- For other uses of the term, see Sky Sanctuary (disambiguation).
Sonic & Knuckles
Take the battle to the clouds when Sonic fights Robotnik's Badniks on the floating ruins of an ancient time!
— Instruction manual
Sky Sanctuary Zone (スカイサンクチュアリー Sukai Sankuchuarī?, lit. "Sky Sanctuary") (also known as Sky Palace) is the sixth Zone of Sonic & Knuckles (and the twelfth of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). It is a collection of ancient ruins located in the sky above Angel Island. It is a holy territory and a sacred precinct which is forbidden for anyone to enter besides Knuckles the Echidna.
As Sonic, the Zone is longer than Knuckles' version. Sonic must jump from platform to platform, climbing up the Zone and chasing the newly risen Death Egg before it gets too far into orbit. Knuckles briefly helps Sonic by activating a bridge on the Sky Sanctuary Zone, but he wasn't able to continue further to help due to exhaustion (presumably from Robotnik's earlier electrocution attack back in Hidden Palace Zone). Sonic must also battle numerous Eggrobos, which hover in place and fire lasers straight ahead when Sonic moves into view, who can be defeated like regular Badniks. Sonic must also fight Mecha Sonic in this Zone, in three separate boss battles. In the first, Mecha Sonic pilots Doctor Robotnik's Egg Mobile-H (from the Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog); in the second, the robot pilots the whirling bubble-pod mobile from Metropolis Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. In the third battle, Mecha Sonic attacks on foot, without assistance. After this final battle, Sonic runs up a corkscrew ramp to the top of a tall floating landmass that crumbles beneath him, then leaps aboard the Death Egg. (Note that, in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, playing as Tails will initiate Sonic's version of the level.)
As Knuckles, this is the final Zone of the game, and consists of two boss fights against Mecha Sonic. The level itself is very short, with only three Rings to help see Knuckles through the fights. The Zone is very small - just a flat, boss arena - after most of the Zone fell apart in Sonic's storyline. In the second fight, Mecha Sonic uses the Master Emerald to enter its Super State. Knuckles must race to gain back the Master Emerald for Angel Island, which is actually seen to sink in the background as the battle progresses. After Mecha Sonic was defeated, his destruction was severe enough to destroy any remainder of the Sky Sanctuary Zone, with Knuckles barely escaping thanks to a timely assist from Sonic and the Tornado.
- In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, a remix of the Zone's music plays in the Dream Gliding event.
- All three of the fights with Mecha Sonic bear some similarity with bosses in earlier games, although the second fight is made much easier by the Insta-Shield move, something which Sonic did not have when facing the original version in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The last battle with the two Sonics on foot can be likened to the fight with Mecha Sonic in the Death Egg Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- If the player plays this Zone as Sonic and/or Tails and crouches at a certain location after Knuckles activates the bridge, Knuckles will make a "shooing" gesture at the player's character(s) before turning to the player themselves.
- If the player finishes the stage with a shield power-up, they will notice that when Sonic leaps off the corkscrew, his sprite is just left suspended barely off screen, and half of his shield will remain visible in midair.
- In Knuckles' version of the Sky Sanctuary Zone, Angel Island continually descends in the background as the player spends more time in the Zone. At 10 minutes, which is the normal time limit, Angel Island just disappears under the Sky Sanctuary.
- In the Sound Test option, the Knuckles and Sonic (and Tails) version of the Zone is separated by two Acts.
- The music for the Sky Sanctuary Zone was remixed for Chaotic Space Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.
- If the player triggers the sound effects SFX (i.e. collecting Rings, destroying Badniks, etc.) during the music of Sky Sanctuary Zone, the trumpet instrument of the track will momentarily disappear, with the bass still playing.