a chamber full of launchers. They need to make their way to the farthest right launcher on the bottom. The player needs to launch up to the highest platform they can reach to the right. They should continue right and bounce up one level to reach another launcher. They have to launch to the right and continue straight right after the gap with the spring which will lead them to a loop. Before they hit the second loop, the player should stop and turn to the left. From the hill in between the loops, they need to jump to the left but watch out for the hidden spring. The player need to them jump up to the left and then to the right to find a small tunnel leading to a ring chamber.
- After exiting the ring chamber to the right, the player should launch upwards to the right to the second launcher and then launch straight up to the rocket. They have to veer to the right to get on the top path. The player should launch down to the bottom path and take the spring maze to the left to find the ring chamber. If they get the wrong path and reach the Star Post near the loop on the bottom, they can work their way left through the spring maze and also reach it.
- This marks the first of two times in which Knuckles, Mighty and Ray are playable in a Sonic the Hedgehog CD Round, the other being Metallic Madness.
- In keeping with the nomenclature of Sonic Mania, Stardust Speedway is referred to as a "Zone". In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, "Zones" are the individual levels that make up a stage (typically referred to as an "Act") and the stages themselves referred to as "Rounds".
- When fans questioned about the absence of the iconic "huehues" during Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1's music, Tee Lopes, the game's composer, jokingly responded with a video on Twitter.
- Lucas Carvalho, one of the game's artists has said on Twitter that this Zone was the one he loved working the most on Sonic Mania.
- Stardust Speedway Zone features several references and Easter eggs:
- The diagonal vine catapults in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are similar to the catapults from Sandopolis Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- The curled-up vine bridges in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are based on the same objects from Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- The Pulleys in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are based on the same objects from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- The swinging lines of iron balls in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are similar to the same objects from Collision Chaos in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The Platform-raising Wheels in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are the same as those from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- The Capsules with Little Planet flowers in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are the same as those from Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The pillars the player can run downhill of in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are seemingly based on those from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- In Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1, there are giant iron balls that swing around horizontally via chains. These obstacles are based on the same ones from Marble Garden Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
- The robot transporter, the Time Warp sign, and the time travel animation leading into Act 2 in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1 are all elements taken from Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The fireworks that can be ridden in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 appear to be based on the same gimmick from Tropical Resort in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations.
- The Bungee Ropes in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 originate from Sunset Hill in Sonic Advance 3.
- The Metal Sonic Projector before the boss fight in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 is taken from Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The second phase of the Metal Sonic boss fight is based on his boss fight from Knuckles' Chaotix.
- The appearance of Silver Sonic in the Metal Sonic boss fight and its associated sound effects are derived from the boss fight with Silver Sonic in Scrambled Egg Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit).
- In Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 in Sonic Mania v1.05.0713, the form Metal Sonic takes during the final phase of his boss battle (Giga Metal) is based on Metal Sonic Kai from Knuckles' Chaotix.
- In Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 in Sonic Mania v1.05.0713, the way Giga Metal marches towards the player is very similar to how the Giant Eggman Robo matches towards the player in the Death Egg Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- In Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 in Sonic Mania v1.05.0713, the way the glass dome on Giga Metal's chest becomes more cracked as it takes damage is similar to how each Egg Mobile-themed boss in Sonic 3D Blast shows how much damage it has taken.
- The Hotarus' attack patterns in Stardust Speedway Zone are based on those they had in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- In Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2, if the player takes a firework, they will see a bunch of Rings arranged in the shape of a diamond. This is a reference to "Diamond in the Sky", a song from Sonic R.
- In the last stage of Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 boss fight, a giant Eggman statue can be seen in background. This statue appeared near the end of the original Stardust Speedway Zone 2 and in the outro animated sequence of Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The vines that the playable characters run down and later launch them upwards in Stardust Speedway Zone Act 2 are similar to the ones from Leaf Storm in Sonic Rush.
- One of the many constellations that can be seen in the background of Act 1 is of the Tantalus logo, a reference to one of the studios that worked on Sonic Mania.
- The flower heads on Beanstalks resemble unnamed Badniks from Flower Park Zone in Sonic: Mega Drive.
- The roles and abilities of the Hotarus in Sonic the Hedgehog CD are switched for their appearance in Sonic Mania. In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, the Hotarus appeared in Stardust Speedway as regular enemies that appeared exclusively in pairs and created a chain of electricity between them, with a special variant appearing in Metallic Madness as a sort of miniboss that shot beams of light straight down. In Sonic Mania, the latter appear commonly throughout both acts of the zone, with the former exclusively appearing during the Hotaru Hi-Watt miniboss.
- This version of Stardust Speedway Zone uses the Japanese/European soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog CD and not the one composed for North America. However the first stage is set in the past and the USA version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD used the same past stage songs as the Japan/European versions of Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- In Mania Mode, Stardust Speedway Zone has the same level number as the original Round.
- Players can place the old version of the Hotarus into the level in Debug Mode, but they do not function correctly.
- This is the only Zone where, if the player is equipped with a shield upon completing Act 1, it will not carry over to Act 2, even if the player does not skip the transition cutscene. This is a reference to how, after entering the Time Warp with a Shield in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, the player would lose it.
|"Stardust Speedway Zone (Act 1)"||Tee Lopes, Naofumi Hataya||2:58|
|"Stardust Speedway Zone (Act 2)"||Tee Lopes, Naofumi Hataya||2:56|
- Sonic Mania OST - Stardust Speedway Zone Act 1. YouTube. Sega (31 July 2017). Retrieved on 7 August 2017. "Relax to the mellow funks of the past as Sonic and friends return to Little Planet's firefly-lit marble cityscape. But things aren't so simple as fauna has grown rather lush."
- Tee Lopes on Twitter. Twitter (31 July 2017). Retrieved on 1 August 2017.
- Lucas Carvalho on Twitter. Twitter (31 August 2017). Retrieved on 6 September 2017.