The objective of Detonator is to survive 14 laps, called "Stages", around the track chosen for the event while either shooting or evading mines and bombs that are layed out on the track grid. Mines are the main obstacles for this event. No boost or weapon pads are available during the event. They are replaced by EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) pads which assist the player by allowing them to charge the EMP weapon so that the player can deploy EMP waves to help rid the track of mines. The event ends when either the player completes all 14 stages or the player's ship is destroyed.
Detonator is a Zone-type event, so all ships have maxed-out performance stats like in the original Zone mode, and have no way of slowing down. They are physically smaller. The ship is equipped with a cannon which can load up to 15 rounds. The rounds fired have a ricochet effect, at which they will bounce once they hit a wall. The cannon reloads by itself once all the rounds are used up, but the player can reload it manually (by pressing the Absorb Powerup function). The ship is also equipped with an EMP weapon. This can only be used when the player passes through 4 EMP pads, but the EMP energy can be conserved for a more powerful EMP wave. The EMP energy maxes out when the player passes through 8 EMP pads without activating the EMP. The ship health can only be restored by completing one full stage.
The player scores by shooting down mines. The player is also awarded a chain bonus by shooting the mines in succession. 5-Chain Bonus is worth 1,000 points, 10-Chain Bonus gives 3,000 points, and 15-Chain Bonus yields 5,000 points. The chain bonus resets when a shot misses or the player collides with a mine. This also resets when the cannon is reloaded (in either way). Wiping out the mines using the EMP nets varying values based on how the EMP is charged – the more powerful the EMP is, the less points obtained per mines destroyed.
Each time a Stage is cleared, new mines appear on the track, but the old ones remain in the track and are worth less points. The old mines will turn black once a Stage is cleared. When an old mine is shot, it will lose the chaining score from new mines, but still counts as a hit for Chain Bonuses. Also in every stage, there is a bomb which nets 2,000 points if destroyed. The bomb takes 2 shots to be destroyed, and when it does, it destroys all of the mines surrounding it, yielding even more points. Unlike mines, there is only one bomb in each stage. When a stage is completed, a new bomb appears, while the old one vanishes with no points added if not shot.
The player also gains 1,000 points by completing a "Perfect Lap", where he/she does not take any damage for an entire lap. At the end of the session, the score is added with the bonus score based on accuracy.
Detonator has a unique HUD not present in the other game modes. The HUD maintains the player informed on four separate things.
- Middle Top - The player's current Score and Shield Energy
- Left Top - The current Stage/14
- Right Bottom - The cannon, shows how many rounds remaining. This also shows the Chain Bonus counter
- Left Bottom - The EMP charger, shows how the EMP is charged. When energy from 4 EMP pads are collected, the charger will start to glow, indicating that the EMP is ready to use. When it is full, the charger will glow as if it is one line, indicating that the EMP is fully charged, and cannot collect anymore energy until it is used