|Sonic the Hedgehog 3|
|Developer: Sonic Team|
|System(s): Sega Mega Drive, Virtual Console|
|ROM size: 2 MB|
|Genre: 2D Platform, Racing|
|Number of players: 1-2|
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ３) is the third game in the classic series released on the Sega Mega Drive and the second in the original "Death Egg Saga" that started in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and concluded in Sonic & Knuckles. Introducing Knuckles the Echidna and further expanding the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, the game (when connected to its direct sequel through the use of "Lock-On Technology") is considered to be one of the best in the entire franchise, and has become the standard that every two-dimensional Sonic title has been compared to.
The game was met with a huge publicity campaign, connected to the date it was released in the United States. February 2nd, traditionally known as Groundhog Day, was renamed "Hedgehog Day" by Sega's P.R. machine. In the U.K., Sega of Europe approached the pop group Right Said Fred to create a song suitable for radio play, which resulted in the Sonic-inspired single "Wonderman".
During the final moments of Sonic 2, Sonic the Hedgehog had succeeded in defeating Dr. Eggman's latest scheme, knocking the Death Egg out of the sky and collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds, keeping them out of the mad genius' hands. As Sonic and Miles "Tails" Prower flew off in their bi-plane the Tornado, they paid little attention to the broken space station plummeting towards the earth. Fretting about, Dr. Eggman could not control the direction of the falling sphere as it broke into the atmosphere, but as fate can be a strange mistress, it just so happened that in the pathway of the rapidly descending fortress was a landmass thought only to exist in legend. Hiding under the shadow of clouds and the occasional Flicky laid Angel Island, a floating atoll that moved across the oceans but never touching them. Perhaps the island would have stayed out of the keen sight of the doctor had it not been for this moment, when the Death Egg collided into the surface of the isle, shaking it to its very core. For the first time in eons, the island began to fall, pushed by the force of Eggman's creation. Colliding into the ocean, a massive tidal wave erupted on all sides. Though many were to notice the towering waves from miles away, none knew of the island that now sat idle in the ocean, untouched by the disaster except for the once-proud invention silently waiting to rise up once more...
A few days after this event, the young fox "Tails" was busy finishing up an invention of his own, the Jewel Radar. Fine tuning it, the machine came to life, immediately picking up the signal of Chaos Energy located somewhere beyond the shore. Thinking that it may have something to do with the strange tidal wave only days before, "Tails" flew out the door, heading towards the beach where he knew Sonic the Hedgehog was.
Sonic, who had been taking a much-deserved nap, awoke the exact same moment "Tails" hopped out the door. Looking about at the beach, the blue hedgehog spotted a strange ring washed up on shore. Running over to it, Sonic picked up the ring, noticing the characters of an ancient language carved onto its surface. Immediately, Sonic was reminded of a legend that he had heard long ago, about an ancient civilization that lived upon an island. Creating a society of peace and harmony, the people who lived within attributed their great prosperity to the "Stone of Power," a sacred gem whose energy guided them. One day, as these stories often go, a sect of wise men decided that they wanted to take the power of the stone for their own selfish gain, and tried to seize the energy. Unable to control it, their foolishness caused the great civilization to disappear in the blink of an eye, their way of life forgotten with time. In its wake, the gods took the land, rebuilt it, and sent it, along with the "Stone of Power" into the sky...
Although he knew not of the legend's basis in fact, Sonic decided right then and there that he would set off on yet another adventure, he and "Tails" preparing the Tornado once more.
Unbeknownst to the pair, the legend that Sonic recalled was that of Angel Island, upon where the Death Egg had crashed. Only moments before the impact, the lone guardian of the isle, Knuckles the Echidna, was going about his duties, protecting the island and making sure that the Chaos Emerald altars scattered about were safe and secure. Though he was friends with many of the various animals that lived upon the island, he was the last of his kind, and knew of his sacred duty. At this particular moment, Knuckles looked over one of the altars, making sure that the emerald was in place and that nothing wrong had befallen it. Suddenly, the emerald began behaving in a way the echidna had never seen, the gem glowing and vibrating wildly. Knuckles stood wide-eyed, unsure of what was going on. Before he could make his next move, a bright flash filled the room, a sound piercing through the guardian's ears as he felt as though he were floating in midair.
The next thing Knuckles knew, he was sprawled out at the entrance to the altar, having been knocked out by whatever had happened. Regaining consciousness, the lone echidna's first thought was of the Chaos Emerald inside, running back to the altar. Looking about at the half-broken area, he could not find a single trace of the emerald, with not a clue as to where it could have gone. Emerging out of the sacred chamber in a daze, Knuckles was unsure of his next course of action, glancing out at the horizon. It was then that he saw it, a strange, almost egg-shaped object embedded into the landscape. Snapping back to reality, Knuckles wondered if this object was connected to an ancient legend that rushed to the forefront of his mind, the egg of the legendary dragon...
Over the next few days, Knuckles explored the rest of the isle assessing any damage as he went to the other six Chaos Emerald altars, finding each in the same state as the first. Refusing to give up, the guardian continued to investigate, knowing that the answer to what had just happened must be somewhere on his island. It was during this process that he came across a strange, egg-shaped man wandering about the atoll. Confronting him, the man merely smiled, and calmly explained that he was a scientist who had come across the island to study the strange egg that had appeared. Making sure to fully trick the guardian, Eggman continued, telling the echidna that he also knew of the emeralds that were on the island, and that a blue hedgehog by the name of Sonic was the one looking for them. Shocked, Knuckles ran off, the mad genius smiling at his own skillful lie.
As if on cue, the Tornado, flown by "Tails" with Sonic standing atop it, appeared on the horizon. Sonic, noticing the island neither of them had seen before, couldn't help but be overcome by the urge to show off, having brought with him the seven Chaos Emeralds he had gathered on West Side Island. Transforming into Super Sonic, the now yellow hedgehog ran across the remainder of the ocean between the plane and the isle, darting about the shoreline. Caught off guard, a lone knuckled fist swung at Sonic, knocking him off balance, the Chaos Emeralds falling about him. Turning back into his true blue self, Sonic spotted who the fist was connected to, a red echidna who could only laugh at Sonic's misfortune. Grabbing the emeralds, Knuckles ran off into the jungle beyond. Not knowing what he had gotten himself into, but more than expecting Eggman to be behind it, Sonic and "Tails" ran off to follow the tricked guardian. Learning of Sonic's arrival, Eggman laughed to himself, having already prepared for his arch-rival's appearance. Creating yet another mechanical army to once again seek out the Chaos Emeralds in the hopes of using them to relaunch the Death Egg, Dr. Eggman was sure of himself and his quest to finally achieve world domination.
"The stage is set once again. From here, Sonic the Hedgehog begins his new adventure."
Just as the previous games in the classic series, the object of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is to get from the beginning to the end of a given level under the span of ten minutes, all the while navigating various traps, pitfalls, and avoiding enemies. Once again, the classic elements that make up a Sonic level are present: the loop-de-loops you run through with enough speed, springs to help you get up to higher places, rings lined up to protect you from damage, and spikes poised to make you scatter those rings you've collected. Though only six "Zones" long with two "Acts" per Zone, each Act is once again bigger than its predecessor, full of multiple routes and hidden areas just waiting to be explored.
Sonic's speed proves to once again be one of your greatest assets in the sprawling platformer, allowing Sonic to build up momentum to pass even the steepest of slopes. For the uninitiated, the spin dash from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 makes its reappearance, allowing Sonic to build up speed from a stationary point before blasting off against the terrain or a string of enemies in his wake. Another classic move that returns is the spin attack, the jump that makes Sonic curl into a ball and face off against whatever badnik may be in his way from any angle, as long as spikes or dangerous projectiles don't get in the hedgehog's way. A new move to Sonic 3 is an addition to the traditional spin attack. After having Sonic jump in the air, if a player presses the jump button once more, a shield will surround Sonic briefly, extending his attack radius and protecting him from enemies in that second. Called the "W Spin Attack," the move proves extremely useful in tight situations, especially when various uni-related badniks start eying up the hedgehog. Sonic can also use his spin attack on the ground if the player presses down on the control pad while running. The W Spin Attack is only achievable in the air.
Though Sonic is once again the main star of the game, Miles "Tails" Prower, the constant companion of Sonic 2, also makes his return appearance. While in the previous game "Tails" controlled exactly the same as the title character, Sonic 3 now gives players the ability to make "Tails" fly on command. By simply pressing jump twice on the control pad, "Tails" will be able to fly, giving him access to routes and platforms that Sonic can not normally get to. Continuously pressing jump will allow "Tails" to fly even higher, but there is a time limit to the fox's air-bound antics. Eventually, he will tire out, falling back to the ground no matter what may be underneath him, though the player still has control of him on the horizontal axis. Similar to Sonic 2, the choice of having "Tails" follow Sonic around in a 1 player game is available. Using the second control pad allows the two-tailed fox to be a separately controllable character, complete with an infinite amount of lives, respawning as long as Sonic is going strong. Even though both characters can be moved independently, the camera will solely be focused on the first player. However, one added benefit of having "Tails" follow behind in this co-op "1.5 player" mode to the ability for "Tails" to carry Sonic. If the first player jumps into the second player as they achieve flight, "Tails" is put in charge, and can bring his hero to previously unseen heights.
The item boxes of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 continue to be a staple of the series, hiding out in the many zones of the game, sometimes in secret rooms and sometimes just sitting out in plain sight. Speed shoes, invincibility, the ten-ring box, and 1-up boxes return, joined by a collection of new power ups that become part of the repertoire. Replacing the traditional shield of the earlier games are a trio of elemental-based barriers, each with their own special abilities. Popping open a box with a water, fire, or spark icon will cause the new shield to surround the character on screen, in the process exchanging Sonic's W spin attack with a move unique to each shield. These extra abilities are exclusive to Sonic, as "Tails" retains his ability to fly. The "Aqua Barrier" proves most useful in underwater levels, allowing Sonic to stay under the surface for as long as possible without the need to seek out air bubbles. Pressing jump twice causes Sonic to slam on the ground, destroying any non-spiked badniks that might be in the way, then bounces him back upwards exceeding the height a normal jump would allow. The second of these new shields is the "Flame Barrier," which protect Sonic from flame-based attacks without having to forfeit the protection. The added ability the flame provides is the most proactive of the three in terms of offense, causing Sonic to burst forward in attack. The third, the "Thunder Barrier," not only protects Sonic from electrical hazards, but will also attract any nearby rings. Tapping the jump input twice will give Sonic a proper double-jump. While all three shields will protect Sonic or "Tails" from certain projectiles, they are all still vulnerable from a single direct hit by an oncoming badnik. The latter two shields unfortunately suffer from another weakness, any contact with water immediately snuffing them out. There is also a final item box marked with the face of Dr. Eggman, which will cause the same effect as if Sonic were hit by an enemy. Though uncommon, they can creep up when you least expect it.
The point markers of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 return, which not only save your spot in the level if you lose a life, but also bring back with it the familiar circle of stars if you pass by with fifty rings. However, instead of being transported to a Special Stage, jumping into the stars sends you to a Bonus Stage. Styled after a gumball machine, Sonic is bounced around, flipping the crank at the top to let out a "gumball" that contains within it one of the various power-ups that are also found inside item boxes.
Instead, the Special Stages of Sonic 3 are accessed through the re-introduction of the Giant Ring, as seen in the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic CD, This time around, the rings are found hidden within the levels themselves, oftentimes in corners and secret rooms that the player must hunt through the playfield for. When one of these illustrious rings are found, Sonic and/or "Tails" are warped to a miniature world in pseudo-3D. The goal of these courses is to collect all of the blue spheres while avoiding the red ones, touching them all resulting in the reward of a Chaos Emerald. If all seven are collected, not only does one get to watch the "good ending," but Sonic gains the ability to once again transform into Super Sonic, the super-fast, invulnerable version of classic Sonic. If fifty rings are in tow, the player must press the jump button twice to activate this form, though Sonic is still susceptible to drowning, being crushed, and falling down the occasional bottomless pit. It should be noted that, even if Sonic has all seven emeralds and fifty rings, he will be unable to transform if he is wearing a shield. Once Super Sonic is activated, though, Sonic can jump upon a shield item box and gain the extra abilities the shield provides, such as attracting rings and breathing underwater, though no visual cue will surround the character.
Also important is that, unlike the first two numbered games, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 has the ability to save one's progress in the game. Given six unique slots (along with a no-save option) you can save your game as either Sonic, "Tails," or the pair. Saving only by Zone and not by Act, the file also keeps track of the number of Chaos Emeralds you have. When clearing a file, the option to go back and start at any given level is unlocked, which gives the unprecedented ability to go back to a previous level and a Giant Ring location you had discovered before and collect the seven emeralds after the fact. The save itself uses an FRAM chip (similar to an SRAM chip but not needing an internal battery to save).
In addition to the regular one-player experience, a two-player "versus" mode is available on the cart, albeit in a far different format than the previous game. While Sonic the Hedgehog 2 used three existing Zones and made them work in a split-screen setting, Sonic 3 has five new Zones created specifically for the Competition Mode. Because of this, the stretched-out effect found in Sonic 2 is gone, the sprites for Sonic and company also completely redrawn for the two-player experience.
Three options are available immediately upon entering the Competition choice on the title screen: "Grand Prix," "Match Race," and "Time Attack." The first of these modes is a straight run through of the five multiplayer levels available, done in alphabetical order. The second, "Match Race," brings up another selection screen where the players can choose any of the five in any order they want, being able to play the same Zone over and over if they so choose. The third is similar to the second with the exception that it is a single player trial, intended more for practice or just playing about when a second player isn't available, the fastest times being saved on the internal memory.
Regardless of which mode you choose, the same three playable characters are available - Sonic, "Tails," and Knuckles. There is not much difference between the three, all able to use the spin attack and the spin dash. "Tails" is the only one with an added ability, that of flight. Because of this, all three characters are on nearly equal footing when it comes to the competition. The levels themselves are set up far differently than those in the regular game, the two-player mode being a race between whoever is selected. Each level begins at a start pole, with a countdown signaling the round. If one of the players passes the starting line before the countdown begins, the message "FAULT" appears on screen, the pair restarting in their initial places. Once the word "GO" appears, the race begins, Sonic, "Tails" or Knuckles running through the miniature Zone. Much smaller than the single Acts in the standard mode of play, the small courses loop on the x-axis, resembling a racing game in function. The race does not officially end until one of the players completes five laps successfully, the first to do so winning the round. In the "Grand Prix" option, the person who wins the most out of the five is the overall winner, while in "Match Race" the number of races that are competed in are solely up to the players.
While spikes and the occasional switch (to block the other player briefly from the main course) are part of the landscape, other such staples as rings and badniks are not present. Instead, before the races begin, the option is available to either turn on or off power-ups in the game. The items are not found in the traditional item boxes but are instead found floating in a circle somewhere in each Zone. It is only at this point that a ring can be obtained or a generic enemy can impede your process. There are also a variety of other power-ups found here that are not available in the rest of the game, such as making a spring appear, placing a banana to make your opponent unexpectedly slide, and slow-down shoes that will prevent you from reaching your top speed. The speed shoes from the standard game are also available.
The possibility of losing a life is still intact in this mode, though an infinite number of lives are present for each player. If the unthinkable happens, the character will restart at the end of his last lap, the timer still going strong. Also of note is that if, during the race, a player is overtaken by the desire to run backwards through the level, the number of laps completed will start to decrease with each pass of the starting line.
Hitting bumpers: 10 points for each of the first ten hits on any given bumper; after that no more points can be gained from that bumper
(a chain refers to all enemies destroyed until the next time Sonic lands on some form of ground or jumps)
Sub-Boss: 1,000 points
Dr. Eggman Boss: 1,000 points
End Level Ring Bonus: 100 points for each ring held
Signpost: At the end of each Act 1, a signpost falls from the air; jump at it before it hits the ground to keep it in the air and score 100 points. You can get as many 100-point bonuses as you're able to keep the sign in the air for. If the signpost lands on a predefined spot it will spawn an item box. Each level has a different arrangement and different selections of power-ups available.
End Level Time Bonus:
Below is a listing of the songs available to played through the sound test within the game, accessible through the level select code:
Executive Producer: Hayao Nakayama
Project Manager: Hisashi Suzuki, Shinobu Toyoda, Masaharu Yoshii
Producer: Yuji Naka
Director: Hirokazu Yasuhara
Lead Game Designer: Hirokazu Yasuhara
Senior Game Designers: Hisayoshi Yoshida, Takashi Iizuka
Lead Programmer: Yuji Naka
Senior Programmers: Hiroshi Nikaidoh, Masanobu Yamamoto
Character Designer: Takashi Thomas Yuda
CG Artist: Kunitake Aoki
Animator: Takashi Thomas Yuda
Enemy Artist: Satoshi Yokokawa
Scene Artists: Kunitake Aoki, Chie Yoshida, Tsuneko Aoki, Shigeru Okada, Takashi Thomas Yuda, Satoshi Yokokawa
Art Assistant: Osamu Ohashi
Music Composers: Brad Buxer, Bobby Brooks, Darryl Ross, Geoff Grace, Doug Grigsby III, Scirocco, Michael Jackson (uncredited)
SEGA Sound Team: Bo, Sachio Ogawa, Milpo, Masaru Setsumaru, Tatsuyuki Maeda, Tomonori Sawada, Masayuki Nagao, Jun Senoue
Sound Project Coordinator: Hisaki Nimiya
Marketing: Pamela Kelly
Executive Management: Shouichirou Irimajiri, Tom Kalinske
Executive Coordinator: Mamoru Shigeta, Tomio Takami, Diane A Fornasier, Roger Hector, Takaharu Utsunomiya
Sound Special Thanks: Mayumi Nina Sakazaki(Mrm), Cube Corp. (Masanori Hikichi, Miyoko Takaoka), Opus Corp., Masanori Nakayama (Studio Who), Howard Drossin
Special Thanks: Deborah McCracken, Emi Kawamura, Jina Ishiwatari
Presented by: Sega
NOTE: The following data comprises of the combined sales of both Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
|Number of copies sold||Platform||Reference|
|4,000,000||Sega Mega Drive||Sonic the Hedgehog Retrospective, Part 4 (Not viewable in the US.)|
To help advertise the numbered sequel both Archie Comics and Fleetway published adaptations to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, though both took very different approaches to the material. The U.S. Sonic the Hedgehog adapted the game in its 13th issue, using the 12 page story to introduce the character of Knuckles the Echidna, establishing him as the guardian of the Floating Island and the single Chaos Emerald that keeps it afloat. The U.K.-based Sonic the Comic covered its adaptation of the game in multiple issues, starting with the Sonic Summer Special 1994 and continuing into issue 33. The adaptation lasted multiple issues, culminating in issue 38. The game was also loosely adapted in the American junior novel Sonic & Knuckles by Michael Teitelbaum.
|87||Sonic Retro Average|
|Based on 19 reviews|
|Mega Drive, US (Mega Hit Series)|
|Mega Drive, AU (Platinum Collection)|
|Sonic the Hedgehog 3|
|Sonic games for the following systems|
|| 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog | Sonic Eraser 1992 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 1993 Sonic the Hedgehog CD | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine | Sonic Spinball 1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sonic & Knuckles 1995 Chaotix | Sonic Classics 1996 Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island |
Prototypes Sonic 2 | Sonic CD | Sonic Spinball | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine | Sonic 3 | Sonic & Knuckles | Knuckles in Sonic 2 | Chaotix | Sonic 3D
|2006 Sonic the Hedgehog | Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine 2007 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sonic Spinball | Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island 2008 Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit) | Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit) 2009 Sonic Chaos | Sonic & Knuckles 2010 Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I|