Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Things will get pretty chilly as Sonic and Tails slide their way through this arctic wasteland. Be sure to smash open blocks of ice to reveal power-ups and hidden passageways.
— Description from instruction manual.
IceCap Zone (アイスキャップ Aisukyappu?) is the fifth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the lock-on, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. It is located on mountains of the Floating Island. Act 1 takes place inside labyrinthine ice caverns, while Act 2 takes place in a more brighter overworld with lower pathways under icy caverns.
During the game's storyline, Sonic and Tails use a regular cannon in Carnival Night Zone to launch themselves to the mountains of IceCap Zone. In the locked-on version, Knuckles uses a teleporter to travel from Carnival Night Zone to IceCap Zone. At the beginning of the IceCap Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic starts out riding on a snowboard, while Tails skips that section and gets launched into an icy wall and falls into the caverns. Knuckles starts the stage in the caverns where Sonic and Tails fall into.
The backgrounds of IceCap Zone frequently varies. At the beginning is a snowboarding sequence which features snowy mountains at the background with snow topped trees on the steep hills. After that, the majority of IceCap Zone Act 1 takes place inside some icy caverns, where the background has cold blue and black colored lairs with huge pillars. On the ground, there are many blue and green decorations with spinning ice cubes on top of them. Some of them are transparent pillars while there are also ice cubes and familiar colorful diamonds on the cold hard ground. There are also steep and slippery ravines, which can loop endlessly.
IceCap Zone Act 2 largely takes place on the surface, which has a river in the background with ice mountains and sheets of ice floes moving via parallax scrolling. The surface sections are more fast paced with different Shuttle loops and ramps that can send the player to higher pathways depending how much speed he/she has gained. There are also twisting underground tunnels, which lead to lower pathways with ice caverns with deep water sections. Both the surface and cavern sections have bridges where several pathways fuses together into the main path.
There are many gimmicks in the game that have affected by the Zone's climate. Many of the primary objects in the game, such as monitors, springs and switches are frozen inside of ice blocks that the player has to break first before being able to utilize them. Some of the ice blocks can also be completely empty. Switches are used to break blankets of snow or reveal columns and pathways.
If the player comes across four ice blocks, the player can Spin Dash through the lower block and use the rest of blocks as platforms to reach higher paths. The player can also surf on platforms down the slippery ravines, while breaking ice walls. Some platforms also float on the water surface in Act 2. There are platforms connected with green chains to walls that will move in the direction of an upper arch if the player has gain enough of speed. Act 2 also features purple trampoline gimmicks on columns that can send the player higher by pushing down and then up on the D-pad.
Spikes featured in this Zone are icicles that are a part of the Zone's structure instead of regular white obstacles. Some sets of spikes on ceilings are loose and will fall off down to the ground if the player runs past them. There are also sets of spiked icicles on walls and bigger, sharp icicles that can function as platforms after they fall down to field of spikes, but the sharp part of icicle can still damage the player. There are many ice pillars that function as crushers which are usually set in hall sections. If the player goes above or touches them, they start moving and crash down the ground or ceiling and move back to their position. There are also freezing machines set on the ceilings that can trap the playable character in a ice block and damage him. IceCap Zone Act 2 features snowbanks that can slow down the player when he walks around. By using the Spin Dash or having enough of speed, the snow evaporates on the way.
IceCap Zone Act 1 starts with an over fifteen seconds long snowboarding sequence if the player has Sonic. The sequence is automatic, as the player is only able to jump on long, steep hills with many lines of Rings lying on the path. There will be parts where the player gets temporarily separated from the main path to gain Rings. After the sequence, the player crashes into a wall and falls down into the caverns with an avalanche involved. After entering the ice cavern, there are three major slippery ravines which are endless. In the first one, the player has to pick up the platform on the left wall and use it to get through the ice wall. At one point, the player has spin quickly in-between two moving ice pillars in order to progress. In the second ravine, the player has to push sliding platform near a Star Post on left side of the pathway to slide through another ice wall. On the third ravine, the player has to use swinging platforms to reach a higher pathway, while he/she has to gain enough speed and jump carefully through the ravine to another swinging platform. After this section, the player gets out of ice cavern to the surface, where he/she faces the sub-boss.
In locked-on version of the game, Knuckles can take an alternate pathway after the first endless ravine which feature a large room full of floating icicle spheres. The player has to glide through the holes between icicle spheres without touching them to get to the lower part of the room. After passing through the third ravine, Knuckles takes a lower pathway to progress into a deeper room, where he encounters the sub-boss.
In IceCap Zone Act 2, the player can take several pathways through the upper parts of the Zone to progress. To do this, the player has to gain enough speed to launch himself/herself into the air from ramps. Act 2 is also more fast-paced than previous act, with many smooth downs and loops. Several loops lead to twisting tunnels by breaking ice blocks below (similar to loops in Hill Top Zone). There are also many lesser pathways in the lower part of the Zone, which are located in icy caverns. Act 2 also has small water sections which are mostly bottomless water pits. The player has to use the purple trampolines to get to the higher parts of the icy cavern. At the end of the second act, there is an hidden passage in the upper part of the Zone that takes the player to a hidden room full of Rings and another way to the boss arena.
Knuckles starts IceCap Zone Act 2 in the lower part, as he goes through his own challenging pathways. In the end however, he reaches the same pathways at the end of the Zone.
The sub-boss of IceCap Zone is Iceball. It appears at the end of IceCap Zone Act 1 where it descends into the arena. There, it starts summoning seven ice blocks around him and starts flying in a "U" shape across the screen once or twice. The player has to hit him right after he throws the ice blocks into the air and make them fall down on certain pattern.
Dr. Robotnik appears in his new creation, the Freeze-O-Matic, which spews chilling ice flames in a few different directions, one in the front of his Egg Mobile, the other on the underside of it, above a small rising and descending platform with spikes on the bottom. Robotnik will hover across the arena, releasing ice flames from the dispensers. After he has attacked with the cannon located on the underside of his mobile, this is the chance to attack. After a few hits, the small platform will break and he is forced to descend, leaving it easy to attack from behind.
- After Sonic/Tails defeats the sub-boss and the signpost falls down, three Super Ring monitors are hidden and set on the right part of the arena, each having small gap between them.
- In the locked-on version of the game (Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles), after Knuckles defeats the sub-boss, two Super Ring monitors are hidden below on the center part and Lightning Shield is on the right side of the screen.
Hidden Giant Rings
- The first hidden Giant Ring in IceCap Zone Act 1 is located behind the right wall in the hidden room near of first frozen switch.
- The second hidden Giant Ring is set near the first sliding ravine. The player has to jump to the right wall before the section where the platform is set on the left wall.
- The first hidden Giant Ring in IceCap Zone Act 2 is set on Knuckles' pathway and is located in the first water section. The player has to jump off the floating platform to the left side of the lake. While underwater, he finds the hidden room behind the left wall. After the Special Stage, the player gets out the water using a yellow spring on the down corner.
- The second hidden Giant Ring is located at the second lake. The player has to traverse above the lake and jump off the last floating platform. The hidden room with Giant Ring can be found behind the right wall. After the Special Stage, the red spring below the lower corner helps the player out of the water.
- The last hidden Giant Ring is located near end of the second act. At first, the player has to reach to the hidden passage above which is full of Rings and then go right through the right wall where the Giant Ring and another way to the boss arena can be found.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, Flying Battery Zone was originally meant to be before this Zone and the hatch Sonic uses to escape the zone would have been used as a snowboard. Presumably, the cannon used to shoot Sonic to IceCap Zone at Carnival Night Zone would have shot Sonic onto the airship.
- A concept art from the Japanese manual show Tails using snowboard. This does not happen in the final game.
- The music for the original Genesis version of this stage is most widely known in the gaming community for being remixed numerous times.
- This is the first ever ice-themed Zone in a console Sonic game (any console game preceding Sonic 3 did not have one).
- The background music was thought to have been inspired by Michael Jackson's "Who Is It" from the album Dangerous with similar chord progressions to "Smooth Criminal" from Bad.
- However, it has recently come about that the music to IceCap Zone on the Mega Drive/Genesis may not have been composed by Michael Jackson or even related to any of his songs. The song may be more connected to the previously unreleased song "Hard Times" by The Jetzons. Brad Buxer, who had worked on the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and for Michael Jackson, was the keyboardist for The Jetzons.
- If the player touches the star post before the miniboss in either Sonic 3 or Sonic 3 & Knuckles and dies, the level will restart with Act 2's music, even though the zone card has said IceCap Zone Act 1.