|Hidden Palace Zone|
|Fifth level, Sonic & Knuckles|
|Number of Acts: 1|
|Level theme: underground/cave|
|Boss: Knuckles (Hidden Palace Zone boss)|
|Maximum rings: 33 + 40|
Hidden Palace Zone is the fifth zone in Sonic & Knuckles (the eleventh zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles). Hidden Palace Zone houses the shrine where Knuckles hides and protects the Master Emerald. As Sonic, it is the setting of a major turning point in the game's storyline.
The level begins at the end of Lava Reef Zone Act 2. After a few steps, the scenery changes into that of Hidden Palace. Depending on the character being used, one of two scenarios will unfold shortly within the stage.
As Sonic and/or Tails, a confrontation with Knuckles will occur. After this fight, a cutscene occurs in which Dr. Robotnik steals the Master Emerald using a giant claw-arm attached to his Egg Mobile. Knuckles attempts to save it, but Robotnik shocks him into submission. After this, Knuckles will lead the way to a teleporter that sends the player to the next Zone, Sky Sanctuary.
As Knuckles, the Zone merely acts as a pass-through to access the Sky Sanctuary Zone, albeit a different area than Sonic and Tails are sent to -- it is an upper route through the first half of the level. The transporter that Sonic and Tails land on before they go to face Knuckles is where he teleports to Sky Sanctuary. He cannot reach the area where the Master Emerald is except through the giant rings of Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
All characters enter from tunnels from Lava Reef, and exit through transporters to Sky Sanctuary. In the game data, Hidden Palace is listed as Lava Reef Act 4 in the Stage Select menu, as it is placed in the 2nd act of the 2nd level slot reserved for Lava Reef data. This is not an unreasonable jump by in-game standards either, as it shares music and overall appearance with Lava Reef Act 2, although the backgrounds are different as the Death Egg can be seen leaving the mouth of the volcano in Hidden Palace, while it was still stuck there in Act 2.
|“||Some mysteries are solved! Robotnik makes his big play, and Knuckles finds out who is the REAL bad guy is!||„|
|Sonic & Knuckles|