Expert Mode is an unlockable gameplay mode in Shadow the Hedgehog where the player has to play through all of the game's stages in order to complete it. Expert Mode can only be unlocked in the game by attaining an A-rank on every single stage in the game.
Plot-wise, it is a form of training that Shadow apparently goes through shortly after the events of the game and is to be a true test of Shadow's skills.
In Expert Mode, the player plays through all 23 stages (including The Last Way) available in Shadow the Hedgehog in order, starting from the top of the level select chart down. Unlike the main game, progress will be lost if the player loses all lives or quits. Many of the first stages are nearly the same, just a few extra platforms and some more rings to use Light Speed Dash. No characters are allied alongside the player and there is no given Rank after completing a stage. The objective of most stages is to reach the goal ring except for Central City (clear aninhiliator bombs), The Doom (rescue wounded researchers) and Mad Matrix (reach all four data-bases). The beginning of every stage has a hint marker containing a message from a different character wishing Shadow good luck and telling the player how Expert Mode works.
During the first drop, avoid the helicopters on the way down, When the player reach the bottom, continue forward defeating all the Black Arms in the player's way. By the time the player reaches the area with a lot of red roots, the player will have a full hero gauge. Be careful, because there are more GUN Soldiers and Black Arms. Laser blasts are also more frequent, So watch out as well. If the player did not has a full hero gauge by the area mentioned above, the player will need to Triangle jump along the way and then light Dash at the rings
The first thing that the player will notice is that there are more firewalls in the light Dash Circuit. Avoid them at all costs to keep from losing your rings. When the player reaches the area after the first checkpoint and some GUN Beetles. Hop on the moving blocks, and light dash along the rings. Use the spring to get up to the light in the next section. There are some differences in certain sections, but if the player takes it slow, the player will be able to get to the end.
The stage is much easier than Digital Circuit, because the only thing that changes is the way you get across some gaps. There are a few more platforms and Light Dash opportunities. In the area where the wind automatically takes the player up, there is no wind, meaning that the player have to makes the jump manually.
The fist noticeable difference is the lack of some rockets. After using the Pulley where the first rocket should be is a locked spring. the player must defeat the GUN Beetles flying in the air just beyond. The player should have a weapon, so shoot it, and the box will open. Afterward the player needs to jump out to the rings, and Light Dash the rest of the way. the player's hardest jump will be to that of a pulley over nothing. Try to jump toward it and then Jump Dash for extra distance.
The player may notice that the first balloon is gone. Defeat the Egg Pawn, and a Skull Spring will appear. Use that spring to bounce up to the top portion, and grind down the rail. After grinding, the player notices that the player has no flame. Find the flame by destroying the tree to the left or right. After the fifth checkpoint, get on the moving platforms, bounce off of the Black Hawk and then use the Light Dash to make it across to the other side.
In the area where the original Goal Ring was, defeat the Black Arms and then bounce up. From there, use the Wide Spring to bounce high, use the homing attack on the GUN beetle and then Light Dash across the newly formed rings. Later on in the stage, the player will ride an Air Saucer that will take the player to a platform with a robot. Time your jump and bounce off the two GUN Beetles to get to the other Air Saucer.
Besides the increase in enemies, there are more of those tiny moving platforms. It is important that the player is very careful when jumping to them. Take this stage slow, and remember It's not about time but completion. The most difficult part is after the rope grinding section. the player must jump over to the small moving platforms, and do some hoop tricks after that. The rings in mid-air serve as a guide to where to jump to, but it's better if the player can just skip this altogether using Chaos Control if the player can find enough enemies to defeat to raise the player Hero Gauge.
The object of Central City is not to find the Goal Ring, but to destroy the five giant bombs found throughout the city. The bombs are located in the same places as the Normal Story Mode. There is really not that much of a difference in this stage, except for the fact Central City won't have as much freedom of where the player can and cannot go. Consider this stage a freebie.
The player will be taking on a harder version of Espio's mission for this one. Omega says that he is the strongest, so go out and prove him wrong by accessing the four databases. One thing that the player might find different are the color tiles. There are more of them to line up. Besides make the level longer, it should still pose no problem.
Pass through the speed circle, and the player will bounce off a spring. Watch out, because the player will land on an incomplete platform. Land on one of the tiles, and change them to the same color to make it rise. When the player reach the next set of tiles after the third Checkpoint, it also has incomplete tiles. When the player reach the top, the player will needs to Jump Dash to the other side.
In the green tower after the fourth Checkpoint, the player will rides a very large platform. After matching up the colors, make sure you are standing to the far left or right to avoid being knocked off.
The red Tower on expert mode is not more difficult but different. In the story mode after riding the platform up, the player had to triangle jump. This time there is to floating blocks. Jump to the first block, and jump Dash to make it to the second block.
In this stage, the player has to rescue all the wounded researches. For this stage, the player will want to use all the shortcuts the player used to reach the Goal Ring in story Mode, because all the researchers are in that room.
This is another easy Expert Mode Stage. Not much has changed, except for the fact that the player will be using the Light Dash a bit more than usual. One thing to take note of is that after the long Light Dashing section, hold forward so that the player land safely on solid ground.
Normally there would be some sort of tip, but this stage was easy. Just follow the same path that the player would to get an A ranking. The stage is altered a but it's easier. one thing that the player do want to shoot for is to fill the Hero Gauge when the player reach the area with the pole with that the player slide down to reach the final part of the stage.
This is just like the normal Mission, except for the fact that the player cannot destroy defense cores to remove the barriers. Just stay on the Black Volt, and fly as fast as the player can through the stage to reach the goal ring. Luckily the player can refill the Black volt's health two time during the stage. If the player is is having trouble, just get off at various platforms. Once the player gets off Black Volt, the player must restart the stage at the first chapter. No Black Volt reappears once the player gets off.
This stage calls for making good use of the Chaos Control. IF the player can, power it up so that it is full just before the outside sections of the stage. the player will need to go through one of them. Neither of them are that difficult, the player just needs to be a little more careful when jumping. If the player got this far, the player is plenty good at the game already.
The first thing that the player will notice is that there are a lot more platforms than before. This is Expert Mode, so the player isn't going to be bailed out by rockets and such. the player should hit most of the checkpoints, so by the end, the player will be getting extra lives.
This stage will take the player on the top route. If the player was able to beat Sonic in a race, the player should finish this stage easy as well. one difference is that at the point where the second defense unit it was, there are blocks not barriers. It is also easier to get to the Key as well. If you did not get it.
The most noticeable change is the lack of some GUN Lifts. When the player reaches the first part where a GUN Lift used to be, go through the door, and a platform with a rocket will be there. Use the rocket to reach another platform, and use the Dash panel to go forward. After using the Dash panel, the player needs to use a series of Homing Attacks to reach the other door. The Goal Ring is in the area with the Final Checkpoint.
The First part is standard, except it doesn't matter who the player defeats. Watch out before the first checkpoint, because there are a number of places to fall. The player must jump across each of the small sections. Use the Jump Dash to increase the player distance. Make it the player's goal to build up the player's Hero Gauge, so that the player can skip some portions of the stage. In the final area before the Goal Ring, be sure to defeat the GUN Before jumping across the platforms.
What makes this stage expert is the lack of enemies. Before the player could use the Black Hawks to get from platform to platform, but now the player must use the Jump Dash. The good thing is that the player is not timed.
A trick to skip an entire section starts in the inside corridor after the second checkpoint. In the room with the Artificial Chaos, Jump down to grab a Pulley, and when the player reaches the upper platform, grab the blue energy core. Use it right away, and ride the transport outside. As soon as Shadow lets go, Use Chaos Control again, and you will skip an entire section. The spinning platform section is where most people will go crazy. The only tip is to quit, and practice staying on the top area in select mode. This jumping section leads to where key is.
After the Sixth Checkpoint there is no Jump Vehicle instead, you need to use the pulley. Once the player is at the top of the pulley, wait for the platform to float by, and jump on to it. This is not much harder, but there is more chance for error. The next Section us especially tough, because the player must jump on a series of moving platforms. This is the most difficult stage so far.
This is Expert Mode, so the player will need to have mastered the Triangle Jump, or the player won't be able to pass even the first part of the stage. Try to stay on the top portion, because it's easier. The first couple of volcanic defense systems are active, but the Goal Ring is located where the fifth one was. Make sure you don't take the other path, or the player will has to start over.
Just focus on getting either of the Gauges filled up. The Hero Gauge is important as always, because the player will be able to skip massive parts of the stage. This stage has nothing more than an increase in enemies.
Final Haunt is pretty simple compared to Cosmic Fall. Just focus on filling up the Hero Gauge and use Chaos Control. There are no defense cores to activate, so the player will need to get through the stage using the pure hero path. The Goal Ring is where Black Doom is.
The Last Way
The player did not come this far just to lose now, so just blast as many of the Black Arms as the player can, and use Chaos Control to fly through the stage. At the end, the player gets to see the credits, but more importantly, the player can say that he is a Shadow the Hedgehog expert. The only thing left is to beat the game going through all 326 Possibilities.
Stages Hint Characters
Every characters from the game including Cream the Rabbit and Cheese (even though they were only an objective in Cryptic Castle), Gerald Robotnik, the Commander, and even the President and his Secretary show up as hint characters. The final hint marker at the beginning of The Last Way gives luck from every single character seen in the game.
- Sonic gives hints in Digital Circuit and GUN Fortress.
- Tails gives a hint in Glyphic Canyon.
- Knuckles is featured as a hint character in Lethal Highway.
- Rouge is featured as a hint character in Cryptic Castle and with Omega in Lava Shelter.
- Omega is featured as a hint character in Mad Matrix and with Rouge in Lava Shelter.
- Vector is the hint character in Prison Island and with other members of Team Chaotix in Final Haunt.
- Charmy is the hint character in Sky Troops and with other members of Team Chaotix in Final Haunt.
- Espio is the hint character in Central City and with other members of Team Chaotix in Final Haunt.
- Amy is the hint character of Circus Park.
- Cream is the hint character of The ARK while Cheese is the hint character of Cosmic Fall.
- Eggman gives hints in Westopolis and Iron Jungle.
- Maria is featured as a hint character in The Doom.
- Gerald Robotnik is featured as a hint character in Lost Impact.
- The President and his secretary give hints in Air Fleet and Black Comet.
- The Commander gives hints in Space Gadget.
- Black Doom gives hints in Death Ruins.
- The Expert Mode version of The Doom is the same as the Hero mission, except that the researchers are all next to a Heal Unit spawn in one room at the end.
- Important and sometimes interesting information is often revealed by the hints at the start of each level in Expert Mode. Aside from the objective of each level, personal information from the speaker is sometimes revealed such as the Commander's new grandchild, the reason for the hostile actions of the Artificial Chaos, and the President's meetings.
- In Mad Matrix, Omega claims that he is stronger than Shadow and challenges him. He wants to challenge Shadow again in Lava Shelter, but Rouge stops him.
- In Iron Jungle, Dr. Eggman asks if Shadow is angry with him, which may refer to Shadow Androids.
- The President tries to talk with Shadow in Air Fleet and Black Comet but in both cases his Secretary reminds him of his meetings and he has to stop talking with Shadow.
- At the beginning of Final Haunt, Charmy and Vector fight with each other about minor matters and Espio apologizes to Shadow about it.
- Cheese is the hint character of Cosmic Fall. However, Vector's voice can be heard in some parts of stage.
- Gerald Robotnik says in Lost Impact that the reason the Artificial Chaos became hostile was because Gerald accidentally reversed the positive and negative electrode connectors within them. This created a problem in their programming and resulted in their hostility.
- Sonic gives hints at the beginning of Digital Circuit.However; Rouge's voice is heard through the stage.