- For Special Stages in general, see here.
Special Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble are a series of five special levels. These stages can be accessed by opening a Chaos Emerald Monitor whilst carrying fifty or more Rings. If the player does not have enough Rings, nothing happens when opening this Monitor.
Special Stages come in two types: one with a maze to pass through within a time limit, and one where Rings must be collected using the Tornado. After clearing either of these sections, the player must then face Nack the Weasel in a boss battle for a Chaos Emerald. Getting all the Emeralds unlock the game's good ending.
The first, third and fifth Special Stages feature temple mazes with waterfalls emerging from walls. The second and fourth however, feature only the sky at different times of day; the second Special Stage takes place in a bright blue sky with a few clouds while the fourth is set in a black sky with stars that twinkle.
When entering the first, third and fifth Special Stage, the player's immediate goal is to reach the end of these stages within one minute and thirty seconds, much like in the Special Stages of Sonic Chaos. Inside these Special Stages, the playable characters retain all their regular abilities and moves for navigating the mazes.
Special Stage mazes commonly have both Rings and Super Ring Monitors, and obtaining 100 Rings here grants an extra life. Other power-ups include Pogo Springs for reaching higher areas and Time Bonuses for resetting the stages' time limit to 1'30". The main obstacles here include breakable, round blocks that block the passages. There are also Springs that can be used to reach higher areas, but which can also be placed awkwardly to push the player backwards.
The layout for these Special Stages are large and complex, and each holds different gimmicks. The third and fifth Special Stage feature invisible platforms that are placed in-between gaps and will pop after the player lands on them. The fifth Special Stage also has dome-like rock plates which will bounce the player into mid-air (depending on the angle of impact) for then to evaporate with the first touch, and several bottomless pits. Falling into a bottomless pit or running out of time before reaching the end of these Special Stages will transport the player back to the broken Chaos Emerald Monitor in the regular Zones. However, reaching the end in time makes the player progress to the boss encounter of the Special Stage
The second and fourth Special Stages feature Sonic/Tails flying the Tornado. Here, the player's goal is to collect eighty Rings over a short flying course. The player can move the Tornado with the . Rings float around here in random formations, but they repeat themselves twice, giving the player two rounds to collect Rings.
In these Special Stages, the player has to avoid black or orange-colored mines which can momentarily immobilize the Tornado. If the player has not obtained enough Rings after the second round, they will be transported back to the broken Chaos Emerald Monitor in the regular Zones. On the other hand, collecting eighty Rings makes the player progress to the boss encounter of the Special Stage.
What sets the Special Stages of Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble apart from others is the that the player usually has a short confrontation with Nack the Weasel at the end of thesd stages. All Special Stages (except the first) feature a mini-boss in the form of the greedy treasure hunter attacking with small weapon attachments on his Marvelous Queen hover vehicle.
When battling Nack, the gameplay follows the same mechanics as those in the regular Zones. Losing to him makes the player exit the Special Stage. In the first, third and fifth Special Stages in particular, the countdown for the time limit will halt when the boss battle starts. After Nack is defeated, the player can collect the Special Stage's local Chaos Emerald. Collecting all five Emeralds alters the ending of the game.