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Various monitors in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

Monitors (referred to in Sonic Adventure as Item Boxes) are staple objects in the Sonic the Hedgehog games. These breakable objects appear as small boxes resembling computer monitors or televisions. If the player breaks them open, they receives a power-up or bonus (with the exception of the Dr. Eggman monitor; see below.

Monitors (like most badniks) can be broken from directly above or from the sides, assuming that the character is performing either the jumping or rolling spin attack. When one is suspended in the air (e.g. hidden in a tree in Green Hill Zone) or stuck to the ceiling), striking it from below causes it to fall to the ground. When playing as Knuckles, they can also be broken by gliding into them.

Monitors that appear in several games

  • Super ring gives the player 10 rings in all games except Sonic Adventure, where the number of rings is specified (5, 10, 20 or 40) or randomised (1, 5, 10, 20 or 40).
  • Speed Shoes increase the character's speed temporarily.
  • Shield monitors grant the player a shield (available in various types since Sonic the Hedgehog 3 that protect them against one hit from an enemy or hazard.
  • Invincibility monitors grant the player temporary invincibility.
  • Extra life gives the player an extra life (1-up). The icon is usually the face of the character being played as. In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)'s two-player competition mode, Sonic and Tails have their own monitors that give them an extra life, regardless of who broke it. The game's scrapped Hidden Palace Zone features a Tails monitor, which functions like a normal 1-up monitor regardless of the character being played as.
  • Dr. Eggman monitors cause one hit of damage to the player character. This is the only type of monitor that harms rather than rewards. It debuted in Sonic 2, although graphics for it existed in Sonic 1.

Monitors that appear in only one or two games

  • Teleport (Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)) - switches Sonic and Tails' positions in competition mode and debug mode
  • Switch (Knuckles' Chaotix) - switches the characters' positions for a certain amount of time
  • Combine Ring (Knuckles' Chaotix) - protects your rings so if the first player is hit, he only loses one ring. He has a few seconds to get that ring, otherwise it breaks into all the lost rings. Getting the single ring recovers all your lost rings. It is notable that a similar monitor exists in Sonic CD but has no use.
  • Big and Small (Knuckles' Chaotix) - resizes the character who breaks the monitor for a certain amount of time. Small characters have a limited range of motion, while big characters cannot be held.
  • Change Character (Knuckles' Chaotix) - This monitor cycles between faces of possible characters. When broken, the second player becomes whoever was pictured at the time for a certain amount of time.
  • Emerald (Sonic Triple Trouble): transports the player to a special stage.
  • Stopwatch (Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble): In Sonic Chaos this stops the special stage timer for a few seconds. In Sonic Triple Trouble it resets the special stage timer.
  • Pogo (Sonic Triple Trouble) gives the player a small spring that sticks to their feet.
  • Rocket shoes (Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble) allow Sonic to fly around temporarily.
  • Snowboard (Sonic Triple Trouble) monitors grant Sonic a snowboard that he can ride.

Unimplemented monitors

  • "S" (Sonic the Hedgehog 3) monitors are only available in that game's debug mode. They grant the character 50 rings and instantly transform them into their super form, irrespective of how many emeralds they have. The "S" monitor was also hidden in Sonic 1, and was only viewable via hacking; it did nothing. It exists in Sonic CD, also in debug mode only, where it acts as a combination of Speed Shoes, invincibility, and a shield.
  • Goggles (Sonic the Hedgehog 1 (16-bit)) probably protected Sonic from drowning in the same way as a water shield does in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and later games. Their functionality was not programmed in the finished game; they can only be implemented through hacking and do nothing.
  • The pogo monitor was hidden in Sonic 2 (16-bit), only viewable via hacking.
  • Stopwatch monitors can be placed in Sonic CD using debug mode, but have no use other than to freeze certain level elements (animation, etc.)