Switches (スイッチ,Suicchi?), also known as Buttons and Ball Switches, are common gimmicks in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. When the player presses or touches the switch, it activates an object in the vicinity, either activating it or stopping it. It can also open hatches so the player can proceed through the level or make something else happen.
Originally since 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, the switches are as simple buttons, but over the years, the external form of switches has fluctuated, sometimes depending on the setting. Most switches are located on solid ground, but they can also be placed on walls or moving platforms. Many switches also offer small puzzles for the player to solve.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
First appearing in original 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, switches are illustrated as simple grey buttons with a blue or purple plate around it. The first switch can be found at Marble Zone Act 1, where the player has to push a rock onto a switch in order to move a large crusher with spikes at the bottom out of the player's way, allowing the player to proceed. Another one in Mable Zone Act 2 moves green tubes, which opens more routes throughout the Zone. In the first act of Spring Yard Zone, blue and grey switches can be found on the open area with a solid platform on side of it. By pressing the button and jumping to the platform makes it to move upward. Some switches also open doors and move light grey blocks to forward away, while the player has to race to the other side of the inside area before the block clogs the hole on the right side of the area.
In Labyrinth Zone, switches normally open doors (while some of them hiding under monitors), while one at the first act makes small platform appear above the underwater section, which leads to alternative section on the zone. Another one in the begging of third act makes small hole on the waterfall and it is located on the left side of waterfall tunnel. If the player doesn't find this, he/she will loop on the waterfall forever. In Scrap Brain Zone Act 1, Switches are able to alternate the revolving wheel's rolling direction, thus making able to move downward section of the zone. Some of them also open roofs for limited time. In the end of act 2, Doctor Robotnik presses switch to destroy bridge under Sonic's feet, which makes the hedgehog fall down, which is something that becomes tradition in later games. The last specific switch can be found at third act, which makes the large platform slide down. However it blocks the lower route, if the player isn't quick enough to move there.
Switches are also seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, while they are not featured as much as in original Sonic the Hedgehog. These switches are now colored as white buttons, that can only be found at Metropolis Zone. When the player jumps and presses this button, it will make brown platforms to temporarily extend from the walls, which the player can use to get higher sections in the zone.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD
Switches in Sonic the Hedgehog CD are heavily mixed of original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 designs. In Tidal Tempest, these switches are set on moving platforms, which by pressing down, will make door open across right side of the room, where the platform is located and after jumping off, the door closes. There are also switches in underwater sections, which can activate normally doors and hatches, but also small propellers on walls, that can blow the player along with the air stream. In Wacky Workbench and Metallic Madness, these switches open hatches to high-speed underground pipes.
Switches in Sonic Chaos are traps, which activates lasers automatically. These laser cannons start shooting downward the player, who's on the switch, which is recommended to run forward while destroy enemies on the way and never stop until the player is on the more safe place. These dark blue and grey colored switches can be found at Electric Egg Zone.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
Switches have been featured in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, its add-on continuation Sonic & Knuckles and the lock-on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, where their appearance is similar to that of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 but now display a small arrow pointing down inside. Some switches in Angel Island Zone Act 1 are able to open small tunnels and can also decrease the water level. Some specific switches in Hydrocity Zone, that are colored grey buttons with grey bottom plates, can open a floodgate and turn propellers on at underwater. However some of switches have also spikes, that pop up and go down, which in this case the player has to schedule to jumping to the switch. Switches in IceCap Zone (that can collapse floors) are seen frozen which the player will have to break the ice with a Spin Jump before being able to press the switch.
There's a recurring event, where Knuckles the Echidna presses the switch that destroys a bridge under the player's feet in Angel Island Zone and Hydrocity Zone or shuts down the lighting, while rising the water and later reverses the direction of a gravity tube at Carnival Night Zone Act 2. Later in the last mentioned zone, another switch turns lighting back and reduce the water down. Later in Sky Sanctuary Zone, Knuckles helps them to go after Death Egg by pressing the switch at the other side of the ravine, creating a bridge to the player.
In Knuckles' Chaotix, switches function differently depending the stage. Early on the Isolated Island, the player is taught how to utilize the Link Rings along with the Combi Partner by pressing two switches, each featuring a hologram of the characters that player is currently playing with, at numerous at numerous points in the stage. Here, either the Combi Partner or the player himself/herself have to pick one of switches and stand on it, with the character standing on it being same as the one shown in the switch's hologram. One of the characters then has to stay in place by pressing down while the other character tries to reach to the other hologram switch. When both of characters are activating switches, it will usually open the gate ahead, allowing the player to progress in the stage.
Later in Isolated Island, single hologram switches are set on platforms that move up, where one of the characters has to press the switch while the other character hangs on from below the platform. In Botanic Base, there are yellow and blue colored switches set on the walls that open gates. In Amazing Arena, there are gate switches as well, but in each act, the player has to find certain switches in the act to it in order to enlighten the stage, which is seen near of regular clock machine. If the player clears the stage without pressing the switch that lights the area, the game informs the player that the stage has not being completed and the player is sent back to the beginning of the act. Marina Madness also features switches on floating high-tech marinas, which can transport the player from one section to the another. After transporting, the switch blows up from below the player.
In Tails' Skypatrol, there are small switches lying around on the ground. By flipping the orange switch on the connector by using Tails' Ring, the player is able to trigger a change in the surrounding structures.
Sonic 3D Blast
Switches are also seen at Panic Puppet Zone in Sonic 3D. Here they are large switch connectors, that can alternate the propagation of conveyor belts, which are moving backward in the zone. Touching the switch can be tricky as the player to jump towards it and make to move the switch to other side, making conveyor belt to move forward, as the player can progress in the zone.
Switches in Sonic Blast are rare and hidden around every third act of the zone before the boss encounter. These blue round shaped buttons with grey plates are seen on walls or secret places, which the player has to find. If the player presses the button, it will open the passage way, that mostly has tons of rings available to collect.
Switches have alternated design in Sonic Adventure, where these objects are more flatter buttons, that have white and red edges and blue background with five-pointed star in the middle. Mostly these switches create bridges, open doors and hatches. Some of switches also create linear ring lines, that can be used for performing Light Speed Dash to other side. Some switches also activate Rocket to being ready at the launcher. In the bank vault room, there's single switch, that activates large claws to collect all rings to the bank by waving the playable character while rising the ring down and making money mountain go bigger at the bank vault, which makes the player change to reach at the end of the action stage. There is particular switch at the end of Sky Deck, that changes the gravity and the whole direction of the Storage Bay stage. In Hot Shelter, it opens water tubes around, that rises water at the room.
Sonic Pocket Adventure
White switches make appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, where they are only been seen at Gigantic Angel Zone. Switches are featured similarly like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, by pressing the switch it makes platform roll out the wall, that helps the player to reach higher sections of the zone.
Sonic Adventure 2
There are numerous different switches introduced in Sonic Adventure 2. It also introduce different looking traditional switches called Ball Switches. These switches are a floating white ball with a blue center with a yellow five-pointed star in it, and float above a round metallic plate with red edge. Simply touching this ball will activate the switch normally and will make linear lines of rings appear and adds missile on its own platform. It can also switch the trains at Pumpkin Hill and change the water levels in Aquatic Mine.
There are also other variants of switches such as Gravity Control Switches, that (hence the name) switch the gravity in Crazy Gadget. Other ones are Hourglasses in Pyramid Cave and Death Chamber that, after flipping to other side, starts making ticking noises in the background while a door or hatch has opened somewhere for limited time. When the ticking gets faster and finally stops, the opening closes and the player has to start all over again. Time Stop Switches are featured in Cannon's Core that similarly to the Hourglass starts ticking, but also stops time in the stage which freezes enemies, obstacles and other things around in place for a short time. There are also the Ancient Ruins that make platforms, Warp Holes, Rings and Springs appear by using Mystic Melody near them.
Ball switches made an appearance in Sonic Heroes. To activate them, the player must simply touch it which can trigger various events: it can create a trail of rings appear for the player to use the Light Speed Dash on them, open doors, open cases or deactivate Laser Field Blocks. There are numerous times where the player has to set two or all three playable characters from the team on the same number of switches to activate. Some of the ball switches are seen in cages, which will open after defeating all enemies around the area or triggering another switch. There is also a type of manual switch that requires the player to press the action button and push/pull on the handle. These switches are usually located on walls and are even cleverly hidden.
Another type of switch is the Target Switch which is activated by hitting it with Thunder Shoot. If the team gets too close to it, the target will rapidly spin around indicating that it cannot be hit.
Sonic Advance 3
Switches in Sonic Advance 3 are one of several major objects that are seen in the game. They can be placed on the ground, walls or ceilings.
In this game, switches are either blue and red buttons, which the player has to use on numerous occasions during the game. Red switches activate certain flatten springs and blue switches make moving platforms appear. However, in this game, the events triggered by pressing the switches does not stay in effect indefinitely. Instead, after the switched is pressed down, the event triggered will stay in effect for a short while before it disappears and the switch will spring back up again. The player therefore has to press the switch again to trigger the desired events once more after they wear off.
Flat switches are featured in Night Carnival in Sonic Rush, which are set on either the floors or walls. Similar to the switches in Sonic Advance 3, once the switch is pressed, it activates certain nearby level gimmicks for a certain amount of time. Many of the gimmicks triggered by switches in this game included blue grind rails and green light spot lines that move forward or up.
In the game's Special Stages, different type of flashing switches are set on the route. When the player runs over these switches, a string of Rings will appear on the forward stretch of the player's path.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Ball switches made another appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), where these variants retain their role from previous games. By simply touching it will create linear lines of rings, open laser gates, doors and hatches. Some of these ball switches are also on prison boxes, which can be opened after destroying all enemies around. Aside from that, Switches play more prominent roles in some Action Stages, like in Radical Train where they can shatter containers. Additionally, the newcomer Silver the Hedgehog, is able to activate more than one ball switch by performing Psycho Shock. In Sonic and Shadow's case, Switches can also be targeted with the Homing Attack.
Switches also often appear in multiplayer. Here, some work only for a short time until they deactivate, during which they make a small sound. Also in Tag Mode, Shadow can usually activate any dual switches with his Chaos Spear/Chaos Lance, much like Silver.
Sonic Rivals 2
Switches made an appearance in Sonic Rivals 2. They are featured in Mystic Haunt Zone where they serve to open doors and spike pits, and turn on the lights to make the Hyudoros disappear in a similar fashion to Sandopolis Zone in Sonic & Knuckles. They are also featured in the zone's boss battle against the Egg Phantom where the switches are the key to defeat it.
Traditional switches made returning appearance in Sonic Unleashed, where these buttons have another slight look. Normal switches in the game are now glowing blue plates with grey plate at the bottom of it. In the game, switches are used mostly in day stages, while some of them can be found at Entrance Stages as well. In Spagonia's Entrance Stage on the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 there are also the traditional Ball Switches which must be activated at the same time to open a door.
Besides regular switches, there are also larger switches known as Stomp Pedestals, that can be activated by doing stomp on them multiple times. In night stages, some switches are Levers that Sonic must pull to unlock doors which Sonic can do only in his Werehog form. Others switches will reset once the player gets off them and therefore requires a heavy object such as a box to be placed on top of them.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
Switches can also be found in Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Here, switches are shown to have different appearance in each zone, despite being like simple buttons. In Lost Labyrinth Zone, switches are located at both overworld and underwater sections, where it activates gates and hatches. At one point of the second act of the same zone, there's a complex puzzle, where the player has to push the correct switches on right time to create a correct pattern of pillars, that can make the player jump to the higher cliff. Similar to ones from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, switches at Mad Gear Zone make green platforms roll out from walls, which help the player to get higher sections, but some switches can normally open doors as well. These switches can also be targeted by the Homing Attack.
In Episode II, there are small red buttons at Oil Desert Zone Act 3, that are set below the platform with falling sand. These buttons switch the side, where sand goes, as the sand can interfere the player's progress, in which case the falling side has to switch to the alternative direction.
Switches in the Wii version of Sonic Colors are identical to ones from Sonic Unleashed. However in Tropical Resort, switches can also be found now on moving platforms at spinning chains. By pressing the switch down, it makes the chain spin around slowly until the player jumps off the switch. In most of game's levels, there are numerous switches on platforms that move up and down, if the player stands on the switch until it stops, if Sonic moves off on the switch.
In certain stages, switches can also destroy in Egg Pawns at the background by activating spikes under them or dropping them on platforms into floors of Spikes. In Sweet Mountain and Asteroid Coaster, there are also spinning laser blades, that can hurt Sonic by touching it. The player is able rotate these by pressing down the switch to create an open path unobstructed by the laser blades. It will stop rotating once Sonic moves off the switch. Some switches also make Wisp Capsules appear on certain places.
Switches make another appearance in console versions of Sonic Generations, where switches once again have an identical look from Sonic Unleashed. In this game, there are slight differences: when activated, their color changes from blue to yellow. Mostly switches are used in this game to move structures or paths in a different direction in Chemical Plant and Planet Wisp, create rocky bridges and doors in Sky Sanctuary and make normally open doors or make them disappear. On one section of modern act of Sky Sanctuary, the player has to reach the switch room before the Eggrobo gets there first and closes the route, when the player has to try another route.
In Sandopolis Zone Act 2 of Sonic & Knuckles, there are light switches set on ceilings, which the player can jump and grab them to light up the entire Act and disturb Hyudoros from the player's way for a short amount of time. Similar type of light switches are used in the Wii U and PC version of Sonic Lost World, where they are found at Silent Forest Zone 4. Although not used for harassing ghosts this time, these light switches simply illuminate the route of the dark jungle temple sections. If the place gets dark, Sonic is unable to attack on enemies in the dark. The light switches also appear in Sonic Mania in Oil Ocean Zone Act 2, where they are used to clear the smoke that will form in the area every few seconds.
Gravity Control Switches are variants that first appear in Sonic & Knuckles. They are used to reverse the gravity in space-themed Zones and come in different type of devices such as computer panels with levers.
Hourglasses are another variants that first appear in Sonic Adventure 2 and later in Sonic Unleashed. Hourglasses are usually flipped to other side for activating hatches to open for limited time until it has to be activated again to repeat the pattern.
Time Stop Switches made appearance in Sonic Adventure 2, where they are another variants of switches to stop time along with enemies, objects, gimmicks and anything else in the Stage for short amount of time.
Levers in Sonic Unleashed are another variants, that has to be pulled to unlock doors.
In other media
The switches makes an appearance in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics. So far, only the Ball Switch variant from Sonic Adventure 2 has been presented (though they are not referred to by that name).
A bunch of switches can be found in the abandoned Aquatic Mine Zone where they regulate the water levels in the mines. As speculated by Knuckles, they were supposedly placed there as a way for the miners to keep all the water in check when draining the mines was not an option. When Knuckles and the Chaotix were caught in the mines with a Dark Gaia Titan as they were being flooded, Vector had Espio activate a switch which drained the mines and allowed them to escape the Dark Gaia Titan with the waters.
In Simo Wai's prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, originally switches were supposed to activate small, rotating wrecking balls, that start rotating to the right direction endlessly. This is similar gimmick, which was supposed to be feature at Green Hill Zone in earlier version on Sonic the Hedgehog. However in that game, the switch isn't known to be exist to activate the wrecking ball.