Players who own the short-lived version 1.04 build of Sonic Mania on the Playstation 4 are able to access a significant portion of its successor’s Encore Mode at no cost through an exploit in the game’s openly available and unlockable debug mode, it was revealed today.
Encore Mode will be offered in July as a five dollar DLC add-on to effectively upgrade Mania owners to what will be known as Sonic Mania Plus. But several community members used the exploit today to access a midly glitchy but mostly complete Angel Island stage, its music in full, as well as what TSSZ believes to be all the re-skinned stages making up Encore Mode.
Live video streamed on Youtube this afternoon confirmed the exploit’s existence and its result. TSSZ verified its authenticity. A screenshot shared on Twitter indicates the livestream ended at the request of Sega via the official Sonic account commenting there almost two hours in. A record of the stream has since been taken offline. It is TSSZ policy not to report on significant portions of materials deemed sensitive to Sega interests, as outlined in our Sensitive Materials Policy.
The exploit does not render playable Mighty or Ray, two new characters coming to Plus. The exploit also does not appear to allow access to a new bonus stage revealed by Sega of Japan last week when the division disclosed the full track list of the 2-CD OST that will come bundled with physical copies of Plus there.
Still, the exploit shows what is now the most significant unauthorized exposure of Sonic content since the entire playable contents of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I were leaked to the community via a user of Microsoft’s PartnerNet service in 2010. That led to a temporary shutdown of PartnerNet and a delay of S4E1 after intense community criticism compelled Sega to rework some of the game’s features.
It is not known whether Sega will release a patch to Playstation 4 users to close off the exploit. When version 1.04 was accidentally deployed to PS4 users in April, it allowed those who successfully downloaded the update to play through less substantial changes made to Mania ahead of Plus’s launch, including a revamped Metal Sonic boss in Stardust Speedway. There, no attempt was made by Sega to take down the numerous videos, streams and discussion that occurred.
Also not clear is any impact this may have going forward on the game’s debug mode, unlockable by completing 16 medals in the game’s Blue Sphere bonus stages.
UPDATE 4:30PM ET: The community member behind the aforementioned stream this afternoon has taken to Twitter to apologize to Sega and the Sonic Mania team for sharing the exploit. Ironically, Scarly is currently at work on a Sonic Mania mod:
An important message: pic.twitter.com/KPAF2soG1g
— Scarly (@ScarlyNight) May 18, 2018
This story remains evolving and we will update here and on Twitter when warranted.