Special Stage (Sonic the Hedgehog 16-bit)

From Sonic Retro

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)
Special Stage
Special Stage
Special stage Zone, Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)
Number of Acts: 6

The Special Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog are one of many types in the Sonic series. Here, they are rotating rooms in which the objective is to find and collect one of the game's six Chaos Emeralds. Six stages exist, one for each differently coloured Emerald.

The stages are accessed by jumping into Giant Rings, which appear just after the Signpost at the end of each Zone's Acts 1 and 2 if Sonic has 50 or more Rings. The exception to this is Scrap Brain Zone, none of whose Acts offer Giant Rings (but in the GBA version of this game, the first act does offer one). Each successive Giant Ring that Sonic enters will take him to the next stage, regardless of whether or not he successfully collected the Emerald in the one prior.


The Special Stages are composed of various types of block, each of which behaves differently (see below). The entire assemblage continually rotates, and Sonic constantly spins and will fall downward if unimpeded. These features make navigation more involved than simply pressing the desired directional button on the controller; in fact, doing so barely affects Sonic's momentum. Jumping, however, works much as in regular gameplay, but of course Sonic can only jump when he has a solid object from which to do so.

Rings are scattered throughout each stage, and cannot be lost as they can in regular Zones, as no hazards are present. As in regular Zones, however, if Sonic collects 100 Rings he is awarded an extra Life. Also as normal, and regardless of whether or not Sonic acquires the Emerald, the game displays an end-of-level score tally in which the player receives 100 points for each Ring, and a Continue if Sonic collected 50 or more.


The Special Stages are composed of various types of block, each of which behaves differently. These are as follows:

Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
Square blocks are solid, and form the perimeter and main layout of the stage.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
GoalMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1]: These undesirable blocks evict Sonic from the stage before he has the chance to collect its Chaos Emerald.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
Diamond-shaped blocks imprison the stage's Chaos Emerald. Sonic must roll against or ram into them for varying durations of time (dependent on their colour) to cause them to disappear and gain access to the Emerald within.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
BumperMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] or Bobbin (ボビン)Media:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[2]: Sonic bounces off these on contact.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
Jump StandMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] or Hashira (ハシラ)Media:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[2]: Much like squares, but not limited to the maze's perimeter, Sonic can use these solid blocks to halt his downward movement and as launching points for jumps. There are also transparent Jump Stand blocks, which allow Sonic to pass through them, but then become solid like normal.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
UpMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] (アップ)Media:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[2]: Make the maze rotate faster.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
DownMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] (ダウン)Media:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[2]: Make the maze rotate slower.
Sonic1 MD SpecialStage Sprites.png
ReverseMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] (リバース)Media:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[2]: Striking this causes the direction of the stage's rotation to be reversed.

Unused blocks

Several unused blocks were left over in the game data. The game's AmericanMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[1] and EuropeanMedia:Sonic1 MD EU manual.pdf[3] manuals describe a 1-Up block that Sonic can collect for an extra Life, but these are not present in any of the final stages. This block can, however, be implemented through hacking, upon which it will be fully functional, disappearing like a Ring when collected.

Other blocks that are not present or documented anywhere comprise 6 Zone blocks, which may have originally been designed to warp Sonic to a regular Zone, and a W block of unknown purpose. No code was implemented for any of these; all of them behave identically to Jump Stands.

List of stages

Number Rings Chaos Emerald
1 104
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png
2 125
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png
3 172
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png
4 187
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png
5 146
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png
6 108
Sonic1 MD Sprite Emeralds.png

Debug Mode

Upon entering the Sonic 1 Debug code at the title screen (Up, C, Down, C, Left, C, Right, C, A + Start - or a similar variation), and entering a Special Stage with debug mode enabled, the player can transform into the object placement tool and relocate outside of the level's usual boundaries. This results in the player falling and landing on a long, linear patch of Special Stage objects, of which there is always a blue chaos emerald; Using this method allows the player to obtain 7 blue Emeralds throughout the game instead of the colours intended for the player to collect.

If the user does not collect this blue Emerald and falls off the pillar of objects, Sonic builds up gravitational speed again and ends up in a field of random objects, including the infamous (aforementioned) '1-Up', '# Zone' and 'W' blocks (although they are not functional). If Sonic does not hit a 'Goal' block in this field, he falls again, this time landing back on the outside of the normal playing area.


Like various other aspects of the original Sonic game (and others), its Special Stages influenced and are referenced in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, developed almost 20 years later. In the latter game, Special Stages (and their music) are similar in design; however, the player must rotate the maze manually, and collect set numbers of rings to open gates that block Sonic's path to the Emerald.

The original Special Stage also makes an appearance in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Fast and Easy".


Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)
Sonic1 title.png

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