Hidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)

From Sonic Retro

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic & Knuckles
Hidden Palace Zone
Hidden Palace Zone
Fifth level, Sonic & Knuckles
Number of Acts: 1
Location: Angel Island
Level theme: underground/cave
Secondary level theme: ancient ruins
Boss: Knuckles the Echidna
Maximum rings: 33 + 40
Non-English names:
Lava Reef Zone | Sky Sanctuary Zone
For the Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, see Hidden Palace Zone. For drx's website, see Hidden Palace.

Hidden Palace Zone is the fifth Zone of Sonic & Knuckles (the eleventh Zone of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). Hidden Palace Zone houses the shrine where Knuckles hides and protects the Master Emerald. As Sonic (and/or Tails), it is the setting of a major turning point in the game's storyline.


The Zone 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, the player will traverse through a short speed section with Rings, Spikes and Springs before engaging in a confrontation with Knuckles. Before this fight, the player can see the Death Egg leaving the mouth of the volcano. After the fight, a cutscene occurs in which Dr. Eggman steals the Master Emerald using a giant claw-arm attached to his Egg Mobile. Knuckles attempts to save it, but Eggman shocks him into submission. After this, Knuckles will lead the way to a Warp Point that sends the player to the next Zone, Sky Sanctuary.

As Knuckles, the Death Egg is gone from the background.

As Knuckles, the Zone merely acts as a pass-through to access the Sky Sanctuary Zone, albeit starting in a different area than Sonic and Tails are sent to—it is an upper route through the first half of the level. The Warp Point 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.

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.

The mural in the background where Sonic and/or Tails fights Knuckles depicts/predicts the final battle in The Doomsday Zone.

Via Giant Rings

In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, the player can access Hidden Palace Zone via flashing Giant Rings after clearing Launch Base Zone. The first Giant Ring encountered by each character in Mushroom Hill Zone will warp the player to Hidden Palace, where any of the Chaos Emeralds that have been collected will be transformed into greyed-out Super Emeralds, and it is up to the player to activate them by standing on them and clearing their respective Special Stages. If the player hasn't collected any Chaos Emeralds, standing in the middle of the area below the Master Emerald will send the player back. All other Giant Rings encountered afterwards will begin flashing and send the player back to Hidden Palace Zone as long as all the remaining Chaos Emeralds have been collected.

Oddly, if the player collects all the Chaos Emeralds, but avoids entering the flashing Giant Rings, the Super Emeralds will be seen in the Zone when the player eventually reaches it through the normal Zone progression. Despite this, the player's Emerald count is unchanged, and the player can still turn Super.

Hidden area

When playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it is possible for Tails (or Sonic with Tails) to access a hidden area just before the first Warp Point without using Debug Mode by flying upwards. This hidden area contains several Monitors containing a Super Ring, every type of Shield, Power Sneakers and an Invincibility. By jumping over the gap and to the right, the player will find two more Super Rings and an extra life.


Some mysteries are solved! Robotnik makes his big play, and Knuckles finds out who the REAL bad guy is!

Sonic & Knuckles US manualMedia:S&K MD US SonicJam manual.pdf[4]


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