On the contrary, I can't stand the Big Rings. They slow the game pace down a hell of a lot more than 50 rings do, since you're naturally going to grab 50 rings eventually anyway, so the Special Stage is simply a reward for doing well and holding onto your rings. There is no fucking way you are ever going to get all the Super Emeralds in 3&K without going out of your way to search and explore for secret areas, which isn't something a Sonic game should be encouraging. Finding them purely by circumstance, on a casual playthrough, is laughable. It's possible to stumble onto 7 of them, enough to unlock Doomsday Zone, but definitely not all 14. So when a Sonic game is encouraging me to jump into random walls to see if there could possibly be a secret area behind them, and do slow methodical platforming to get onto weird paths that are hard to reach otherwise in order to find a Special Stage, there's something wrong. I should be able to go fast and keep moving forward and still be eligible for Super Sonic. I shouldn't have to alter my playstyle. Sonic 2 has the perfect balance for that, where it still rewards exploration without asking the player to stretch out the time limit.