- For Special Stages in general, see here.
The Special Stage (スペシャルステージ Supesharusutēji?) in Sonic Advance 3 refers to a series of seven special levels. To enter the Special Stages, the player must first find all ten Chao hidden in each Zone. The player then needs to find a Special Key in an Act and complete it. This key can be used to activate a Special Spring on a Zone Map which will transport the player into that Zone Map's Special Stage.
Much like in previous Sonic Advance titles, the main objective in the Special Stages is to collect at least a certain number of Rings to stay in the Special Stage, and when successful, the player is awarded a Chaos Emerald. Once all seven Chaos Emeralds have been obtained (by clearing all seven Special Stages), Sonic can enter Nonaggression directly after clearing Altar Emerald.
The Special Stages are enclosed area resembling an upside-down half-pipe with a transparent roof and a starry sky above it. It also has a large checkered field below it. The color of the Special Stage corresponds to the Chaos Emerald in it.
Upon entering the Special Stage, the playable character finds themselves standing on the wings of the Tornado 2, flying overhead of the Special Stage. The primary objective is to collect to collect enough Rings to pass through two segments of the stage, much like the 3D Stages in Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble. While on the Tornado 2, the player is able to move freely around in the air on the Tornado using and jump by pressing , reaching out to the Rings that appear. Failing to collect enough Rings before the end of a segment will result in the player being expelled from the Special Stage empty-handed. Should the player succeed in passing through the two segments however, they will rewarded with a Chaos Emerald. Along the way, the player will encounter different objects that can either aid or obstruct the playable character.
|Ring||Golden hoops that the player must grab enough of to collect a Chaos Emerald.|
|Ring Booster||A floating hoop. Flying through one causes the Tornado 2 to transform. For the next few seconds afterward, the Tornado 2's speed will be increased and the amount of Rings the player collects will be doubled.|
|Bomb||Red spherical bombs. Hitting one of them will result in the player having five Rings subtracted from their total amount.|
|Missile Badniks||Missile-based Badniks that will try to fly into the player or shoot projectiles at them. However, the player can destroyed with a Spin Jump in order to earn extra Rings.|
List of Special Stages
|No.||Screenshot||Correlating Zone||Rings required||Chaos Emerald|
|First segment||Second segment|
Special Stage Mode
After the player collects all of the seven Chaos Emeralds and is currently at the main menu, by inputting the following: Up, , Down, , Right, Left; a secret menu option titled Special Stage Mode will appear. In this mode the player plays through all seven Special Stages consecutively as Sonic and the objective is to collect as many Chaos Emeralds as possible by completing Special Stages. However, once the player fails a Special Stage, the mode ends; the player can either exit back into the main menu or retry the entire mode again from the first Special Stage.
- In the early versions of Sonic Advance 3, the players can exit the Special Stage without spending a Special Key. However, this is no longer the case in the final release of the game.