The goal is the end point of a playable level in a video game. In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, the goal is often an object positioned at a certain point in the level (usually known as a Zone or stage) that must be passed, collected or destroyed. It may also take the form of a set of conditions that must be satisfied (for example, 'collect 200 rings').
Upon reaching the goal, gameplay ends and the scores are tallied, taking into account (for example) Rings collected, enemies defeated, and the time taken to complete the level. Bonuses are often provided depending on the score achieved or speed of completion. For example, in Sonic Rush, you can get a bonus if you cross the goal at high speed.
The most early yet well-known goals in the Sonic series appearing at the end of each Acts of almost every Zone as a large signpost on a rotatable post which spins round when passed, sometimes accompanied by a Warp Ring if Sonic has 50 rings or more. It starts off with Eggman's face, and switches to the player's character's face. These large rings would teleport Sonic to the Special Zone. Usually a bonus is granted depending on your performance and represented as a picture on the Bonus Plate.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the Bonus Plate would drop down from above the screen after defeating the minor boss (Act 1) of that zone. It will spin continuously until it lands, with the same faces as the first two games. This could be kept in the air for as long as the player likes for points. Jumping into it would push it up into the air again, giving 100 points each time. If the Bonus Plate lands on certain points on the ground, it will cause hidden item boxes to pop up, which can be collected before or after the score tally. This means that the player can start the next act with 10 or 20 rings, or they can be collected before the score tally if it would result in an extra life (having 90-99 or 190-199 rings). This was the same for some of the Sonic & Knuckles zones as well.
Chaos Emeralds are usually the goals of Special Stages, where the player had to collect enough rings to reach the end of the stage. In Sonic 1, instead of being at the end of a Special Stage, Chaos Emeralds were usually ready for collection in the stage's center. In order to obtain it, the player just had to spin through the barriers protecting the Emerald. In Sonic 2, Sonic (and/or Tails optionally) run down a long continuing half-pipe with twists and turns. Sonic has to collect enough rings to pass the check-point at the center and to eventually reach the emerald while avoiding spike balls. These pipe like Special Stages become a recurring theme in future Special Stages. In Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, the Special Stages were changed into a checkered, globe-like sphere in which the characters had to collect blue spheres instead of rings (although collecting 50 rings would be rewarded by a continue). Chaos Emeralds were still the goals of this kind of Special Stage, but they only appeared until after the player hit all blue spheres.
In more recent Sonic games, Chaos Emeralds are usually the goals of certain action stages due to collecting them being part of the game's story. However, the Chaos Emeralds and Special Stages returned in Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush, and Sonic Rush Adventure. The Special Stages in Sonic Rush are much like those from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, while the Sonic Rush Adventure features waterbike races against the shark-like pirate, Johnny. The winner of these races gets the Emerald at the end. In Sonic Heroes, rather than being at the end of Special Stages, the Emeralds first appeared at the beginning of the stage, then flew away leaving the characters to chase it. In this kind of Special Stage, it was possible to reach the goal very early on if one managed to grab the Emerald right away.
Originally, capsules appeared at the end of third acts in Zones, but in Sonic Adventure, they would appear as the goal of Action Stages for Sonic and Tails. The animals that escape from the capsules are the same kind of animals used for raising Chao, and some of them would even go towards Sonic or Tails to be collected. In Sonic Lost World the classic capsules holding the animals return, holding animals. They are found during the stages but also the last one serving as goal.
Goal Rings also appear in recent Sonic games, beginning with Sonic Adventure 2. They look like the Warp Rings from early Sonic games but serve as the goal at the end of the Stages. In Sonic Adventure 2 the goal ring is a giant ring with the words GOAL in it; Sonic Heroes' goal ring has a star in it, while in the game Shadow the Hedgehog usually has an emerald in the ring.
- Usually defeating the boss in the end of zone or in separate level.
- In Sonic Adventure, Big the Cat has to fish out Froggy for himself to complete action stage.
- In Sonic Adventure, Amy Rose has to grab the Goal Balloon to complete Action Stage.
- Complete the level in certain amount of minutes, which is sometimes missions are based on.
- The player has destroy all of the targets, which is sometimes mission based.
- Knuckles the Echidna and Rouge the Bat has to find 3 shard pieces of the Master Emerald, 3 keys or 3 emeralds. This variation appears in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2.
- Collect a certain amount of a specified item, which is sometimes mission based.
- Finding the lost Chao from certain stage.
- Seprate goal gate in Sonic Advance 2 makes the player stop running and the game measures the bonus points at specific spot where the player stops. If the player stops too late, bonus points are not earned. If the player collects all Special Rings and enters to Special Stage, bonus points are not earned either as the player just keeps running over the field to enter the Special Stage.
- Gold, Silver or Bronze awards (Sonic Advance 3, Sonic and the Secret Rings and both Mario and Sonic Olympic Games).
- In Sonic Forces, a hologram gate with the Eggman Empire logo is used as the goal. Once the player goes through it, it disappears and becomes a blue-starred logo.
Starting in Sonic Adventure 2, the player is ranked on performance in a stage, but no actual bonuses were granted until one had completed everything with an "A" or "S" rank (depending on the game).
- S (Highest in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic Rush, Sonic Rivals Sonic Rush Adventure, Sonic Rivals 2 Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations.)
- A (Highest in Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Shadow the Hedgehog)
- C (Lowest in Sonic Rush and Sonic Rivals series and the Wii/PS2 version of Sonic Unleashed)
- D (Lowest in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations)
- E (Lowest in games with an "A" rank as the best and the 360/PS3 version of Sonic Unleashed)
In the Storybook games, there are instead unique methods of ranking. The medal ranking system in Sonic Advance 3 was used in Sonic and the Secret Rings with 3 ranks: gold (highest), silver (2nd highest) and bronze (2nd lowest), introducing the "no medal" rank as lowest. In Sonic and the Black Knight, performance in a level is ranked by stars, where ★★★★★ is the highest and ★☆☆☆☆ is the lowest (though in some rare cases, one could get ☆☆☆☆☆ in a similar fashion to ★☆☆☆☆).