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 of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and in the locked-on version, 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 Zone 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 in the background with snow-topped trees on the steep hills. After that, the majority of IceCap Zone Act 1 takes place inside icy caverns, where the background is cold blue and black in color 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 outside, which has a river in the background with ice mountains and sheets of ice floes moving via parallax scrolling. The outside sections are faster in pace, with different Shuttle loops and ramps that can send the player to higher pathways depending on how much speed they have built up. There are also twisting underground tunnels, which lead to lower pathways with ice caverns that have deep water sections. Both the outside and cavern sections have bridges where several pathways fuse together into the main path.
There are many gimmicks in the game that have been 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 must first break 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 a stack of four ice blocks, they 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 gained enough 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 into a field of spikes, although 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 will begin moving and crash down to the ground or up to the ceiling, before moving back to their original position. There are also Snowblowers set on the ceilings which can freeze the playable character. IceCap Zone Act 2 features snowbanks that can slow down the player when they attempt to walk through them. By using the Spin Dash or having enough speed built up, the snow will evaporate on the way.
As for shields, Thunder Shields are the most common, can help with tricky jumps in Act 1, dissolve the Star Pointers' ice balls, and hit the Act 1 boss with ease, making it very useful. The Aqua Shield's Bound Jump is near useless, as all the water areas are bottomless, so its drowning protection serves no purpose. The Flame Shield serves no purpose here either.
IceCap Zone Act 1 starts with an over fifteen second-long snowboarding sequence if the player is playing as 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 sections where the player is 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 must quickly roll 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 the left side of the pathway to slide through another ice wall. On the third ravine, the player must use swinging platforms to reach a higher pathway, while they need to gain enough speed and jump carefully through the ravine to another swinging platform. After this section, the player exits the ice cavern to the surface, where they will face the sub-boss.
In the locked-on version of the game, Knuckles can take an alternate pathway after the first endless ravine which features a large room full of floating icicle spheres. The player must glide through the holes between icicle spheres without touching them in order to access 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 must gain enough speed to launch the playable character into the air from ramps. Act 2 is also more fast-paced than previous act, with many smooth hills and loops. Several loops lead into 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 has small water sections which are mostly bottomless water pits. The player must use the purple trampolines to get to the higher parts of the icy cavern. At the end of the second Act, there is a hidden passage in the upper part of the Zone that takes the player to a hidden room full of Rings, which has another path to the boss arena.
Knuckles starts IceCap Zone Act 2 in the lower section, as he goes through his own challenging pathways. In the end, however, he reaches the same pathways as Sonic and Tails do at the end of the Zone.
Giant Ring locations
- The first hidden Giant Ring 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 must jump off of 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 exits the water by using a yellow spring on the down corner.
- The second hidden Giant Ring is located by the second lake. The player must travel 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 will help the player out of the water.
- The last hidden Giant Ring is located near the end of the second act. First, the player needs to reach to the hidden passage full of Rings above, then go right through the right wall where the Giant Ring and another way to the boss arena can be found.
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 summons seven ice blocks around it and begins flying in a "U" shape across the screen once or twice. The player must hit it right after it throws the ice blocks into the air, which will then fall down in a 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 side of the arena, each having a 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 a Lightning Shield will be on the right side of the screen.
- 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 shows Tails using the 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.
- 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 will display IceCap Zone Act 1.
- The IceCap Zone (referred to as the Ice Cap Zone) appears as a part of the Sonic the Hedgehog Adventure World in LEGO Dimensions.