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The Goal (ゴール,Gōru?) is an object that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are flashing orbs/cubes-shaped objects (although the manual describes them as a block) that appear in Special Stages or Bonus Stages. If the player touches these blocks, they will be transported to the next Act or returned to the same Zone they entered the stage from.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
The Goal first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), where they can be encountered in the game's Special Stages. Here, they are set in rows within the walls. When the player touches these blocks, he/she will leave the Special Stage without earning a Chaos Emerald, which the player's goal in the Special Stages.
Sonic & Knuckles
Goals later appeared in the slot machine-type Bonus Stage in Sonic & Knuckles. They function as they did in the previous game and can be found in small gaps in each corner of the stage. Here, touching the Goal will send the player back to the Zone where he/she entered the Bonus Stage. If the player hits the colored blocks multiple times or stays on them for too long, they will change their color and, eventually, transform into a Goal block (blue > green > yellow > red > Goal block).
Different looking, but identically functioning objects titled Exit appear in the Bonus Stages of Knuckles' Chaotix. These objects are simple gray cubes with a red-and-green flashing circle in the middle that has "Exit" written on it. When the player falls onto one of these cubes, he/she will be transported back to the place where the player found the Giant Ring for the Bonus Stage.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
The Goal blocks returned in the Special Stages of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I. In this game, they are simple red, circular blocks with a white exclamation mark written in their center instead of "Goal". Despite their artistic change, they work exactly like they did in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
Goals are misleadingly thought to guide the player back to the next Zone, especially in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, when the original goal is to collect a Chaos Emerald.