SSS: A Mystery Uncovered

Bug explanation - SSS: A Mystery Uncovered

Submitted by SadisticMystic

For those of you that have bothered looking, you see quite a few levels in the Freestyle section of this game's charts. But why are there so many? What are the charts for? After reading this guide, that question should be answered.

If you read the rules (they're under the Rankings header in the left side menu), you'll see three different things that fall under Freestyle. Two of them apply to only one level each: the Cannon's Core requirement (change the 54 in this page's URL to 7), and restarting a completed level without the pause menu (which applies to Route 280 m2; change the 54 in this page's URL to 78).

All the other levels in Freestyle are put there for one single reason. When I came across it, I had to give it a name, and originally decided on the alliterative choice of "Doublespeed Duration", but this was later changed to "Sticky Speed Shoe". No one refers to it by the full name, though (the original name didn't even make much sense), instead shortening it to the much more catchy "SSS".

How does SSS work? By reading the rules, that should be easy to figure out. Get a Speed Shoe, then in 14 seconds or less get another one. But what happens, and why?

In SA2, the game does a function call whenever you get a Speed Shoe item. This causes three things to happen:
1. The speed-up music starts
2. Your character's running speed is set to its current speed plus (some amount)
3. An invisible countdown timer is set to 15 seconds and starts counting down.

When the timer reaches 0, the effects of the speed shoe are undone. Number 3 doesn't need reversing, but 1 and 2 are counteracted by changing the music back to the normal level music and setting your character's speed to its current speed minus (the same amount).

The exact speed adjustment (in numerical terms, the way the game stores it) is unknown, so I'll refer to the Speed Shoe alteration as "Speed +1".

What exactly happens, then, when you get a second Speed Shoe in less than 15 seconds?

The first one puts you at Speed +1. If you get another one before the music is finished, then the music starts again, the timer is automatically set back to 15 seconds (regardless of what it was before), and you get another speed increase--to Speed +2.

When the 15-second timer expires, the speed is knocked back down...but since you're at Speed +2, the decrease only takes you down to Speed +1. And because you reset the timer to 15 upon getting the second Speed Shoe, the timer never got a chance to run out for the first one, so you never get moved back to Speed +0.

Congratulations, you've just tricked the game into thinking that your normal speed is Speed +1, effectively "sticking" you with the speed shoe. Test it out, and you'll find you can run at speeds that you normally only get to experience in 15-second bursts. What's more, you can now simply die, and you stay at Speed +1! You'll get to keep your increased speed until you complete the level or select Quit from the menu.

Intrinsically built into the mechanical interaction that allows SSS to work, is the fact that it can be stacked. You've already tricked the game into allowing permanent Speed +1, so why not do it again to get to Speed +2? You can keep it going until you reach the byte cap for the variable that controls speed (right now it's believed that maximum benefit is reached after Speed +2 for Sonic/Shadow, Speed +3 for Knuckles/Rouge, and Speed +7 for Tails/Eggman).

Now that you know what makes SSS work, what levels can you pull it off in? There are two main ways to get Speed Shoes. One is by digging, and any hunting stage except Security Hall (which has no diggable ground) has the potential for SSS. Just keep popping up and down until you get one, then dig as fast as you can and hope for a second before the music stops. It may take hundreds of digging attempts, but you can do it eventually.

The other way to get speed ups is by checkpoints. If you can cross a checkpoint with a ring count between 80 and 89, you'll get a speed up as your reward item. An easy place to try it out is in Cosmic Wall. Play through the level getting rings as normal, but skip the first checkpoint. When you arrive at the second checkpoint, make sure your ring count is in the 80s, then get your first speed shoe and immediately turn around. Go backwards and to the right, and you should find the first checkpoint. Cross it as well, and if you did it fast enough you should be at Speed +2! Keep running around until the music stops, then just jump off the edge and you can race through the longest level in the game at speeds rivaling Sonic's!

UPDATE: A revised method has become known, which only works for Sonic and Shadow. Instead of connecting two checkpoints, you only need to get the speed shoe from one checkpoint. Once you get that, hold B and charge a Light Attack. The state of being prepared for a Light Attack manipulates the max speed variable, so that if you keep it charged for the entire 15 seconds and release after the regular music starts playing again, the max speed that you had (Speed +1) is popped from the stack, only now the speed shoe timer isn't ticking and there's no danger of reversion.

For all the speed-up potential available, very few levels have actually been attempted with SSS. The records are ripe for the that you know how to do it, will you try it out?
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