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 and an associated element; speed is blue and uses wind, flight is yellow and uses thunder, power is red and uses fire. 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.
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