Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Launch Base Zone is the sixth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). The level features the Death Egg in the background if playing as Sonic or Tails; in Knuckles' game, the background does not feature the Death Egg, having been launched previously in Sonic's story. If not locked-on, this is the final level.
The Zone, being the launch site of the Death Egg, features many defenses designed to keep out intruders. The surface of the Zone is primarily yellow bricks. There are also many pipes that seem to be used for transporting water (as some parts involve the player using the water flow to speed through the pipes; the Zone is, in fact, in a lake).
After spinning through the snow, the player will jump out of the snow and proceed to stop the relaunch of the Death Egg (Knuckles arrives to chase down the Egg Robo). Upon reaching the launch site, Dr. Robotnik uses three different weapons in an attempt to stop Sonic and Tails: first, he uses a static projectile launcher at the foot of the Death Egg. When that fails, Robotnik flees to the Death Egg and Sonic/Tails chases after him in the Egg Mobile (this marks the only time to date that Sonic or Tails has used the Egg Mobile). Knuckles the Echidna will also attempt to block Sonic's (or Tails') path to the Death Egg and punch them back, still believing them to be trying to steal the Chaos Emeralds. However, the launch sequence for the Death Egg commences, resulting in Knuckles falling into the water along with the beam that he was on, allowing Sonic/Tails to continue. If playing Sonic 3, then after defeating Eggman, the Death Egg will explode. If playing its locked-on form Sonic 3 and Knuckles, then the player will simply fall to the next Zone. Knuckles will simply face the EggRobo, who will drop a bomb upon defeat and cause the base to explode causing Knuckles to fall to the next Zone.
Like many of Robotnik's fortresses, the entire facility is fully protected with an array of hazards, traps and machinery, such as an alarm system that will spawn an easy to defeat, but persistent Badnik, rotating tubes that will make the player move as it spins, that while no danger is seen early on the soon, later parts feature spikes that await hasty players. Other hazards include crushing spikes, flamethrowers among others.
Act 1 is located in a forest near a lilac lake with the Death Egg and some kind of cranes, far orange mountains with a forest, and a clean blue sky as the background.
Later on Act 2, new hazards include water with great risk of drowning if the player doesn't have either a Water Shield or leaves quickly, and the infamous Robotnik monitor which damages the player if broken. The facility seem to heavily depend upon the water tubes to provide energy (in a manner similar to that of Chemical Plant Zone). For the player to progress he must make use of the technology available such as the transport capsules, break through the red boxes which control and change colored walls to progress, use rotating (and sometimes unstable) platforms, speed enhancers, circular tubes and even the water system itself.
Act 2 in fact is located in the lake near the Death Egg; the orange mountains and mountains are now too closer from the background with a lot of clouds in the skyblue sky, the Death Egg and the cranes are gone from the background (as they are now part of the act).
Worthy of note is the fact that, despite of being a large facility dedicated to the reconstruction of the Death Egg, the fortress has no traces of pollution or nature endangerment at all, contrary to Zones such as Scrap Brain Zone or the Chemical Plant Zone in which the liquids are chemical.
While Sonic and Tails are able to fight this boss, Knuckles doesn't fight the EggRobo in this machine, but in the next two mentioned. The first boss consists of Robotnik sitting in a currently unreachable pod, where he controls a mechanism that shoots giant bowling-ball like projectiles, one from a hatch next to the floor of the arena, the other from the top. There is a small chain-like platform that opens and closes in a 90° angle. When the lower projectile is shot out, the platform must rise open, which gives the player a chance to attack without the risk of being hit by the top projectile launcher. After eight hits, Robotnik goes down, and Sonic or Tails will hop into Robotnik's Egg Mobile, riding to a rising platform of his rocket.
Robotnik will rise and lower from the right and left sides inside his rocket, which consists of three segments: The first segment holds Robotnik with a small, spiky ball orbiting around him. The second and third ones rotate and shoot beams at the player. Once each segment is hit a few times, it will break off. Finally, the player just needs to avoid the small rotating spiked ball and can deliver the finishing blows.
This is the last boss of Launch Base Zone if the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 cartridge is locked onto the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge. If playing as Knuckles through Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Knuckles fights this boss as the first one and the Big Arm as the second one.
Sonic and Tails will fight this boss after defeating the Beam Rocket in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, while only Knuckles must fight it in his game. Robotnik will appear in his Big Arm machine, which is covered with spikes. The only spot to attack is at the glass of the cockpit, which is partially guarded by two, robotic hands. If the player is caught in these hands, Robotnik/EggRobo will rise up and thrust down to the platform, where the player takes damage (even when playing as Super Sonic but this doesn't damage Super/Hyper Knuckles strangely). After eight hits like many traditional bosses, the scientist will fall and Sonic or Tails are treated to witness the Death Egg either vanish without a trace (Sonic the Hedgehog 3), or fall to a different location (Sonic 3 & Knuckles).
Other game appearanes
Launch Base reappears in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, as the boss level for the Classic Era. The original Big Arm boss is fought in this stage, before advancing towards the Dreamcast Era.
In other media
Sonic the Comic
The Launch Base Zone first appeared in the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series with issue #181 as Sonic and Tails landed there in search of Knuckles to help deal with the demigod Enerjak. According to writer Ian Flynn, there was two ways it could have been interpreted to being there as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 never actively occurred here - as a gathering site for the Echidnas to help clean up Angel Island after a nuclear attack hundreds of years prior or a staging area for Eggman's invasion of Angel Island during the year Sonic was missing.
The Launch Base Zone would make its first "post-Super Genesis Wave" appearance in Sonic Universe #64, the events of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 having happened in this continuity. Here, Knuckles attempted to find resident archaeologist Relic the Pica for her help in guarding the Master Emerald while he was away.
In Mega Man Issue 27, the Launch Base Zone was shown in a flashback regarding Sonic and Tails getting into a difficult situation yet getting through it. The flashback was used in a similar situation, when Tails ended up injured from a misfired Ballade Cracker.
- In Act 1 the orange mountains from the background are rounded, but in Act 2 they are a bit conical.
- The sky is clean blue in Act 1, but in Act 2 it is skyblue and it has a lot of clouds.
- The music for the boss battle against Big Arm is remixed for Nocturne in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.