Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Use Sonic's Spin Dash attack to crash through marble barriers and propel Sonic up steep hills as he explores this ancient city.
— Instruction manual
After being shot into the air at the end of the previous Zone, the player falls into the Marble Garden Zone. Throughout the second Act, Dr. Robotnik appears trying to slow the player down with his vehicle that he will battle them with at the end of the Zone. After defeating Robotnik, Tails will airlift Sonic to the next Zone (if playing as Tails alone, he will simply fly there). Knuckles will simply run into the next Zone.
Act 1 of Marble Garden will find Sonic traversing the hill tops and zeniths of the Zone, with many tracks and sloping hills throughout. In this Zone, the sinking pools from Oil Ocean Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 return, albeit much smaller and filled with some kind of mud or tar. Other hazards include large spike-balls that swing around in circles and stone walls that smash into the ground.
Act 2 sees Sonic travel deeper into the ruins and groves of Marble Garden Zone. Here, the stage makes greater use of its obstacles and features, from trackball switches to using pulleys up steep slopes to journey forward. Throughout the level, the terrain will shift, and will provide access to further locations (in the late part of the Zone, this feature eventually becomes a death trap if players are not careful).
The mini-boss at the end of Act 1 uses a pair of drills to attack the player, both directly and by drilling into the ceiling causing debris to rain down on the player's head. This is reminiscent of Dr. Robotnik's own vehicle from Mystic Cave Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The most useful shield for this stage is the Thunder Shield, as its Double Jump helps with crossing the mud/tar pits and jumping between floating platforms. The Flame Shield's Mid-Air Dash is good for breaking through cracked pillars. The Aqua Shield is quite rare, but its Bound Jump can be used to bounce across a tar/mud pit in a pinch.
Giant Ring locations
- At the start of the Act, the player should take the higher path and keep going up until a wall with a Spiker and two monitors. They must then Spin Dash through the wall and into the Ring.
- As Sonic, a Lightning Shield (found by Ring #1) or a Flame Shield will be required to reach this Giant Ring. After the first Ring, the player must jump onto the third vertically moving platform and then onto the spinning platform if it will help, then use the shield to get onto a platform to the left of these moving platforms and into the Ring room. Tails and Knuckles can simply lift themselves up there.
- With a Lightning Shield, right after Ring #2, the player must double-jump onto a rotating platform with the Lightning Shield then jump onto a 1-UP platform and Spin Dash into the monitor and into the Ring room.
- The player should carry on to the right from the previous Giant Ring. At the spinning top, they must double jump up to the ramp and climb it. The spinning top also works, but the Lightning Shield is more convenient. After that, the player must continue onward until the Speed Shoes monitor, Spin Dash into it, and the Ring room will then be found.
- The player must head to the right to the pillar which makes the character spin around. They must travel forward until a spinning top is reached, then use it to go up until a ceiling is reached. From there, they can jump into the room with the Giant Ring.
- To reach the next Giant Ring, the player must kill the playable character if the right path on the spin pillar was taken. If the left path was taken, they should take the normal route until the rotating platform. A Ring room can be found to the left of this platform.
- If any of the previous Rings have been obtained, the player must kill the playable character. They should let the momentum guide them downwards at the start this time, continuing until a spinning top by a Bubbles and Spring is reached. The player must then jump over the top and into the mud. To the left is the Ring room.
- The player should carry on from the previous Ring until a large black vertical room is reached, then go to the bottom right until they come across another spin pillar and take the left path. They must continue until they reach a red spring, then use it to get to a spinning platform before going to the right, where they will find the Ring.
- This one is only accessible with Tails. The player must fly up at the first two signs, land when tired, then fly up the ramps. They should continue upward on until a spin pillar is reached. The player can then go left to find a Giant Ring.
- The player should carry on from Ring #1 (going through both fake walls) until a 1-Up room is reached, then Spin Dash through the wall (and the 1-Up if it is needed) and carry on until the spinning top. They must then hop on it until a cave is reached, go to the right through all spiked crushers, and the Ring room will be reached. If the player did not take Ring #1, they must take the lowest path possible.
- This one can only be accessed with Tails. After the first checkpoint in the sky, there will be a spin pillar. The player must go to the right on it to reach another, where the right path must be taken again. After the Mantis, they should have Tails fly up (taking Sonic if playing with both Sonic and Tails) until a crumbling platform is reached, then go left to reach a Giant Ring.
The sub-boss of this Zone is a Tunnelbot, and the player confronts it at the end of Act 1. It is one of the easiest sub-bosses in the game. Just like Drill Eggman II from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the machine burrows into the ceiling (causing debris to fall down) and returns to the ground, giving the player an opportunity to damage it. While playing as Knuckles, there is a rotating platform that the player can stand on to compensate for Knuckles' lower jump height. A Shield can protect Sonic, Tails, and/or Knuckles from the stalagmites that fall from the ceiling as they will bounce off the shield and cause no damage.
The boss of this level is Doctor Robotnik’s Jet Drill Pod, which is fought in an aerial battle over the grassy plains of the Zone, or in a tunnel when playing as Knuckles in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
This boss fight is actually the last of a trio of encounters with the Jet Drill: the first encounter causes a ramp leading up to a shortcut through a breakable pillar to collapse, while the second encounter causes the ground to rise, forcing the player to race through to avoid getting crushed against the ceiling. Knuckles has a somewhat more difficult version of this section;his path contains crushing traps, walls that must be opened by Spin Dashing against blue wheels, and Reliefs, all of which are found throughout other parts of the Zone when playing as Sonic or Tails.
In other media
Sonic the Comic
- When playing as Sonic and Tails, Sonic can stay to the very left of the boss arena while the second player defeats the boss using Tails. When this is done in the standalone Sonic the Hedgehog 3, it locks up the game.
- This is the only Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 that does not feature water. Instead, there are mud/tar pits which are far more lethal;sinking all the way to the bottom causes the player to instantly die.
- Marble Garden Zone holds the game's largest amount of Giant Rings, with eight Rings to be found in Act 1 alone. A good player can obtain all seven Chaos Emeralds in one Act by exploring this Zone. However, in order to explore every corner of the Zone, it is necessary to lose a couple of lives.
- When playing as Knuckles in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it is possible to take the route normally reserved for Sonic and/or Tails in Act 2 (without using Debug Mode). This can be accomplished by staying on the moving blue platform shortly before the fork in the road and using it to climb on the indestructible portion of the wall to the left of the Relief (the Badniks and destructible wall portions should be destroyed first). By attacking the Relief from the wall and re-attaching to the wall after each hit, Knuckles can defeat the Relief and access the other route. An interesting side-effect of this is that Knuckles gets to face off against Sonic's version of the Jet Drill boss at the end of the Act and is assisted by Tails (who can be controlled by the second player as when playing as Sonic). This is the only way to play as Tails and Knuckles at the same time. After defeating the boss, Tails will airlift Knuckles into Carnival Night Zone and he will start from his normal location.
- Marble Garden is the largest Zone in the game.
- The floating blue disks appear in the classic portion of Sky Sanctuary in Sonic Generations.
- A remix of Marble Garden Zone Act 1's music is also unlockable in Sonic Generations.
- The spinning blue wheels that activate rising platforms once spin-dashed return in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2. They appear in Sylvania Castle Zone, opening other routes in the Zone.
- The first Act contains the most Rings of any Act in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, with 636 in total. A Lightning Shield will prove useful if the player wishes to gain as many of these Rings as possible.
- Entering the Act 2 boss area as Hyper Sonic causes the game to glitch; instead of Tails airlifting Sonic to fight the boss, Sonic simply dies. Entering his Hyper state while fighting the same boss also glitches somewhat; the large sparkles around Hyper Sonic glitch, but Tails will still catch Sonic if he falls.
- This is the only Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 to have its music's composers confirmed.