On top of its Single Player campaign, SRB2 features a large selection of different gametypes. Some of them, such as Match mode, are completely different from the main game in style and objectives, while others, such as Mario Mode, build on top of existing gametypes to emulate a different gameplay style. The vast amount of gametypes available in SRB2 allows for a great diversity for level designers and players.
The gametype for a level is set in its level header with the
TypeOfLevel parameter. Each gametype has a distinct value that can be added to the variable. These values can be combined if the level is supposed to support several gametypes.
These are the actual gametypes implemented into SRB2, and the ones that can be selected when playing netgames. In contrast to the supplementary gametypes, they function on their own and do not need to be combined with another gametype.
- Single Player and Coop: Single Player is the main focus of SRB2. Similarly to the Genesis-era Sonic games, the player controls a character through levels sub-divided into zones and acts where they have to progress to the exit while overcoming obstacles or fight against a boss. Coop is basically a multiplayer version of the Single Player campaign in which several players can finish the levels together. It does not feature any additional maps and is identical to Single Player aside from netgame compatibility.
- Match and Team Match: Match is a gametype akin to traditional deathmatch first-person shooters. It features an exclusive rotation of nine maps designed for the gametype in which players toss Rings at each other to score points. Hitting a player will make them lose all their items and rewards the scorer with 50 points (or 100 if the opponent is hit without any items and dies). 50 points penalty are subtracted when a player dies. There are also six special weapon rings that exhibit a different behavior from the regular red Rings, but the players need to collect weapon tiles and ammunition to use them. Additionally, the seven Chaos Emeralds spawn in random spots in Match, which allow a player to switch to their Super forms if collected. Team Match works exactly like Match, but is played with an opposing blue and red team, while the team with the most cumulative points wins.
- Race and Classic Race: Race can be played both on the Single Player rotation and on a rotation of ten circuit-like maps designed for the gametype. The objective is to reach the goal as fast as possible, or complete four laps in the Circuit stages. The player with the quickest time wins, except in Classic Race, where points are awarded for several achievements and the player with the most points wins.
- Tag and Hide & Seek: Tag and Hide & Seek are two closely related gametypes that are typically played on Match maps and function similarly to that gametype. In both cases, one player is selected to be "it" and then has the objective to find and shoot the other players. The score of the hiding players increases with time until they are shot, while the "it" player receives points for every found opponent. In Tag mode, all players can move freely, and shot players become "it" as well, while in Hide & Seek, movement is disabled for the hiding players after a set amount of time, and shot players don't become "it".
- Capture the Flag: Capture the Flag is a gametype similar to Team Match, except that each team controls a base containing a flag. The objective is to steal the flag of the opposing team and bring it to the own base, while still being in possession of the own flag. If this is achieved, the team scores a point. The game ends when one team has scored five points. For CTF, a rotation of six symmetrical maps is available, which contain bases for both teams to play on.
These gametypes do not work on their own, but rather need to be combined with a main gametype to work. Their purpose is to modify certain elements of the game to emulate a distinct gameplay style.
- 2D Mode and SRB1 Mode: In maps with 2D Mode enabled, the player is only allowed to move on the X-axis and Z-axis, thus restricting the movement to two dimensions. This mode is normally used together with Single Player maps, although it is theoretically possible to use it with any gametype. SRB1 Mode can be additionally enabled to make the player move slower in 2D stages. Starting with version 2.1, these modes will be merged.
- Mario Mode: This mode emulates Super Mario-like gameplay style in SRB2. On its own, it mainly exchanges some sounds to fit the Mario theme and enables some items like the Fire Flower to be used. Through the use of distinct graphics and level elements, Mario-themed stages, both in 2D and 3D, can be created with this mode.
- NiGHTS Mode: NiGHTS Mode emulates the SEGA game NiGHTS Into Dreams in SRB2. The player flies along a pseudo-2D track as Super Sonic, flying through loops and collecting Wing Logos and Rings to destroy an Ideya Capture. This mode should be used with either Single Player or Race.
- ERZ3 Mode: This mode automatically scales down the player and all objects besides Brak Eggman and certain other objects to 50% of their normal size. This is used by Egg Rock Zone Act 3 to make Brak Eggman appear larger.
Other Gameplay Modes
These are not actually gametypes, but rather variations of the Single Player gametype. Special Stages and Emerald Hunt stages are alternative level styles, while Time Attack and Ultimate Mode are slightly different methods of playing the main Single Player campaign. They are not enabled via the
TypeOfLevel variable, but are either defined by other factors or are available as a menu option.
- Special Stage: Special Stages normally support Single Player and Coop, but they are created with a certain sector special. This sector special defines how many Rings the player must collect in what time to gain a Chaos Emerald. The order of the Special Stages can be defined in the
MAINCFG. Special Stages slots do not necessarily need to be occupied by levels using the Special Stage format.
- Emerald Hunt: Emerald Hunt stages work similarly to Knuckles' stages in Sonic Adventure. They normally support Single Player and Coop, but they are created by placing at least three Emerald Hunt Location Things on a map. The objective of such levels is to find the three Emeralds through a radar that indicates the distance to the player.
- Time Attack: Time Attack is simply a variant of the Single Player campaign in which the player must try to complete the stages as fast as possible and can record playbacks. The stages are unlocked for this mode once they are completed in regular Single Player, and having a certain total time in Time Attack unlocks an additional emblem.
- Ultimate Mode: This mode is the only remnant of the obsolete difficulty modes. It is accessed by typing
ULTIMATEon the title screen. In this mode, all power-up items except Invincibility and Extra Lives are removed, and the player starts with only one life. This makes the game immensely more difficult, as any contact with damage will lead to instant death.
There are several gametypes that were once featured in SRB2, but have now been removed for various reasons. Thus, they are exclusive to the respective version they were featured in.
- Chaos: Chaos was a gametype featured in SRB2 from SRB2 2k3 to Final Demo 1.08. This gametype was played both on Match maps and maps designed specifically for the gametype. Match and Chaos maps were generally very similar, although Chaos maps were often simpler. In Chaos Mode, random enemies would spawn in designated spawn points, and the player would have to kill as many as possible for the best score. Dying resulted in the score being cut in half, while killing multiple enemies in one move would increase the score rapidly. The gametype was eventually disabled in Final Demo 1.09 due to poor reputation, but can be enabled by compiling the source code with the
- Ice Hockey: This mode only popped up once in Final Demo 1.08, and was designed for one single stage, Ice Hockey Zone. It was similar to CTF, the objective was to push a snowman onto the goal of the opposing team. Due to a bug, the map was not playable and the mode was subsequently removed.
- Adventure Mode: This mode was featured in SRB2 during the Final Demo era, and was used for the unlockable Adventure Example Zone. It emulated some gameplay elements of Sonic Adventure, such as Analog Control, the homing attack and the light dash. The mode was removed in Version 2.0 due to poor reception and limited usage.
- Difficulty modes: Up until the release of Version 2.0, SRB2 featured various difficulty modes. The number of those and the differences between them varied between versions, but in its last inception, it featured Easy, Medium, Hard, Very Hard and Ultimate. Easy mode gave the player five lives and two continues, Very Hard mode prevented lost Rings from being spilled, and Ultimate Mode worked as it did today, being unlocked by beating Very Hard mode. Otherwise, the modes were largely identical, except that harder modes tended to have more enemies and less powerful items. In 2.0, the Thing flags used for making items appear in certain difficulty modes were removed in favor of the Object Flip flag, which allowed for reverse gravity. This put an end to difficulty modes in SRB2, with the exception of Ultimate Mode.