The Rockets (ロケット,Roketto?), or Long Rockets, are a type of gimmick that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. As their name implies, they are rocket-shaped transportation devices, which are used by the playable characters in the games to get across great distances and over obstacles in the levels.
The Rockets were first introduced in Sonic Adventure and have since then become one of most generally featured objects in several games. Additionally, the rockets can also serve other purposes or have different functionalities in few other games.
Rockets are generally white and red colored rockets with four rotors on the rear and have a handle attached below them. All rockets are set on small, grey launching pads. When the playable character makes contact with a rocket, the playable character in question will grab onto it and the launching pad will release the rocket automatically. The rocket will then take off at high speed through midair, while the playable character is holding onto the rocket's handle. After riding it for a while, the playable character will let go off the handle on the rocket, while the rocket itself flies off into the distance.
By riding the rocket, the playable characters can fly across Bottomless pits, pass over obstacles on the paths, or just to get to another location in the level. Many rockets can also fly upwards, allowing the player to get to higher grounds in the level, similarly to Springs and Pulleys.
In some cases in the game, the rockets function differently. In Red Mountain, there is a rocket that can only have its launching function activated by pressing a switch nearby, on a place where a giant hammer is smashing down. After this, the player can grab and ride the rocket upward. Also, in Sonic's version of Sky Deck, towards the end of the first half and second half of the stage, the player has to launch a rocket into the core of a large cannon on the Egg Carrier in order to proceed. During both times, Sonic himself will not grab onto the rocket when it is launched. Additionally, should the player miss the cannon's core with the rocket, the launching pad will respond and another rocket will emerge from it.
Sonic Adventure 2
Rockets made another appearance in Sonic Adventure 2, where they function in the same way they did in Sonic Adventure. In this game, only Sonic, Shadow, Knuckles and Rouge are able to use the rockets. In Knuckles's and Rouge's Action Stages, the rockets are used to help the player get to higher places, while in Sonic and Shadow's Action Stages, they are generally used to get to the other side of bottomless pits.
Sonic Adventure 2 introduced Missiles, objects similar to the Rockets which are used to break Containers that blocks the player's paths.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Rockets also make an appearance in Shadow the Hedgehog, where they function similarly to how they did in the previous titles. However, when the player lets go of the rocket's handle normally after riding it, Shadow folds out a regular parachute, which the player can swing and move around by using the controls, while descending.
Sonic Rivals 2
Rockets reappear in Sonic Rivals 2, where they are featured in Chaotic Inferno Zone Act 2, and Act 3. In this game, they serve for the player to reach to higher places. The rocket is black and dark blue, and more bigger than in the previous games. The character also climbs up on the rocket rather than put his hands only in the handle. Unlike the other games, the player can move the rocket to either side, and he/she can leave the rocket pressing the bottom or waiting for the timer reaches zero (that makes the character leaves the rocket automatically). But if the player hits to a wall, the rocket will explode, and the player will take damage.
Rockets appear in both versions of Sonic Generations, and are available to both Modern Sonic and Classic Sonic. They can be found in Speed Highway on the console/PC version, and in Radical Highway on the Nintendo 3DS. Comparing to the console/PC version, rockets are more grey looking in the Nintendo 3DS version.
On the console/PC of Sonic Generations, when the player runs onto the launching pad for the rockets, the player will immediately be sent off with a rocket without any loading time, unlike in other games. Throughout the Acts, the player can occasionally grab onto a rocket that is flying on its own through midair, and ride it to another section of the Act. However, on the 3DS version of Sonic Generations, like in the previous games, once the player makes contact with a rocket, it is loaded slowly and is then launched into the air with the player.
Missiles are objects similar to rockets that are only seen in Sonic Adventure 2. Like rockets, they are placed on their own launching pads, but are pointing straight forward instead of upward. Pressing the green button on the launching pad will fire the missile from the pad. It can help the player get rid of obstacles that block the way in Action Stage.
Fireworks are a variant of the rocket gimmick which first appeared in Sonic Unleashed, particularly in Dragon Road, which act almost exactly like normal rockets. There are an endless amount of Fireworks featured in Tropical Resort on the Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors, which fly straight upwards. The player has to use them to get higher by grabbing onto one, then letting go when it explodes and then grabbing onto another. They are also featured in Tropical Resort Act 2 on the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations. In Sonic Generations, Sonic can use the Red Burst to make the fireworks explode and send him up higher than usual.