Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog 16-bit)

From Sonic Retro

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)
Green Hill Zone
For other similarly named levels, see Green Hill Zone.
Green Hill Zone
First Zone, Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit)
Number of Acts: 3
Location: South Island
Level theme: tropical island
Boss: Egg Wrecker
Maximum rings, Act 1: 155 + 70
Maximum rings, Act 2: 123 + 40
Maximum rings, Act 3: 123 + 110
Non-English names:
Marble Zone

Green Hill Zone is the first Zone in the 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, and the very first zone in the entire series that Sonic ventures through. This zone, and all others in the game, span three acts with a boss fight at the end of the final act. The zone's graphics were created by Jina Ishiwatari.[6]

As the first zone of Sonic's first game, Green Hill Zone has become perhaps the most recognized level in the entire Sonic series, being reused in numerous other Sonic games and inspiring many others.


Green Hill Zone is a picturesque paradise with green vegetation, beautiful blue lakes and brown checkered soil. The checkers are meant to symbolize the checkered flag, which is an icon of racing culture. Green Hill has many flowers and palm trees in the foreground, some of which may hold Monitors and Springs for the player to use, as well as waterfalls with wooden bridges crossing them. The background shows a vast lake, with green forests, sharp mountains and rolling clouds in the distance.

As the first zone, Green Hill Zone is a very fast-paced level designed to demonstrate Sonic's trademark speed, with many setpieces placed for the player to build as much speed as possible. These include ramps to launch the player into the air, S-shaped tubes that Sonic will automatically roll into and the famous shuttle loops. There are many pathways for the player to choose should they feel explorative, be it high hills reachable by floating platforms, or hazard-filled lower routes, both often rewarding the player with lots of Rings for reaching them.

Hazards include crumbling platforms and spikes, with swinging platforms to carry the player over these hazards. The lower routes also have the occasional bottomless pit, resulting in instant death if the player falls down one of them. Act 3 also features spinning log bridges that are lined with spikes, so the player must take care when crossing them and jump to avoid the spiky parts.

As with all the other zones in this game, Green Hill Zone is located on South Island. After completing the game, Sonic makes a brief return to Green Hill Zone for the ending sequence, using the Chaos Emeralds to ensure South Island's prosperity if he has all of them.


A field blessed with greenery and water.
Features include looped slopes, crumbling cliffs and S-shaped tunnels.
Let's run through with good speed and timing.

Sonic the Hedgehog JP manualMedia:Sonic1 MD JP manual.pdf[1] (translation by Vertekins)[7]

Go around the giant loop, tumble down tunnels, and jump over crumbling cliffs before you get a chance to blink. Bounce on Springboards but not on spikes. Ouch!

Sonic the Hedgehog US manualMedia:Sonic1 MD US manual.pdf[8]

This is the stage that took the designers the longest to get properly arranged, and from the beginning of development the graphics were probably redone 4 or five times. The art and maps for this zone alone took half a year to produce! At the time, we were aware of computer graphics, but we tried to get that look by hand (laugh)

Yuji NakaSonic Jam Official Guide[9]


Buzz Bomber — Shoots projectiles from its stinger.
Chopper — Jumps up from under bridges.
Crabmeat — Moves back and forth slowly, shooting projectiles from both of its claws.
Moto Bug — The very first Badnik. Drives along long areas of ground.
Newtron (blue) — Materialises in sheltered areas, falls and speeds along the ground.
Newtron green spr.png
Newtron (green) — Materialises in sheltered areas to shoot a projectile, then disappears.


S2 flicky.gif
S2 pocky.gif


Spikes S1 spr.png
Spikes — Mostly found at the bottom of the level.


Act 1


Act 1 of the Green Hill Zone is fairly straightforward. Sonic is confronted with relatively few badniks and a very linear level. Simply continue on to the right, admiring the scenery. After crossing the bridge, there is a fork in the path: Sonic may fall down into the lower path, which contains the very first spikes in the game, or take the top path, which contains a few collapsing platforms and the game's first lamppost. From the starpost, Sonic may continue forward to the game's first loop, or jump up some platforms to access a series of collapsing platforms in the air that lead to a shield atop the loop.

After the loop, the path splits 3 ways: The top path contains several rings and leads to the next area via a series of collapsing platforms. The bottom path leads to an S-shaped tunnel (with a lamppost in the middle) in which Sonic can gain much speed and be propelled into the air in the next area, where many rings reside (and where the top path ends). The middle path has a shorter S-tunnel and leads to a single floating platform near the large collection of rings.

After the rings, another simple fork with relatively uneventful obstacles both lead Sonic to the act's big ring.

Act 2


Act 2 of the Green Hill Zone is also a bit straightforward, but less than act one. After you cross the first bridge, you'll find a rock that is perfect for doing the walk-jump and a sset of spikes on the left. You can choose to jump down (tricky) to get a shield and some rings from a monitor, or just continue on. Go until you find a large swinging platform. If you want to, collect the shield on the tree just beside a rock. You can either take the swinging platform to the other side or jump down for an obstacle-filled path to an 1-up.

If you went to take the shield and the rings by jumping past those spikes, you will meet the first breakable walls in the game. Spin through them and you'll find a Power Sneakers monitor on the other side, and that lower 1-up route. Actually, you can use these Power Sneakers to just jump over to the top of the loop containing the 1-up without taking that path and a red spring at the end of it.

After that loop, you'll reach the area with the spikes and moving platforms. Those moving platforms move up and down, and if you fell of them, you'll recieve a hit from the spikes and death from the bottomless pit beneath the platforms... but you can collect the invincibility on a tree before this area to be able to jump back up from the spikes and avoid death. There's a checkpoint in the middle. After this area, you're very close to the end. just continue on or get some more rings from a platform above or take the passage below.

After either jumping up from the lower passage or taking the spin tunnel down, you'll reach the end of this act.

Act 3


Technical information

ROM data and code locations

Offset Description
23A8 GHZ level palette
6DDE GHZ dynamic screen resizing
1C054 GHZ animated pattern load cue
1D17C GHZ object debug list
3BCF2 GHZ 16x16 block mappings
3C692 GHZ Primary pattern block
3DCF2 GHZ secondary pattern block
3F09A GHZ 256x256 block mappings
64A00 GHZ 16x16 collision index
68C7E GHZ Act 1 foreground
68D74 GHZ Act 2 foreground
68E40 GHZ Act 3 foreground
68F62 GHZ Act 1/2/3/ending sequence background
6B096 GHZ Act 1/4 sprite locations
6B5A0 GHZ Act 2 sprite locations
6BB5E GHZ Act 3 sprite locations

Technical notes

Green Hill Zone is followed by Marble Zone, which uses some of Green Hill Zone's tiles.

There are some bizarre bumper-flower-things you can place in the ending with debug mode. This bumper is actually one of the bumpers from Spring Yard Zone and the Special Stage, using art from Green Hill to define itself. There is also one pink flower.

Green Hill is a very commonly hacked level, and is usually the level of choice for beginning hackers; it uses relatively few tags, and the tiles (for the most part) fit together.


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