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  • :: General Info ::
    Title (USA)
       Sonic the Hedgehog 3
    Title (Europe)
       Sonic the Hedgehog 3
    Title (Japan)
       Sonic the Hedgehog 3
       Sonic Team
       Sega Technical Institute
       Sega Mega Drive
       16M cartridge

    :: Release Info ::
    :: Mega Drive Version ::
       February 2, 1994
       February, 1994
       May 27, 1994

    :: PC Version ::
       February 14, 1997
       March 20, 1997
       March 20, 1997

    :: Game Credits ::
    Executive Producer
       Hayao Nakayama
    Project Manager
       Hisashi Suzuki
       Shinobu Toyoda
       Masaharu Yoshii
       Yuji Naka
       Hirokazu Yasuhara
    Lead Game Designer
       Hirokazu Yasuhara
    Senior Game Designers
       Hisashi Yoshida
       Takashi Iizuka
    Lead Programmer
       Yuji Naka
    Senior Programmers
       Hiroshi Nikaidoh
       Masanobu Yamamoto
    Character Designer
       Takashi Yuda
    CG Artist
       Kunitake Aoki
       Takashi Yuda
    Enemy Artist
       Satoshi Yokokawa
    Scene Artists
       Kunitake Aoki
       Chie Yoshida
       Tsuneko Aoki
       Shigeru Okada
       Takashi Yuda
       Satoshi Yokokawa
    Art Assistant
       Osamu Ohashi
    Music Composer
       Brad Buxer
       Bobby Brooks
       Darryl Ross
       Geoff Grace
       Doug Grigsby III
       Charles Jones
    SEGA Sound Team
       Tokuhiko Uwabo
       Sachio Ogawa
       Masaru Setsumaru
       Tatsuyuki Maeda
       Tomonori Sawada
       Masayuki Nagao
       Jun Senoue
    Sound Project Coordinator
       Hisaki Nimiya

    :: Platforms ::
    Sega Mega Drive
       Sonic the Hedgehog 3
    Sega Saturn
       Sonic Jam
    Nintendo GameCube
       Sonic Mega Collection
    Sony PlayStation 2
       Sonic Mega Collection Plus
    Microsoft Xbox
       Sonic Mega Collection Plus
    Microsoft Xbox 360
       Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
    Sony PlayStation 3
       Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
    Nintendo Wii
       Virtual Console

    Windows PC
       Sonic & Knuckles Collection
       Sonic Mega Collection Plus
       Sega Game Honpo
       RealNetworks RealArcade
       Excite GameX
       TBS GameTap


    Sonic the Hedgehog 3
    Last update: 05/20/07

    :: Quick Jump ::
       [ Story | Gameplay Info | Comparison | Lost in Translation | Codes | Behind the Screens | Notes | Miscellanea ]

    :: Story ::
       The story begins immediately following the events of Sonic 2: after being knocked out of the sky by Sonic and Tails, the fallen Death Egg plummets toward the surface of the planet. In its wild descent, the plunging fortress enters a tremendous cloud and collides with a hidden floating island. The force of the impact pushes the island out of the sky and into the surface of the ocean, triggering a massive tsunami.

       Several days later, some distance from the impacted island, Tails is busying himself with his latest invention: a jewel radar for detecting Chaos Emeralds. To the young fox's surprise, the radar suddenly begins picking up very strong signals from the ocean. If the readings are accurate, the signals must be emanating from an impossibly large and powerful Emerald. Tails speculates that this mysterious überemerald might have something to do with the tsunami he witnessed a few days earlier...

       Meanwhile, on another part of the beach, Sonic is enjoying a seaside nap when a tiny ring with mysterious engravings washes up on the shore. Sonic investigates the strange ring and recalls a legend he once heard of a great civilization that built its society around the "stone of power". The civilization flourished until a faction of elders, driven by greed, attempted to utilize the "stone of power" for their own designs. They inadvertently unleashed a force greater than they could control, resulting in the collapse of their entire society. The race was forgotten until years later, when the gods descended from heaven and restored a portion of the civilization to a small island - the legendary Angel Island, which floats in the air as a result of the energy emitted by the "stone of power". Excited by the prospect of a new adventure, Sonic and Tails hop aboard the Tornado and set out in the direction of the powerful Emerald readings.

       As soon as the fallen island is in sight, Sonic transforms into Super Sonic and dashes onto the shore. His flight to the island's interior, however, is cut short by an ambush from a mysterious red echidna. The assailant knocks the seven Chaos Emeralds clean out of Super Sonic's grasp, and quickly collects the scattered jewels before the now plain blue Sonic can get to his feet. With a condescending scoff, the red stranger escapes with his prize, leaving Sonic and Tails to piece together the mystery of the island and the unprovoked attack.


       It's a normal sunny day on Angel Island as the island's guardian performs a routine patrol of the Chaos Emerald altar. Knuckles the Echidna, last surviving member of the lost civilization that once dominated the island, is shocked as the seven Chaos Emeralds rise from their pedestals and begin violently oscillating in midair. With a blinding flash and a sharp noise, the Emeralds knock Knuckles away. The last thing he remembers is hovering off the ground, as though his body is weightless. When he regains consciousness, Knuckles finds that he has been thrown some distance from the altar. He is horrified to discover that the ancient structure has been badly damaged and the Chaos Emeralds have disappeared. Dazed and confused, Knuckles surveys the island and immediately notices the fallen Death Egg near a lake. Not knowing the ship's true origin, he assumes that the giant egg is related to the dragon mentioned in the legends of his people. Its appearance is an omen of catastrophe for the island...

       Knuckles immediately begins conducting a fruitless search for the missing Emeralds. His investigation leads him into the forest, where he encounters a strange man. The mustachioed stranger introduces himself as Dr. Eggman, a scientist conducting research on the giant egg. He explains that there is an evil hedgehog named Sonic who is interfering with his study, and who is after the Chaos Emeralds. The well-meaning but hopelessly gullible Knuckles falls for Eggman's lie and immediately sets out to stop Sonic and recover the "stolen" Emeralds.

    :: Gameplay Info ::
       Sonic's third major sequel follows its predecessors quite faithfully in terms of raw mechanics. The control has been slightly tweaked, but so subtle is the change that only rabid fanboys should be able to detect any difference. The extremely rich level design, on the other hand, sets a new high water mark for the series. Stages are several times the size of even the beefiest that Sonic 1 or 2 had to offer and rife with branching paths and unique areas accessible only to specific characters. While the game can still be cleared in the span of a couple of hours, there's plenty to see for those who retrace their steps.

       Players now have the luxury of a game save feature, a first for the series (barring Sonic CD's limited flash save function). The game saves automatically each time you complete a Zone or Special Stage, allowing you to begin playing from whichever stage you left off at with all the Chaos Emeralds you previously collected. (Note, however, that extra lives and continues are not recorded.) When the game has been cleared, you can use your save data as a level select. Up to 6 games can be stored on each cartridge, but there's also a "no save" option for those who prefer playing without training wheels.

       At the outset, players choose to play as Sonic, Tails, or Sonic and Tails. Each character has unique abilities such as Tails' flying and Sonic's W spin slash. When playing Sonic and Tails together, a second player can control Tails independently of Sonic (though the screen is always centered on Sonic). When there's no extra soul around to chaperone the young fox, he is taken over by the computer and tethers around the game's namesake protagonist.

    Sonic the Hedgehog -- Slightly faster than Tails. He can use the W spin attack and all the special maneuvers associated with Barriers. Collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds and he can transform into Super Sonic.
    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 -- 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 (回転) -- 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.
    spin Jump (回転ジャンプ) -- 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 (スーパースピンダッシュ) -- 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 (W回転アタック) -- 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.
    fireball dash (火の玉ダッシュ) -- With a Flame Barrier equipped, jump into the air and tap any of the action buttons to shoot forward with a flaming midair dash.
    continuous bound (連続バウンド) -- With an Aqua Barrier equipped, jump into the air and tap any of the action buttons to have Sonic bound straight back into the ground. This attack can be chained, turning Sonic into a spinning blue basketball.
    2 step jump (2段ジャンプ) -- With a Thunder Barrier equipped, jump into the air and tap any of the action buttons for a second midair leap.

    Miles "Tails" Prower -- 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. His ability to fly gives him access to areas that Sonic can't reach and makes for an easier game in general.
    walk -- Tails' basic movement. Push left or right on the D-pad to initiate Tails' movement in either direction. As you hold the button down, Tails gains speed.
    run -- Begin walking and hold down the button to make Tails gain speed. After a few seconds, he'll break into a run.
    screech -- While running, quickly press and hold the opposite direction on the D-pad to make Tails 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 Tails gaze to the heavens. As you hold up, the camera pans upward, giving you a view of Tails' overhead surroundings.
    crouch -- While standing still, press down on the D-pad to make Tails duck. As you hold down, the camera pans downward, giving you a view of the stage beneath where Tails stands.
    spin (回転) -- While moving, press down on the D-pad to make Tails curl into a rolling attack. He'll remain in this position until you jump or slow down. The speed of Tails' movement while in kaiten form is based on how fast you're moving when you launch it, and also on the terrain Tails rolls along.
    spin jump (回転ジャンプ) -- Press A, B, or C at any time to make Tails 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 Tails push it along the ground.
    Super Spin Dash (スーパースピンダッシュ) -- While crouching, tap any of the jump buttons to have Tails 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.
    fly -- Jump, then press any of the action buttons while in midair to have Tails whirl his dual butt appendages together and take to the sky. Continue tapping the action buttons to ascend, or let go to descend. While airborne, Tails can be maneuvered with the D-pad. Damage can be inflicted upon enemies or bosses by flying upwards into them with your deadly whirling tails. After a short while, Tails will get tired and fall to the ground.
    swim -- While underwater, jump and press any of the action buttons to begin swimming. Swimming is basically identical to flying except that you can't damage enemies.
    lift -- In a "Sonic & Tails" game, have a second player control Tails and make him fly directly over Sonic. He'll latch on and give player 1 a lift. Tails' basic flight control is retained, though the speed of ascent is lowered due to the extra weight. (This doesn't work underwater.)

       The list of collectible items is mostly intact, with some significant additions to the Item Box category.

    Ring (リング) -- As long as Sonic has some of these, he won't lose a life if he takes damage. You get an extra life for every 100 you collect and each one is worth 100 points at the end-of-level bonus.
    Item Box (アイテムボックス) -- In each stage, you'll find a number of these power-up bearing monitors. Pop them open with a spin to procure one of eight power-ups:
  • Big 10 Ring (ビッグ10リング) - Worth 10 Rings
  • Flame Barrier (フレイムバリア) - Protects against 1 hit, deflects projectiles, negates fire damage, and allows Sonic to perform the fireball dash. Dissipates upon submerging.
  • Aqua Barrier (アクアバリア) - Protects against 1 hit, deflects projectiles, allows Sonic/Tails to breathe underwater, and allows Sonic to perform the continuous bound
  • Thunder Barrier (サンダーバリア) - Protects against 1 hit, deflects projectiles, negates electrical damage, magnetically attracts nearby Rings, and allows Sonic to perform the 2 step jump. Dissipates upon submerging.
  • High Speed (ハイスピード) - Temporary speed increase
  • Muteki (無敵) - Temporary invincibility
  • 1up - Gives Sonic an extra chance
  • Eggman mark - Inflicts damage
  • Point Marker (ポイントマーカー) -- These hold your place in a stage: should you lose a life, you'll start back at the last Point Marker you crossed. Cross one with at least 50 Rings on hand and a circle of white sparkles will briefly appear above the post. Jump in to be warped to the gumball Bonus Stage.
    Bobbin (ボビン) -- Round bumpers found only in Carnival Night Zone. Bounce off one for 10 points, up to 10 times for a total of 100 points. (They stop dispensing points after the tenth hit.)
    spring -- Leap onto the broad side to catapult Sonic into the air. The yellow ones send him flying a short distance and the more powerful red ones send him further.
    spikes -- A traditional Hindu bed, ideal for meditation and yoga stretches. Sitting up is not advised.
    switch -- Jump on the button to cause a change in the nearby scenery, usually necessary to proceed.
    air bubbles -- Large, oxygen-filled bubbles periodically rise from these clusters: tag one to fill Sonic's lungs with air and prolong the time you can spend underwater.
    Special Ring (スペシャルリング) -- Giant Special Rings are hidden like Easter eggs in the nooks and crannies of each stage. Find one and leap into it to be warped to the Special Stage. Once a Special Ring has been used, it won't reappear until you've completed the game. Once all 7 Chaos Emeralds have been collected, Special Rings are worth 50 Rings each.
    bonus plate -- These mark the end of each first Act. After the sub-boss is defeated, the plate falls from the heavens and can be bounced through the air for 100 points a smack. If it lands on an invisible "hotspot", it'll produce an Item Box at the point of impact.
    capsule -- These mark the end of each second Act. After Eggman is defeated, proceed to the capsule and press the bright-ass yellow button on top to destroy the machine and free the helpless animals trapped within.

       Eggman's mechanical menagerie gets increasingly diverse. Now he's resorted to flora and even inanimate objects to form the basis of his robo army. As usual, pop an enemy for 100 points and the satisfaction of watching a liberated critter prance gleefully to freedom.

    Saruder (サルダー) -- Monkey bots loosely based on Sonic 2's Ai-ai. They hang around in palmtrees and chuck coconuts at unsuspecting hedgehogs. Fortunately, they only seem to possess a single coconut each. ("Saru" is Japanese for monkey.)
    Cyclone (サイクロン) -- Somewhat undersized rhinocerous bots that angrily charge back and forth along the ground.
    Tulippon (チューリッポン) -- Tulip bots (!) that stand in place (cuz tulips don't move) and spout mines. Rolling into them is the safest method of disposal. ("Pon" is Japanese onomatopoeia for a popping noise.)
    Meramora (メラモーラ) -- Flying caterpillar bots that float through the air. Attack them on their vulnerable heads: grope anywhere else and you'll sustain damage.
    Puff (パフ) -- Pufferfish bots that swim around underwater and periodically inflate their spiky bodies. Needless to say, don't try to attack while their defenses are up.
    Kapu-kapu (カプカプ) -- These tiny, but voracious fish bots chomp onto their unfortunate victim and syphon Rings out one at a time. Jump and move around to shake them off.
    Ponter (ポンター) -- Stationary bots that fire flashing projectiles at about a 40° angle.
    Yadorin Jet (ヤドリンジェット) -- Hermit crab bots that roll along the ground and fire off their shells as soon as Sonic/Tails approaches. ("Yadokari" is Japanese for hermit crab.)
    Bun-bun (ブンブーン) -- Fly bots with helpless offspring. The adult fly buzzes around and charges at any approaching mammalian mascots. When the adult has been destroyed, the young fly flees in terror and confusion, having witnessed the heartless murder of his parent. ("Bun-bun" is Japanese for buzz.)
    Jawzun (ジョーズン) -- Shark-shaped torpedoes that dart through the air. They charge mindlessly in one direction and won't bother to turn around and try again if they miss.
    Harisenbo (ハリセンボ) -- Porcupinefish bots almost identical to Puff except they float around in the air (not underwater) and drift about in a more erratic pattern. They can only be damaged when their spikes are retracted. ("Harisenbo" is Japanese for porcupinefish.)
    Togemane (トゲマネ) -- These bots mimic spikes until approached, then they pop out of the ground and fire off a flashing projectile in Sonic's general direction. They can only be taken out by rolling into them, though their spike disguise is harmless - you can bounce right on top. ("Toge" is Japanese for spike while "mane" means "to mimic".)
    Hopper (ホッパー) -- Grasshopper bots that spring in place.
    Shell Star (シェルスター) -- Stationary clam bots that fire spiked balls straight forward. The only way to destroy them is to roll into them from the front (you'll just bounce off if you attack from above or behind).
    Halogen (ハロゲン) -- Bat bots that fly around in broad, circular patterns.
    Sparkle (スパークル) -- Grenade-looking bots only found in narrow corridors. They warp back and forth between the floor and ceiling, firing off a pair of sparks and travelling along a stream of electricity.
    Icedus (アイスダス) -- Sphere bots similar to Unidus except armed with ice clusters instead of spiked orbs. When approached they fire off the clusters, but when the attack is spent, they're helpless. (A Thunder Barrier eats right through the ice.)
    Pen-pen (ペンペン) -- Penguin bots that waddle back and forth slowly, then slide to attack when approached.
    Moeve (メーベ) -- Kamikaze seagull bots that fly around in the air and dive-bomb intruding hedgehogs.
    Pola (ポーラ) -- Sphere bots identical to Sonic 1's Uni-uni except for color. They hover around in the air with varying patterns of stop-go motion. A W spin slash is the safest way to take them out.
    Keroppo (ケロッポ) -- Stationary frog bots that possess one of three possible methods of offense: they can be found swinging a metal sphere through the air in a circular arc, sweeping the ground with a circular sphere on either hand, or pounding the ground with a pair of dangling weights. ("Kero-kero" is Japanese for ribbit.)
    Den-den (デンデン) -- Snail bots that trudge up and down walls, occasionally opening their shells to fire off a pair of flashing projectiles. They can only be damaged when they open up to fire. ("Dendenmushi" is Japanese for snail.)
    Laser (レーザー) -- These lasers slide along ceilings or horizontal fissures. They pause occasionally to fire a laser blast down into the ground.

       There are only 6 Zones this time, each with 2 Acts. Each Zone has 2 bosses: a sub-boss at the end of Act 1 and the stage boss at the end of Act 2. Some of Eggman's nastier autonomous contraptions comprise the sub-bosses while Eggman himself, as usual, personally acts as each stage boss. Sub-bosses are subdued after 6 hits while Eggman will only wave the white flag after the usual 8. Both boss and sub-boss serve up a 1,000 point bonus upon defeat.

    Angel Island Zone -- As soon as Super Sonic flies into town, Knuckles blows the 7 Chaos Emeralds clean out of his grasp then steals them and runs away as chicken-hearted red echidnas are prone to do. The stage starts off lush and green, but about halfway through Act 1, an army of Fire Breath bots napalm the whole jungle. The remainder of Act 1 and all of Act 2 is set ablaze. At the end of Act 2, Eggman will try to bomb you by dropping missiles from the Flying Battery airship - just keep running forward to avoid the nukes.

    Fire Breath (ファイヤーブレス) -- The fiery orb simply moves from one side of the screen to the other, spouting fire from multiple angles along the way. If you've got a Flame Barrier (one is conveniently placed in a small nook just prior to the encounter), there's no way he can damage you unless you very injudiciously run directly into him.

    Flame Mobile (フレイムモービル) -- As you approach the waterfall arena, you'll be chased by the Flying Battery which would like very much to see you burn with the rest of the jungle. Keep running and you'll eventually face off against the bad Doc himself. Eggman rides around behind the waterfall, occasionally popping out to sweep the ground with a couple of fireballs. This is your only chance to hit him. Beat that rotten egg and Knuckles pulls the bridge out from under you, sending Sonic/Tails to Angel Island's watery underworld.

    Hydrocity Zone -- The subterranean ruins of Angel Island have been halfway submerged. As usual, remember to procure oxygen from air bubbles when underwater. (Aqua Barriers are an asset in this stage.) At the beginning of Act 2, you'll need to race through a short labyrinthine obstacle course while being chased by a wall that endeavors to reduce the total width of your character's sprite to 0 pixels. Rotating cogs give you a burst of speed, and if you're at maximum velocity, you can run along the surface of the water. At the end of Act 2, Knuckles, whether intentionally or not, opens the path to the boss by blowing a bridge out from under you.

    Big Shaker (ビッグシェイカー) -- The half submerged, bowl-shaped arena makes moving around difficult. The boss orb sits upon a column in the center and is guarded by a set of torpedoes that rotate in an X pattern around its surface. When the rotation of the missiles picks up speed, it's impossible to get a hit in edgewise and the water gets churned into a whirlpool that draws Sonic/Tails toward the center. After he's finished his whirlpool stunt, the orb flies off the column and sweeps the arena.

    Screw Mobile (スクリューモービル) -- The water here is knee-deep, making it difficult to move. Eggman rides around at the top of the arena in his unfortunately named boss contraption, hovering just out of reach. After a short while he'll lower the machine to the water's surface and stir up a whirlpool that draws Sonic/Tails toward the apex. As Eggman rises back into the air, he pulls up a waterspout with him. The sides of the spout inflict damage, but the top acts as a platform which can be used to reach the machine. Be fast, though, it subsides quickly. Inbetween waterspout sessions, Eggman flies around the top of the screen and drops bombs into the water. Don't touch the bombs, but jump into the big splashes: if you time your jump right, you should be sent high enough into the air to land a hit on the Doc. Trash Eggman's tornadic contraption and a giant chute of water explodes from the ground, sending Sonic/Tails on a one-way trip to Marble Garden. (Note that when the English "screw" is used in Japanese, it generally refers specifically to "screw propeller".)

    Marble Garden Zone -- The hills are steep and the obstacles many in Marble Garden. Spin Dash the blue half-circles to trigger an earthquake that alters the surrounding area. When the Gakin drill bot starts burrowing, the land begins shifting, threatening to crush you if you're not fast. The spinning top platforms take off into the air as you gain speed, and descend as you slow down - use them to bust through checkered land bridges. Ancient sculptures seem to have difficulty accepting their status as inanimate objects and fire arrows from their mouths - hit the red jewel on their foreheads 3 times to put them to rest.

    Gakin (ガキーン) -- Gakin burrows back and forth between floor and ceiling. Each time it digs, an earthquake causes debris and spikes to fall from above.

    Drill Mobile (ドリルモービル) -- Eggman's escaping to the air, so if you're playing as Sonic, you're going to need a little help from your twin-tailed fox buddy. Move Tails around the screen with the D-pad, and have Sonic jump off with A, B, or C. Don't worry about falling off the screen, Tails will swoop down and save your ass. Eggman moves on and off the screen and each time he reappears his drill faces a different direction. Learn the patterns and avoid the drill. When playing as Tails alone, you can only attack from below by flying into the machine with your whirling tails.

    Carnival Night Zone -- Tired of the casino? Have some thrills of a different kind in Carnival Night, which has surprisingly few pinball elements. Use cannons to launch Sonic/Tails in any direction, and don't freak out when the speedy duo begin spiralling down the peppermint slides. Press up and down on the D-pad to make the giant drums bob. In the middle of Act 2, Knuckles shows up to knock the lights out and flood the carnival with water. When submerged, pop balloons for a breath of oxygen.

    Bowling Spin (ボウリングスピン) -- Sonic/Tails descend a giant elevator shaft on a platform consisting of checkered segments. The unsettlingly anatomic-looking boss bot hovers around the arena, occasionally powering up with a burst of electricity. Hit the contraption when its electric shield is down and it will pause and extend a probing schlong downward. The Bowling Spin's dong is its weak point, but you can't damage it by simply jumping into it - you've got to wait for the the rotating top platform, bounding wildly about the arena, to eventually impact it. The spinning top also inflicts damage to Sonic/Tails if hit from the sides or underneath but acts as a safe platform from above. When the dreaded top hits one of the checkered segments on the floor, the block disappears like a game of upside-down Breakout. If all this sounds like alot of trouble (and it is), take comfort in the knowledge that a mere 4 hits will destroy the mecha weenie.

    Graviton Mobile (グラビトンモービル) -- Eggman hovers around at the top of the arena, just out of reach as usual. He attacks by dropping a giant green ball onto the ground. When the heavy ball stops bouncing, Eggman maneuvers his mobile over it and spins up a rotating wall of electricity. The resulting whirlwind draws Sonic/Tails into it, inflicting damage and making it difficult to grab back lost Rings. When the attack is spent, Eggman lowers himself down to pick up the green orb - this is your only chance to attack. Once the Graviton Mobile is toasted, hop into the nearby cannon and fire yourself into Angel Island's frosty peaks.

    Icecap Zone -- Sonic hits the slopes with a snowboard: you can jump here, but it's useless because all the Rings are along the ground. Push giant glacier platforms then jump on top and ride them as they bust through otherwise impenetrable barriers. Spin Dash to propel the hanging platforms in Act 1 and buzz your way out of snowdrifts in Act 2. All Item Boxes here are encased in ice: jump on top to shatter the cube and grab the goods within.

    Big Icedus (ビッグアイスダス) -- This frosty contraption is guarded by a rotating ring of ice blocks (very similar to the Metropolis Zone boss). There's no way to eliminate the blocks: if you want a safe shot, you have to wait until the Big Icedus flings the chunks into the air. You have only a moment to land a hit before the bot rises out of range, while the previously slung ice blocks rain back down from the sky.

    Freezer Mobile (フリーザーモービル) -- The brilliant yet cowardly Eggman once again hovers above the arena, just out of reach. However, protruding from the bottom of his machine is an icy platform. Jump on the platform to reach him, but be wary of the three jets that spout puffs of icy wind. Get caught in the blast and Sonic/Tails will get frozen and knocked back, rendering them immobile until the ice shatters (which also inflicts damage). After 6 hits, the platform breaks off and Eggman lowers himself down to finish the job - during this phase, the frosty puffs of doom are constantly being spouted at the bottom and back of the Eggmobile, leaving the front as the only vulnerable point to land that last 2 hits. After Eggman escapes, spin into a nearby snowdrift to buzz your way through to the Death Egg's launch site.

    Launch Base Zone -- The Death Egg is being repaired and is almost ready for relaunch. Corkscrew bridges are usually patrolled by menacing Pola bots and gates are guarded by laser traps. Wind tunnel elevators offer speedy transport around the stage. Toward the end of Act 1, Knuckles finally shows his face again to chuck a bomb in your general direction and destroy the tower you're standing in. Don't spend too long in the underwater segments of Act 2, because there are no air bubbles.

    Twin Hammer (ツインハンマー) -- The Twin Hammer flies around erratically swinging a pair of maces. Every once in a while it pauses and retracts the swinging orbs of doom: this is your only opportunity to attack, but note that the Hammer can only be damaged from the sides. After 3 hits, one of the maces falls off which makes the second half of the battle a good bit easier.

    Ball Shooter (ボールシューター) -- Eggman first endeavors to end your righteous ways by smashing you to bits with a seemingly underpowered cannon. The Doc himself sits on an upraised platform at the right side of the arena while a large black cannonball spurts lazily from a hatch below. When the hatch is up, you can reach Eggman and dish out some well-deserved spin attacks. You can hit him many times in succession, making this encounter fairly easy. Once the ball-flinging device is exploded, Eggman escapes to the Death Egg launch site directly ahead, but very conveniently leaves his Eggmobile behind. Sonic hops into the Eggmobile, but since there's only room for one, Tails falls to his doom. You can attend his wake later, but right now Eggman must be stopped. Fly forward to once again encounter Knuckles, standing precariously on a tall column. He halts your progress with a pathetic girly punch and promptly revels in his futile efforts to detain you, but is quickly knocked off of his pedestal by a sudden earthquake. The Death Egg is launching! Sonic quickly flies forward and leaps onto a hanging platform on the underside of Eggman's colossal space station.

    Beam Rocket (ビームロケット) -- Here, Eggman attacks in a columnar vehicle constructed in two segments, each containing a pair of laser blasters. The blasters rotate and fire easily avoided laser shots across the screen, but the machine itself can only be damaged from above. The vulnerable cockpit, however, is guarded by a single spiked ball that hovers around in an erratic pattern, making it difficult to time attacks. Succeed in landing 4 hits and the top segment blows up. 4 more hits and the bottom segment follows suit. 1 more hit to destroy the Beam Rocket altogether (total of 9 hits).

    Big Arm (ビッグアーム) -- The sky grows dark and the music turns sinister as Eggman breaks out his final weapon. The Big Arm looks simple enough, but it's nigh impossible to hit. It's well guarded from above by a spiky helmet, from the rear by a flaming rocket pack, and from all other angles by two powerful arms that will ass rape you if they get hold. Eggman attacks by flying around menacingly at the top of the screen, way too high to hit. After a while he lowers himself down below the platform and proceeds to sweep the bottom of the arena with his spiky helmet. Eventually, he rises to the middle of the arena and attempts to grab you by flying across the screen. This is your only chance to attack, but avoid those hands like the black death. If you can land just between the arms and the spiky cranium (as depicted in my exemplary screenshot below), you'll score an oh-so-precious hit. If you misfire and the hands get hold of you, Eggman will smash you into the floor. Even Super Sonic is vulnerable to this attack: he'll lose all his Rings and revert to blue normalcy. Defeat the Big Arm and the Death Egg falls back down to Angel Island, setting the stage for Sonic & Knuckles.

       Hidden throughout each stage you'll find any number of giant Special Rings. While they're not usually out in the open, the 50 Ring dowry is no longer required for Special Stage access. Just hop right in, regardless of how many Rings you've got in your pocket. You'll find your character running along the surface of a small spherical planet. Press left or right to rotate 90 degrees or any one of the action buttons to jump. The object is to tag all of the blue spheres on the board. There's no time limit, but the longer you spend in the stage, the faster your character runs, making precise control increasingly difficult.

    Blue Ball (ブルーボール) -- Tag all of these to complete the stage. Once a Blue Ball has been tagged, it turns into a Red Ball. When you encircle any cluster of Blue Balls by tagging only the balls on the outer edge, the whole cluster transforms into Rings.
    Red Ball (レッドボール) -- Touch one of these to be expelled from the Special Stage like that two-week-old chicken leg in the back of the fridge that you thought was still good.
    Bumper Ball (バンパーボール) -- Touch one of these to be bumped backwards. Can be extremely dangerous at high speeds, but they're occasionally a necessary evil.
    Ring (リング) -- Collect 50 Rings in the Special Stage to earn a continue, worth a full set of 3 lives. Collect all the Rings in a Special Stage (including those revealed by encircling Blue Ball clusters) to earn a 50,000 point "Perfect" bonus. Even if you miss the Perfect bonus, each Ring is worth 100 points in the tally.
    Chaos Emerald (カオスエメラルド) -- Successfully clear the board of Blue Balls to earn a coveted Chaos Emerald. Collect all 7 Emeralds to earn the ability to transform into Super Sonic.

       If you've collected all 7 Chaos Emeralds and are playing as Sonic, collect 50 Rings in any stage, then jump into the air and tap any action button to transform into Super Sonic. As in Sonic 2, Super Sonic is invincible to all damage except getting smashed, falling off the screen, or drowning. His speed is increased and his jump is heightened, but he can't perform the W spin attack (not that he'd need it). Note that as long as Sonic is in Super form, his Ring count is steadily depleted. If the tally hits 0, Sonic reverts back to his normal blue form.

       While 50 Rings is no longer a requirement for entering Special Stages, you can still access an inconsequential Bonus Stage by crossing a Point Marker with 50 Rings on hand. Jump into the circle of white stars to be warped into a giant gumball machine. Use the springs on the side of the arena to propel your character into the handle, releasing an Item Ball from the chute. Each time you turn the crank, however, the machine drops down a level, reducing the space your character has to spring in. When you fall through the bottom of the arena, the Bonus Stage ends. There are 8 different Item Balls that the machine will spout at random:

    • Flame Ball (フレイムボール) - Instant Flame Barrier
    • Aqua Ball (アクアボール) - Instant Aqua Barrier
    • Thunder Ball (サンダーボール) - Instant Thunder Barrier
    • Ring Ball (リングボール) - Worth 10 Rings
    • 1up Ball (1UPボール) - Seriously, what do you think?
    • Catapult Ball (カタパルトボール) - Replaces the springs at the bottom of the arena
    • Bumper Ball (バンパーボール) - Knocks you back into the springs
    • Clear Ball (クリアーボール) - A fat lot of absolutely nothing

       In addition to the normal game, there's a Competition mode accessible from the title screen. It features 5 original, split-screen courses where the goal is to be the first player to complete 5 laps. Players can race as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, and while all three have certain specialties, none seems to edge out the other two in terms of overall performance. Sonic is the fastest, Tails can fly, and Knuckles has the best braking. There are three play modes:

    • Grand Prix -- A complete run through all 5 stages in succession: Azure Lake, Balloon Park, Chrome Gadget, Desert Palace, and Endless Mine. At the end of the match, the finish times for each course are added up. The player with the lowest total time is the winner. Random power-up items (which can be disabled before the match) include:
      • Speed Up (スピードアップ) -- Temporary speed increase
      • Speed Down (スピードダウン) -- Temporary speed decrease
      • Ring (リング) -- Grab one of these to protect against an attack from the self-propelled bomb. You can only hold 1 Ring at a time.
      • Banana (バナナ) -- Tag this item and a banana peel falls to the ground for careless sprinters to slip on.
      • self-propelled bomb (自走爆弾) -- Tag this item and a self-propelled bomb falls to the ground and jets along the course. If an unsuspecting racer slams into it, he'll die and start back at the beginning of the lap.
      • spring (バネ) -- Tag this item and a spring drops onto the course to catapult careless runners off their course.
      • Change (チェンジ) -- Swap places with your opponent
    • Match Race -- A single race down any of the 5 stages. First player to complete 5 laps wins.
    • Time Attack -- A 1-player race against the clock down any of the 5 courses. The top 3 times for each stage are recorded.

    Azure Lake Balloon Park Chrome Gadget Desert Palace Endless Mine

    :: Comparison ::
       A few years after the Mega Drive version, Sega released Sonic & Knuckles Collection for PC, consisting of Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and the complete locked-on Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The two versions of Sonic 3 are identical except for the music. Players are given the option to choose between FM synthesizer or MIDI BGM, most of which are based on the original Mega Drive tunes. Carnival Night, Icecap, and Launch Base all sport new original BGM, as does the credit roll.
    :: Lost in Translation ::
       Sonic 3 was released in the US and Europe several months before it was released in Japan, though the two versions are mostly identical. The only notable difference is that when playing as Tails, you get a different message on the Act and Special Stage complete screens. In the Japanese version, the text reads: "Miles got through Act 1" or "Miles got a Chaos Emerald", while in the US version, "Miles" is replaced with "Tails." Unlike Sonic 2, "Tails" is displayed on the life counter of both versions.
    :: Codes ::
    Level select: When the Sega logo comes up, right after the jingle as the screen starts turning black, quickly press:
    . It's tricky, but you should hear a Ring chime if you've done it correctly. A new Sound Test option should appear at the title screen. Select it to access a level select and sound test menu. When the level comes up, you can control the game speed by pausing and pressing a corresponding action button: A to reset, B for slow motion, or C for pixel-by-pixel movement.

    Debug mode: Input the level select code and hold down A when selecting your Zone. Press a button to begin construction:
       A = Changes highlighted item
       B = Toggles between items and Sonic
       C = Places highlighted item

    All Chaos Emeralds: Input the level select code. At the sound test, play the following tracks: 02, 04, 05, 06. You should hear a Ring chime. Choose your stage and begin the game with all 7 Chaos Emeralds.

    Secret Special Stage: Input the level select code. At the sound test, play the following tracks: 01, 03, 05, 07. You should hear a Ring chime. Highlight Special Stage 2, then hold down A and press START.

    :: Behind the Screens ::
       Following the unprecedented success of Sonic 2, former defector Yuji Naka accepted an offer to return to Sega of Japan along with a major promotion. Sonic 3 was the first title developed under his regime. While the game, like its predecessor, was developed at Sega Technical Institute in the US, one of Naka's demands was that he work exclusively with his staff from Sega Japan. The two groups had worked in a mixed environment throughout the development of Sonic 2, during which time language and cultural barriers caused anguish for both sides. All parties favored a segregation and as a result Sonic 3 was left in the care of the Japanese staff while the American side began work on Sonic Spinball.

       In the early 90's, Nintendo partnered with Argonaut Software to develop the Super FX chip, a 3D graphics processor that could be implemented in Super Famicom games on a cart-by-cart basis, allowing the hardware to draw a limited number of polygons for simple 3D graphics. Not to be outdone, Sega responded by licensing SuperH microprocessor technology from Hitachi and made plans to implement the SH-1 chip in select Mega Drive cartridges under the pseudonym "Sega Virtua Processor" (SVP). Sonic Team was initially very interested in this new technology and planned to make full use of the SVP chip for Sonic 3. Sega, however, wanted the new Sonic game out before work on the SVP chip could be completed, so the original designs were scrapped in favor of another 2D Sonic game. (In the end, Virtua Racing became the only SVP game released.)

       Character designer Takashi Yuda faced a challenge in coming up with a rival for Sonic and a number of prototype designs were scrapped before the final version was chosen based on feedback from a kids' focus group. (Knuckles was originally intended to be green, not red.) The white stripe on the gullible guardian's chest was inspired by the Nike swish logo, remnant of an aborted collaboration with said shoe manufacturer.

       80's pop icon Michael Jackson was originally commissioned to compose the music for Sonic 3, but his work was dropped once the Chandler scandal became public. Much of the BGM had to be reworked at the last minute, though the music credits still include the names of several notable Jackson collaborators. (Interestingly, Jackson's 1996 single "Stranger in Moscow" bears stark similarities to the Sonic 3 credit roll BGM.)

    :: Miscellanea ::
    • While developing Sonic 3, the staff went on frequent trips to a nearby ski resort, which inspired Icecap. The stage was originally intended to follow Flying Battery: the plan was to have Sonic break down the door to the airship and use it as a snowboard on his descent. This idea had to be dropped (Sonic instead rides a generic snowboard from out of nowhere), but inspired the Sonic Adventure 2 opening sequence.
    • The game's Special Stages were inspired by King Kai's miniature planet from Akira Toriyama's wildly popular Dragon Ball comic. (Naka is a self-professed Dragon Ball fan.)
    • All of the music intended to be used in Sonic & Knuckles is present on the Sonic 3 cartridge, and accessible via the sound test menu. Additionally, the level select includes the names of several S&K Zones, though they are not playable.
    • Issue #13 (August, 1994) of the Archie comic book features a story loosely based on Sonic 3.

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