Like its name implies, this gimmick is a long pole, which its exact length tends to differ. While some of them can be found standing right-side up on the ground, there are also instances where the Poles are either upturned or horizontal.
In gameplay, the Poles are used to help the player proceed through the levels. By interacting with them, the player is able to move along them to other areas in the levels which could be otherwise unreachable, though the usage of the Poles when interacting with them differs between games.
In Sonic Heroes, Poles are red and white-striped with an orange, beak-like arrow as head and a base. In this game, they are always vertical. The are first encountered in Grand Metropolis.
The Pole is one of the gimmicks that can be utilized using Speed Type characters. When using a Pole, the Speed Type character will grab onto the Pole and start swinging around it while the user's teammates hang onto the user's feet. They will then spin around the Pole until they reach its head, upon where the user will release their grip, causing the entire team to be flung to another location. To use the Pole in gameplay, the player just has to use the Speed Type character's Tornado Jump or Rocket Accel (or Jump Dash if the player has collected three blue Power Cores) on the Pole. The rest will then occur automatically.
Some Poles are retracted into the ground, meaning the player cannot utilize them. To raise them, the player has to use a nearby Switch. Also, there are some cases where a Pole will throw the player towards another Pole; when that happens, the playable characters will automatically start using that Pole as well.
Shadow the Hedgehog
In Shadow the Hedgehog, Poles are more simple in appearance and are placed both horizontally and vertically. When using a Pole in this game, Shadow simply climbs along its surface.
To use the Pole in gameplay, the player must jump onto it, upon where Shadow will automatically take hold of it. With vertical bars, the player must move the left analog stick up and down to climb and left and right to rotate around them. With a horizontal bar, the player must move left and right on the analog stick to shuttle along it.
In Sonic Unleashed, the most common Poles can only be used by Sonic the Werehog who climbs up along them to reach otherwise unreachable areas. Some Poles are covered in Spikes though, which make Sonic lose his grip when touched.
To make Sonic climb regular Poles in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of Sonic Unleashed, the player has to use Grab when near one to make Sonic stick to it. The player can then move the control stick backward or forward to make Sonic climb or slide down. By using Grab repeatedly, the player can make Sonic climb faster. On the Wii/PlayStation 2 version of Sonic Unleashed, the player has to hold the Grab button when near a Pole to make Sonic hang onto it, and release it to let go. On these versions, the player just has to move the control stick up and down on the Classic and GameCube controller to make Sonic climb or slide down. With the Wii Remote however, the player has to shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuck alternatively to climb, and release the Grab button to descend.
Another type of Pole also appears in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of the game. When near these poles, the player can repeatedly use Grab to bend the pole and then launch Sonic to another location.
Corner Poles are exclusive gimmicks for Sonic and the Black Knight that when touched, the player will do a quick swing around it and then fly in the air much like the regular pole, but without an aura after being performed.
In Sonic Heroes, if the player plays as Team Dark and activates their Team BlastChaos Inferno while a Pole raises up, the player can still use the Pole as normal as if it was fully formed. After Team Dark jumps off from the Pole, it will then rise.