Goal Plates, also known as Bonus Plates (ボーナスプレート,Bōnasu Purēto?), Clear Panels (クリアパネル,Clear Panels?), Bonus Panels or Signposts, are signs that mark the end of an act in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. First appearing in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Goal Plates are simple-looking grey signs with an image on each side. The face of the signpost spins when a player passes through the signpost, and after a while it stops spinning and shows a new image, indicating the completion of the Act or Zone. While the images vary from game to game, they usually have an image of Dr. Eggman on one side and one of Sonic, revealed as the sign is passed, on the other.
Goal plates usually consist of a grey signpost which rests upon a spinning plate with many different images. It is unknown, however, if these images are normal or mechanized, since 8-bit titles reveal some signposts with an empty, back plate. This implies that the picture on the front plate changes while spinning or while flying in midair.
Signposts can normally be found at the first, second or sometimes third act of a zone. The goal plate, in the early titles for Genesis/Mega Drive, are usually set on a linear route. Upon passing the goal plate, the player has finished the act and an image of the character being played as appears on the plate. Since its introduction, several games has added several different gimmicks to the goal plate that can be utilized by the player. Sometimes the pictures on goal plates are seen movíng.
The signpost was first featured in both versions of original Sonic the Hedgehog. In the 16-bit version, goal plates are situated at the end of the first and second acts for each zone. The front displays the face of Doctor Robotnik until the player runs past it. This causes the signpost to spin, and the image on the sign changes to a picture of Sonic. Both pictures have yellow backgrounds. If the player has over 50 Rings, a Giant Ring can be seen floating in the air to the right of the signpost. Should Sonic jump into the ring, he will be transported to the Special Stage.
The 8-bit version of the game also features signposts (called "Bonus Panels") at the end of first two acts of each zone in the game. However, the end of the stage has a slightly different gimmick. When the player moves past the bonus panel (with a picture of a question mark), it flies into the air and spins. The signpost falls and stops spinning, but the picture displayed on it is randomized. Certain pictures give certain bonuses: the picture of Robotnik gives nothing, the picture of a ring gives 10 bonus rings to the score, Sonic's picture gives an extra life, and a picture of an exclamation point (shown only if the player has 50 rings) transports the player to the Special Stage. Bonus panels are also seen at the end of the Special Stage.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Signposts are next seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Their appearance and function stays much the same. However, signposts are now seen only at the end of each zone's first act (except for Metropolis Zone, where it appears at the end of both the first and second acts). The signpost is not seen in Sky Chase Zone, Wing Fortress Zone or Death Egg Zone, which have only one act each. After running past the signpost, the signpost picture changes to one of the character currently being controlled.
In the 8-bit version of the game features signposts (again named "Bonus Panels") at the end of first and second acts of each zone. The post section has red, blue and grey colored stripes. As in Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit), the goal plate flies up in the air once the player passes it, spins, and lands with a random picture shown on the front. The picture of Robotnik gives the player nothing, the picture of a ring gives 10 extra rings, the picture of Sonic grants an extra life, and the picture of Tails gives a continue to the player.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
The goal plate is also featured in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, retaining the same function from the original Sonic the Hedgehog. In this game, signposts are situated at the end of the first and second zones of each round. The posts now have wide initialization support at the bottom. Before rotating, the goal plate depicts Doctor Robotnik giving the player a thumbs down. After rotating, the goal plate depicts Sonic smiling and giving the player a thumbs up. If the player has 50 rings, he or she is able to enter the Special Stage via the giant ring floating in midair to the right of the signpost. Before the signpost, the player also runs past a smaller post stating "Goal" on its plate.
Goal Plates appear once more, this time at the end of the first and second acts of each zone in Sonic Chaos. It is depicted with design similar to the one it had in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. When the player runs past the signpost (with Robotnik's picture on it), it flies up into the air, rotates, and lands with a different picture. The player's overall speed, which apparently is based on the completion time of the act, is seen tallied above the goal plate in kilometers per hour. The highest overall speed possible is 999 km/h. If the counter has three same numbers (for exp. 555 km/h), the player earns an extra life. If the bonus panel ends up showing back plate after rotating, the player must spin it again.
A random picture is displayed when the signpost lands, and certain pictures give certain bonuses. The picture of a Flicky gives nothing and the picture of a ring gives 10 extra rings. If the player is playing as Sonic, the picture of Sonic gives an extra life and the picture of Tails gives a continue. If the player is playing as Tails, the picture of Sonic gives a continue and the picture of Tails gives an extra life.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Signposts make another appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, its sequel Sonic & Knuckles and the lock-on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, in which goal plates are no longer situated on the ground at the end of an act. Instead, they drop down from the top of the screen following the defeat of the first act's sub-boss (and, in most zones, at the position of the sub-boss when it was destroyed). Robotnik's face is never shown on the goal plate, as it is already rotating when it appears, but a picture of the playable character is shown on the goal plate when it lands and stops rotating.
The player can also earn extra points by jumping into the bottom of the signpost while it is in the air, knocking it upward. Every time the player bounces the signpost upward, he or she gains 100 bonus points. Making the signpost land in certain locations will cause a monitor to appear, containing either rings or one of elemental shields. The act ends when the signpost touches the ground.
Sonic Triple Trouble
Signposts, once more referred to as "Bonus Panels", made an appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, featured at the end of first and second acts of each zone. These bonus panels have a grey post with a blue winder below the plate. As in Sonic Chaos, the player must run past the bonus panel again if it shows the plate's back.
Before rotation, the goal plate depicts Dr. Robotnik. Once the player passes the signpost, it flies up in the air, spins, and lands with a random picture. Depending on the picture it shows, the player may or may be given a reward:
Flicky: A picture of a Flicky. The player does not get a reward.
Ring: A picture of a Ring. The player receives ten extra Rings.
Sonic: A picture of Sonic the Hedgehog. If playing as Sonic, the player receives an extra 1-Up. If playing as Tails, the player receives 10,000 bonus points.
Tails: A picture of Miles "Tails" Prower. If playing as Tails, the player receives an extra 1-Up. If playing as Sonic, the player receives 10,000 bonus points.
Chaos Emerald: A picture of a Chaos Emerald. The player receives fifty extra Rings at the beginning of the next Act.
Blank: A picture of a plate. The player gets to spin the Bonus Panel again.
Sonic Drift 2
At the end of every race in Sonic Drift 2, when the player wins the race, a signpost drops down from the top of the screen to mark the finish line. Signposts now have a simple grey design with a Sega logo on its back. When the goal plate lands, it depicts a picture of the character currently controlled by the player.
Knuckles' Chaotix features completely different-looking signposts. These signposts have a sharp red post and a three-dimensional feel. Also, unlike other games, signposts are now featured at the end of four acts in each zone, while the fifth act of each zone usually ends after defeating a boss. A signpost is also seen at the end of Isolated Island, which has only one act. Special rings leading to the Special Stage float above the signpost if the player has 50 rings when he or she completes the act. If the player does not jump into the ring in time, it will disappear.
Before it is spun, the signpost shows the head of the plate, which depicts a yellow Robotnik silhouette on a black background. After the player touches the signpost and it spins for a while, the front side is revealed to have a green background, a white spiky center, and the word "CLEAR" in the middle written in yellow, blue, and red letters.
Signposts appear in the first and second acts of each zone in Sonic Blast, taking on a similar look from Sonic Triple Trouble with the blue winder at the bottom of plate despite being more lighter. Before the plate is spun, the front side of the plate is revealed to be empty. As in Sonic Triple Trouble, a random picture is shown on the back of the goal plate after it is spun. An image of Robotnik does nothing, a picture of a ring awards the player ten extra rings, and an image of a Chaos Emerald earns the player a continue. If the player is playing as Sonic, the image of Sonic gives an extra life and the image of Knuckles gives thirty extra rings. If the player is playing as Knuckles, the image of Sonic gives thirty extra rings and the image of Knuckles gives an extra life. The plate may also show an image of Super Sonic, which gives both an extra life and 30 rings.
The goal plate is also shown in Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure. Appearing at the end of the first act of most zones, the goal plate drops down to the ground after the player runs past the end and rotates for a few seconds before revealing an image of Sonic on the yellow plate, as in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This makes Sonic Pocket Adventure the only game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series in which a picture of Eggman is not shown on a goal plate. A giant ring appears on the right side of the goal plate if the player has 50 rings at the end of the act. Jumping into the giant ring earns the player a trip to the Special Stage.
Goal plates are seen once more, this time in Sonic Advance. They appear at the end of the first act of most zones in the game but this time, they are shown to be grey with the Eggman Empire symbol on one side. The image on the back is not shown because the camera follows the player as the score is tallied. There is no goal plate in Egg Rocket Zone, as the player completes the Zone by jumping inside a turbine at the top of the rocket.
Sonic and the Black Knight
A variation of the goal plate is featured in most levels of Sonic and the Black Knight. These signposts take a plain wooden design, and state GOAL on the plate. As the player only has to run in front of it to complete the level, the sign does not spin and the other side is not seen.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
Goal plates return in the first, second and third acts of each zone in both episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog 4. They retain a simple gray appearance with different plate pictures in each act (see next paragraph). In Episode II, there is a wide initialization support at the bottom of the signpost, as in Sonic CD. A giant ring floats to the right of the signpost in the first and second acts of each zone if the player has managed to collect and hold on to 50 rings. The only first acts that do not feature signposts are Sky Fortress Zone and Death Egg mk.II Zone.
In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, Eggman poses on the plate before it is spun. After spinning for while, the plate reveals an image of Sonic. The same is true for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, except an image of Tails may appear (it is only possible to get on online multiplayer). In Episode Metal, however, Sonic poses on the plate before it is spun and the image changes to Metal Sonic after it is spun.
Goal Posts (also called as Goal Plates) appear in both versions of Sonic Generations at the end of the first act of every stage. In the console version of the game, the Goal Plates are very similar to those in original Sonic the Hedgehog, and include an extra animation for Sonic's plate. The handheld version's Goal Plates show Modern Eggman on one side of the plate, but the console version's Goal Plates show Classic Doctor Robotnik instead. In the handheld version, hitting the goal post every ten times without letting it touch the ground awards the player with multiples of ten rings.
In console version of Sonic Generations, there are two Challenge Acts that involve taking the Goal Plate to the end of the mission. In both missions, if the Goal Plate lands on the ground or on a platform for a short amount of time, it adds five seconds to the player's overall time. After that, if Sonic doesn't hit the Goal Plate, Classic Eggman (still on the goal plate) laughs at the player.
Sonic Jump games
Signposts are also seen in Sonic Jump, Sonic Jump 2 and the 2012 remake of Sonic Jump. The goal plate is situated at the end of each act, which is at the very top of the stage. The player must land on the surface on which the goal plate is situated in order to spin the signpost and complete the act. The signpost also appears in Sonic Jump Fever although it only appears in the zone once the timer runs out.
Time Warp Plates are signposts found only in Sonic CD. Unlike normal signposts, these variants can be found at various places in the first and second zones of each round. There are two versions of the Time Warp Plate: one's plate reads "Past" and the other's plate reads "Future". This indicates whether or not the player will travel back to the pst or ahead to the future. After running past a Time Warp Plate, the player must build enough momentum to travel in time.
The goal signpost is another variation of the signpost. This variant is also seen only in Sonic CD. It appears moments before the player reaches the signpost. Time travelling is prevented on the right side of the post. The goal signpost indicates that the player is about to finish the level and locks the screen, as the player is unable to turn back to the zone.
In earlier game appearances, there is unused content related to the signpost inside the games' coding, including other signpost pictures that can be seen in the game. Some signpost pictures are slightly different at a pre-release version of the game. The unused content is as follows:
Sonic's pose in signpost in Sonic CD 510 prototype is slightly different, while having a nicer look and different hand pose at the same time.
By using Game Genie codes ASCA-AAHC + ASCA-BA9Y in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 allows the player use Knuckles, who however turns out the be just like Sonic. However, the signpost at the first act changes to Knuckles with Sonic's palette. This is also able to do by glitching and restarting the game in locked-on versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
Sonic Triple Trouble would have featured a plate with Fang posing on a red background. The purpose of this plate variation is unknown.
Similar wooden signs are seen in the episode Eggman for President from the Sonic X anime, in which main characters hold the signs for Eggman, Decoe and Bocoe. They answer correctly the questions posed by Chris, Tails and Amy, but fail to answer Sonic's question "Who's the coolest guy around? Me or You?", thus getting sent to the jail.
In Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic Advance, if the player moves beyond the signpost in the air, the plate of the signpost still starts rotating around However, in Game Gear titles, the player is able to move to the right side of the signpost without causing it to spin.
In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Collision Chaos Zone 2 is the only level in which there are two Goal Plates; hence, there are two goals the player can finish the Zone with.
In both versions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik's yellow cape is not seen on the goal plate.
Sonic Blast is the only game among all Game Gear/Master System titles in which Super Sonic has made an appearance on a bonus panel.