Hill Top Zone

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Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
Hill Top Zone
Hill Top Zone
Fifth Zone, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
Number of Acts: 2
Location: West Side Island
Level themes: mountain/canyon, underground/cave, lava/volcano
Boss: Submarine Eggman
Maximum rings, Act 1: 146 + 40
Maximum rings, Act 2: 199 + 80
Non-English names:
Casino Night Zone | Mystic Cave Zone
For the Sonic Drift 2 level, see Hill Top (Sonic Drift 2).

Hill Top Zone is the fifth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, featuring extended level blocks such as Star Light Zone's start loops and Green Hill Zone's spin tubes. Graphics for the zone were created by Jina Ishiwatari.[6]


This mountainous stage features lava pits and underground caverns, similar to Marble Zone. However, Hill Top features no sturdy ruins of long-gone civilizations; they would have been ground to dust by the frequent earthquakes which ravage the Zone and fill the chthomic spaces with scorching magma—often while Sonic and Tails are inside. Outside, pine trees rise over a landscape of blue-tinted rocks, with rickety vine chairlifts connecting one peak to another. See-saws and loop-the-loops are scattered throughout the zone; while the latter springs our heroes up the mountainsides, the loops invariably send Sonic and Tails cannonballing into the volcanic caves. The boss at the end is Submarine Eggman.

Geographically, the Zone is located amidst the high peaks of West Side Island. It can actually be seen from Emerald Hill Zone; the vertiginous ridges of Hill Top's background glimpsed on the horizon at the far right of the first stage.

A slightly modified version of Hill Top Zone's art is also used in Emerald Hill Zone, with different coloration. According to chief artist Yasushi Yamaguchi, this was a leftover from the game's original concept; A time travel adventure spanning across multiple time periods where certain zones would've shared graphical assets with others in order to establish them as the same location in different times.[6] Emerald Hill Zone and Hill Top Zone were presumably developed around the same time, as both zones appear in the Simon Wai prototype where they are both completed, whereas the earlier Nick Arcade prototype has both levels feature objects and playable layouts (even though screen scrolling limits for Hill Top Zone haven't been changed yet).


Cable cars and see-saws on a high mountain.
A suspicious rumbling sound can be heard underground.
Utilize the rising lava and ground to advance!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 JP manualMedia:Sonic2 MD JP manual.pdf[1] (translation by Vertekins)[7]

Lava boils from volcanoes and earthquakes shake the ground! Spring for the Rings on teeter-totters and blast through underground tunnels and caverns.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 US manualMedia:Sonic2 MD US manual.pdf[8]

The thing that stands out most in this zone is probably the way the whole screen shakes in the areas where the lava is moving. And then the mountain in the background has a slightly polygon-like look to it. We were aiming for a look similar to the kind of thing we had in mind with Sonic 1's Green Hill Zone.

Yuji NakaSonic Jam Official Guide[9]


Rexon sprite.png
Rexon — Plesiosaur Badnik. Sits in lava and spits projectiles at the player. Once destroyed, its body can be used as a platform to stand on.
Sol sprite.png
SolOrbinaut-type Badnik, surrounded by 4 fireballs which it throws at the player. Referred to as "Sol" in the instruction manual, and "Ghora" in Sonic Jam.
Spiker sprite.png
Spiker — Cone Badnik. Launches its cone upward/downward when the player jumps over it or walks under it.

Technical information

Offset Description
07 Level Value
$2BA2 HTZ Palette (0B)
$C7F2, C964 HTZ layer deformation info
$3FD26 Dynamic pattern reloading for HTZ
$40038 HTZ animated pattern load cue
$40372 EHZ, HTZ misc sprite mappings
$41FFE HTZ object debug list
$44E50 EHZ and HTZ primary 16x16 collision index
$44F40 EHZ and HTZ secondary 16x16 collision index
$46DD4 HTZ Act 1 level layout
$47044 HTZ Act 2 level layout
$95C24 EHZ/HTZ main level patterns
$985A4 HTZ 16x16 block mappings
$98AB4 HTZ pattern suppliment to EHZ level patterns
$99D34 EHZ/HTZ 128x128 block mappings
$E4D74 HTZ Act 1 ring locations
$E4EAA HTZ Act 2 ring locations
$E8302 HTZ Act 1 sprite locations
$E8668 HTZ Act 2 sprite locations

In other media

Sonic the Comic

In the Sonic the Comic series, Hill Top Zone first appeared in issue #20 where it was depicted as a barren landscape populated by a tribe of native birds who request Sonic and Tails' help. According to Chief Kordon, the Mountain of Destiny was about to erupt, prompting the heroes to go inside and investigate. Inside, the heroes were attacked by a Rexon, and Sonic transformed into Super Sonic under great pressure. Though they found the cause of the eruption, which was Dr. Robotnik's Seismatron, Super Sonic attempted to escape with intentions of taking out Tails, though the fox manages to use reverse psychology to get Super Sonic to run circles around the erupting lava, cooling it and forming a Sonic statue.

The Hill Top Zone would later face other threats, including a swarm of Badniks that invaded from the IceCap Zone via a portal, and a missile fired by D.R.A.T. which Sonic was able to divert using his speed.


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