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Dr. Crusher Presents: The 30 Days of Sonic the Hedgehog (sponsored by PowerVerte)-Fin, PAGE 150

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Ah, can't say I'm a fan of the special stages, buuuuut in no particular order...

  1. Sonic 1's special stages, simply because I know them pretty well at this point and they're not all that frustrating. Anymore. Did you know you can pretty much finish the first one by not holding your controller in the original? Too bad this doesn't carry to iOS port.
  2. Sonic 3&Knuckles' Blue Spheres. I always found these nicely balanced so they were challenging yet very possible to clear. Some of the designs can be a little annoying but once again I've played too much to care, lawl
  3. Sonic Advance 3's special stages had a nice challenge to them. I wasn't a fan of how I got to them but the stages themselves were entertaining and enjoyable to get through.
  4. Sonic Colours' Game Land I remember being quite fun. I especially enjoyed the ones which nodded to classic level designs and the nice little chiptune remixes of the stage themes.
  5. Sonic Rush's special stages were enjoyable in their own right too. That music was funky and the controls were tight, and they weren't overly annoying to access and had a fair bit of challenge.

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Hmmm, well I think I will do my top four
5) Sonic 3D Blast: sure, its not the most complicated, or even difficult, but in its uniqueness its quite fun in its own right

4)Sonic Heroes: Its a love/hate relationship for sure, but that music makes it worth it

3)Blue sphere: tough when it gets fast, but I do enjoy it

2)Sonic 1: its challenging, but I can beat it most the time, and I enjoy it

1)Knuckles' Chaotix: The most unorthdox, and unusual of the classic, or even them in general, but extremely fun wacky, and unique, I think it would be interesting to return to

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EDIT: Just saw Crusher's post. Whoops. 

Eh, it's alright. If you saw my last few statuses, you'll know that I rushed this one a little because of being stressed out by my internet connection going for a nap at the worst possible time. Assuming that this doesn't happen again sooner or later, I hope I can plan things a little more smoothly next time. Gaaawwwd sake.

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Special stages huh? Ok

5. Race Johnny! I think it counts. Its just fun to race for it for a change.

4. Sonic 3D Megadrive, stupidly easy, daft music, overall dumb but its dumb fun.

3. The half pipe, specifically Sonic 3D Saturn version. Catchy tune, good challenge and good entrance.

2. Sonic Advance snowboard fall. The music. Best special stage tune ever.

1. Blue Spheres. No idea why, maybe its the tension of the speed up, the music or just the challenge but by God, I love it.

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I've never had a particular favourite when it comes to special stages. I think they're all a boring waste of time that only work as a distraction. Super Sonic was kinda cool at first in the classics, but now he's boring to use. Unless I need them to unlock a final chapter in the game I'm not going to bother collecting them. But if I had to chose the lesser of all the evils I would pick:


Blue Spheres: I love these more than the others for the sole reason that they are easy to find, easy to complete, and all of them are fairly short. Its quick and painless!


Sonic CD's weird UFO game: I play Sonic CD on my phone alot, and naturally I've become pretty good at completing these. I like the different backgrounds and themes the level takes on, and the music in both soundtracks of the game is pretty sweet.


The rest are Sonic Advance 3, 3D Blast Genesis because they're easy and the ones from Sonic 4 Episode 2.


With the exception of Episode 2 the half pipe games can go die in a hole somewhere.

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I haven't played a lot of special stages so I will list one. That one is the special stage from Sonic 1. The reason why i chose this is mainly because it is pretty unique for a special stage. Reason being, You are technically still playing as Sonic, he's just rolling forever. Also, they are more like a maze than most other special stages.

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Ohohoho. Let's get this started then. From best (1) down:


1) Sonic Rush Adventure - Yeah boi. Providing a unique spin on the Special Stage, our blue hero races against robotic speed-head Johnny on the high seas for the powerful Chaos Emeralds. Trick, boost and maneuver your way to the finish, while avoiding mines, attacks and whatever is thrown at you.


2) Sonic 3 & Knuckles - The Blue Sphere stages were pretty damn addicting to nerve racking as you try to obtain all the spheres in the stages. With an ever-increasing speed your timing and direction will be challenged. 


3) Sonic Heroes/Gens 3DS - The first 3D Special Stage in the main series, it's akin to Sonic 2's half tube stages, but you're running inside a tube. Yeah, the former control was slippery as hell, but I had some enjoyment in racing toward the Emerald. Gens on the other hand felt more tighter to control, on the flip side that it was laughably easy to collect the Emeralds.


4) Sonic Colors DS - Mix of Sonic Rush, Sonic 2 AND Heroes (with some nice music to boot), it's an all around fun experience for me. 


5) Sonic 2 - The Original Half Pipe Challenge. Collecting Rings, avoiding bombs (and making sure Tails don't screw you over hurr durr) are staples of this iteration. I know many have fond memories of this, well I don't lol. In fact, I suck at this Special Stage; the farthest I've gotten was...four Chaos Emeralds? (Yeah, pitiful I know embarrassing)

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Special Stages? Now that is a toughie. Hmm...


5. Race the half-pipes (Sonic Colours DS); Although racing around the same track three times could potentially get monotonous, this game spices it up by having each segment affect the others based on how well you do the prior ones. A neat concept.


4. Tricky ways (Sonic Rush); As much as I'm meh on the game, I can say that Sonic Rush had a great special stage in it. There's something so satisfactory about pulling off the tricks right and getting a buttload of rings for it.


3. Polygonal Acid Trip (Knuckles Chaotix); Deceptively simple at first, it soon reveals itself to be almost a puzzle, where you have to fiure out the best route to take in order to get the best sphere collection to ring conservation ratio, while pulling off some very close shaves.


2. Ye Olde Faithful (Sonic 2); You can't go wrong with a bit of Sonic 2 here. All you do is collect rings and dodge mine bombs, but sometimes it's the bare bones that work the most.


1. Through the tunnel of spheres (Sonic Heroes); I really like the tunnel style, the visual design is most spectacular, and there were some nice little references in the form of the Chao that could aid or oppose your progress. Very nice touch there. 


All that said, they also all have rocking tunes to accompany them. All these are enough to entertain me whenever (if ever) I decide to take a trip to the trippy side.

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5 - Sonic Advance 2; Cool design, tension from the timer and Zero and it's oddly fun to keep-up your Ring multiplier. I can get over 999 rings fairly easily in the first special stage.


4 - Sonic Generations 3DS; Heroes' special stage...without the awkwardness. Nice 3D effect too.


3 - Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles; Blue Sphere...always been fond of it. Some of the layouts especially for the Super Emeralds were fairly clever.


2 - Sonic 4 Episode II; I think these ones are Sonic 2's special stages done better. The connecting cord thing that binds Sonic and Tails together is cool and the springs that lead to other sections of the stage so you can get rings before passing the gate is a cool idea as well.


1 - Sonic CD; Sure the water is merciless on the timer but these special stages are just awesome. I really love the backgrounds, the music, the obtainable items and the objective.

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Time to drop some acid I guess.


If we're talking top five, then it's time to delve, delve into the depths of...Sonic?


Number five, the Sonic Rush special stages. Yeah, you could argue that they were just Sonic 2's with touchscreen controls stuck on...but that's why I liked them. My main gripe with Sonic 2, and the reason I'm not including it, is the controls. I just find Sonic to be far too imprecise in his movements. With the touchscreen however, it's so much more accurate. If you mess up, it's your fault, not the dodgy controls. The one reason as to why this isn't higher is due to the carpal tunnel I suffered, which I SWEAR was due to these stages. (That music though...)


There's not much I like about Heroes, but those special stages...oh man, they were pretty fun. Yeah, the physics were...super broken in places, but I honestly find the speed and orb collecting exhilarating, really making you feel like you're going at quite a pace, something the rest of the game lacks. These stages were the breaks I welcomed during the long slogs of gameplay, especially in Team Dark's case. The light in a dark cave, you were. 


Sonic CD's UFOs, while extremely difficult and frustrating, controls wise, was vastly improved in the HD remastering, thanks to analogue controls. Seriously, that really helps. Those backgrounds as well, it was something great, something you thought the Mega Drive wouldn't have been able to handle. These stages really showcase the CD technology, and in a way that isn't gimmicky, a la FMVs, and that's why it's on my personal list.


I can't NOT include Sonic 1, because it's the first one I experienced. The feeling of confusion has been unmatched since. Picture it, you reach the end of the stage and jump in this big ring. What could it lead to? Well, you soon find out. GREEN BIRDS...FISH...NEON!!! It just screams at you to pay attention, something I love. The music too, so insanely fitting. Really completes the whole carnival game vibe. Classic, and fun.


My favorite...is probably the same for most...Blue Spheres! I could play this for hours, hell, I sat for a straight 2 hours, playing the extra stages you get by plugging Sonic 1 into Sonic and Knuckles. It's just perfect. Translates the whole Sonic formula into a puzzle type format. It's not only about reflexes, but about puzzle solving. You need to plan ahead, work out what route would be best, which area has least risk. Basically, think fast or you'll fail. Unforgiving in places, but extremely rewarding. Nothing beats clearing them, especially if you managed to get all the rings too. Extremely tense in places too, with the music speeding up as you speed, kinda causing you to panic if you don't keep your cool. Really defines what should make a special stage...well, special.


So, that, my friends, is my top five Sonic special stages. You may disagree, but isn't that the point?

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Top five Special Stages? Let's see~

Numbah five; Sonic Heroes! Yeah yeah I know they control like shite but COLOURS and CHEERFUL MUSIC! =D

Numbah four; Sonic 1! It's a classic, and whilst the background can be disorientating at times it's just great fun to play and always keeps you on your toes. Especially when you get close to those goal balls!

Numbah three; Sonic 2! The tunnel of rings and bombs has been a classic staple in Sonic games and I enjoy them a lot but I think one game does improve on the original, which is...

Numbah two; Sonic Rush! The music is great (and incomprehensible), the stage controls smoothly with the stylus and the last few Chaos Emeralds may be hard to get, but it doesn't stop you from spamming the boost to get into the special stage again! Handy! Oh, and tricks! Tricks help spice things up a bit and I like that very much.

And at numbah one it'ssss...


Sonic 3 of course! I'm actually surprised this hasn't been used more often in a Sonic game since *ignores abysmal SLW version* because it's so fun! All you need to do is find blue spheres! Simple right? Ehhh not really. In fact because Sonic runs faster and faster as the special stage progresses it can get really tense! But it is fun and challenging. And the music is great. And I love the trippy checkerboard visuals!

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Favorite Badnik: I don't think there's any other answer than Penguinator. That design, those little beady, soulless eyes, and ohwaityeah, IT'S A THING CALLED "PENGUINATOR." I think that more than warrants an instant victory.


Top Five Favorite Special Stages:


5. Sonic Rush: A fun little spin on the classic Sonic 2 half-pipe with some cool touch twists and CAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAATCHY tunes.


4. Sonic Colors DS: Another fun spin on a classic special stage concept (Kinda like a Sonic 2 half-pipe/Blue Sphere hybrid this time) that once again switches it up just enough to give it a pretty unique feel.


3. Knuckles Chaotix: I really dig how different this one is. It's like Blue Sphere, but it feels a bit more like a varied 3D level with lots of different obstacles, pits, and hazards to dodge on your quest for the Chaos Rings. 


2. Sonic Heroes: This one's just pure fun. I LOOOOOOOOOVE just constantly hammering that B button and making a mad dash for dat Emerald. Sure, it's not the most challenging special stage, but it's probably one that I've had the most fun with. It's simple, it's addictive, and once again, ESH FUHN. Was really happy to see it again in Generations 3DS.


1. Blue Sphere: No surprise. When you think Sonic, this special stage instantly pops into your head and it's probably a toss-up between it and the Sonic 2 half-pipe for the most truly iconic special stage. It switches up the visual style and perspective, it provides a fair bit of challenge with the constantly changing play field, and unlike a lot of these others, you can have freeplay access to TONS of different variations of it by just sticking an incompatible game onto Sonic and Knuckles. There's a reason why they made it that way, too. Even Sonic Team couldn't deny how truly fun it was.

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Top 5 "Special Stages"


I'll just put my top 5 in a Favorite to least Favorite order...


The(Sonic 3&Knuckles)Blue Sphere: These stages are not only one of the easiest in the series, they are also actually somewhat enjoyable. They are fair game and continue to remain pretty simple as long as you don't panic from going faster...just stay calm.


The(Sonic 3DBlast)Half-pipe: In the Saturn version obviously. These special stages are not only the best take on the half pipe in the series...with there being more to them mechanics wise(like actual momentum physics being at work), BUT this game's special stages also have the best music in my opinion.


The(Sonic Rush Adventure)Water Bike...Johnny Races: They're pretty easy overall. I like the music...and I like that its an actual use for the Water Bike which didn't get much use after you built the second water craft. There's a pretty consistent difficulty curve...and a sudden difficulty SPIKE on the last two!


The(Sonic Gens 3DS)Full Pipe: It takes the special stage from Sonic Heroes and actually makes it good! Its a special stage that already had great music(2nd best IMO)and makes the control work properly...because the stages themselves were actually pretty solid and the boosting concept worked just fine...but when you make the control actually work, the stages become a lot more tolerable to play. Its solid...


Last but not least...


The(Sonic Colours)Game Land stages: Oh yes, these. You take a basic concept of just making some regular stage game-play into the special stage, what a great idea that should've been thought of long ago. You got a simple 3 acts for each emerald and clearing all 3 acts gives you the emerald...now the stages themselves are pretty average, but its an easy way to get the Chaos Emeralds and that's fine by me.

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My Top 5 Special Stages: 


5) Sonic 1's Nausea Maze- Nice music, bizarre backgrounds, and just the right amount of difficulty (Except the new 7th stage added in the iOS version; that was just cruel!)


4) Triple Trouble's Mazes and Flying Sections- These were pretty cool, but what sets them apart from all other Special Stages is that they have BOSS BATTLES!


3) Sonic CD's Space Invaders- Each one had a unique setting, Sonic's jumping and momentum felt just right, and the Japanese theme is one of my favorite songs in the game!


2) Sonic 4: Ep. II's Twister Tubes- These are my personal favorite take on the half-pipe theme. The rubber-band power-up was neat, and I love the boost mechanic! The music was okay at first, but it quickly became repetitive. Also, Tails doesn't lose rings when hit! THANK YOU!


1) 3&K's Blue Spheres- I don't know why these were never used again! It felt so cool moving around a giant 3D maze, bouncing on springs, and turning spheres into rings! And I prefer finding a giant ring over the standard "Finish an Act with 50+ rings".

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Couldn't think of a favorite badnik, since I think what answers I could come up with didn't count. (I'm not sure Mecha Sonic, Metal Knuckles, or e101 count--the standard badniks never really did it for me, truth be told) so I figured I'd skip that question and go onto the next.
Question 2: What are your top five (or less-than-five, if you can't think of that many) Special Stages?

5) Sonic 4: Episode I: This is a really odd choice, but it's one that immediately came to mind. The funny thing is, I hated the first Sonic's Special Zones. They just weren't very fun and could be ridiculously frustrating. Mix in that there's no meaningful reward for completing them, there goes the motivation to play them at all. The updated versions in S4EI fixed the problem by letting me rotate the level myself. It's a little thing, but it made them much less frustrating. I suppose it's kind of odd I like the Sonic & Knuckles bonus stage that's based on the Sonic 1 Special Zone, though...

4)Sonic CD: I really, really don't like Sonic CD. Save for the art direction and its concepts, it's really nothing to write home about in my book... especially since whatever I'd write would be full expletives. But the special zones were pretty cool. An early, open 3D environment with some trippy visuals that I could run around for at least a minute. They're a really fun distraction. I'd rate them a little higher if the game would occasionally read when I hit the blasted UFO's, but conceptually, I dig them. Honestly, if Sonic Team had run with these stages as a concept for Sonic CD altogether, I think the game would've been more fun than what they actually spit out and it would've been quite unique too.


3) Chaotix: A combination of Sonic 3's Blue Sphere game and Sonic 2's on-rails half-pipes with none of the cheapness? Hell. Yes. Other than risking falling off the edge of the stages, I really appreciate how much easier these stages could be (though it's worth noting I never actually collected all the Chaos Rings), and if you missed some Blue Spheres before getting to the goal? It just made you run back through that section to collect the ones you missed. It's a little thing, really, but it's another point for Chaotix in my book.


2) Sonic Rush: Another take on Sonic 2's iconic half-pipes, and definitely very fun. Like Sonic 2's stages, you have to keep on your toes, but the touchscreen controls work really well and smoothly. The final special zone is a bit of a doozy, but not impossible. The ring requirements aren't as steep as Sonic 2 vanilla either, so that helps me like them. And like VEDJ-F mentioned, pulling off the tricks is quite satisfying.


1) Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles: I know I said when I mentioned Chaotix that these can be cheap, mostly when they speed up near the end, but it's not nearly as bad as Sonic 2 ("Got just enough rings? Have a bomb in your face!" At least the Knuckles version fixed those ring requirements). I find myself always going back to them and having a blast every time. And fun fact, they're inspired by Kaio's planet from Dragon Ball!

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Question 2!

1. Sonic Colors. I find these both simple and genuinely fun to clear.

2. Sonic 4. I put these stages second because they're the only ones I can really do relatively well. Can't do the classic pair of special stages because if you miss them... that's it. With Sonic 4, I can try as much as I like.

3. Sonic Heroes. Again, this is relatively simple. I was able to get six as Team Rose, but for some reason the fourth eluded me... until I tried Team Chaotix.

4. Sonic 3. The few times I've tried Blue Sphere, it's easy enough to get into. ...after a bit of practice, of course, given the many metal balls that like to trollbounce you.

5. Sonic 2. I will admit I've tried these the few times I've played Sonic 2. The music is nice and they're straightforward enough... but Tails, man. Freaking Tails.

As a whole, I dislike collecting emeralds to unlock a final story or true ending or what have you. For unlockables like Super Sonic and such, however... I'm game.

Editing this into my original post:

"More along the classic line, however...

I guess the Egg Robo? They look like actual foot soldiers rather than deadly toys. It makes Eggman's faction seem more like a genuine Empire than a mad man with a repressed childhood and 300 IQ.

If we're allowed to go into the more alternate canons... (though they have appeared in Chronicles), I'd say SWATbots. They really help with the more totalitarian side of Eggman's personality and are a good foil to the completely goofy look his forces often take. "

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Blue Sphere is kind of the shit, dude. Best special stage by far, mostly because unlike most of the others it's actually super fun, in my opinion.


1: Blue Sphere - Super simple, super fun, super easy to control and maneuver in. Exactly what a special stage should be.

2: Sonic Rush Special Stage - Same thing. 


Can't think of any other that I liked.

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Day 2: Top Five Special Stages


1. Blue Spheres: I've always looked forward into activating these stages as a kid, as there was just something really special about being transported to a magical yet random checkerboard planet amid that catchy theme song, swiping up blue spheres to that adorable sound effect and watching circles of them turn into rings for you to nab up. Everything about the aesthetics of these levels is unbridled joy. <3 I feel like they're also the most solid Special Stages, being their own little puzzle game outright with firm rules and good controls. There's no blind-obstacle bullshit or Tails messing up your game to be had this time around. It's just you and those little spheres to gather. Now I want to play Sonic 3 again.


2. 3D Blast: This is a controversial choice because these stages are considered to be super easy, and they are. But despite their low difficulty threshold (as well as questionable aesthetics; some of those stages looked like a romp into Bowser's muddy castle), they are still somehow the most solidly-controlled and least-cheap ones out of the others I've played. As such, running along an unguarded bridge miles above the earth is pretty much a nice-needed break from the constant scurrying, drifting, and dodging of the normal levels. They made me happy, and that's all that matters.


3. Gumball Machine: The secondary Special Stages in Sonic 3 were always good in a pinch or if I just wanted a Shield to muck around in. It was also a pretty cool idea to throw you into this alternate dimension...gumball machine thing. However, with the fallen floor, and how difficult it was to go from platform to platform, I always felt things were just over too soon. Even worse is if you got the amazing electric shield or something but popped a lame bubble shield on the way out. <<+


4. Sonic 1: Special mention must go to the stages that started the trend of just completely trippy bonuses with weird gimmicks. Aside from the mystifying theme of birds and fish playing out in the background (seriously, what's the deal with them?), I liked that the beautiful aesthetics were contrasted against with the battle against the ever-encroaching gravity and your insistence to take out the jewels surrounding the Emerald. The only reason they're not higher on my list is because you fall to your doom too often with little way to fight or prevent it. It's a pretty big flaw that could've been helped with some sort of visual indicator as to where Sonic was rolling to before you were right up on those damn exit circles. Still, nostalgia forces me to mention them and love on them a bit.


5. Sonic Heroes: If there's one thing I can say I enjoy about Heroes' gameplay, it's the special stages. Excluding the outright clunkiness of them (although I feel that's less on the stages themselves than the engine itself), I liked the extremely fast-paced nature of them as you were boosting frantically towards an Emerald that was so close yet so far away. The speed you could pull off on them was insane sometimes, to the point of being satisfying. And unlike Sonic 2's stages, the responsiveness of your characters coupled with the fact that you're entirely enclosed and thus have more space to run along prevents them from being as much of an annoyance as they could've been. Plus, they host the best song in the entire game anyway. <3

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Not a fan of the special stages, like... At all, but here's mine anyway.


5. Sonic Rush Adventure

4. Sonic CD

3. Sonic 4 Episode II

2. Sonic Advance 3

1. Sonic Heroes






Sonic Rush Adventure


I never really invested much time in the Rush titles, but the races Johnny where legitimately fun due to having to time when to boost to beat him, staying ahead too long is the worst decision to make since Johnny get's enraged at you being ahead of him, overheating and going into his overdrive boost which makes him boost right past you, or even through you which can fuck up your chances of winning if you get hit near the end of the race, the only problem is Johnny's A.I often gets caught on obstructions and all you can hear is "Oww..!!" but, the later levels his A.I focuses more on blocking your path so the strategy of beating him is mixed up more meaning later encounters can be tough to beat. I also like that you have to find the special zones/races yourself on the map by uncovering the map in various ways with the 3 different vehicles, which greatly lengthens the play time and replay value of the game in general.





Sonic CD 


Sonic CD's special zones are pretty unique to the take on special zones in general, we get completely new area's every zone and a nice new set of animations of Sonic running from behind, it's like a make shift 3D in a 2D Sonic game, but I don't know... There's something so satisfying about smashing the UFO's in these levels, perhaps it's the sound they make as they blow up, but I always liked these zones even if they were a pain to play.




Sonic 4 Episode II


If there's one thing I love about Sonic 4 Episode II besides Sky Fortress and the music in the game, it's the re-introduction of Sonic 2's Special Stages, except with all the crap and fat trimmed from the original experience, the stages look Gorgeous, and the improved Tail's A.I means no more shitty Tail's losing your rings moments. I especially like the addition of being able to run faster and having a wider turn radius, it just makes me want to speed run these areas and you get an incredible sense of satisfaction if you can complete the entire zone without colliding with any stage hazard or taking your finger off the speed up button, I know I do. I also like the "Buddy Bands" which adds a cool new feature of collecting a mass of ring columns at once with the aid of Tails, and not to mention it's satisfying rounding up a ton of rings inside tunnels as you blaze around them. But I think what perfectly seals the deal for me, is the end of zone animations whether you lose or win is a cute Sonic and Tail's bro moment, plus it's always nice to see such an odd angle from Sonic (like above) where both of his ear's are animated to express his happiness in succeeding to bag an Emerald, nice one SEGA!




Sonic Advance 3


Mainly due to nostalgia, the one thing I HATED about these special zones was how you accessed them... First needing to find I think it was 8 Chao? In each level, then collecting the key to unlock a spring??? Seriously this was pure, pure, puuuuuuuure Hell for the last spring that took me at least 50-60 tries, each time having to re-play a level when I failed to re-get that fucking key to re-access that stupid spring... BUT... The levels are awesome, even though they take a while to get used to the perspective of collecting 3D oncoming rings with a 2D sprite, but the zones are colourful, the music is awesome and the character sprites are nicely animated, but my biggest love is seeing the Tornado implemented into a special zone! Not only that, in SPRITE form, and from behind no less! It even transforms into the Tornado 2/Cyclone jet when you hit boost rings as the character holds on for dear life as you blast through lines of rings, collecting them in a blaze of speed, it's just so cool to see the Tornado like that.





Sonic Heroes


Really Soniko...? Yes fucking really, Sonic Heroes NAILED Special zones concepts, bright, colourful, zany and wacky with classic Sonic structure and geometry, it had cool gimmicks, and you CHASED the emerald down in a blaze of speed as if you were zone hopping, the only thing that gracefully let's it down is how utterly broken the gameplay in these sections are, if Sonic Team perfected the gameplay in these zones, holy shit they would be utter perfection, just a shame half of the gimmicks don't work properly, and I'd much rather stick to just speed formation, but yeah I love Sonic Heroes, it's my favourite Sonic title to date, and the special stages are part of that reason... It also has some pretty ballin' music playing that pumps you up and makes you want to CATCH that Emerald!









SEGA SuperStars PS2


If you were (un)fortunate to have a PS2 Eyetoy then you may remember a certain SEGA Superstars game where you guided Sonic through a special zone with your hands and legs, collecting rings, avoiding bombs and collecting CHAOS EMERALDS with indication icons on the screen when one was approaching... And what did you get if you scored all 7?





You're damn fucking right you did, Super Sonic blazes through fast with a mini ring field that draws them in, and you literally SMASH through mines/bombs as if they are nothing, utterly fucking badass... And if you beat all 3 difficulties.. You unlock...




Hell yes my Nostalgia is grinning like a bitch.




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Best to Worst


Sonic Rush: Fast paced and well suited to the game. Its great in short bursts which is precisely what you want out of a handheld experience. The touch screen interface is right at home in the halfpipe and the whole thing is a great package that stands out as a great special stage. 


Sonic Heroes: Fast paced and hectic. Really fun and a decent challenge. Not too hard not too easy.


Sonic 1: Psychedelic and iconic. Nuff said.


Sonic Lost World 3DS : Call me crazy, but as silly and outlandish as that gyroscopic nightmare was.... boy did I have fun with it.


Sonic 3 & K : Pretty hardcore and bonus points for the Blue Sphere side game. enough oomph to crack this list.

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Question #2: What are your top five (or less-than-five, if you can't think of that many) Special Stages?


5. Sonic Lost World (3DS)



The idea of Sonic actually flying around a 3D area trying to collect Orbs to unlock a Chaos Emerald that's in the middle of the stage is awesome. Unfortunately, someone decided that you have to control Sonic using the 3DS's gyroscope controls, which ruins the experience.


4. Sonic Generations (3DS)



I always thought the Sonic Heroes Full Pipes were more interesting than the iconic "Halfpipe Highways" of Sonic 2 and every other game that uses them. So when Sonic Generations bought a remixed version of them, I enjoyed them. Especially when playing missions and racing someone else to the Chaos Emerald in VS Mode.


3. Sonic Advance 2



While the method of getting here is ridiculous, the overall challenge of finishing the stages with the expected number of Rings, while avoiding Zero and waiting for the Timer to end is even harder. Fortunately, there's an award for getting them all with every character (Although, I believe Amy should have been playable from the beginning).


2. Sonic Triple Trouble



This game has 2 types of Special Stages: 2 where you fly around and collect Rings using the Tornado. The other 3 were separate levels, that were time trials that ended with a Boss Fight with Nack the Weasel. 


1. Sonic Rush Adventure


Having to race against another Character, with the Chaos Emerald as a prize was the best idea of a Special Stage I've seen and played so far.


I would love to see more like this in the future.

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There is only one special stage worthy for first place. So worthy that I must list these in order from first to fifth instead of the other way around. The message must be spread.





1 ) Sonic 3D Blast (Saturn's). Always.


While there are many, many halfpipe special stages in Sonic's legacy, there is none quite like this one (that's right, not even S4: Episode 2's). Accompanied by one of the catchiest songs in Sonic history, those super stylish visuals (mixed with the old 32/64 bit charm of the Sonic R models), and that level of control.. guys, the feeling to those levels have to be played to be believed.


If it already seems cool to you, then just wait until you play it yourself. Sonic steers like a dream, the stages take all kinds of twists, turns, and even platforming segments! "Inside" areas with echoy sounds, a perfect difficulty curve, and man you can roll down the hills in the halfpipe and gain speed. Do you have any idea how awesome this is?!?!


None before or since compare. I can guarantee it on my soul. If you ever get a Sega Saturn, then you must get this game just for these alone. Please. Do it for Azoo.


2 ) Blue Spheres.




I adore these. The premise is simple, the levels have a steep yet satisfying curve, the controls are unique to themselves and from what I know have never been replicated once in the series. Also, that music is incredible.


And if it doesn't get any better, they can be randomly generated thanks to LLLLLLOCK-ON TECHNOLOGY! Blue Sphere as a standalone game is so much fun, not even putting it into the picture of being S3K's special stages. Basically, if you haven't played these, please do right about now.


3 ) Sonic CD's UFO Stages.






CD's special stages are yet another unique one of the bunch. No other game is actually close to it in style or way you play it. It's certainly on it's own level, and yes it's mileage may vary for you. A lot of people find these really frustrating, if not infuriating, but if you're one for practicing hard in your gaming, SCD's special stages do have a method to their madness. They are annoying as can possibly be, but their trippy visuals and music mixed with that satisfaction you get from mastering them is just too good.



4 ) Knuckles Chaotix's cool bunch of whatever.




Taking a page from wherever they could, Chaotix's special stages are an amalgamation of design ideas: the tube-pipes of Sonic 2, the blue spheres of Sonic 3K, and the psychedelic / confusing style from Sonic CD. But mostly that last one.


These are surprisingly really fun, though. It's a big hexagon you run through, that has Mario Galaxy esque gravity on it as well as autorun. Your goal is to get all the blue spheres and not fall off the stage, but it can be a bit tedious. They're overall good fun (and surprisingly they don't kill you off instantly if you don't got everything!) so they're good fun to play if you've got Chaotix booted up out of curiosity. Probably the most fun part of the game, IMO.


And here we go with...


 5 ) Sonic Heroes' god-awful stages.




You may be asking.. "why? Why Azoo? These are literally the worst thing on Earth muchliketherestofheroes why would you ever pick this over Sonic 1 or 2's special stages, heck, even the Advance games' stages??". Well, as right as you are about these blowing mighty chunks, this is why:



This music. Naofumi Hataya. God among musicians. All hail. Go to 1:10 for the best part.


And yeah there you go, there's my list.

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Day 2: Top 5 Special Stages


What's the first thing that comes across your mind when someone mentions Special Stages? Trippy and colourful dimensions full of spheres, rings, passageways, bouncers and springs. That is probably an accurate description to Sonic The Hedgehog's Special Stages. You are meant to traverse in these areas and give your best shot in your quest to seek the Chaos Emeralds, which of course holds an importance in your goal to stop Dr Eggman's schemes. The series has spawned many variations of these iconic courses, so in terms of personal choices here goes my Top 5 Special Stages!


# 5. Sonic Colours (Wii) - If you plan on visiting Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park, don't forget to take a visit to the Game Land. Its featured game, Sonic Simulator, brings you an amusing set of arcade-esque stages in which you and a pal can co-op together in order to clear these stages. The concept is as simple as taking any typical Sonic stage and turn it into a Special Stage of its own, and it works pretty well! Oh, and the 8-bit versions of Sonic Colours' stages are joy to my ears.


# 4. Sonic The Hedgehog CD - If Sonic can destroy hundreds of Badniks on his path, why not freakin' UFOs? Yup, this concept alone makes these stages fun to play. The 100-second time limit gives you a certain degree of pressure in your goal to complete the stage, let alone the water puddles which will decrease your time limit if you are not extremely careful, yet it makes these stages quite a challenge. Each stage has their own layout and background which makes them very appealing to the eye, alongside its really catchy music in both Japanese/European and North American versions. Crushing UFOs has never been so much fun~


# 3. Sonic The Hedgehog - The game that started the series is also the game that began these journeys to the Technicolor trippy dimensions, and boy did it leave an impression the first time I jumped into that gigantic ring after clearing Green Hill Zone Act 1. FISHES! BIRDS! ROTATING PANELS! Guiding the Blue Blur through these wacky rotating stages in order to collect the Chaos Emerald while avoiding those pesky red Goal spheres; a simple concept, crazy as heck... yet so much fun to play. Oh, and the music certainly makes the journey so mellow and relaxing...


# 2. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 - Their take on Special Stages done in this sequel was, to my pleasant surprise, taken to a whole new level. From the aforementioned rotating panels with fish and bird wallpapers we find ourselves trapped into half-tubular passageways running alongside your fellow two-tailed portly companion into streams of rings while avoiding spiky bombs that will inconveniently explode in your face whenever you least expect it. These Special Stages scream challenge in every way possible: Rings become absolutely vital in your cruise through these courses so you better make sure every Ring you collect counts. And whatever you do, do NOT touch the spiky bombs of death and doom-- OH GODDAMNIT TAILS! >_< Well, aside from the CPU-controlled Tails, these Special Stages are so challenging and fun, as much that they left a certain legacy which replicated in several of Sonic's future installments.


# 1. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles - My all-time favourite Special Stage has to go to the one featured in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, well known as the Blue Sphere. If Sonic 2 took Special Stages in the franchise to a whole new level, Sonic 3 just completely blew them out of the water. The opening line "Get Blue Spheres" sums up its simplistic approach, yet behind such concept hides an incredibly well-crafted series of Special Stages in which Sonic & Tails invite you to join in their journey through a checkerboard land full of coloured spheres and Rings, with mind-blowing blast-processing 3D-rotating environments. Huge environments to traverse through, great sense of challenge due to its constant increase of speed while dodging the pesky red Goal spheres, tight controls and an incredibly catchy tune are the perfect ingredients for, possibly, the most iconic Special Stage in the series. As iconic that even has its own place as a standalone game in Sonic & Knuckles at everyone's disposal! How awesome is that? =)

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My top 5 Special Stages huh?


5. The half pipe stages from Episode II/Colors DS


These stages were probably the best half-pipe stages I've seen yet in the series. The music, the simpleness of it all. It really is a nice stage.


4. Advance 1's space boarding stages


They were pretty cool looking. You in space in a board collecting rings. It's pretty easy to do once you got it. Doing tricks and stuff! I liked it.


3. Generations 3DS


It's pretty much the Heroes' special stages without the bad controls. You can't go wrong there!


2. Triple Trouble


I liked the idea of fighting a boss to get an emerald. They were simple but I liked it as well. Whether it was going through a level or in a plane collecting rings, I enjoyed it!


1. Blue Sphere


Was there really any doubt? I mean they are fun, challenging stages. It's a good feeling when you get a Perfect in the stage! I have yet to see a Special Stage beat this!

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Day 2 : Top 5  Special Stages!


5.  Blues Spheres: I'm gonna be brutally honest, I suck at them enough towards the point that I  rarely even get the first emerald, but despite that, I love it. Just the desire to keep trying is enough for me to love it so much, since it manages to feel so rewarding to me and yet not even frustrate me, so I'd say to hell with the emeralds - just give me dem' blue spheres.


4.  Half Pipes from Sonic 2: So much as the half pipe (and sometimes just pipe) Special Stages turned to be used more often, I still enjoy hopping and jumping around the tubes while collecting rings and dodging spikes, with the simple requirement of just getting enough rings to get to the emerald.


3.  Special stage from Heroes aka Colorful Balls: Knowing the many times I'd lose the key to accessing special stages in Heroes - enough to even go from raging with bloodshot eyes towards not even noticing - I would almost see these Stages as a reward for having to go through all kinds of crap beforehand, and even though they might not be the most innovative of the bunch, it was still fun just chasing the emerald that would distance itself further from you while glancing at all the colourful spheres.


2. Special Stages from Rush Adventure: Ooooh boy did I love, love, LOVE the ones from SRA.

Mainly remember the first time I tried them on a browser demo before I had a NDS. I just loved this different spin on a Special Stage with a goddamn water bike. You have the ramps, the tricks, the

obstacles, and it plainly just felt fun.


1. U.F.O. Stages from CD: I remember when I first played Sonic CD on an emulator, and man was it freaky, the JP version's song for it would just be almost out of this world, like from a different dimension ( c wat i did thar?) and just all those UFOs flying everywhere. Honestly not my most liked, but with the modifications of the recent of CD re-release, I began to build a better liking for them just because of how much of a challenge it is to smash the UFOs while staying away from water.


So that's pretty much it, I don't really go all out for Special Stages, but when I do get the chance, I do get

a kick out of'em.




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