The game introduces several new gameplay elements. Unlike most Sonic
games, where players control one character, three characters are
available at any time to choose from, as the player may switch the
party's leader freely, whilst the other two characters follow, with the
formation depending on the leader.Each team contains three character types: speed, power and flight.
Speed characters are able to perform spin dashes, homing attacks and
light dashes, and can form whirlwinds that allow them to climb up poles.
Power characters can use their strength to fight against strong enemies
and break obstacles, as well as enter a gliding formation to ride up
air fans. Finally, Flight characters have the ability to fly in the air
for a short amount of time and can more easily attack airborne enemies. Each ability is also represented in the interface by color; blue for speed, yellow for flight, and red for power.
By acquiring certain items or reaching checkpoints, characters can
level up, increasing their efficiency when used against enemies. Each
team also has a Team Blast skill, which can be performed when the
Team Blast meter becomes full, and this can be achieved by performing
such actions as destroying enemies or collecting rings.
By collecting a key hidden within each level and reaching the end of
the level without getting hit, players can enter the Special Stage. In
these stages, the player must run through a tube collecting colored orbs
containing boost and avoiding bombs in order to catch a Chaos Emerald
before it reaches the end of the tube. Chaos Emeralds are shared amongst
all characters, and collecting all the emeralds, as well as clearing
the game with all four teams, unlocks the last story.