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Sonic the Hedgehog 3
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. After defeating Robotnik, Tails will airlift Sonic to the next Zone (if playing as Tails 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 level, the sinking pools from Oil Ocean Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 return, albeit much smaller. Other hazards include large spike-balls that swing round in circles and stone walls that smash into the ground.
Act 2 sees Sonic travel deeper into the ruins and groves of Marble Garden. Here, the stage makes greater use of its obstacles and features, from trackball switches to using pullrings up steep slopes to journey forward. Throughout the level, the terrain will shift, and will provide access to further locations, but in the late part of the stage, 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 the Mystic Cave in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Giant Ring locations
- At the start of the Act, take the higher path and keep going up until a wall with a Spiker and two monitors. Spin Dash through it all and into the Ring.
- As Sonic, a Lightning Shield (found by Ring #1) or a Flame Shield will be required to get this one. After the first Ring, jump onto the third vertically moving platform and then onto the spinning platform if it will help. 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.
- Keep the Lightning Shield. Right after Ring #2, 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.
- Carry on to the right. At the spinning top, double jump up to the ramp and climb it. The spinning top also works but the Lightning Shield is more convenient. After that, carry on until the Speed Shoes monitor. Spin Dash into it and then the Ring room will be found.
- Head to the right and to the pillar which makes the character spin around. Make sure to take the right path. Carry on until a spinning top is reached. Use this top to go up until a ceiling is reached. Jump into the Ring room here.
- To reach the next Giant Ring, kill the characters if the right path on the spin pillar was taken. If the left path was taken, 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, kill the characters. Let the momentum guide them downwards at the start this time. Carry on until a spinning top by a Bubbles and Spring is reached. Jump over the top and into the mud. To the left is the Ring room.
- Carry on from the previous Ring until a large black vertical room is reached. Go to the bottom right until another spin pillar is reached. Take the left path. Carry on until the red spring. Use it to get to a spinning platform then go right for the Ring.
- This one is only accessible with Tails. Fly up at the first two signs. Land when tired and fly up the ramps. Carry on until a spin pillar is reached. Go left to find a Giant Ring.
- Carry on from Ring #1 (through both fake walls too) until a 1-Up room is reached. Spin Dash through the wall (and the 1-Up if it is needed) and carry on until the spinning top. Hop on it until a cave is reached. Go right through all spiked crushers and a Ring room will be reached. If the player did not take Ring #1, 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. Go right on this one to reach another where the right path must be taken again. After the Mantis, have Tails fly up (take Sonic on Sonic and Tails mode) until a crumbling platform is reached. Go left to reach a Giant Ring.
The sub-boss of this level 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.
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 at 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 pits which are far more lethal—sinking all the way to the bottom causes the player to instantly die.
- Marble Garden holds the game's largest amount of Special Stage 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 stage. However, in order to explore every corner of the stage, it is necessary to lose a couple of lives.
- When playing as Knuckles in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it's 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 the Carnival Night Zone and he will start from his normal location.
- Marble Garden is the largest stage in the game.
- The floating blue disks appear in the classic portion of Sky Sanctuary 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 stage.
- 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.
- This is the second stage of a Sonic game whose name contains the word "Marble." The first is Marble Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog.
- 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 does catch Sonic if he falls.
- This is the only Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 to have its music's composers confirmed.