The Special Generators are floating devices with a red, yellow and blue color scheme and a five-pointed star in the middle. They also have two pulleys on each side, which the user is able to hang on to.
Special Generators can found in each of the regular Acts in Sonic the Hedgehog's Zones. The player can use them to get access to the Special Stages and collect the seven Chaos Emeralds. All Special Generators in the individual Zones lead to only one of the seven Special Stages.
To use a Special Generator, Sonic has to jump onto it, upon where he will automatically grab its pulley. The player can let go of the pulley by pressing . While hanging on, Sonic must use the Super Boost, causing him to spin around on the Special Generator at high speed. This creates an energy field above the Special Generator that leads to the Special Stage. After boosting around on the Special Generator for a while, Sonic automatically lets go of it and enters the portal to the Special Stage. Should the player stop boosting before the Special Generator's portal opens or let go of the pulley, they will fail to enter the Special Stage.
In Sonic Rush Adventure a similar looking floating gimmicks are featured at Plant Kingdom, where the player is able to swing around and let go for reaching pathways.
The Special Generator bares resemblence and function similar to certain spinners from the game Ristar which when Ristar spins on them is taken to Bonus Areas.