From Sonic Retro

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An activated Star Post checkpoint with orbiting Star Circle in Sonic 2's Emerald Hill Zone.

A checkpoint, first introduced as a lamppost in Sonic 1, will save the player's progress throughout a level. The player can restart from an activated checkpoint if they die. Checkpoints also serve as the entrance to a special stage in Sonic 2 and the entrance to a bonus stage in Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic Mania

Sonic 1 and Sonic CD Lampposts

In Sonic 1, Sonic runs past a lamppost, causing the color of the bulb to change from blue to red. The bulb uses the same palette line as Sonic, and the pole uses the same palette line as rings.

The lamppost design from Sonic 1 is also used in Sonic CD, albeit with a smoother animation cycle upon interaction.

Sonic 1 (8-bit) and Sonic Blast Arrow Monitors

In the 8-bit version of Sonic 1, monitors are used instead of lampposts. Destroying the monitor has the same effect as touching a lamp post; however, the current time is not recorded and you start with 1:30 minutes after your death. Checkpoints aren't present in Sonic 2 nor in Sonic Chaos. Sonic Blast used the same system, the only difference being that the pictured arrow is red as opposed to yellow.

Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic Mania Star Posts

These three games' checkpoints look quite similar to Sonic 1's lampposts, except that the bulb is replaced by a star disc and the pole design is slightly different. When Sonic runs past the star post, the disc starts flashing and (if the player has enough rings) revolving stars appear which enable access to a special stage or bonus stage.

In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, three different types of bonus stages can be entered. The bonus stage offered by a given star post is indicated by the color of the stars:

In Sonic Mania, the player is teleported to a bonus stage of Blue Spheres.

The next game in the Classic series, Sonic 4 also uses this version of the checkpoint without the revolving stars.

Sonic Adventure onwards Point Markers

Future 3D games games use a redesigned versions of the 16-bit version Sonic 1 lamppost; in these games, two double-lampposts, called a Point Marker, are bent at 90-degree angles, with their blue tops facing each other. Running through the Point Marker causes these tops to spin quickly, turn yellow, and bend to a standing straight-up position. Later 3D games use other versions of markers as well, like in Sonic Heroes where the markers give players a level-up.

Items in the Sonic the Hedgehog Game Series
Collectibles   Ring | Red Star Ring | Emblem | Chaos Drives | Material
Power-ups   Shield (Water, Lightning, Fire, Gold) | Invincibility | Power Sneakers | Combine Ring | Power Core | Light Cores
Level Objects   Monitor | Spring | Spikes | Checkpoint | Time Warp Plate | Signpost | Goal Ring | Giant Ring | Capsule | Button | Bumper | Speed Booster | Air bubbles | Chao container
Powerful Items   Chaos Emeralds | Super Emeralds | Master Emerald | Time Stones | Chaos Rings | Precioustone | Sol Emeralds | Jeweled Scepter | World Rings | Excalibur | Phantom Ruby
Weapons   Piko Piko Hammer | Chaos Energy Cannon | Caliburn | Wispon
Devices   Remote Robot | Combi Confiner | Mother Computer | Nega's Camera | Arks of the Cosmos | Miles Electric
Other   Chili Dog | Scepter of Darkness | Cacophonic Conch