When the player is using the cannon, cannons can help him/her to reach higher areas, crossing over bottomless pits or large parts of the Zone quickly. When the playable character enters the cannon, he curls into the ball and is launched from the cannon as living cannon ball. Certain cannons can lead to alternate pathways as well, but these are not easy to locate. When this happens in floating cannon balls, it launches the player to another one, that is used similarly to launch the playable character to another direction.
Since their debut in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the functionality and appearance of cannons have varied, though their purpose has remained the same. Cannons have usually come in two different variations, as they can be seen hovering and shot the player to another floating cannon balls with two colored squares or they can be traditionally placed on the ground or in-between walls.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
First appearing in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the cannons are only found at Oil Ocean Zone. They are round-shaped cannons with no footsets, and are colored with green and yellow squares around it. To use cannons, the player has to break a protective cork on top of certain furnaces, which will propel him or her into a floating cannon that will shoot the player into another cannon and eventually to another section of the act, much like the pipes in Chemical Plant Zone. In some cases, the player can be launched high into the air by the last cannon, allowing the player to collect Rings above the exit point. In Act 2 of Oil Ocean Zone, the player is also able to enter floating cannons by flying below hatches of floating furnaces, which will then shoot the player to the nearest cannon.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the lock-on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, cannons are black circus cannons that automatically swivel 180 degrees whenever the player enters. Once entered, the player then has to then press the jump button at the right time to launch the character in the desired direction. They are only found in Carnival Night Zone, where they shoot the player to higher parts of the zone. After completing Carnival Night Zone Act 2, Sonic or Tails uses one black circus cannon to shoot themselves to the next zone in the game. During this event, this transition to the next zone is done automatically. Oddly, there is no sound effect for these cannons when they fire.
Sonic 3D Blast
In Sonic 3D Blast, cannons are extremely rare objects, as only two known cannons can be encountered, both of which are located in hidden places in the Green Grove Zone. They are similar to ones seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, except they are brown and the cannons' edge is colored blue. When the player jumps in to the cannon, Sonic will be launched a very far distance to another part of the zone.
The first cannon is found in Act 1, where the player has to Spin Dash through the breakable wall to enter the hidden place, where only cannon and a monitor with a Gold Shield are found. After being launched by the cannon, Knuckles can be found. The second cannon can be found in Act 2, where the player has to first get to the second room with the Giant Ring and go through the breakable wall at the left side of the room. The player will then find another hidden room that has monitors with a Gold Shield and an extra life. On the top of the hill, the cannon can be found, which will launch the player back to the first room with the Giant Ring.
In Sonic Adventure, the Egg Carrier has cannons resembling Eggman located around the main engine deck and several other places on the air fortress. These cannons have a small hatch of the top, which only Sonic can hop into. After getting in, the cannon will then shoot the player a far distance. Using cannons on the main engine deck to shoot the player into one of metallic boxes with will break the box. One of these metallic boxes have one of the emblems.
Sonic Advance 2
In Sonic Advance 2, the cannon appears several times in Egg Utopia. After getting in, the cannon moves up and down, so the player have to decide in what direction to be launched by pressing button once.
In Sonic Heroes, cannons are one of the major objects in the game, which appear in most of the game's stages and few of the boss battles. The cannons in this game are colored dark grey with red and yellow colored details.
The cannons function in three different ways, depending on the type of playable character that is leading the team when entering the cannon. With a Speed type character, the cannon will launch the character forward at a high speed. With a Fly type character, the cannon will aim upwards and launch the player to higher places in the stage. With a Power type character, the cannon's direction can be aimed by the player independently, though the player cannot aim the cannon upward like with a Fly type character. With the exception of Power type characters, the cannons in Sonic Heroes fire automatically.
Sometimes, using the right character type can make the cannons shoot the player to alternate pathways. When using Power type characters, the player can fire (by pressing the jump button (/)) the Speed type character and Fly type character on the team independently, before the Power type character gets launched. During this phase, the player can cancel out of cannon formation with it launching the character(s) a short distance by pressing the action button (//). This can be useful to blow item box balloons from a far distance, attacking enemies or breaking down obstacles.
Sonic Advance 3
In Sonic Advance 3, the cannon appears in Ocean Base. The player has to simply get into it, and then launches the character automatically with water to reach higher sections of the stage.
Cannons in Sonic Rush are featured only at Dead Line as gimmicks and function like they did in Sonic Advance 2. When the player is spinning in the cannon, he/she has to press at the desired time to shoot.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, cannons are found exclusively at Casino Street Zone Act 3 and serve as the Act's main gimmicks. In this game, they resemble circus cannons, like in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, except that they are colored blue, have a yellow ring on the cannon barrel with red stars on them, and are set on round wooden plates.
The Cannons in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I work like the ones in Carnival Night Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, except they can be manually aimed by the player. In order to enter a cannon, the player has to either press down on the analog stick when standing on top of it, or use a Homing Attack on it. The player is able to spin through breakable, colorful blocks when shot out by a cannon.
Both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic are able to use the cannons, which in most cases shoot them to another section of the Act that the player is unable to backtrack to. The cannons shoot the player to a certain location once entered. All the player has to do is to press / to initiate the launch.
Sonic Lost World
In the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World, cannons are one of main gimmicks seen throughout the game. They are similar in appearance to the cannons in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but are now colored red and blue. There is also a golden variations of cannons, which are hidden in certain parts of of the Zones and can send the player to special alternate pathways.
In Sonic Runners, cannons have the same appearance from Sonic Lost World. They are found in mid-air and when the playable character enters in, the cannon's direction tilts up and down. To fire the character from the cannon, the player has to tap the screen.