Green Hill Zone is the first and one of the most famous zones in most of the Sonic the Hedgehog games; especially to older gamers. It's also known for being one of the most famous video game levels of all time. The original 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog shipped with most Mega Drive/Genesis systems, and thus Green Hill Zone was the first Sega Genesis experience for many people.
It is a picturesque paradise with green fields and beautiful blue lakes. Perhaps most distinctively, the soil is checkered brown. Obstacles include crumbling platforms and spikes in the original iteration. Subsequent portrayals largely remain true to the zone's theme of being a 'first level', lacking quite the same density of hazards as later zones (although there are still plenty). These traits have since its introduction been carried over to several first-game levels in other games, with some of them sharing near-identical features, establishing its layout as its own stage theme.
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
As previously stated, Green Hill Zone's first appearance was in the original 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog as the game's first zone. Being a paradise with green fields and blue lakes, it features big waterfalls, palm trees, rotating flowers, totem poles, and iconic checkered soils. The player can also go through large shuttle loops and tumble down tunnels, but the player has to watch out collapsing platforms, spikes, and spinning tree trunks with spikes. Dr. Robotnik has sent his Badniks to this zone, including Motobugs, Buzz Bombers, Crabmeats, Choppers and Newtrons.
After completing the game, Sonic makes a brief return to Green Hill Zone for the ending sequence. The area is now free of Badniks and instead thronged with celebrating animals. If the player manages to get six Chaos Emeralds in the game, Sonic will release them from his hands, while the emeralds start spinning; after the big flash, the Chaos Emeralds have disappeared and all the flowers of Green Hill Zone have changed their look, after which Sonic does his victory pose, thus ending the game.
Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)
Taking after its Mega Drive namesake, Green Hill is also the first zone in the 8-bit version of the game with the same name. The zone, again like its Genesis counterpart, is filled with rolling plains of green and jauntily colored flowers. However, Robotnik has installed spike pits and set his ubiquitous Badniks loose on the verdant landscape. A rarity amongst Green-Hill-themed levels, this iteration sports underwater areas when Sonic enters a cave system in Act 2.
In the game's ending scene, Robotnik transports from Sky Base to escape through the Green Hill Zone, but Sonic follows him there too. He transports above the Eggman Mobile and gives the finishing move on the doctor. If the player has found six Chaos Emeralds, Sonic is then seen releasing them above the South Island, while making the pollution above the island disappear.
Green Hill Zone also appears alongside other zones from the first game as a racetrack in Sonic Drift. Its appearance generally remains unchanged from the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Green Hill Zone tracks from all Chaos GP cups are mostly simple and feature only few direct bends. Because of this, Green Hill Zone from red Chaos GP is the most challenging track of all three.
Green Hill Zone also appears in Sonic Blast, it is the first zone of the game, which is represented by the green color, whereas the other zones are Yellow Desert Zone, Red Volcano Zone, Blue Marine Zone and Silver Castle Zone. As side of that, Green Hill Zone in the game has green but also more rocky scenery as well. Badniks in the zone are mostly taken from Emerald Hill Zone.
Sonic Adventure 2
Green Hill Zone returns in Sonic Adventure 2, as the first time at full 3D form and as an extra stage that can be unlocked by collecting all 180 emblems in the game. The background music is a remixed version of the original music, and when Sonic jumps or destroys an enemy, the same sound effects from the original game are played instead of the new sound effects from Sonic Adventure 2. The level's layout is similar to the original level, but shifts land instead of going straight.
Green Hill Zone appears in Sonic Battle as a Battlefield, unlocked by completing Emerl's story. The arena is wide, with many open areas and platforms. Although not officially stated to be in Green Hill Zone, Emerald Town in Sonic Battle has seen to have similar palm trees and checkerboard rock faces identical to those seen in the original zone.
Sega Superstars Tennis
In Sega Superstars Tennis, Green Hill was fitted with a tennis court with various characters making cameo appearances around the field, mainly the Chao from the Sonic Adventure series, also Blaze the Cat, Silver the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna and Big the Cat. This is where many missions in Sonic's world in Superstar Mode take place, including a singles tournament with various Sonic characters.
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Green Hill takes on a more realistic look, adding rocky textures to loops and other gimmicks, while still retaining certain features, such as checkered walls in certain areas. Wild Boar and Enraged Armadillos can be fought, and later, Eggman's robots.
Green Hill Zone was the first zone announced for Sonic Generations. In the level, you can play as Classic Sonic, or Modern Sonic. With Classic Sonic, the level is in 2D, as it was in the original title. With Modern Sonic, the game features the 3D gameplay of recent titles. Being the very first level in the franchise, this is also the first level in the game. It is also only level that appears in both console and Nintendo 3DS versions.
Sonic Jump (2012)
Green Hill Zone appears as the first zone in the 2012 remake of Sonic Jump.
Appearances in non-Sonic games
Super Smash Bros. series
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Green Hill Zone is an unlockable stage, which is obtained by unlocking Sonic. The stage features its classic style and terrain, and familiar Green Hill objects such as palm trees, totem poles, item boxes, and spinning flowers. It also features the Green Hill Zone music. The background also includes moving platforms (either swinging or levitating up and down), spikes, and rings. And just as in the original Green Hill Zone from the first game, the middle section of land crumbles after a while of fighting on it, and luckily, it is the only section of land that does so in this level. A midway lamp post sometimes appears in the stage. When hit, it spins, damaging characters that go near it (except for the character that hit the post). Most iconic of this stage is the famous shuttle loop, in which Tails, Knuckles and Silver make cameo appearances by occasionally running through the loop. If the Pokémon Trainer is present during the match, he will be standing on top of the loop (instead of the extra life monitor that is usually there). The stage will make another appearance in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.
Samba De Amigo Wii
There is a Sonic themed level of the Sonic Team game Samba De Amigo Wii. This level takes place in Green Hill Zone where the protagonist, Amigo dances alongside Sonic the Hedgehog himself. There are also many Miis and Chao dancing on the sides.
In the Japanese PC game Sega Splash Golf, there are a number of Courses themed after SEGA franchises. The Sonic the Hedgehog course looks very similar to Green Hill Zone with checkered hills, bright green grass and floating rings. There are also crates on the course taken from Sonic Adventure 2.
In the Japanese Arcade game Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, one of the stages taken from the SEGA franchise, aside from Valkyria Chronicles, is Green Hill Zone with the design taken from Sonic Generations where the Springs and Dashpads are from Modern Sonic and the Rings are also visible.Windy Hill which will be used for the Wii U version, the stage will look similar to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Appearances in Other Media
After Dr. Eggman launched the Genesis Wave, Sonic the Hedgehog found himself running through the Green Hill Zone, hoping to find his friends. While there, he encountered a group of Moto Bug, as well as a Newtron which took him to Snively Robotnik. Sonic defeated Snively, and destroyed several capsule in his possession, freeing Sally Acorn, Antoine D'Coolette & Rotor Walrus. (Sonic the Hedgehog #226)
After the Genesis Wave that was launched by Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily, Sonic found himself looking for his friends (Tails, Amy Rose and Knuckles) in the Zone, with a feeling of Déjà vu. (Sonic Universe #51)
At the same time, Mega Man in pursuit of the Roboticized Masters and Metal Sonic (who moves too fast for Mega Man to get a clear view), chase them from Mega City into the Green Hill Zone through a Warp Ring. Afterwards, Sonic runs into Silver the Hedgehog, who is shortly captured by Copy Robot. Sonic follows him, only to come across the real Mega Man, with the two of them fighting each other. (Mega Man #24 and Sonic Universe #51)
Both of them fight as hard as possible, though Sonic fairs better than the Blue Bomber due to the layout of the Green Hill Zone. During the battle, Dr. Light managed to recreate the Warp Ring portal, allowing Mega Man to take the fight back to Mega City. (Sonic the Hedgehog #248)
- Green Hill is the most recurring zone in the Sonic series with Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes being the second.
- In the Japanese version of "Cruise Blues," the twentieth episode of Sonic X, Cream states that she once lived in Green Hill Zone although this has never been confirmed in the game series itself.
- In Sonic Chronicles, while Sonic reminisces on the "good times" he had in Green Hill Zone, Tails asks how Eggman's kidnapping of small animals and turning them into robots could have been "good times". Strangely, Tails first appeared in Sonic 2 and never officially went through Green Hill Zone during the events of Sonic 1. In Sonic Generations, Tails does not remember Green Hill Zone.
- Green Hill Zone has reappeared multiple times, including Sonic Battle, Sonic Chronicles, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Tails appeared in Green Hill in these games and more, but he does not seem to remember any of it in Sonic Generations. However, it should be noted that most of these appearances are non-canon, cameos, or both.
- Even though Green Hill Zone appears in "Sonic Chronicles" the music does not appear.
- The beta name for Aquatic Ruin Zone was Neo Green Hill Zone.
- The song "Dreams of an Absolution" has a similar tune to the background music of Green Hill Zone. Singer Lee Brotherton has said that this was not intended, but appreciated.
- In the 16-bit version for the Mega Drive, this is one of two zones in which an Invincibility TV can help with the boss, the other being Spring Yard Zone. It is hidden in a high tree which Sonic can grab by leaping off the end of the hill at top speed. In fact, the boss can be defeated before it even wears off.
- Stage 1-1 of the "Sonic Simulator" in Sonic Colors is a rebuild of Act 1 of the 16-bit version.
- This stage has been made in all three game eras (Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) -- Classic; Sonic Adventure 2/Battle -- Dreamcast; and Sonic Generations -- Modern).
- This is the most remade stage in Sonic the Hedgehog games.
- In Sonic Advance 3, the music theme of Sunset Hill is the remix version of Green Hill Zone.
- A Trance remix of this song called "Green Hill Zone (Crystiara Remix)" was performed by Hatsune Miku, a popular VOCALOID, and protagonist of another popular SEGA series.
- The beginning of Mega Water S' Stage in Mega Man: The Wily Wars resembles the Green Hill Zone.
- Interestingly, Green Hill is the name of various real-world places.
- Green Hill Zone appeared in fighting games such as Sonic Battle, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax making it a battlefield for three times.
- Green Hills Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit)
- Mecha Green Hill Zone from Sonic Chaos
- Neo Green Hill Zone from Sonic Advance/Sonic N
- Green Hill from Sonic Generations
- Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) page at The GHZ
- Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit) page at The GHZ
- Green Hill Zone at Mobius Encyclopedia, the Archie Sonic wiki
- Green Hill Zone on Mega Man Knowledge Base