Sonic the Hedgehog 3, or simply Sonic 3, is a platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It was released as a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The continuation, Sonic & Knuckles, was released later in the same year, which picks up the story directly after the end of Sonic 3. Lock-on technology allows gamers to play Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles as a combined Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and the two are sometimes considered to be two parts of the same game. Originally, Sonic 3 was meant to contain all of the levels that Sonic & Knuckles had, but the game could not be finished in time, so it was split into two. Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the complete version of Sonic 3, as shown by Sonic Mega Collection's description saying, "Play through Sonic 3 Complete version..." when viewing the info for Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
The game was released in Japan for the Mega Drive on January 14, 1994. The European Sega Mega Drive release came later that month. The game was released for the Sega Genesis in the United States on February 2, 1994. It was re-released for the Sega Saturn in 1997 as part of Sonic Jam, the Nintendo GameCube in 2002 as part of the Sonic Mega Collection, the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus, and the Nintendo DS as part of Sonic Classic Collection.
At the end of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the evil Dr. Ivo Robotnik had his Death Egg downed from orbit by the heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog and his companion Miles "Tails" Prower. Having not been completely destroyed, after all, the Death Egg has crash-landed on Angel Island. This island has special properties - not least the ability to float - which it gets from the magical jewel called the Master Emerald. When Dr. Robotnik learns of the Master Emerald, an all powerful jewel upon which the Chaos Emeralds base their powers, he tries to steal it to repair his Death Egg.
Of course, Sonic and Tails have to put a stop to this, collecting Chaos Emeralds as they go before Dr. Robotnik does. Unfortunately, Dr. Robotnik has tricked the guardian of the Master Emerald, an echidna named Knuckles, into thinking that Sonic and Tails are the thieves, so he tries his best to stop them.
In the end, Robotnik gets the Death Egg flying again, but is defeated inside a mech by Sonic, causing the Death Egg to fall to its supposed destruction.
The game gave Sonic a new look and approached the Sonic-style with a new attitude in mind. Levels are now three times larger than those found in the previous games and contain more secrets and different routes to take. Both Sonic and Tails have new abilities and new shields give Sonic additional powers. The game pays much closer attention to the plot than previous titles in the series, as small "cut-scenes" are played to show the story's progress, and acts beginning exactly where the last act ended. The addition of Knuckles, who was destined to become a recurring character in the series, adds to the experience as he occasionally shows up to try and hinder Sonic and Tails' progress.
Sonic and Tails Abilities
|Walk||Push left or right on the D-pad to initiate Sonic's movement in either direction. As you hold the button down, Sonic gains speed.|
|Run||Begin walking and hold down the button to make Sonic gain speed. After a few seconds, he'll break into a run.|
|Screech halt||While running, quickly press and hold the opposite direction on the D-pad to make Sonic screech to a halt. He'll skid for a short distance, based on how fast he was moving.|
|Look up||While standing still, press up on the D-pad to make Sonic gaze to the heavens. As you hold up, the camera pans upward, giving you a view of Sonic's overhead surroundings.|
|Crouch||While standing still, press down on the D-pad to make Sonic duck. As you hold down, the camera pans downward, giving you a view of the stage beneath where Sonic stands.|
|Spin||While moving, press down on the D-pad to make Sonic curl into a rolling attack. He'll remain in this position until you jump or slow down. The speed of Sonic's movement while in spin form is based on how fast you're moving when you launch it, and also on the terrain Sonic rolls along.|
|Press A, B, or C at any time to make Sonic leap into the air with a spin attack. The height of the jump is proportional to how long you hold the button down.|
|Push||Certain objects can be pushed by running up against them. Continue holding the D-pad against the offending cube to have Sonic push it along the ground.|
|Super Spin Dash||While crouching, tap any of the jump buttons to have Sonic rev up with a stationary spin. Keep tapping the jump buttons to build up momentum, and let go of the D-pad to dash off with a full speed rolling attack.|
|W spin attack/force field/insta-shield||Jump, then tap any of the action buttons while in midair to initiate a 360° slash that momentarily extends the radius of Sonic's spin attack and makes him immune from damage.|
Miles "Tails" Prower
Tails is slightly slower than Sonic, but he has the ability to fly and swim for short lengths of time. He can't use any of the special Barrier attacks and has no Super form (unless playing Sonic 3 and Knuckles). His ability to fly gives him access to areas that Sonic can't reach and makes for an easier game in general. The majority of his sprites were recycled from Sonic 2, with a notable exception being the flying sprite.
Overview of play
As the player, you control either Sonic or Tails. Your aim is to guide them through six zones, defeat Dr. Robotnik and collect all Chaos Emeralds along the way. The six zones are divided into two acts where, unlike previous Sonic games, each zone has a mini-boss at the end of the first act, and each first act connects directly to the second, preserving any shields the players may have. After a boss is defeated, a short cutscene is shown to segue into the next zone.
Basic gameplay remains unchanged from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with the addition of a spin attack for Sonic (by double-tapping the jump button) and flight movement for Tails, enabling him to pick up and carry Sonic around the map. In addition, three new shields, each with their own special ability, are added to the item bonuses:
- Fire Shield: absorbs all fire damage and enables the player to walk freely on lava. Sonic can use it to perform a horizontal charge in mid-air.
- Bubble Shield: deflects all water based attacks and enables the player to breathe underwater. Sonic can use it to bounce on his enemies.
- Lightning Shield: protection against all electrical damage. But more importantly, the electric shield will magnetically draw any rings nearby to the player. Sonic can use it to perform a vertical charge or double jump in mid-air.
Both the fire and electric shields cannot be used under water, and they will instantly fizzle when submerged in it. All shields deflect enemy shots.
- Angel Island Zone: A tranquil jungle that is set ablaze by Dr. Robotnik after Sonic and Tails arrive. The mini-boss is one of the hovering flame drones that burned the jungle. Sonic and/or Tails faces off against Dr. Robotnik's own flame-wielding vehicle at a waterfall.
- Hydrocity Zone: The inner workings of a complex hydroelectric dam. After tangling with a mini-boss that can spin Sonic and Tails in a whirlpool, Dr. Robotnik tries to stop them with his own whirlpool inducer as well as depth charges.
- Marble Garden Zone: The marble ruins of an ancient civilization. The mini-boss uses a pair of drills to attack Sonic and Tails, both directly and by drilling into the rock above and raining debris on their heads (reminiscent of Dr. Robotnik's own vehicle in the Mystic Cave Zone of Sonic 2). Dr. Robotnik attempts to crush the pair under the collapsing ruins, and when Tails airlifts Sonic out of danger, charges at them directly with his drill. This is the only zone without any water to drown Sonic or Tails, though tar pits can still drag the heroes down and kill them.
- Carnival Night Zone: Tails drops Sonic into a playful carnival filled with balloons, pinball bumpers, and cannons to launch from, although unlike Casino Night Zone in Sonic 2 there are no slot machines. After Sonic and Tails survive the mini-boss on a slowly eroding platform, they face Dr. Robotnik, who this time drops a large sphere and uses it to create an electric storm that draws the pair towards its discharge. Halfway through Act 2, Sonic must push a rotating cylinder down through a slot low enough for him to escape through. This is completed by well timed jumps and holding down on the D-Pad, essentially frustrating many players who didn't figure out the tricks at first. Carnival Night Zone is the longest of all zones available in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (and Sonic 3 and Knuckles as well).
- Icecap Zone: Sonic is shot from a cannon and lands on a snowboard in the snowy mountains. The level contains vents that shoot out cold bursts that freeze and harm Sonic. At the end of Act 1, a snow machine that spins snow at Sonic or Tails tries to crush them. Robotnik attacks in Act 2 in a machine that that has a spiked platform drop down and fires the freezing bursts in a pattern at Sonic.
- Launch Base Zone: Dr. Robotnik's site that houses the stricken Death Egg, with spinning elevators for facilitation of travel and alarms to keep out intruders. The mini-boss uses two flailing arms. Dr. Robotnik uses three different weapons to stop Sonic and Tails: first, a static projectile launcher at the foot of the Death Egg. When that fails, Robotnik flees to the Death Egg and Sonic chases after, leaving Tails behind. After boarding, Dr. Robotnik employs a rocket armed with lasers to fight Sonic, and then finally resorts to a large pair of arms (possibly inspired by his power suit at the end of Sonic 2) to grab Sonic in a ball and slam him into the floor (as well as the rather impressive ability to damage even Super Sonic, though taking Super Sonic to the final battle is rare).
Gumball Machine (Bonus Stage)
As in previous Sonic games, Star Posts are scattered throughout each act to save the player's progress. Furthermore, if Sonic thumb|300px|right|Bonus Stage - Gumball Machinehas collected at least 50 rings and he hits a check point, a bright halo of stars will float above it, which Sonic can then jump through to access the bonus stage. The bonus stage is a large gumball machine in which Sonic constantly falls down. Spring bumpers on the side of the walls make sure he stays in the air, but whenever he hits one it disappears. Each time he passes the slot of the gumball machine it releases a ball with a bonus item in it which Sonic can then grab. Bonuses include shields, rings and lives. Additionally, black balls bump Sonic down while transparent balls contain nothing. The stage ends when Sonic falls to the bottom of the stage off screen.
Blue Sphere (Chaos Emerald Stages)
thumb|300px|right|Special stage The Emerald stages are entered by jumping through Warp Rings hidden in the scenery, and multiple of these large, golden rings can be found in each act. In addition, the player is not required to collect any amount of rings to enter the stage.
The stages themselves are 3 dimensional and spherical in lay-out. Sonic moves across the surface of a giant, checkered orb and has to hit a set amount blue spheres while dodging bumpers and red spheres. Sometimes blue spheres are found in a square formation. If Sonic checks all blue spheres around the sides of a square, the field turns into rings. Collecting 50 rings gains a continue, and collecting all possible rings in the stage gains a "Perfect" bonus of 50,000 points (equal to an extra life).
Sonic is rewarded with a Chaos Emerald when he collects all blue spheres in the stage. Should he touch any of the red spheres, however, the stage ends and he is transported back to the zone.
For the first time when released, two bosses would be confronted in the entire level. In Act 1, a machine of Dr. Robotnik's will be encountered at the end. Unlike the main bosses, a sub-boss would only take 6 hits before exploding into flames.
- Fire Breath (Angel Island Zone)
- Big Shaker (Hydrocity Zone)
- Tunnelbot (Marble Garden Zone)
- Bowling Spin (Carnival Night Zone)
- Big Icedus (Icecap Zone)
- Twin Hammer (Launch Base Zone)
At the end of Act 2 in any zone, Robotnik is encountered with all sorts of different contraptions attached to his newly designed Eggmobile. As in the first games, eight hits are required to defeat Robotnik's machines.
- Flame Mobile (Angel Island Zone)
- Screw Mobile (Hydrocity Zone)
- Drill Mobile (Marble Garden Zone)
- Graviton Mobile (Carnival Night Zone)
- Freezer Mobile (Icecap Zone)
- Ball Shooter (1st boss of Launch Base Zone)
- Beam Rocket (2nd boss of Launch Base Zone)
- Big Arm (3rd/final boss of Launch Base Zone)
Sonic 3 retained head-to-head racing introduced in Sonic 2, although instead of using levels from the single player game, five entirely new tracks were created for competitions and Knuckles was added as a selectable character. Players can select to play a Grand Prix of all five tracks, a single track to race on, or race the clock in time trial mode.
The five tracks are:
- Azure Lake: A short but speedy course along the waters of Azure Lake. This track is the fastest among the five multiplayer stages, and can be completed in well under 20 seconds.
- Balloon Park: A bouncy stage similar to Carnival Night with a loop and several bumpers and balloons to get ahead. A well known bug in the loop can enable the player to skip large parts of each lap.
- Chrome Gadget: A tour through a Death Egg like maze filled with platforms and force fields. If a racer touches the bottom of a platform he dies.
- Desert Palace: This desert ruin takes the player through high speed loops and over quicksand bridges. However, should a racer start spinning in the loop too early, he will be hurled back at high speed to the beginning of the track.
- Endless Mine: The longest of the five stages, set in an abandoned mine cave. Endless Mine poses no real dangers to the racers but needs some well timed jumps and speed stops to complete the stage in a smooth fashion.
Sonic 3 had the option, unseen at this point in the Sonic series, to save the level where a player had been and resume it at a later date - which increased the replay value tremendously as several levels sport secret passages and, although not vital to the ending of the game, allowed the collection of 7 Chaos Emeralds at a later date.
A closer inspection of the ROM by fans provides some details on the marketing scheme pulled by Sega with the release of Sonic & Knuckles. While Sega originally stated that the new "revolutionary" lock-on technology literally transformed the secondary game (i.e. Sonic 3 or Sonic 2), the analysis of the ROM reveals that Sonic 3 was produced with full knowledge and possibly even having most of Sonic & Knuckles already completed as far as Lava Reef Zone on the Sonic 3 cartridge. Therefore, the whole second version of the game wasn't totally a Sonic & Knuckles original.
Originally, Sega hired pop sensation Michael Jackson to compose the music in the game, but Jackson was involved in a lawsuit, so the idea was scrapped. However, the music has some similarities to Jackson's work, as the chiptunes in Sonic 3 were based on music sheets from Jackson. His album Dangerous was released a few years before Sonic 3 and would be the basis for the chiptunes on Sonic 3.
Brad Buxer confirmed that some of Michael Jackson's work is in the game.
Here are some examples:
- Marble Garden Zone: If "Thriller" is played over the zones music, it seems to fit.
- Carnival Night Zone: One part sounds similar to "Jam".
- Icecap Zone: Sounds (only very loosely) like a sped up version of "Who Is It?", with chord progressions similar to those in "Smooth Criminal".
- Ending Credits: Sounds very similar to "Stranger in Moscow", but this could be a coincidence, as the song wasn't released until 1996. Its been stated though, that Jackson did use this theme as the base for the "Stranger in Moscow".
When Jun Senoue was asked if he knew anything about Michael Jackson's involvement, he said "I don't know anything about that...[laughs] Yes I do, actually." This game marked Senoue's debut on the Sonic series, albeit only as a sound effects designer. Much of the in-game music was handled by a team of musicians supervised by frequent Michael Jackson collaborator Cirocco, although Sega staff composer Howard Drossin ended up finishing the soundtrack after the deal with Jackson broke down. Drossin would subsequently act as the sole composer on Sonic & Knuckles.
When fighting the mini-bosses in Sonic 3, just as the song begins, players can hear "Shemone!" and during the song, "Woo!" These sound bits were likely taken from the Genesis version of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, as they can be heard during the game.
Sonic 3 received very unique and different box art in different parts of the world.
- Originally, Knuckles was meant to wear green socks. However, he was forced to wear yellow socks in the cutscenes where he meets Sonic or Tails to avoid interference with the HUD's palette (Knuckles' socks would have turned the HUD green; see the picture at the right). However, in Sonic 3 & Knuckles (and Sonic & Knuckles), his socks appear green, but only when playing as Knuckles.
- The first letters of the names of the race tracks in Multiplayer mode make up the sequence: A, B, C, D, and E.
- While Sonic and Tails have their respective "special abilities" in Competition mode, Knuckles does not have his glide/climb ability seen in Sonic & Knuckles. Instead, he uses Sonic's Insta-Shield ability (which is ineffective for Competition mode).
- Sonic 3's cartridge contains unused music tracks that appear in Sonic & Knuckles.
- Marble Garden is the only zone in Sonic 3 not to feature water; though none of the levels in Sonic & Knuckles feature water, despite the presence of the Bubble Shield.
- Sonic 3 was the second Sonic game to feature an ice-based level (the first being SegaSonic the Hedgehog), which would later become a recurring theme in the series.
- Some levels from Sonic & Knuckles appear in the level select, which is activated via a cheat code, seen as "Sound Test" on the title screen. Incidentally, this cheat code is considered one of the most difficult to execute in any game ever released.
- Like a few other titles in the series, Sonic 3 has the occasional bug in which a player can get stuck in the scenery. The UK manual addresses this problem, but suggests that it is a deliberate "feature"; " a diabolical trap from which Sonic can not escape, and the player will have to reset the game."
- Sonic 3 is the only game of the Genesis/MegaDrive trilogy where the first level does not contain the word "Hill".
- In the game, Angel Island is seen sitting in the ocean, while in Sonic & Knuckles, the island is floating in the sky.
- Knuckles and the Flying Battery Zone were originally planned for Sonic 3 and still have existing data (see picture to the right. It may appear to be from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but note the icon and "Zone 5". In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Flying Battery is identified as Zone 8 and the icon in the screenshot doesn't exist in Sonic 3 & Knuckles).
- The level icon of the scrapped Hidden Palace Zone from Sonic 2 can be seen in the level select menu. In fact, all icons used in the level select are recycled from Sonic 2.
- The song "Wonderman", by Right Said Fred, has many references to Sonic 3, with clips from the game and lines such as "Attitude and Power Sneakers", "If you take a nap, he'll spin attack", "Speedy Gonzales", and "Z-z-zoom Sonic Boom". In the video, there's even a sign in front of a factory that says "Hydrocity Zone", and near the end, a witness says "He's just a flipping hedgehog, okay?!"
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the true game. SEGA was forced to release the games separately due to time constraints and cartridge prices.
- In Marble Garden Zone, when you run on the blue spinning platforms, Sonic's pupils disappear.
- The day of this game's release was known as Hedgehog Day, mirroring Groundhog Day on February 2nd.
- The music that plays when an act is completed has been reused in many of the modern Sonic games.
- With the exception of the Big Arm boss stage for the 3DS, no actual regular stage from Sonic 3 is included in Sonic Generations, as that game combines Sonic 3 & Knuckles as one game rather than two.
- Within classic City Escape of Sonic Generations, a section of Endless Mine was used in the stage's music.
- Surprisingly, when you finish a zone in 9 minutes and 59 seconds, you will net yourself a total of 100,000 points, which is higher than the usual 50,000 points when completing a zone in less than 30 seconds.
- A Remix of the File Select music can be heard in the museum in Sonic Jam. Another, more orchestrated remix can be heard while choosing cutscenes, viewing concept art from various Sonic games, choosing music, and viewing characters in Sonic Generations.
- Sonic's second wait animation from Sonic 3 appears in Sonic Generations, as one of Classic Sonic's wait animations.
- In Sonic Generations, while playing as Classic Sonic in Seaside Hill, there are certain parts of Seaside Hill where he'll go underwater, grab a pole and collect rings. This is a reference to Hydrocity Zone.
- In Sonic Generations, the Fire, Thunder and Bubble Shields appear as skills for Classic Sonic.
- This is the first game in the Classic era not to feature a fire-themed level.
- Although Tails cannot carry Sonic underwater, you can execute this with a 2nd player. Have both players make Sonic and Tails jump, and tap the 2nd player's jump button rapidly. Tails should lift Sonic, but drift down due to the extra weight. However, as Tails clutches Sonic before drifting down, have Sonic jump while Tails swims upwards. Tails will clutch Sonic again, and you can do this over and over until you've reached your height, but this is tricky, as Tails will drift down if not executed quickly enough.
- The invincibility music for this game can be heard in a commercial for Progressive Insurance, where Sonic is frantically running around the store looking for the best insurance premium.
- In Angel Island Zone Act 1, if you go into the Special Stage after the minor boss sets fire to the jungle, the music for Act 2 will play for the rest of the stage. This also happens in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Main article here: Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Beta Elements
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3 time attack records at The Sonic Center
- Sonic 3 at Green Hill Zone - contains info, screenshots and a basic walkthrough.
- GROUNDHOG DAY SPECIAL: 15 years of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - a Groundhog Day special on YouTube that celebrates the 15th birthday of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 since it was released on Groundhog Day of 1994.