- For other uses of the term, see Launch Base (disambiguation).
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
You're getting close to where Dr. Robotnik is repairing his Death Egg ship. This is your last chance to stop the Doc's evil scheme.
— Instruction manual
Launch Base Zone (ランチベース Ranchibēsu?, lit. "Launch Base") 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' version, 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 a tunnel, 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 into the next Zone. Knuckles will face the EggRobo, who will drop a bomb upon defeat and cause the base to explode, causing Knuckles to fall into 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 a persistent (though easy to defeat) Badnik, rotating tubes that will make the player move as they spin which later have spikes on the undersides. Other hazards include crushing spikes and flamethrowers, among other obstacles. The boss of the area is the Swing’m Spikez Badnik (two of them if playing as Knuckles).
Act 1 is located in a forest near a lilac lake with the Death Egg and some kind of crane, far away orange mountains with a forest below them, and a clear blue sky as the background.
Later in Act 2, new hazards include water (adding a risk of drowning if the player spends too much time underwater without an Aqua Shield) and the infamous Robotnik monitor which damages the player if broken. The facility seems 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, they must make use of the technology available throughout the stage, such as the transport capsules, breaking through the red boxes which control and change colored walls to progress, using rotating (and sometimes unstable) platforms, speed enhancers, circular tubes and even the water system itself. Doctor Robotnik’s Final Challenge awaits at the end of the level.
Act 2 is located in the lake near the Death Egg; the orange mountains and forest are now far closer in the background, clouds now populate the sky, and the Death Egg and cranes are now gone from the background (as they are now part of the act).
It is worth noting that, despite 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 EggRobo in this machine, instead skipping to the Beam Rocket. The first boss consists of Robotnik sitting in a normally 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 directly above it. There is a small chain-like platform that opens and closes at a 90° angle. When the lower projectile is shot out, the platform will rise open, giving the player a chance to attack without the risk of being hit by the upper projectile launcher. After eight hits, Robotnik goes down, and Sonic or Tails will hop into Robotnik's Egg Mobile before riding to a rising platform of his rocket.
Robotnik will rise and lower from the right and left sides of the platform 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 must avoid the small rotating spiked ball and can deliver the finishing blow.
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 second.
Sonic and Tails will fight this boss after defeating the Beam Rocket in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, while only Knuckles will fight it in the locked-on version. Robotnik (or EggRobo) will appear in his Big Arm machine, which is covered with spikes. The only place vulnerable 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, causing the player to take damage (even when playing as Super Sonic, although this will not damage Super/Hyper Knuckles for some reason). After eight hits like many traditional bosses, the scientist will fall and Sonic or Tails will be treated to witness the Death Egg either vanish in a giant flash (Sonic the Hedgehog 3) or fall to a different location (Sonic 3 & Knuckles).
Other game appearances
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
In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, the Launch Base Zone was originally known only as the Launch Base. Like in the games, the Launch Base is an industrial region on Angel Island, but of unspecified origin. During the comic's run, the location was scarcely visited.
After the continuity was rebooted due to the Super Genesis Wave, the Launch Base Zone became virtually identical to its game counterpart, with the addition of ancient technologies found around it.
- In Launch Base Zone Act 1, the orange mountains from the background are rounded, but in Launch Base Zone Act 2 they are more conical in shape.
- The Death Egg missing from Launch Base Zone Act 1's background during Knuckles' playthrough implies it had already been launched (and destroyed). Also, the water level in Launch Base Zone Act 2 is much shallower, implying it has been dried out by Death Egg's launching.
- The sky is light blue in Launch Base Zone Act 1, but in Launch Base Zone Act 2 it is sky blue and has a large number of clouds.
- The music for the boss battle against Big Arm was remixed for Nocturne in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
- This is the only Zone in the entire series to have three bosses in total in its second Act, and four bosses in general.