Special Stages in Knuckles' Chaotix are a series of six extra levels. To enter them, the player has to hold at least fifty Rings to summon a Giant Ring at the end of a Zone and leap into it. It should be noted that the first of the two characters the player controls that jump in to the Giant Ring becomes the playable character in the Special Stage.
Special Stages feature pseudo-3D hexagonal tubes surrounded by bottomless space, with a short-range view of the horizon. In some instances, the stages' hexagonal tubes are often fragmented. In other situations, the tubes will lead to pseudo-3D paths through broad fields, platforming sections with floating blocks, or linear pathways.
Inside the Special Stages, the player's goal is to collect a required number of Blue Spheres within a time limit. This time limit is marked by the player's Ring counter, which is turned into a countdown for the duration of the Special Stage that will decrease by one Ring each second. Its starting point depends on the number of Rings the player has when entering the Special Stage; if the player enters with 120 Rings, then it counts down from 120 Rings. Along the Special Stages' pathways are two checkpoints. Passing the first checkpoint with enough Blue Spheres lets the player move onto the next section, and passing the second one earns the player a Chaos Ring. Failing to collect enough Blue Spheres makes the pathway loop around until the player can collect remaining spheres.
While inside a Special Stage, the playable character is constantly running forward and can only move sideways using and perform the Spin Jump to leap. In gameplay, the hexagonal tubes and other sections also have no center of gravity: if the player climbs up a wall, the stage rotates so that the player's perspective stays on ground level.
There are numerous items and objects floating around the Special Stages. Rings can be collected to extend the player time limit, while taking damage from obstacles takes ten Rings from the counter. Many obstacles also serve to bounce the player backwards to eschew falling or block pathways. If the player falls off the stages' road or runs out of Rings, the Special Stage ends and the player returns to the Newtrogic High Zone without receiving a Chaos Ring.
Gimmicks and obstacles
|Blue Spheres||Singular Blue Spheres are scattered along the paths. To pass each check point, the player must collect a certain number of Blue Spheres by running over them. If the player does not have enough Blue Spheres, the route will repeat itself until enough are gathered.|
|Yellow Spheres||Running into Yellow Spheres will bounce the playable character forward.|
|Green Spheres||Running into Green Spheres will sent the playable character upward.|
|Star Bumpers||Traditional Bumpers that bounce the player backwards a short distance.|
|"X" Bumpers||Running into an "X" Bumper will bounce the player away from dangerous sections on the routes, such as bottomless pits. The "X" Bumper will disappear after touching it.|
|Spiked Balls||Running into a Spiked Ball makes the player lose eight Rings. Spiked Balls either spin in one place or swing around with chains attached to Bumpers.|
|Saws||Saw blades that either appear in one place or neuter around the routes. Like Spiked Balls, a saw blade makes the player lose eight Rings when running into it.|
Special Stage information
|No.||Chaos Ring color||Blue Sphere required|
at each checkpoint
Wireframe Special Stages
Collecting all Chaos Rings from each Special Stage changes the game's ending after defeating final boss. However, Special Stages are still available for play after getting all six Chaos Rings and the player can enter them in the same manner as before, although they are completely optional.
When entering the Special Stages at this point, the surfaces on the pathways have turned invisible, leaving only the wireframe edges of the surfaces visible. All objects in each Special Stage remain the same spots, but the invisible layout can prove challenging for the player. Completing the wireframe version of a Special Stage grants a perfect 50,000 point bonus to the player.