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. Its own sequel, 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.
The game was released for the Sega Genesis in the United States on February 2, 1994. The European Sega Mega Drive release came later that month. The game was released in Japan for the Mega Drive on May 27, 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 and Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox in 2004 as part of Sonic Mega Collection Plus.
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.
Despite the fact that Sonic 3 is not as well-known nor sold as many copies as Sonic 2 did, it is considered by many fans and veterans, to this day, to be the greatest Sonic game ever released, especially when combined with Sonic & Knuckles. 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 in particular 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. 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. Overall, Sonic fans feel that this game has more depth and introduced more vital elements to the franchise than any other title in the series. The newer 2D Sonic games, such as Sonic Advance, model themselves closer to Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, which many Sonic fans consider a disappointment.
Overview of play Edit
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.
- Water shield: deflects all water based attacks and enables the player to breathe underwater. Sonic can use it to bounce on his enemies.
- Electric 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 shield and the electrical shield cannot be used under water, and they will instantly fizzle when submerged in it.
- 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 powersuit 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).
Special stages Edit
As in previous Sonic games, Star Posts are scattered throughout each act to save the player's progress. Furthermore, if Sonic has 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 a 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 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 out of screen.
Note that star posts in Sonic 3 are used to enter bonus stages this time instead of emerald stages, as in Sonic 2. The emerald stages are once again entered by jumping through a large golden ring. Contrary to the original Sonic however, these rings are hidden in the scenery, and multiple can be found in each act. In addition, the player is not required to collect any amount of rings to enter the emerald stage.
The stages themselves are 3 dimensional and spherical in lay-out. Sonic moves across the surface of a giant orb and has to hit a set amount blue balls while dodging bumpers and red balls. Sometimes blue orbs are found in groups of squares. If Sonic checks all orbs round the side of a square the field turns into rings. Collecting 50 rings in an emerald stage gains the player a continue, and collecting all possible rings gains the player a "perfect" bonus.
Sonic is rewarded with an emerald when he hits all blue orbs in the stage. Should he touch any of the red orbs however, the stage ends and he is transported back to the zone.
Note: This is the first Sonic game to feature this new 3-D Sphereical special stage and the trend continued into Sonic & Knuckles. Also, when Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is combined with Sonic & Knuckles, if you are able to collect all seven chaos emeralds BEFORE reaching the end of Sonic 3 (i.e. Lanch Base Zone) you will be allowed to transform into Super Sonic (or Super Knuckles) but only until you reach the beginning of Sonic & Knuckles (i.e. Mushroom Hill Zone) at which point, whenever you pick up a giant ring you will be transported to the Super Emerald shrine. If you jump onto one of the seven Super Emeralds in this room you will start another, harder special stage in order to unlock the Super Emeralds. If all seven Super Emeralds are unlocked, you can transform into Hyper Sonic (or Hyper Knuckles or Super Tails).
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 bouncey 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 to 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.
Technical specifications Edit
Sonic 3 had the option, unseen at that point in the Sonic series, to record the game 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 to as far as Lava Reef Zone, as it provides a whole second version of the game, not an "add-on".
Originally, sega hired Micheal Jackson to compose the music in the game, but Jackson had a lawsuit, surrounding him, so the idea was scrapped.However, the music has some similarities to Jackson's work, as he chiptunes in Sonic 3 were based on music sheets from Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson's album Dangerous was released a few years before Sonic 3 and would be the basis for the chiptunes on Sonic 3.
- The first letters of the race track's names make up the sequence A, B, C, D and E.
- 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.
- Sonic 3 was the second Sonic game to feature an ice level (next to 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."
- In Sonic 3, Angel Island is not floating. In Sonic & Knuckles, the island is floating in the sky.
- Originally, Knuckles was meant to have green socks. Knuckles was forced to have yellow socks when playing as Sonic to avoid his socks intefering with the HUD's pallete. (Knuckles's socks would've turned the HUD green also; see the picture below.) This was fixed in all later games starting with Sonic & Knuckles.
- Knuckles and the Flying Battery Zone were originally planned for and still have existing data in Sonic 3. (See the picture below. It may look like it's 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.)
- 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.