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Sonic News Network
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A Star Post creating a Star Circle in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Star Circles,[1][2] also referred to as Bonus Gates, are effects in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are portals leading into Special or Bonus Stages.


The Star Circles are rings of tiny floating stars created by Star Posts or other significant objects, which appear and grant access to Special or Bonus Stages after specific requirements are fulfilled. These requirements varies between games. The player simply has to jump into the Star Circles to be transported to the designated Stage.

Game appearances

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

First appearing in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Star Circle is in this game red and white, and is created by a Star Post when the player passes it with at least fifty Rings in their possession. In this game, they lead solely to the Special Stages.

The Star Circle rotates around the Star Post upon being activated, but will shrink and disappear after couple of seconds. If the player does not get a Chaos Emerald from the Special Stage, they can repeat the process by activating another Star Post. However, it cannot be activated after getting all seven Chaos Emeralds or in the game's multiplayer mode.

Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball

In Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, the player can collect every Ring in a Stage to open a Star Circle (referred to as Bonus Gate in the urgent order) leading to the fourth Bonus Stage named "Clucker's Defense". The Star Circle itself can be found in remote sections or hidden areas of each Stage.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the Star Circle work like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by activating a Star Post while holding fifty Rings. In this game, the Star Circle leads to the game's only Bonus Stage.

In Sonic & Knuckles, the Star Circle serves the same purpose and work in the same manner as in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, except it can lead to one of the game's two types of Bonus Stages. Where the Star Circle takes one depends on the player's Rings. Having 20-49 Rings creates a yellow Star Circle that leads to the Slot Machine Bonus Stage, and having more than fifty Rings creates a red Star Circle leading to the Glowing Spheres Bonus Stage.

In the lock-on game, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, all three Bonus Stages are featured and are accessed by different Star Circles with different amounts of Rings in the same manner as in both games:


It should be noted that after over fifty Rings, the pattern restarts with 70-84 Rings leading to Slot Machine-type, 85-99 Rings to Glowing Spheres-type and at least hundred Rings to Gumball Machine-type Bonus Stage.

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble

In Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, there are Chaos Emerald Monitors in each Act which open Star Circles. If the player has at least fifty Rings on-hand, breaking it creates the Star Circle above it. In this game, it gives access to the Special Stage.

Sonic Mania

In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, the Star Circle appears when a Star Post is passed while carrying at enough Rings. This time around, they give access to the Bonus Stage and, in Sonic Mania Plus, the Pinball Stage.

To make a Star Circle leading into the Bonus Stage appear, pass a Star Post while carrying at least twenty-five Rings. To make a Star Circle leading into the Pinball Stage appear, pass a Star Post after beating all Bonus Stages with a perfect rank while carrying at least twenty-five Rings in Mania Mode or fifty Rings in Encore Mode.

In other media

Sonic the Comic

In the Sonic the Comic series published by Fleetway Editions, the Star Circle appears as an energy field surrounding the Star Posts and allows travel between Zones and the Special Zone. In the media, Sonic has to run around the Star Post to charge it with Sonic Speed Energy to create the energy field

Archie Comics

Star Posts and dimensional portal, from Sonic the Hedgehog #189.

In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, the Star Circle looks identical to its game counterpart, although it is not referred to by name. In this media, it is created between a set of Star Posts and serves as a portal between dimensions.



  1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Genesis) North American instruction booklet, pg. 11.
  2. Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis) North American instruction booklet, pg. 17.
Navigation templates to Star Circle

Main article (Knuckles in Sonic 2) | Staff | Manuals | Glitches | Beta elements | Gallery | Pre-releases (Nick Arcade, Simon Wai) | Re-releases (2006, 2013, 3D, Sega Ages)

Main article (Sonic 3 & Knuckles) | Credits | Manuals | Glitches | Beta elements | Gallery

Main article (Blue Sphere, Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles) | Credits | Manuals | Beta elements | Gallery

Main article | Staff | Glitches | Manuals | Beta elements | Gallery | Re-releases (Plus)