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 and Sonic & Knuckles.

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. Sonic Blast used the same system, the only difference being that the pictured arrow is red as opposed to yellow.

Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles Star Posts

These two 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) a torus of stars appears which enable access to a special stage or bonus stage.

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.