Auto Running, or Auto Screen-Scrolling, is a recurring game mechanic in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Auto Running involves the character moving forward automatically, using an "on rails" style movement, across an open path while the player controls the character's left-to-right movement and attacks. Auto Screen-Scrolling is when the screen is automatically moving and the player must keep up with it to advance in the stage.
In Angel Island Zone Act 2, one auto screen-scrolling section occurs when Sonic is being chased by the Flying Battery which lasts until the battleship's ammo is lowered. It flies away before the boss battle with Flame Mobile.
In Mushroom Hill Zone, during the second act fight with the Jet Mobile, there's an auto screen-scrolling section. Similarly to the battleship from Sonic 3, the player has to chase Robotnik down and hit him while avoiding the spiked obstacles.
In Death Egg Zone, during the start of the first Act, the player will auto run to get a boost. If the player selects Lava Reef Zone or Hidden Palace Zone or restarts the Acts from the beginning, they will auto run past the beginning of the Act.
Auto Running is used in Sonic Adventure during the second phase of Speed Highway where Sonic runs down a tall skyscraper and the player must control him by maneuvering him to the left and right to avoid obstacles. There is also a very brief but similar section in Windy Valley.
Auto-Screen Scrolling is used in all the bosses of the game (the sole exception being the final boss).
Auto Running was used in the "Super-Speed Stages" in Sonic's story. This was done to create a feeling of excitement and sense of Sonic's maximum speed for the player. Here, the player controls only left and right movement, and jumping; what makes these levels difficult is that hitting a wall or obstacle will cause Sonic to lose his rings, as if hit by an enemy, and it will leave Sonic open for another hit until he regains his balance. This was also not helped with the wonky controls and the sometimes-poor collision detection.
Auto Running was used in all the main story levels in Secret Rings. As the player levels up, they can customize Sonic's speed to fit the level.
Auto Running did not play as large a role in Sonic Unleashed, but it was used throughout all the daytime mini-bosses and bosses of the game. Egg Chaser and Interceptor sections were done with Auto Running, and were featured in several Acts, such as Windmill Isle Act 2 and Eggmanland (Wii/PlayStation 2 version only), and Rooftop Run Act 1, Skyscraper Scamper Act 1 and Jungle Joyride Act 1 (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version only). Some downloadable content featured Auto Running levels, such as Rooftop Run Act 5 (along the whole aqueduct) and Skyscraper Scamper Act 3 (along an entire highway).
In the Console/PC version, Auto Running is used in five Modern Sonic stages, during Speed Highway while running down the building, while being chased by the G.U.N. Truck in City Escape, during the Egg Chaser sections in Rooftop Run, during the Silver Rival battle, and during the Egg Dragoon boss battle.
In the 3DS version, Auto Running takes place at the beginning of five Modern Sonic stages and at the start of two rival battles, at the end of Green Hill while escaping from the giant totem pole, in Emerald Coast while running away from the Orca, and during the Egg Emperor boss battle.
Auto Running is used in the White Park Zone boss, when fighting against Metal Sonic. Sonic and Tails begin to Auto Run after Metal Sonic ambushes them on Tails' rocket. Auto Running is also used in Death Egg Mark II Act 1, when fighting Metal Sonic and Dr. Eggman.
Auto Running sections are accessible in various levels through Golden Cannons which will launch Sonic to the section in question. However, Desert Ruins Zone 2 (aside from the fight with Zomom) and Lava Mountain Zone 4 are entirely Auto Running. While auto running, if Sonic hits a wall or certain other obstacles, he instantly loses a life.
Auto Running occurs during certain boss battles throughout the game, like in the boss battles with Heavy Gunner and Metal Sonic. During Auto Run, the player still has access to all the playable characters' maneuvers.