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{{Breadcrumb
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|Sonic the Hedgehog 3|:Category:Sonic the Hedgehog 3 levels|l2=Levels|{{PAGENAME}}|l3=Special Stage}}
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{{Breadcrumb
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|Sonic & Knuckles|:Category:Sonic & Knuckles levels|l2=Levels|{{PAGENAME}}|l3=Special Stage}}
 
{{LevelBob
 
{{LevelBob
 
|levelscreen=s3k_specialstage.png
 
|levelscreen=s3k_specialstage.png
 +
|name=Special Stage
 
|levelno=Special
 
|levelno=Special
 
|game=Sonic 3 & Knuckles
 
|game=Sonic 3 & Knuckles
|music=<flashmp3>Sonic the Hedgehog 3 OSV/12 - Special Stage.mp3</flashmp3>
 
 
|acts=14 + 2 hidden
 
|acts=14 + 2 hidden
 
}}
 
}}
In ''[[Sonic 3]]'', ''[[Sonic & Knuckles]]'' and ''[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles]]'', the '''Special Stages''' (sometimes known as '''[[Blue Sphere]]''', the name of the standalone game featuring only such special stages) are used to collect [[Chaos Emeralds]] and [[Super Emeralds]] in the game.  There are seven Chaos Emeralds, seven Super Emeralds and one Special Stage for each one. To enter the Special Stage, a [[giant ring]] must be found and then jumped into. These rings are well hidden - usually in secret rooms. Luckily, there are giant rings in every act, and there are actually more rings available than there are Special Stages, so there will be more than enough chances to get the Chaos Emeralds.
+
In ''[[Sonic 3]]'', ''[[Sonic & Knuckles]]'' and ''[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles]]'', the '''[[Special Stage]]s''' (sometimes known as '''[[Blue Sphere]]''', the name of the standalone game featuring only such special stages) are used to collect [[Chaos Emeralds]] and [[Super Emeralds]] in the game.  
  
Humorously, the "Get Blue Spheres" message was "Get Blue Balls" for a time during development.[http://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?showtopic=9334]
+
There are seven Chaos Emeralds, seven Super Emeralds and one Special Stage for each one. To enter the Special Stage, a [[Giant Ring]] must be found and then jumped into. These rings are well hidden - usually in secret rooms. Luckily, there are Giant Rings in every Act, and there are actually more rings available than there are Special Stages, so there will be more than enough chances to get the Chaos Emeralds.
  
 
==Gameplay==
 
==Gameplay==
All the Special Stages are in the form of a gigantic globe that will turn as it is walked on. The color of the globe's checkered floor differs in each stage. There are individual intersections, or points which in the character can turn to either side. To turn press {{left}} or {{right}} on the directional pad when you come to a point. It's best to hold {{left}} or {{right}} when going between points to turn rather than just tapping it. It is also possible to jump at any time, but it's not possible to turn in mid-air. The screen will speed up as the number of blue balls available decrease. The length of the special stages are at a fixed length and when you reach the end of it the level will start you at the other side so it is not possible to walk of the side of the level.
+
All the Special Stages are in the form of a gigantic globe that will turn as it is walked on. The color of the globe's checkered floor differs in each stage. There are individual intersections, or points which in the character can turn to either side. To turn press {{left}} or {{right}} on the directional pad when you come to a point. It's best to hold {{left}} or {{right}} when going between points to turn rather than just tapping it. It is also possible to jump at any time, but it's not possible to turn in mid-air. The screen will speed up as time passes within the Special Stage. The length of the Special Stages are at a fixed length and when the player reaches the end of it the level will wrap them around to the other side, so it is not possible to walk off the side of the level.
  
Some sections of the level are empty but most have something on them. There are red spheres, blue spheres, white spheres with red stars on them, gold spheres (in Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Blue Sphere only), and gold rings. The goal of the level is to avoid red spheres at all costs and collect blue spheres. If a red sphere is touched the level immediately ends. If a blue sphere is touched it will turn to a red sphere. If a white sphere with a red star on it is touched it will cause the character to bounce backward and he will continue to move backwards until {{up}} is pressed on the directional pad. Red star spheres are bumpers that often seal off masses of red spheres. If a gold sphere is touched the player will be launched, like when touching a spring in the Zones, five spheres forward or backward (depending on what direction you're moving). The number of blue spheres remaining is shown in the top left corner. Once every one of these are collected and there are no blue spheres remaining in the Special Stage, all the spheres disappear and the player is rewarded the Chaos Emerald.
+
Some sections of the level are empty but most have something on them. There are red spheres, blue spheres, white spheres with red stars on them, gold spheres (in ''Sonic & Knuckles'', ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'', and ''Blue Sphere'' only), and gold [[Ring]]s. The goal of the level is to avoid red spheres at all costs and collect blue spheres. If a red sphere is touched the level immediately ends. If a blue sphere is touched it will turn to a red sphere. If a white sphere with a red star on it is touched it will cause the character to bounce backward and he will continue to move backwards until {{up}} is pressed on the directional pad, or until the character runs into another such sphere behind him. Red star spheres are bumpers that often seal off masses of red spheres. If a gold sphere is touched the player will be launched, like when touching a [[spring]] in the Zones, five spheres forward or backward (depending on what direction they're moving). The number of blue spheres remaining is shown in the top left corner. Once every one of these are collected and there are no blue spheres remaining in the Special Stage, all the spheres disappear and the player is rewarded the Chaos Emerald.
  
[[Rings]] are sometimes found at the beginning of a Special Stage, but usually they are obtained by transforming groups of spheres into them. This is done by touching the blue spheres on the outside of a mass of blue spheres that are at least 3 by 3 in size. All the spheres will then change into rings, although if some of the inside spheres were red then this may not work, depending on the size of the formation. This is also possible in a formation of the appropriate size in which some of the spheres on the perimeter are already red. This sounds tricky but soon becomes second nature. It is never necessary to collect rings but it is usually best to do so if possible, both to eliminate a mass of red spheres and because rings give a point reward at the end of a Special Stage. Collected rings will not add to your ring tally once you exit the stage, however.
+
[[Rings]] are sometimes found at the beginning of a Special Stage, but usually they are obtained by transforming groups of spheres into them. This is done by touching the blue spheres on the outside of a mass of blue spheres that are at least 3 by 3 in size. All the spheres will then change into Rings, although if some of the inside spheres were red then this may not work, depending on the size of the formation. This is also possible in a formation of the appropriate size in which some of the spheres on the perimeter are already red. This sounds tricky but soon becomes second nature. It is never necessary to collect Rings but it is usually best to do so if possible, both to eliminate a mass of red spheres and because Rings give a point reward at the end of a Special Stage. Collected Rings will not add to the player's Ring tally once they exit the stage, however.
  
At the end of a Special Stage 100 points per ring are added to the score, even if the Chaos Emerald was not collected. If all the rings in the level are collected a [[Perfect Bonus]] of 50,000 points will be rewarded, which will result in one free life. Collecting 50 or more rings is also worth a continue (This is indicated by a tune being played along with a sprite of Sonic dancing after the point tally) and collecting 100 rings (when possible) will earn you and extra life (This is indicated by a sound similar to when you lose rings in a normal level). The second time a Special Stage is entered the second special stage will start regardless if the first Chaos Emerald is collected or not. The only way to collect Emeralds missed is to go through all the available stages until it laps back to the first levels. Once a Chaos Emerald is collected in a stage this level will never appear again.
+
At the end of a Special Stage, 100 points per Ring are added to the score, even if the Chaos Emerald was not collected. If all the Rings in the level are collected a [[Perfect Bonus]] of 50,000 points will be rewarded, which will result in one free life. Collecting 50 or more Rings is also worth a [[Continue]] (This is indicated by a tune being played along with a sprite of the player's character posing after the point tally) and collecting 100 Rings (when possible) will earn the player an extra life (This is indicated by a sound similar to when losing Rings in a normal level). The next time a Special Stage is entered the next Special Stage will start regardless if the first Chaos Emerald is collected or not. The only way to collect Emeralds missed is to go through all the available stages until it laps back to the first levels. Once a Chaos Emerald is collected in a stage, this level will never appear again.
  
{|border="1" class="prettytable"
+
{| class="prettytable"
 
!Number
 
!Number
 +
!Screenshot
 +
!Emerald colour
 
!Blue Spheres
 
!Blue Spheres
 
!Rings
 
!Rings
!Emerald colour
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#1
 
|#1
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 1 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=36|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|102
 
|102
 
|64
 
|64
|green
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#2
 
|#2
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 2 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=24|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|127
 
|127
 
|111
 
|111
|yellow
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#3
 
|#3
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 3 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=48|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|118
 
|118
 
|80
 
|80
|magenta
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#4
 
|#4
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 4 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=12|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|115
 
|115
 
|80
 
|80
|blue
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#5
 
|#5
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 5 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=60|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|58
 
|58
 
|54
 
|54
|grey
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#6
 
|#6
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 6 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=0|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|128
 
|128
 
|64
 
|64
|red
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#7
 
|#7
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 7 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|3|crop_x=72|crop_width=12|crop_height=12}}
 
|60
 
|60
 
|74
 
|74
|cyan
 
 
|}
 
|}
  
==Special Stage in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles''==
+
===Special Stages in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles''===
When playing ''[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles]]'', all giant rings will now flash rainbow colors, and instead of transporting you to a Special Stage, they transport you to the Emerald throne room of [[Hidden_Palace_Zone_%28SK%29|Hidden Palace Zone]]. All the Chaos Emeralds collected in the ''Sonic 3'' levels will disappear, but for each one collected, a gray Super Emerald will be beamed down onto a pedestal in the room corresponding to the emerald collected previously. After jumping into a giant ring in ''Sonic & Knuckles'' for the first time, your character can no longer go "Super" as all collected Chaos Emeralds are no longer in your possession. While in this room, every time this room is entered by jumping into a giant ring, the remaining Special Stages of ''Sonic 3'' can be played by jumping on an empty pedestal. If you collect a Chaos Emerald in that stage, a gray Super Emerald will appear on the pedestal. If you jump on a gray Super Emerald instead you will play a ''Sonic & Knuckles'' Special Stage corresponding to the pedestal that the Emerald was on, and if the stage is completed successfully a Super Emerald will be rewarded and the gray Super Emerald will become colored in. It is also possible to exit the room in Hidden Palace without playing any Special Stage by stepping on the spot your character get beamed down onto.  
+
When playing ''[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles]]'' and getting to [[Mushroom Hill Zone]] with any or all [[Chaos Emeralds]], all Giant Rings will now flash rainbow colors, and instead of transporting the player to a Special Stage, they will transport them to the Emerald throne room of [[Hidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)|Hidden Palace Zone]]. All the Chaos Emeralds collected in the ''Sonic 3'' levels will disappear, but for each one collected, a greyed-out [[Super Emerald]] will be beamed down onto a pedestal in the room corresponding to the Emerald collected previously. After jumping into a flashing Giant Ring in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' for the first time, the player's character can no longer go "Super" as all collected Chaos Emeralds are no longer in their possession. While in this room, jumping on a grey Super Emerald will start a ''Sonic & Knuckles'' Special Stage corresponding to the pedestal that the Emerald was on, and if the stage is completed successfully a Super Emerald will be rewarded and the gray Super Emerald will become colored in. It is also possible to exit the room in Hidden Palace without playing any Special Stage by stepping on the spot the player's character get beamed down onto. If the player does not have a complete set of Chaos Emeralds and brings at least one of them to Hidden Palace, they will have to collect the remaining Chaos Emeralds from the ''Sonic 3'' Special Stages before they can go for any more Super Emeralds.
  
The goal is to collect all seven Super Emeralds, although doing so may require playing through more than seven Special Stages if the Chaos Emeralds in ''Sonic 3'' were not collected first. However, Super Emeralds cannot be collected until the ''Sonic & Knuckles'' levels are entered. If all the Super Emeralds the are collected, the [[Master Emerald]] will start glowing and this room will become inaccessible. Any future giant rings touched will reward fifty rings instead.
+
The goal is to collect all seven Super Emeralds, although doing so may require playing through more than seven Special Stages if the Chaos Emeralds in ''Sonic 3'' were not collected first. However, Super Emeralds cannot be collected until the ''Sonic & Knuckles'' levels are entered. If all the Super Emeralds are collected, the [[Master Emerald]] will start glowing and this room will no longer be accessible until reaching [[Hidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)|Hidden Palace Zone]]. Any future Giant Rings touched will reward fifty Rings instead.
  
{|border="1" class="prettytable"
+
{| class="prettytable"
 
!Number
 
!Number
 +
!Screenshot
 +
!Emerald colour
 
!Blue Spheres
 
!Blue Spheres
 
!Rings
 
!Rings
!Emerald colour
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#1
 
|#1
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 1 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=144|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|67
 
|67
 
|61
 
|61
|green
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#2
 
|#2
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 2 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=96|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|37
 
|37
 
|54
 
|54
|yellow
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#3
 
|#3
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 3 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=192|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|72
 
|72
 
|64
 
|64
|magenta
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#4
 
|#4
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 4 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=48|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|155
 
|155
 
|64
 
|64
|blue
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#5
 
|#5
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 5 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=240|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|54
 
|54
 
|68
 
|68
|grey
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#6
 
|#6
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 6 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=0|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|64
 
|64
 
|144
 
|144
|red
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
|#7
 
|#7
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 7 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|{{SpriteImage|Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png|crop_x=288|crop_y=12|crop_width=48|crop_height=32}}
 
|71
 
|71
 
|57
 
|57
|cyan
 
 
|}
 
|}
  
{{Sonic3&KLevels}}
+
===Secret Special Stages===
[[Category:Sonic 3 & Knuckles Levels]]
+
[[File:Yseani.gif|right|A Super Emerald]]
 +
Both ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' and ''Sonic & Knuckles'' have a hidden eighth Special Stage, both of which are not seen during normal play. They can be accessed in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' by enabling the level select and [[edit mode]], seeing the sound test to "07" and holding {{A}} when selecting the Special Stage (Act 1 being ''Sonic 3'', and Act 2 being ''Sonic & Knuckles''). In both cases, completing these Special Stages will award a gold Chaos/Super Emerald that serves no purpose.
 +
{| class="prettytable"
 +
!Game
 +
!Screenshot
 +
!Blue Spheres
 +
!Rings
 +
|-
 +
|''Sonic the Hedghog 3''
 +
|[[File:Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 8 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|51
 +
|0
 +
|-
 +
|''Sonic & Knuckles''
 +
|[[File:SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 8 Start.png|120px]]
 +
|48
 +
|64
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
==Development==
 +
According to [[Yuji Naka]], the Special Stage design of ''Sonic 3'' and ''Sonic & Knuckles'' was inspired by the Japanese ''Dragon Ball'' manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, specifically the home of Kaio-sama (King Kai in the English translation), who protagonist Son Goku meets in chapter 210 of the manga (first published 1989-01-18). Kaio-sama lives on a very small planet in "other world", and acts as a training area for Goku until he is wished back to life with the Dragon Balls. Goku (and friends) return to the planet several times during the series' run (and even blows it up at one point).
 +
 
 +
The colours of the Special Stage reflect the original level order of ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3''. That is to say, the first stage uses a colour scheme similar to [[Angel Island Zone]], the next, [[Hydrocity Zone]], then [[Marble Garden Zone]], [[Carnival Night Zone]], etc. The fifth stage however uses the colour scheme of the ''Sonic & Knuckles'' level, [[Flying Battery Zone]], adding to the evidence (alongside the ''Sonic 3'' level select) that Flying Battery was originally destined for the first game.
 +
 
 +
This colour scheme system does not fully carry through to the ''Sonic & Knuckles'' stages. Some, such as the fifth stage matching with [[Hidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)|Hidden Palace Zone]] adhere to the scheme, but others do not, likely as the levels in ''Sonic & Knuckles'' do not vary as much in terms of colour scheme.
 +
 
 +
Humorously, the "Get Blue Spheres" message was "Get Blue Balls" for a time during development.{{ref|1={{LinkRetro|topic=9334|title=Sonic Retro forum thread: Contacted J. Pataki [S3/Spinball tester<nowiki>]</nowiki>}}}}
 +
 
 +
==Other appearances==
 +
In ''[[Sonic Mania]]'', this type of Special Stage returns as the [[Bonus Stage (Sonic Mania)|Bonus Stage]], having both remixed versions of previous Special Stages presented in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'', as well as new layouts, but with the same philosophy of the original Blue Spheres, with medallions to win as a reward. The visuals have become more detailed and use a larger color palette.
 +
 
 +
==References==
 +
<references/>
 +
 
 +
{{S3Omni|collapse}}
 +
{{S&KOmni|collapse}}
 +
[[Category:Sonic the Hedgehog 3 levels]]
 +
[[Category:Sonic & Knuckles levels]]
 +
[[Category:Sonic and Knuckles levels]]
 +
[[Category:Special Stages]]

Latest revision as of 18:50, 8 February 2020

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic the Hedgehog 3
»
Levels
»
Special Stage
Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic & Knuckles
»
Levels
»
Special Stage
S3k specialstage.png
Special Stage
Special level, Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Number of Acts: 14 + 2 hidden

In Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the Special Stages (sometimes known as Blue Sphere, the name of the standalone game featuring only such special stages) are used to collect Chaos Emeralds and Super Emeralds in the game.

There are seven Chaos Emeralds, seven Super Emeralds and one Special Stage for each one. To enter the Special Stage, a Giant Ring must be found and then jumped into. These rings are well hidden - usually in secret rooms. Luckily, there are Giant Rings in every Act, and there are actually more rings available than there are Special Stages, so there will be more than enough chances to get the Chaos Emeralds.

Gameplay

All the Special Stages are in the form of a gigantic globe that will turn as it is walked on. The color of the globe's checkered floor differs in each stage. There are individual intersections, or points which in the character can turn to either side. To turn press Left or Right on the directional pad when you come to a point. It's best to hold Left or Right when going between points to turn rather than just tapping it. It is also possible to jump at any time, but it's not possible to turn in mid-air. The screen will speed up as time passes within the Special Stage. The length of the Special Stages are at a fixed length and when the player reaches the end of it the level will wrap them around to the other side, so it is not possible to walk off the side of the level.

Some sections of the level are empty but most have something on them. There are red spheres, blue spheres, white spheres with red stars on them, gold spheres (in Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Blue Sphere only), and gold Rings. The goal of the level is to avoid red spheres at all costs and collect blue spheres. If a red sphere is touched the level immediately ends. If a blue sphere is touched it will turn to a red sphere. If a white sphere with a red star on it is touched it will cause the character to bounce backward and he will continue to move backwards until Up is pressed on the directional pad, or until the character runs into another such sphere behind him. Red star spheres are bumpers that often seal off masses of red spheres. If a gold sphere is touched the player will be launched, like when touching a spring in the Zones, five spheres forward or backward (depending on what direction they're moving). The number of blue spheres remaining is shown in the top left corner. Once every one of these are collected and there are no blue spheres remaining in the Special Stage, all the spheres disappear and the player is rewarded the Chaos Emerald.

Rings are sometimes found at the beginning of a Special Stage, but usually they are obtained by transforming groups of spheres into them. This is done by touching the blue spheres on the outside of a mass of blue spheres that are at least 3 by 3 in size. All the spheres will then change into Rings, although if some of the inside spheres were red then this may not work, depending on the size of the formation. This is also possible in a formation of the appropriate size in which some of the spheres on the perimeter are already red. This sounds tricky but soon becomes second nature. It is never necessary to collect Rings but it is usually best to do so if possible, both to eliminate a mass of red spheres and because Rings give a point reward at the end of a Special Stage. Collected Rings will not add to the player's Ring tally once they exit the stage, however.

At the end of a Special Stage, 100 points per Ring are added to the score, even if the Chaos Emerald was not collected. If all the Rings in the level are collected a Perfect Bonus of 50,000 points will be rewarded, which will result in one free life. Collecting 50 or more Rings is also worth a Continue (This is indicated by a tune being played along with a sprite of the player's character posing after the point tally) and collecting 100 Rings (when possible) will earn the player an extra life (This is indicated by a sound similar to when losing Rings in a normal level). The next time a Special Stage is entered the next Special Stage will start regardless if the first Chaos Emerald is collected or not. The only way to collect Emeralds missed is to go through all the available stages until it laps back to the first levels. Once a Chaos Emerald is collected in a stage, this level will never appear again.

Number Screenshot Emerald colour Blue Spheres Rings
#1 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 1 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
102 64
#2 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 2 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
127 111
#3 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 3 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
118 80
#4 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 4 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
115 80
#5 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 5 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
58 54
#6 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 6 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
128 64
#7 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 7 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
60 74

Special Stages in Sonic 3 & Knuckles

When playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles and getting to Mushroom Hill Zone with any or all Chaos Emeralds, all Giant Rings will now flash rainbow colors, and instead of transporting the player to a Special Stage, they will transport them to the Emerald throne room of Hidden Palace Zone. All the Chaos Emeralds collected in the Sonic 3 levels will disappear, but for each one collected, a greyed-out Super Emerald will be beamed down onto a pedestal in the room corresponding to the Emerald collected previously. After jumping into a flashing Giant Ring in Sonic 3 & Knuckles for the first time, the player's character can no longer go "Super" as all collected Chaos Emeralds are no longer in their possession. While in this room, jumping on a grey Super Emerald will start a Sonic & Knuckles Special Stage corresponding to the pedestal that the Emerald was on, and if the stage is completed successfully a Super Emerald will be rewarded and the gray Super Emerald will become colored in. It is also possible to exit the room in Hidden Palace without playing any Special Stage by stepping on the spot the player's character get beamed down onto. If the player does not have a complete set of Chaos Emeralds and brings at least one of them to Hidden Palace, they will have to collect the remaining Chaos Emeralds from the Sonic 3 Special Stages before they can go for any more Super Emeralds.

The goal is to collect all seven Super Emeralds, although doing so may require playing through more than seven Special Stages if the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic 3 were not collected first. However, Super Emeralds cannot be collected until the Sonic & Knuckles levels are entered. If all the Super Emeralds are collected, the Master Emerald will start glowing and this room will no longer be accessible until reaching Hidden Palace Zone. Any future Giant Rings touched will reward fifty Rings instead.

Number Screenshot Emerald colour Blue Spheres Rings
#1 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 1 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
67 61
#2 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 2 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
37 54
#3 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 3 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
72 64
#4 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 4 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
155 64
#5 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 5 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
54 68
#6 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 6 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
64 144
#7 SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 7 Start.png
Sonic3K MD Sprite Emeralds.png
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Secret Special Stages

A Super Emerald

Both Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles have a hidden eighth Special Stage, both of which are not seen during normal play. They can be accessed in Sonic 3 & Knuckles by enabling the level select and edit mode, seeing the sound test to "07" and holding A when selecting the Special Stage (Act 1 being Sonic 3, and Act 2 being Sonic & Knuckles). In both cases, completing these Special Stages will award a gold Chaos/Super Emerald that serves no purpose.

Game Screenshot Blue Spheres Rings
Sonic the Hedghog 3 Sonic3 MD SpecialStage 8 Start.png 51 0
Sonic & Knuckles SonicandKnuckles MD SpecialStage 8 Start.png 48 64

Development

According to Yuji Naka, the Special Stage design of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles was inspired by the Japanese Dragon Ball manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, specifically the home of Kaio-sama (King Kai in the English translation), who protagonist Son Goku meets in chapter 210 of the manga (first published 1989-01-18). Kaio-sama lives on a very small planet in "other world", and acts as a training area for Goku until he is wished back to life with the Dragon Balls. Goku (and friends) return to the planet several times during the series' run (and even blows it up at one point).

The colours of the Special Stage reflect the original level order of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. That is to say, the first stage uses a colour scheme similar to Angel Island Zone, the next, Hydrocity Zone, then Marble Garden Zone, Carnival Night Zone, etc. The fifth stage however uses the colour scheme of the Sonic & Knuckles level, Flying Battery Zone, adding to the evidence (alongside the Sonic 3 level select) that Flying Battery was originally destined for the first game.

This colour scheme system does not fully carry through to the Sonic & Knuckles stages. Some, such as the fifth stage matching with Hidden Palace Zone adhere to the scheme, but others do not, likely as the levels in Sonic & Knuckles do not vary as much in terms of colour scheme.

Humorously, the "Get Blue Spheres" message was "Get Blue Balls" for a time during development.[1]

Other appearances

In Sonic Mania, this type of Special Stage returns as the Bonus Stage, having both remixed versions of previous Special Stages presented in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, as well as new layouts, but with the same philosophy of the original Blue Spheres, with medallions to win as a reward. The visuals have become more detailed and use a larger color palette.

References


Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic3 title.png

Main page (S3&K)
Maps
Achievements
Comparisons (S3&K)


Manuals
Promotional material
Magazine articles
Merchandise


Development
Hidden content (S3&K)
Bugs (S3&K)
Region coding
Hacking guide

Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic & Knuckles title.png

Main page (S3&K|KiS2|Blue Sphere)
Maps (S3&K)
Achievements
Comparisons


Manuals
Print advertisements
TV advertisements
Magazine articles
Merchandise


Development
Hidden content (S3&K)
Bugs (S3&K)
Region coding
Hacking guide