Flat panels with endless running metal wheels or treadmills.
Dash Panels (ダッシュパネル,Dasshu Paneru?), also known as Dash Zones (ダッシュゾーン,Dasshu Zōn?), Dash Pads and Boosters, are gimmicks that appear in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are flat panels that allow the player to reach top running speed. Dash Panels are usually placed in high-speed sections in the Zones, and are even used to used to change the player's direction immediately.
The Dash Panels made their first appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it was not until Sonic Adventure that Dash Panels became a frequently featured objects in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series.
Dash Panels' primary function is to send the player's playable character forward with a burst of speed. As soon as the playable character touches a Dash Panel, either from walking onto it, running over/through it or jumping onto it, they will automatically initiate a running dash away from the Dash Panel at the playable character's maximum running speed. However, Dash Panels can only launch the playable characters forward in one direction.
Dash Panels are always placed on solid surfaces and are usually used to help the player move across sections and gimmicks where high-speed momentum is needed. As such, they are most commonly placed on steep uphills, close to loops, runnable walls and even ceilings, or just straight paths. In some games, however, Dash Panels can be placed in locations that make it impossible for the player to backtrack in the levels. In some of the 3D games, Dash Panels can be placed in their own individual location, but there are also chases where they are lined up so they cover the whole width of the pathway.
While usually used to reach maximum running speed, Dash panels also serve in many automated sections of the levels to guide the playable character down certain pathways. In several games, using the Dash Panel can make the playable character automatically use the Spin Attack when touching it.
The appearance of the Dash Panels have been changed frequently over the course of the series. In the first games, they were booster mechanisms, which are referred to as Boosters,[note 1] that have lines of endless running wheels that push the playable character forward when running between them. This design appeared in several later games such as Sonic Chaos and Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble. In several early games, their design were also changed somewhat for each Zone to fit their environment and could even function differently.
While a more flat panel design was introduced in Sonic Blast, it was not until in Sonic Adventure that they were redesigned as flat plates with endless moving treadmills on them, which were named Dash Panels. This design for the Dash Panel usually feature yellow, red and gray color schemes with arrows on the running treadmill parts. Since Sonic the Hedgehog 4, the booster design from early games has been reused in games such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The Boosters were first introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, where two types of this object are introduced.
The first and most basic type of the Boosters appear in Chemical Plant Zone. These Boosters are larger than the playable characters and consist of a pair of rapidly spinning black wheels with a glittering arrow on it. When the player touches them, the player is launched forward at maximum speed. Here, they are placed in the more fast-paced and linear parts of the Zone.
The second type of booster Dash panels, resembling plane launchers, appear in Wing Fortress Zone. These pads launch the player a far distance into the air while propelling them forward. Pressing down on the D-pad when the playable character is fired away by these pads, however, will minimize the distance the player is thrown by them. When the player is standing on these pads, he/she can also jump off the panel as well. After being used by the player, the pad will hover back to its standard place.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Boosters only appear in Stardust Speedway, where they resemble grey protrusions from the ground. When touching these Boosters, they will launch the player in one direction at maximum running speed while creating flames behind the playable character. Boosters in Sonic the Hedgehog CD are a rare type of gimmicks, which allow the player to cross from left and right. They are good to use on linear sections when attempting to use the Time Warp Plates to travel to other timelines.
In the Special Stages, there are two types of plates with flashing arrows called Dash Zones. Regular Dash Zones are medium sized, while Mini Dash Zones (ミニダッシュゾーン,Mini Dasshu Zōn?) are smaller. Both Dash Zones can send the player running forward at maximum speed when touching them. However, this makes navigating the Special Stages harder.
In Sonic Chaos, the Boosters resembles the type of Booster from the Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, where they are plates and have light-colored, endless running wheels on them. In this game, the Booster's color scheme differs between each Zone due to palette limitations, and will make the playable character use the Spin Attack once the player runs over it. Here, Boosters appear in the more linear sections of Sleeping Egg Zone, Aqua Planet Zone and Electric Egg Zone.
In Hydrocity Zone, the Boosters are revolvers hidden underneath the ground and have attachments in the shape of hands. When the player gets caught by the Boosters' hand attachment, the revolver loads the player and sends him/her forward at high speed. The player can utilize them to spin through and up corkscrew loop pillars easily.
In Carnival Night Zone, there are similar side dash tunnels which magnetically warps the player to the other side at high speed. As a side-effect, however, the player cannot backtrack through tunnels with these panels. In Upright tunnels, these panels make the player fly upwards. More basic boosters also appear in Launch Base Zone, which launch the player forward with a segmented pole that is raised underneath.
In Sonic 3D Blast, the Boosters have a different design and different functionality. Here, Boosters are a plate with arrows, but when standing on them, a blue wheel attachment will appear from the ground behind Sonic and rev him up as he uses his Spin Dash, before launching him forward.
In this game, the Boosters are generally used to travel from one section of the individual Zones to another automatically, or to gain more speed to travel uphill. In front of the Booster that leads to another section are there purple gates that prevent the player from passing through them unless the player uses the Boosters.
The player is normally unable to backtrack to the previous section after using the Boosters, but it is possible if the player can find a pathway to the section or another Booster thats sends the player down the same automated pathway. In the Sega Saturn version of the game, the Special Stages have different red gates, which can give a small speed boost for Sonic to go through strings of Rings.
In the Special Stages of Sonic 3D Blast, the more panel-like Dash Panels are introduced. In this game, they are flat and blue with a panel-like design and have yellow arrows on the running treadmills. Here, they are placed in front of the player, who can use them to collect strings of Rings with the small speed boost they give.
In Sonic Adventure and its remake, Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, the Dash Panels are for the first time featured as one of the main gimmicks in the games. In these games, the Dash Panels have simple rectangular shapes with grey, endless running treadmill on them, and black and yellow stripes on the front and rear sides. They are usually set individually on narrow routes, though there can be more than two and three Dash Panels set in wider areas as well to help the player get through loops, slopes and other sections. When touches, they will make the playable characters run at their maximum speed, though only Sonic's Spin Dash can make him go faster.
Sonic Adventure 2
In Sonic Adventure 2 and its remake, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, the Dash Panels have a much more advanced design than what was seen in Sonic Adventure. Here, they still have a rectangular shape, but with a wider bottom edge, and have yellow and black stripes on the sides. They also have a treadmill with grey arrows on the middle and red edges on the front, and a smaller black one with red arrows on the middle on the rear.
In these games, the Dash Panels are generally featured in Sonic, Shadow, Tails and Dr. Eggman's stages. They function like those in Sonic Adventure, expect that several wider arenas utilize larger lines of Dash Panels. Narrow sections will also still use single Dash Panels to give an extra amount of speed boost for the playable character to go through loops and slopes.
In all three Sonic Advance titles, Dash Panels feature a new design, which is a fusion of the Booster and Dash Panel designs. In these games, they are small, yellow plates with orange running wheels set on them. They function like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but appear more often and can send playable characters running at their maximum running speed.
In Sonic Heroes, Dash Panels have another, slightly different design, but they function like they did in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. In this game, Dash Panels are flat plates with gray running treadmills showing the way they launch the player with individual red arrows. They also have orange edges/frames on the side and are colored red on the bottom.
In this game, Dash panels are usually placed in rows of three to guide the player. Additionally, Pinball tables in Casino Park and BINGO Highway have flashing neon arrows which function like Dash Panels. In Rail Canyon and Bullet Station, there are also rusty-looking Boosters set on the rails that can accelerate characters' speed while grinding. The Special Stages in the game also feature different, flashing panels on rows that give an extra speed boost.
Shadow the Hedgehog
In Shadow the Hedgehog, Dash Panels have the same functions and design they had in Sonic Heroes. In this game, they serve to accelerate and help the player through loops and slopes.
Sonic Rush Series
In both Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, Dash Panels have the same design and similar functions they had in the Sonic Advance titles. Additionally, blue and gray Dash Panels appear on the grind rails. In the Special Stages of Sonic Rush, Dash Panels also appear, where they can guide the player through the lines of Rings. Their design in Special Stages closely resemble the ones from Sonic Heroes.
Sonic Riders Series
In Sonic Riders and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, the Dash Panels' design closely resembles the one they had in Sonic Adventure 2, while later in Sonic Free Riders, their design resemble more the ones they had in Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. In these games, they can either be set in long rows to guide the way and gain extra amount of boost for each racer, or individually to guide the player through narrow pathways.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), the Dash Panels have the exact same design they had in Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog. In this game, many Dash Panels are placed more individually and serve to guide the player through automated pathways.
Sonic and the Secret Rings
In Sonic and the Secret Rings, regular Dash Panels reprise their role from previous games. In this game, the Dash Panels have slightly altered look, possessing a more yellow color scheme to fit the local environment. Like in the previous games, they are most of the time set in rows or placed individually depending the route's scope, and can send Sonic running at high speed in a second.
Sonic and the Black Knight
In Sonic and the Black Knight, the Dash Panels appear exclusively in the game's Legacy missions. In this game, they are virtually identical to the Dash Panels in Sonic Unleashed in terms of design, and they function like they did in Sonic and the Secret Rings. Like in the games before it, they appear mostly in rows, but can also appear individually depending on the scope of the road.
Sonic Rivals Series
In Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2, the Dash Panels have a drastically different design in the regular in-game Zones. In these games, they are gray treadmill panels set between white high-tech posts. They regularly give an extra amount of running speed for the player and his/her rival racer when passing through them. Here, they are usually placed on wide pathways, loops and slopes.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, the Dash Panels have a grey edging and black and yellow arrows, similar to their designs in Sonic Adventure. They are only seen when the player chooses the flee option during a battle or when an opponent is escaping, where they appear on the path the playable characters are running and can improve the player's chance at escaping by increasing the playable character's running speed briefly.
In Sonic Unleashed, the Dash Panels have a slightly different design from those in the previous games, where they have red edges, and dark gray, running treadmills with orange arrows on them. In the game, they only appear in the daytime Action Stages/Stages, where they are usually placed individually in the 2.5D sections of the Acts to give an extra amount of running speed to the player. There can also be rows of three, four or five Dash Panels in the 3D sections as well.
Besides the Dash Panels, the game also features different type of panels on the grind rails that have the same effect as the Dash Panels when grinding through them, similarly to the blue and gray rail panels from Sonic Rush. They look like blue and black triangles that seemingly hover on both sides of the rail.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
In allthreeepisodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4, the Dash Panels have their original Booster-design from the early installments in the series. In these games, they are attachments with rapidly spinning red wheels on a gray plate with arrows on the plate.
Unlike in the early installments of the series, the Boosters appear more often and are featured in every Zone of each episode. Also, like in Sonic Chaos, the Boosters can also make the playable character use the Spin Attack after being launched forward by them. Dash Panels also appear in Episode II's Special Stages, which have their modern design. They are placed individually and give the player a small speed boost through strings of Rings.
In the Wii version of Sonic Colors, Dash Panels function and look exactly like they did in Sonic Unleashed. They are placed individually in the 2.5D sections and in long rows in the 3D sections.
In Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors', the Dash Panels look more like they did in the Sonic Rush games. Like in the Sonic Advance titles, using the Dash Panels allows the player to enter Boost Mode.
In Sonic Generations, the Dash Panels come in two different designs, but they function in the same way. Act 1 of each Zone feature the original Boosters from earlier games, with rapidly spinning black wheels and red and black platforms, while Act 2 of each Zone feature Dash Panels with the designs from Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. Additionally, the Booster has its own trophy in the hidden Statue Room.
In Sonic Dash, the Dash Panels serve as minor objects when the player enters the Loop-de-loop section. In this game, they are somewhat different with simple red and black colored panels with blue arrows on the treadmills. They are used to give small amount of increased speed when the player enters the shuttle loop or corkscrew loop in their sections. They also make the playable character perform the Spin Attack automatically.
Sonic Lost World
In both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of Sonic Lost World, the Dash Panels have the original Booster-design from the early installments of the series. They function similarly to those in the previous recent games, but their placement within the Zones is somewhat different, as they can be placed on narrow steep roads or inside tubular pipes.
Like in previous games, rows of three or five Boosters appear in the 3D sections of the game to give small amount of speed boost for the player, while some other are placed individually to guide the player down the right path. Along with the Spin Dash, using the Boosters is only way for Sonic to reach maximum running speed.
Accelerators are objects in Sonic R that serve as the game's counterpart for the Dash Panels. The more Rings the player has when passing through them, the further distance will the Accelerator send the player forward at high speed. When this happens, the player must pay up to fifty Rings.
Jump Panels were first introduced in Sonic Drift 2, but it was not until Sonic Adventure that they became one of the general objects in the series. Unlike the Dash Panels which send the player into a dash along the ground, these panels sends the player flying into mid-air with a high-speed dash, usually to get to the other side of gaps. They are always placed at a 45 degree angle position. Since Sonic Adventure 2, they have branched into two types; regular and Trick Jump Panels.
Dash Rings are another version of the Dash Panels which were first introduced in Sonic Adventure. When passing through these rings, the player's character is send flying the direction the Dash Ring is facing while giving a small boost in speed. Early on, they were designed as high-tech rings, but later became more generic orange rings. Since Sonic Heroes, Dash Rings also come in a different variant called Rainbow Rings.
Dash Panels on grind rails are another variant of the regular Dash Panels. They function similarly to their ground counterparts, but their appearance differs between each game. In Sonic Rush, they resemble regular Dash Panels with a gray and blue color scheme and are set on end of the grind rails, but since Sonic Unleashed, they look like blue and black triangles hovering on both sides of the grind rail.
Blue Fairies are one of four different types of Fairies that appear in
Sonic and the Black Knight. In the game, they hover in clusters and function like a Dash Panel when touching them, increasing the playable character's running speed and sending him/her running in a linear direction. Like regular Dash Panels, they are placed in different sizes of rows. They can also send the playable character zooming up and down in midair, similar to a Spring.
One of major criticisms of Dash Panels from the community over the years have been the object's unfitting placements or the over usability of them in many games. Notable this has been part of the explanation, where the game has claimed to become more heavily scripted and giving no possibility to backtrack or doing exploration.
Sonic Pinball Party features the Dash Panel briefly as part of the plunger in each Sonic-themed pinball table of the game.
↑None of the booster mechanisms were named or mentioned in the earlier installments in the series. The name "Booster" was given for the Dash Panels in the classic stages in the console/PC versions of Sonic Generations and the name is used for them in the trophy room and instruction manuals.