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Vanish Panel 1 is played entirely from a 2.5D side-scrolling perspective. In terms of layout, this secret stage is a straight path with several twists and turns. The details of the level layout may vary however.
Much of Vanish Panel 1 is made up of panel-based yellow platforms, which the player is obligated to use. When the playable character steps on these vanish panels, they will blink for about a second before vanishing. After a few seconds though, the vanish panels will restore themselves in their original position.
When the special stage begins, run to the right and climb the incoming stoop. After that, the player must scale a shaft (which has vanish panels covering a pit on the bottom). After that, proceed to the right and make the incoming vanish panel(s) disappear. Before the panel(s) returns, use the Spring underneath the aforementioned panel(s) to get to the area above. Jump then down the shaft on the right and quickly follow the path up and down a few shafts (which have vanish panels covering pits on the bottoms). Climb then the upward passage on the right (which has vanish panels covering a pit on the bottom).
At the top of the upward passage, follow to the rightward path to make the vanish panels in the road disappear. Use then the Spring below the aforementioned vanish panels to get to higher ground before the panels return. Go then down the shaft of the right (which has a vanish panel covering a pit on the bottom) and scale then another shaft on the right, which too has vanish panels oovering a pit on the bottom. Once at the top of the shaft, run across the bridge of vanish panels on the right until Sonic/Shadow hits a Spring that will take them to the goal.