Fast moving scrolling platformer game where Sonic gathers rings and must avoid or defeat certain enemies (by using a spin attack and hitting them when they are vulnerable), along with facing multiple enemy bosses. There are also bonus 3-D stages where Sonic gathers as many blue spheres as possible while avoiding the red spheres in order to try to obtain as many Chaos Emeralds as possible. Players can also play with Tails or solo as just Sonic.
There are also several levels unique to the series when two players can play simultaneously using a split screen. Players can also choose between using Tails and Knuckles.
To get Hyper Sonic, Hyper Knuckles, or Super Tails first off you need Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. When Sonic 3 in S&K the game just contiunes from the ending of Sonic 3. (This is also the only way to get Knuckles on the Sonic 3 levels and Tails on the S&K levels.) You need to get all of the Chaos Emeralds (there's 7)during the Sonic 3 levels. When you start the S&K levels you will be able to get the Super Emeralds (also 7). When you get all of the Super Emeralds you will become Hyper Sonic if you are Sonic, he will glow faster than Super Sonic and go faster too, also when you press A twice he will make the screen flash and all bad guys on the screen will be beaten. Hyper Knuckles will glow and go faster also, and when you guild into walls the screen will shake and kill all bad guys on the screen. Super Tails will glow and go faster, but not as fast as Sonic and Knuckles. Super Tails will also have 4 birds flying around him as he moves, homing in on the bad guys they see.