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Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Carnival Night Zone is the fourth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). It is very similar to Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but with a carnival theme. The Zone is a playful carnival filled with balloons, pinball bumpers and cannons to launch from, although unlike Casino Night Zone, there are no slot machines. Coincidentally, Casino Night Zone is also the fourth zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Playing as Sonic and/or Tails, Carnival Night Zone is one of the longest Zones available in the game, but as Knuckles in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it changes from being one of the longest Zones to one of the shortest. In this case, each act takes roughly just one-and-a-half minutes to complete and there is not even a boss fight at the end of the Zone. The D-Struct Machine is still fought at the end of Act 1.
One element of the stage is a series of hovering, rotating cylinders, which either move in a set pattern by themselves or can be moved up and down manually by pressing up and down on the D-Pad, though this is not obvious.
Halfway through Act 2, there is an infamous area where Sonic is trapped in a vertical shaft, and must push one of these cylinders down a slot low enough for him to escape through. This area is unavoidable; the player will encounter this no matter which route is taken. While it appears to be a traditional jumping puzzle, it is not meant to be bypassed this way. It is massively difficult to get by like this, so it is much preferable to use the up and down method. This frustrated many players who didn't figure out the technique at first.
There is also a notable cylinder at the beginning of Act 1, which cannot be moved any further down than its own height, even though there appears to be another passage beneath it. This is, in fact, Knuckles' route, as can be revealed with Debug Mode.
After defeating Dr. Robotnik in Marble Garden Zone, Tails airlifts Sonic to the Zone. Knuckles runs there from the last Zone. Partway through the Zone, Knuckles appears and turns off all of the lights (this has no effect on the game play of the Zone). Later a switch will be pressed to reactivate the lights. After defeating Dr. Robotnik, Sonic and Tails will be shot out of a cannon to the next Zone. Knuckles will use a teleporter to get there instead.
The Self D-Struct Machine is the boss of Act 1. A part of it spins and levitates in a constant diagonal motion throughout the battle, bouncing around the corners of the screen and destroying foothold blocks. The main piece electrifies itself every so often. The player must be sure to defeat it before the footing is lost.
Dr. Robotnik appears in an Energy Ship that is unreachable by normal jumps (Unless playing as Tails, who can hover into Robotnik). Robotnik will drop some type of orb onto the ground. Upon this, he will approach directly above and create an rotating electric shock with parts of the machine, which will attempt to draw in the player. After that, Robotnik will lower down to retrieve the orb, which is the best chance to attack
In other media
Sonic the Comic
In the Sonic the Comic series published by Fleetway Editions, the Carnival Night Zone was a theme park that had been built on the Floating Island by the Marxio Brothers as a money-maker for Dr. Robotnik. They briefly tricked Knuckles the Echidna into thinking that Robotnik was not involved and, promising to give him revenue from the park to fix up the Floating Island's monuments. However, when the truth of Robotnik's involvement was revealed, Knuckles broke the Zone off from the rest of the Floating Island, making it plummet into the Emerald Hill Zone.
- Carnival Night Zone's music is famous for having similarities with Michael Jackson's Jam, and in fact shares several samples used and composed by Michael. The most notable sample is that the player can hear the word "Jam" from Jam in Carnival Night's music.
- This is the Zone which fits Angel Island the least, as it has a carnival-like theme and is placed on an island which is mostly covered by forests. However, it may have been built by Dr. Robotnik.
- The barrels are probably by far the most infamous part of this Zone. The player must press up and down repeatedly, and many players were stuck for a long time, either not knowing what to do, or trying to jump on it to get it to go down.
- When going through the tail end of Act 2 playing as Knuckles, if the player stops after falling through the vertical shaft en route to the exit and climbs up it, and the one above it (see: the route Sonic and Tails take after Knuckles reverses the direction of both), it is possible for him/her to initiate the battle with the Energy Ship with EggRobo in place of Dr. Robotnik. The player can then fight it like normal with no changes to the attack patterns (a change of pace regarding cover-all boss battles that occur with all three characters) and, upon being defeated, Knuckles can unlock the trapped animals and use the cannon to depart the stage like normal. This will then segue into IceCap Zone with Knuckles teleporting to the beginning of the first act like he usually would.