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- For Special Stages in general, see here.
Special Stages in Sonic Chaos are a series of five extra levels. The player can enter one of these Special Stages, each with their own unique features to utilize, to obtain one of five Chaos Emeralds (the sixth is earned through normal gameplay).
Each of the Special Stages have different level designs. Regardless, the player's overarching objective is to navigate through these stages in order to reach the Chaos Emerald in each of them within the one minute time limit, making the Special Stages a challenge to complete. Running out of time or falling into bottomless pits makes the player drop out of the Special Stage.
The Special Stages hold several kinds of items, the most common of which are large amount of Rings, as well as Large Rings in some of them. The player can also find Rocket Shoes Monitors or Pogo Springs in metallic boxes for progressing through the Special Stages, or Time Stop Monitors for freezing time briefly.
When the player collects a Special Stage's Chaos Emerald, the stage will be completed. The results screen will then appear, where the player receives Ring and Time Bonuses based on their performance, and maybe also Continues.
First Special Stage
In the first Special Stage, Sonic finds himself standing on a floating Rocket Shoes Monitor. The stage has no solid ground and has only the sky as the background. The player's only objective is to fly forward with the Rocket Shoes (which here last indefinitely unlike in regular Zones and other Special Stages) before the time runs out. While flying forward, the player can collect Rings and Giant Rings. At the end of the Special Stage, the blue Chaos Emerald can be found in the middle of a round-shaped formation of Large Rings.
Second Special Stage
The second Chaos Emerald is located above numerous platforms. Starting from the bottom, the player has two pathways to climb up along: on the left is a route with smaller platforms and Rings (Large Rings in higher sections), and on the right is a route with slightly bigger platforms that can only be reached by jumping off local Pogo Springs at the apex of their ascend.
If the player chooses the left path, they will eventually reach a point where they must switch over to the right path, because if the player stays on the left path, they will come across a wall that bars the way to the Chaos Emerald. Once the player reaches the top of Special Stage, the yellow Chaos Emerald can be collected.
Third Special Stage
In the third Special Stage, the player starts off in a small room with a high-speed warp tube on the right, which the player has to enter. As Sonic moves through the pipe, the player can use to steer Sonic into branching pipes. Eventually, the player will be deposited into another room with another ventilation pipe to enter. This process repeats for four rooms (not including the starting point).
The path to the green Chaos Emerald is hidden in a vertical pipe after the fourth room that is easy to pass right by, so hold up on while in the pipe to avoid missing the passage. If the player follows the pipe instead, they will eventually come to a room with numerous Springs that bounce Sonic to the right and eventually into one of two pipes that will take Sonic back to an earlier point in the stage.
Fourth Special Stage
The fourth Special Stage is a long, traditional platforming level with the Chaos Emerald at the end. It should be noted that there are two sections in this stage where bottomless pits are located.
In gameplay, the player can use Rocket Shoes to fly over most of the stage. The pathway along the ground on the other hand involves smashing through tunnels filled with Breakable blocks. There are also numerous Springs around the stage, some of which are meant to help the player while others are obstacles meant to slow the player down. Some pits on the ground also have Super Ring Monitors on their bottom.
The gray Chaos Emerald at the end of stage is set on top of a hill too high to be reached by jumping. As such, the player is required to use nearby Rocket Shoes to reach it.
Fifth Special Stage
The last Special Stages is another high-speed warp tube maze, but far larger than the previous one. Like before, the player must use to choose branching pipes.
The player starts in a room and must enter the pipe maze quickly from there. Via the pipes, the player can enter four extra rooms with different items: one room right after entering the maze which holds a Time Stop, one larger room above the starting room which also holds a Time Stop, one room above the second room which is full of Ring, and the final room where the Chaos Emerald is located. Choosing the wrong path can easily lead the player into any of the aforementioned room or even back to the starting room.
The fastest route to the Chaos Emerald is as follows: enter the pipe maze, take the first pipe upward and follow it until it turns right and divides into an upward and downward route. Choose the downard pipe and follow it until the first crossing as the pipe goes upward again. Keep going left from there to enter the room with the red Chaos Emerald. However the player has to jump upon exiting the pipe to avoid hitting a spring which will sent the player back into the pipe maze.
- In the first Special Stage, numerous giant ring formations spell the names M.Shima, Ray and 5OOZO, which are amortization names for the designers of Sonic Chaos.
- Even through Tails is unable to enter these Special Stages, the player automatically gets a good ending for the game by completing it with Tails.