- Not to be confused with the real-world corporation Studiopolis.
The Zone is a metropolis of skyscrapers on West Side Island filled to the brim with equipment for producing big cinema features. As with most other Zones in Sonic Mania and Sonic Mania Plus, Studiopolis Zone is composed of two Acts, with a boss fight at the end of both.
Concept and creation
Studiopolis Zone Act 2 (Act 1 at the time) was the first Zone developed for "Sonic Discovery (which would later become Sonic Mania). This Zone was presented to Takashi Iizuka of Sega to showcase the developers' capabilities.
In Act 1, Studiopolis Zone is set up in a large city with studio equipment, cinema elements and theater objects. It is set underneath a dark blue sky with some clouds and stars during nighttime. The paths are red and pink with a hexagon pattern, and are covered by light blue and orange platforms, decorated with blue street lamps that have transparent spheres with a spinning green ring inside them. The paths can also take the appearance of light blue highways that connect one building to another. Other decorations include posters with the Eggman Empire symbol and the text "EGG TV" on them, bronze boxes, vans, old-fashioned TVs, and buildings covered by yellow glass. The background is as well full of tall skyscrapers with many different colors and shiny neon signs that read either "CLUB SPIN SEGA" or "Pink Bot". Also, at the very bottom of the Act, there is a lake, as well as a metro system in the background.
In Act 2, the Zone takes place inside of a large television studio-like environment. This area is dominated by images in Dr. Eggman's likeness. Features here include stacks of monitors with Eggman's face on them, unstable stage lights, electric cables, flappable panels that reveal words and phrases, and giant glass spheres that are designed like lottery machines.
In Encore Mode, Studiopolis Zone has a notable color palette change. In Act 1, the items that were originally red and blue are now yellow and purple, respectively. The sky here also takes a greenish hue. Meanwhile, Act 2 uses brownish colors to replace the original ones.
In Studiopolis Zone, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles burst into the Zone from a manhole, whose utility vault is connected to a pipe the trio entered back in Chemical Plant Zone. In this incredible city, the trio resume their hunt for Dr. Eggman and the Phantom Ruby. Along the way, they defeat the Heavy Gunner, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies, when he and his battalion of Egg-Robos attack them.
When the heroic trio finds Eggman, the doctor escapes after they defeat him. However, a news feed quickly appears on a nearby giant monitor, showing the Flying Battery flying over the Zone. This prompts Sonic and his friends to take off, only for them to reappear on the monitor and grab onto the blimp.
Having dived into a sewer pipe in the Chemical Plant Zone, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Mighty and Ray follow it until they emerge from a manhole in Studiopolis Zone. From within this city, the heroes continue their quest to retrieve the Phantom Ruby from Dr. Eggman. Outside a film studio however, the Heavy Gunner, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies, and his battalion of Egg-Robos, attack Sonic and co. Fortunately, the heroes are able to beat them.
Sonic and his friends soon find Eggman in a film studio, and are able to defeat him. However, the doctor escapes. It is then that a news feed appears on a nearby monitor, which announces the return of the Flying Battery as it flies through the Zone. Reacting quickly, Sonic and his gang take off and are able to grab onto the blimp when it passes by.
Along the paths in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 are certain sections with TV shops in the background whose windows will shatter when the player passes by them at high enough speed. In terms of interactive gimmicks, Studiopolis Zone Act 1 features giant popcorn machines that can shoot the playable characters to higher areas when entered and interacted enough with, enterable vans that can transmit the player through satellite dishes across the Zone and out of TVs, director chairs that can take the playable characters to higher area when stood on, and giant clapperboards that shoot the player upwards like the Jump Panels. There are also panels with Eggman on them that, when flipped, will reward the player with an Item Box.
Studiopolis Zone Act 2 has a number of exclusive gimmicks. These include stage lights that can be used as platforms before they fall down from being stepped on, tiles that reveal different words and phrases when flipped, electrical cables that function like high-speed warp tubes, funnels that grant points the longer the playable characters take to pass through them, and giant flywheel-like film reels that can be moved into different positions. There are also giant lottery machines that when entered, will dispense four lottery balls that make up a sum equating to how many Rings the player will earn. If an Eggman ball is dispensed, the player will instead lose rings equal to the sum of the other three balls.
Across both Acts of Studiopolis Zone are Bumpers which often appears in different formations and are a integral part of the gameplay. Similar items featured in both Acts include fuzzy Bumper balls that are connected to the ground by a spring each. When they are touched, they will bounce they playable character slightly away. However, they also move around like balloons when touched. The player can use this gimmick to bounce slightly upwards, although passing through them might be tricky due to their mechanics. Other obstacles are film chairs with the text "EGGMAN" on them, which will go upwards when the playable character stands on them, taking them to higher places.
Act 2 has gimmicks that include pinwheel-like wheels, which will take the player to one place when they make them rotate; lottery machines that will give the player Rings depending on their result; and high-speed warp tube-based gimmicks. As decoration, signs with text are featured in this Act as well; by passing some of them, they will spin and reveal a letter.
Studiopolis Zone Act 1 is full of alternate pathways. Commonly featured are gigantic buildings, some of which are covered by yellow glass that only allows the player to see the shadows of the items that are behind them. The top paths are generally slow, while the middle ones normally take place in buildings full of obstacles, and the bottom ones are the fastest ones, thus allowing the player to gather enough momentum to gain access to secrets. Also featured in this Act are various vans which the player can get in, taking their character through a complex system of antennas until they emerge from a TV which they will destroy. The Act also includes the film chair obstacles.
In the second half of this Act, the gameplay changes to a chase battle between the player and Heavy Gunner.
Studiopolis Zone Act 2 introduces new gimmicks different from those in Act 1. Overall, the Act is more linear than the first one, although secrets are still common. Here, the player is sent down a golden pathway filled with a variety of Springs exclusive to this Zone, into a lottery machine, and is from there sent into a funnel leading into a blue checkered tube.
The boss of Studiopolis Zone Act 1 is the Heavy Gunner, one of the Hard Boiled Heavies. The Heavy Gunner starts out by coming out flying with the Egg-Robos and his own Police Copter. The objective of this fight is simply to knock back the blue missiles that are shot at the playable characters. The Heavy Gunner will shoot three missiles, two which actually harm the player and one that can damage the Heavy Gunner himself when knocked back at him with a simple attack. Knocking back four missiles will defeat this boss.
The boss of Studiopolis Zone Act 2 is the Weather Globe, a modified form of Dr. Eggman's Egg Mobile. The battle against Dr. Eggman begins as the playable character arrives in front of a large television monitor that reads "Egg TV". Dr. Eggman descends into the arena as the image of a Cluckoid appears on the monitor. On the monitor, a small panel will spin and reveal one of three attacks that Eggman will conduct while he floats back and forth across the arena. Hit Eggman eight times to claim victory.
- Studiopolis Zone was the first new Zone revealed for Sonic Mania.
- Studiopolis Zone is the only Zone in the game where the music for the Act 1 boss battle is not the mini-boss theme "Danger on the Dance Floor".
- Coincidentally, Studiopolis is the name of the post-production studio that records voices for the Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Boom series, since Sonic Free Riders. Christian Whitehead himself said that the developers had alternate names, such as "Opening Night" and "Fame Plaza", if the studio would not like their use of their name.
- Studiopolis Zone Act 2 had a very different background in the footage seen in the Sonic 25th Anniversary reveal trailer.
- Studiopolis Zone features several references and Easter eggs:
- Studiopolis Zone Act 1 has neon signs with the words "Pink Bot" on them. This is a reference to the similar "Pine Pot" signs featured in the first stage of Sega's side-scrolling beat'em up game Streets of Rage.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1, the words "COPE" and "CPU" can be seen on a train in the background. These are references to the similar neon-colored words from Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1, there are television vans with the words "High-Class" and "Hornet" on them. This is a references to the NR2003 Hornet from Sega's arcade racing game Daytona USA.
- The sound effect the "Hornet" vans in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 make when the player enters them is exactly the same as the sound heard in Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball when the player enters doors.
- The teleportation rings emitted by the "Hornet" vans in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 are similar to those utilized by the Ring Shooter in Death Egg Zone from Sonic & Knuckles.
- The popcorn machine gimmick in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 that is labeled "SegaSonic Popcorn Shop" is a reference to SegaSonic Popcorn Shop, an arcade vending machine released in 1993.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1, there are a number of LED signs that makes reference to previous Sega material:
- One sign says "LOCK-ON TECHNOLOGY". This is a throwback to the Lock-On feature for the Sega Genesis cartridges for Sonic & Knuckles.
- One sign says "GOOD GREAT AWESOME OUTSTANDING AMAZING". This is a reference to the announcer from in the Wii version Sonic Colors, who shouts the same words when the player pulls off a Trick Action.
- One sign says "BY THE MANIA, FOR THE MANIA". This is a nod to the catchphrase Takashi Iizuka came up with during the development of Sonic Mania.
- One sign says "TO BE THIS GOOD TAKES AGES...TO BE THIS GOOD TAKES SEGA". This is a reference to the tagline used for the Sega Mega Drive advertisements in the United Kingdom.
- In Encore Mode, one sign says "HIT IT, TURN IT UP, GET DOWN". This is part of the lyrics for the theme song for Stardust Speedway in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- In Encore Mode, one sign says "ENCORE", a reference to the mode of Sonic Mania Plus.
- The rotating UFO-like street lamps in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 incorporate the unused UFOs from Marble Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog into their design.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1, there are large vintage televisions with red, green and blue marks on them. These marks resemble the ones featured in the official logo of the Sega Game Gear. The small red switch light on the left side is identical to the power light seen on the previously mentioned handheld console.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1, there is an advertising sign in the background with the words "Club Spin AGES" on it. This is a callback to numerous Japanese arcade clubs under the title "Club Sega". The part "AGES" itself refers separately to the playable character with same name from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed whose name is a reference to a past Sega motto.
- One of the four Egg-Robos during the boss battle with the Heavy Gunner in Studiopolis Zone Act 1 is piloting a larger helicopter-like vehicle loosely based on the classic Egg Mobile. Many design elements that this vehicle has in common with the Egg Mobile include its shape and helicopter attachment seen from the Egg Mobile design in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and pair of mechanical feet featured in the Egg Mobile in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991).
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 1 and 2, there are clapperboards containing the time that has passed in the Zone, and the Sega logo with the initials CW, HC and PWG, which stands for the developers of Sonic Mania Christian Whitehead, Headcannon and PagodaWest Games respectively.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 2, there are various flippable clusters of tiles that when touched will show one of four messages that reference previous Sega material:
- One set of tiles shows "GENESIS DOES". This is a throwback to the quote "Genesis Does What Nintendon't" slogan that was used for the Sega Genesis in the United States.
- One set of tiles shows "LOCK ON", again referencing the Lock-On feature for Sonic & Knuckles.
- One set of tiles shows "WELCOME TO THE NEX LEVEL". This is a throwback to the tagline used in Sega commercials between 1992-1994. Due to how the panels are set, the "t" in "NEXT" is absent.
- One set of tiles shows "EGGMAN PIRATE TV". This is a throwback to "SEGA Pirate TV", a mock pirate TV station which was part of a European Sega ad campaign in the early 1990s.
- In Encore Mode, one set of tiles spell out "LET'S GO". This is could be a reference to an unused sign from Spring Yard Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
- In Encore Mode, one set of tiles spell out "THIS IS COOL", which is a reference to the Sega Saturn's "This is COOL" slogan that was printed on its Skeleton and Derby models. It is also in reference to the Sega Saturn's Cool Pad controller.
- In Encore Mode, one set of tiles spell out "DOOR INTO SUMMER". This is a reference to the Isolated Island's theme in Knuckles' Chaotix.
- In Encore Mode, one set of tiles spell out "TOOT TOOT SONIC WARRIOR". This is the a part of the lyrics for the song "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" which is the opening theme from the Japanese and PAL version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
- The name "Gallop Lotto" on the lottery machines in Studiopolis Zone Act 2 is a reference to the NR2003 Hornet from Sega's arcade racing game Daytona USA.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 2, the sound effect heard when entering a funnel is the same one used for similar gimmicks in Casino Paradise Zone and Angel Island Zone from Sonic Advance.
- In Studiopolis Zone Act 2, there is a path inverter gimmick that is seemingly based on a similar gimmick in Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
- During the battle with the Weather Globe in Studiopolis Zone Act 2, the figure that can be seen on the TV screen in the background is a Cluckoid, an enemy from Sonic & Knuckles.
- The sun symbol used in the weather forecast during the Weather Globe boss battle is a reference to a similar symbol seen in manuals for Sega Mega Drive games which was used to warn owners about exposing game cartridges to direct sunlight.
- After completing Studiopolis Zone Act 2, if the player listens carefully, a buzzing sound can be heard. This is the same buzzing sound that constantly played throughout the Sonic 25th Anniversary Party Livestream (where Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were first announced). The livestream was quite infamous for having several technical issues that made it difficult to watch. At the same time, a TV screen in the background will display a test card containing the numbers "072216", which refers to the date when the livestream aired (07/22/2016).
- In the transition cutscene from Studiopolis Zone Act 2 and Flying Battery Zone Act 1, the banner on the monitor says "BREAKING! FLYING BATTERY RETURNS!", alluding to the fact that this was the first time the Flying Battery made an appearance since Sonic & Knuckles.
- The cameras seen in Act 2 are from Amazing Arena from Knuckles' Chaotix.
- Studiopolis Zone is featured as the setting on the regular front cover of the now-cancelled Sonic the Hedgehog #293. It was going to be the main setting of the issue.
- In the game files, it was discovered sprites that indicates that at some point in the development of Sonic Mania the Act 2 boss fight would be a Rock-Paper-Scissors battle, which references to Alex Kidd, another classic Sega title as well as the predecessor to Sonic as Sega's mascot.
- In the game files are leftover unused sprites for a Love Tester featuring Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Dr. Eggman. The objective would have been to gain more points.
- The music for Act 1 of Studiopolis Zone, titled "Lights, Camera, Action!", is featured as a track in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
|"Lights, Camera, Action!"||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||3:08|
|"Prime Time"||Tee Lopes, Falk Au Yeong (mixing)||2:23|
- Live Sonic Mania Developer Playthrough (1:35:20). Stealth (20 August 2017). Retrieved on 22 August 2017.
- Headcannon (10 September 2017). Back In Action. Tumblr. Retrieved on 7 October 2017.
- Sonic Mania official website (Japanese). Stages: Studiopolis. Sega. Retrieved on 14 April 2017.
- Sonic Retro (22 December 2016). Retrieved on 15 September 2017.
- 7 Sega Easter Eggs in Sonic Mania & Sonic 2017. YouTube. Retrieved on 24 July 2016.
- 7 Amazing things that went unused in Sonic Mania. The Sonic Stadium (4 September 2017). Retrieved on 7 September 2017.
- Tee Lopes on Twitter. Twitter (23 June 2017). Retrieved on 24 June 2017. "Tee Lopes: So many people talking about how much brighter and clearer Studiopolis sounds! That my friends, is the @baldfalk magic..."