The mid-boss robot has round-shaped body with red-metallic skin and yellow lines formating X-formation on the central. The robot also is seen to have purple eyes. Big Shaker's main weapons in the battle are thruster missiles, that protect him from the player's attacks, as they're spinning around the body until he plants himself on the cylinder to use his whirlpool attack.
Big Shaker is fought in a bowl-shaped arena half-filled with water, where the player falls after going around the downward guiding shuttle loop. Little missiles, which presumably are thrusters for the robot, orbit its central body acting as a shield as it charges down both sides of the arena. The player is unable to hit the robot without getting damaged. After Big Shaker has charged twice, it settles down on a pole-shaped turbine in the middle of the arena, activating it to create whirlpool on underwater. This stirs up the water and the playable character, rendering him unable to do anything until the stirring stops.
Hits can be scored when the Big Shaker activates and stops the turbine pole's functionality. After starting up its thruster missiles again, Big Shaker then starts repeating its attack pattern. Sonic can score the six hits needed to defeat this boss before the stirring starts for the first time with the help of a Water Shield. After this, the Big Shaker gets destroyed along with the turbine pole itself. When the signpost falls down, two Super Ring monitors are hidden under the center part of the bottom arena with two having small gap between each other.
This mini-boss, like all the ones from Sonic the Hedgehog 3, can be fought with Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. Most mid-bosses and major bosses are increased in difficulty for Knuckles. In this case, the attack pattern remains the same, but is made more difficult by Knuckles' reduced jump height. He can jump over it, but not by much. Knuckles is unable to jump high enough to get above the surface of the water so must Spin Dash up one of the sides periodically to prevent drowning.
The battle can also be made a lot easier for Knuckles, however. If Knuckles climbs up the right side wall above the water before Big Shaker begins its sweeping attack, and dodges that attack by gliding to the opposite wall twice, Knuckles can jump off the wall and bounce on Big Shaker from above for an easy kill while he is doing his whirlpool attack.
- In the standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the major boss BGM will unusally play instead of the usual mid-boss theme for this boss battle. This is later fixed in the locked-on version of the game.
- An interesting glitch can also happen in standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 3, when the player stays on underwater until the drowning music starts playing and then jump off the water. This time, the mid-boss music from Sonic & Knuckles will eventually start playing at the background. This glitch also works later in the boss battle with Screw Mobile, where it also works with the locked-on version.
- It is possible to drown whilst fighting this boss, as the thirty-second limit still applies, although it is not possible to drown whilst the score is being tallied and during transition to the next act.