Sonic the Hedgehog 3

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Sonic the Hedgehog 3
North American cover of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 European cover of Sonic 3

Developer(s) Sega Technical Institute
Sonic Team
Publisher(s) Sega
Designer(s) Takashi Thomas Yuda (character design), Hirokazu Yasuhara (lead designer), Yuji Naka (computer program
Platform(s) Sega Mega Drive
Release date NA 1994-02-02
EU 1994-02-24[1]
JP 1994-06-27[2]
Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Rating(s) VRC: GA (original release)
ESRB: K-A (re-release) (1997)
Media 16-megabit cartridge, CD-ROM
Input methods Game controller

Sonic the Hedgehog 3, also known in Europe as Sonic 3, is a platform game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. It was developed by American studio Sega Technical Institute in collaboration with Sonic Team, and was published by Sega in 1994.



There are 6 levels in Sonic 3, each made up of two acts. They are:

  1. Angel Island Zone: A tranquil jungle island. Sonic arrives by transforming into Super Sonic (in a cutscene), he collides into a trap Knuckles lays out and loses all Seven chaos emeralds which Knuckles steals whilst Sonic recovers. When playing as Tails, you are instantly placed on the island. The first Act takes place in the plush, green jungle. However, at the end of the first Act, the island is set ablaze by Dr. Robotnik, leaving the second Act to take place in the burning remnants. Knuckles the island guardian makes his first appearance here, as he recovers the emeralds from Sonic and runs off immediately after they land on the shore.
  2. Hydrocity Zone: The flooded remains of an ancient city, the first act reflecting a Medieval style, the second act resembling something like Atlantis. Both Sonic and Tails fall into the city as a result of Knuckles destroying the bridge in the post-Angel Island boss cutscene. The first stage takes place mostly underwater. The second stage, whilst featuring large underwater areas, mainly takes place on water slides and tubes above the surface.
  3. Marble Garden Zone: The marble ruins of an ancient civilization. Both Sonic and Tails arrive in the zone by falling (like in the beginning of Hydrocity) after an explosion causes water geysers to propel the protagonists high into the sky. Marble Garden is the only zone in Sonic 3 with no water in it, and it bears some resemblance to the Marble Zone in the first Sonic game. Dr. Robotnik uses his mobile vehicle to drill through the surface of this stage, causing massive earthquakes in the process that Sonic must outrun in a timely fashion.
  4. Carnival Night Zone: Tails drops Sonic into a playful carnival filled with balloons, pinball bumpers, and cannons to launch from, similar to Casino Night Zone in Sonic 2, although there are no slot machines. At times during the 2nd act, you are underwater, and the air bubbles that aid your survival appear from burst balloons. You encounter Knuckles twice, once, he shuts off the Zone's power (which you have to turn back on later), and then the second time to affect the direction of the warp tubes so that they carry you up to face Robotnik.
  5. Ice Cap Zone: Sonic is shot from a cannon in post Carnival Night boss cutscene and lands on a snowboard in the snowy mountains, you can press the jump buttons to get air time on the snowboard, there's also a maximum of 50 rings to be collected, however, 40 of the rings are collected automatically if you do nothing whilst on the snowboard. The snowboarding cutscene does not play if you are playing as Tails. The first act takes place mostly underground inside an ice-cold cavern, while the second act brings Sonic back to Ice Cap's powder-snow surface, you spend a small amount of the zone in caverns beneath the surface in this level as well, go far enough down though and there is water, in which you lose a life if you jump into.
  6. Launch Base Zone: Dr. Robotnik's launch site that was built for re-launching the sunken Death Egg, with spinning elevators for facilitation of travel and alarms to keep out intruders. Both Sonic and Tails are shot through a snowy tube post Ice Cap boss in the cutscene and appear on the slightly snowy surface of the Launch Base. The first act takes place in an outlying series of towers, whilst the second takes place mainly amongst the fuelling cables for the Death Eggs launch jets (indicating how the player is getting closer to the target). A part of the level is also played underwater. There are 3 bosses at the end of the 2nd act, all of which have to be played in one go. The final two bosses occur on a small stage of the Launch Base itself where Robotnik attempts to stop you in two machines, the first one requiring nine hits for takedown (4 hits for the first part, 4 for the second part and 1 to complete the machine). The final boss is tricky, you are up against Robotnik in a capsule that has spikes on top and arms that grab you. If it grabs you while you are Super Sonic, it will knock you out of super form and will make you lose rings.

Special Stages

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 based on a gum-ball machine. The sides of a shaft are lined with one-time-use bumpers, which propel Sonic upwards. Each time he passes the slot of the gum-ball machine, it releases a ball which Sonic can then grab. Bonuses include shields, rings, lives, bumpers, empty balls, and a one use set of springs at the bottom of the shaft. The stage ends when Sonic falls out of the bottom of the shaft. 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, as they were in Sonic the Hedgehog. Contrary to the original Sonic the Hedgehog, 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. Each special stage is based on a 3-dimensional, chequered sphere (topologically a torus, as its surface is a square with the edges wrapping around) of which only a small surface portion is visible at any given time. The surface of this sphere is covered in blue, red, and white with red star spheres, and rings. Sonic runs across the surface, following the edges of the chequer squares. At each corner, he can turn left, right, or carry on straight. The aim is to collect all the blue spheres, whilst avoiding the red spheres, which result in instant failure (the blue spheres are replaced with red ones as they're collected, except when the ring trick below is performed). White spheres bounce Sonic backwards. If only the perimeter of a rectangle of blue spheres is collected leaving blue spheres on the inside (meaning the rectangle must have dimensions of at least 3x3), all of the spheres in that rectangle turn into rings. Earning 50 rings grants the player a continue. Collecting all the possible rings in a stage results in a perfect clear, which adds 50,000 points to the total score, worth an extra life. Also, as time elapses in these stages, the tempo of the music will increase, and Sonic will also start moving faster, making him more difficult to control over time and increasing the risk of accidentally contacting a red sphere. The stage ends when all the blue spheres are collected, a feat that results in the player being awarded with a Chaos Emerald. However, if a red sphere is touched, the player loses their chance to obtain chaos emerald, and the special-stage is terminated with the player retaining their existing score. There are 7 stages, one for each Emerald. When all Emeralds are collected, Sonic can become Super Sonic by collecting 50 rings and performing a double jump without a shield. At this point, any additional giant rings found will add 50 rings to the player's total, instead of starting a special stage.


Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Bombing.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Boss 1.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Boss 2b.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Boss 2.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Falling stars.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Knuckles.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - So many rings.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Sonic got trough.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Toboggan.JPG Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Win.JPG




  1. European release date
  2. Japanese release date

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