Classification of Multiple Routes

In Brief

  • There are five main types of multiple routes:
    • Shortcuts (quick deviations that last for less than a minute)
    • Mini bonus routes (short deviations (similar to shortcuts) that offer a massive point bonus)
    • Alternative routes (deviations of a significant length)
    • Secret rooms (small hidden spaces that do not stray from the main path)
    • Secret routes (lengthy hidden routes)
  • The classic Sonic games use all five types
    • classic_good.png This allows the benefits of multiple routes to be fully realised
  • Modern games only use shortcuts & mini bonus routes
    • modern_bad.png Hence, they offer few benefits of multiple routes


Shortcuts occur most commonly in modern Sonic games. Shortcuts are quick deviations that return the player back to the main route in under a minute.

A player will generally only be motivated to find shortcuts if they are trying to achieve a record time in completing the stage.

▲ An example of a short cut
Note how quickly the player is returned to the main route.

Mini bonus routes

Mini bonus routes are similar to short cuts in that they are small in size. However, unlike shortcuts they do not necessarily save time. Instead, they offer a generous helping of bonus points (Collecting the points may increase the time to beat the stage, but usually the points earned are necessary to acquire the top rank) .

A player will only be motivated to find mini-bonus routes if they are attempting to earn an 'A' (or 'S') rank.

▲ An example of a mini bonus route
Other than offering extra bonus points, it is not that different from the main route.

Alternative routes

Alternative routes deviate from the main path, but unlike shortcuts, the deviation is of considerable length.


An excellent example of an alternative route:

  • The player has chosen the upper route (and must use the switch to open the door to travel upwards).
  • However, the lower route is still visible.
  • The player can see that the lower route contains many rings and this will motivate him/her to replay the game to access the route.

Alternative routes offer a high replay motive, as they allow the player to have a new experience of the stage.

Secret rooms

Secret rooms tend to be placed near the main route and usually house bonus items. The rooms are concealed and so the player needs a sharp eye to identify them. As the rooms usually contain a single combined entrance and exit, the player will have to travel the way they came to return to the main track. Hence, it is important that the distance between the secret room and main track is not too great to prevent the backtracking process from frustrating the player.

Secret routes

Secret routes are identical to alternative routes except that they are hidden. The player will need to possess sharp skills to uncover them. A list of tactics for hiding secret routes is present in the level design glossary.


▲ Smashing up this wall opens up this secret room.


  • Modern games need to make good use of all 5 categories of multiple routes.
  • So far, modern games tend to only use short cuts & mini bonus routes.
    • This prevents the player from experiencing the full benefits of multiple routes.

◄◄ Previous Section Index for this page Next Section ►►
Techniques for Implementing Multiple Routes Creating Choice through Level Design Devices for hiding routes


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