Sonic & Knuckles
No desert has shiftier sands than this treacherous terrain. Play the sands to your advantage. Time your attack on the Skorp just right!
— Instruction manual
Sandopolis Zone (サンドポリス Sandoporisu?, lit. "Sandopolis") is the third Zone of Sonic & Knuckles (and the ninth of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). It is an extremely large desert with several pits of quicksand.
After jumping from the Flying Battery, the player lands in the sands of Sandopolis. Jumping out, they proceed through the desert to find a hidden pyramid. Unfortunately, Sonic (and/or Tails) end up releasing a swarm of ghosts that proceed to haunt the pyramid (these ghosts are already freed when Knuckles reaches the pyramid). The player must keep the lights in the pyramid on to keep the ghosts at bay.
After defeating Robotnik's Egg Golem, Sonic (and/or Tails) attempt to pursue him but fall into a hidden pit that leads to Lava Reef Zone. There either is no pit in Knuckles' story, or Knuckles knows how to avoid it and runs to Lava Reef Zone on his own.
The first act takes place outside, in a sweltering desert area patrolled by Sandworms, Skorps and Rock'n Badniks. Small sand-falls allow Sonic or Knuckles to progress up them by jumping, while others will automatically be carried up. The loops here are different, as the player will circle through them twice before going upward. Upon reaching the end of the act, a pyramid rises out of the ground and a Guardian emerges to fight the player. The Guardian can easily be broken apart by a Spin Attack to the head, but will quickly reform and continue to attack. To defeat it, the player must lead it to the quicksand pit on the far left of the area and have it jump in. After beating this mini-boss, the player enters the pyramid.
The second act takes place inside the pyramid. Chains hanging from the ceiling throughout the level act as light switches, and the lights must be on or ghosts will appear to attack the player. Switches can be pushed to open doors to subsequent rooms, although they close after a short amount of time so the player must pass through them quickly. Some rooms have bricks sealed in the walls that release sand flows when broken, which raises the ground level in the room, allowing progression to higher floors but also bringing a risk of crushing the player against the roof if they're not fast enough to keep up with the overflow.
Doctor Robotnik appears in a giant statue, although he cannot be seen immediately due to the inside of the head being where he sits in his Egg Mobile. This is the only vulnerable part, which must be hit twice in order to actually hit the boss. All other areas of the boss are covered with spikes, except for the back of the statue's hand. As the statue proceeds forward, its left hand will move to the front. The player can stand on the appendage and jump from there to attack.
In other media
Sonic the Comic
In the Sonic the Comic series published by Fleetway Editions, the Sandopolis Zone is a desert Zone found only on the Floating Island. In this media, the Sandopolis Zone is filled with many ancient ruins, most noticeably the Lost Pyramid of Sandopolis, making it an ideal target for treasure hunters. The comic presented a fairly faithful adaptation of this Zone which first debuted in Sonic the Comic #47.
In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, Sandopolis Zone appeared in the form of the Sandopolis Desert. Eclipse the Darkling passed through here while in possession of the Master Emerald, being pursued by Shadow and Knuckles.
- The entrance to Lava Reef from this zone is different between Sonic and Knuckles. Sonic goes into a tunnel and falls through a hole, but Knuckles runs right over it, even though the pre-released ghosts should indicate that Sonic has been there already.
- In the first act, there are a couple pools of quicksand that, instead of killing the character, will drag the character down into another part of the level, usually revealing hidden items such as Super Ring. It is hard, however, to recognize the different quicksand pools since they all look alike (although ground below the pool can occasionally be seen) and they all behave in the same way. It is usually best to avoid sinking in any quicksand. The second act has only one of these non-deadly quicksand pools.
- If the player goes to Act 2 in story mode, the act will be dark. However, if the player uses level select to enter Act 2 or restarts it, the act will start with light.
- The Sandopolis Zone appears as a part of the Sonic the Hedgehog Adventure World in Lego Dimensions.