Sandopolis Zone

From Sonic Retro

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic & Knuckles
Sandopolis Zone
  • Act 1
  • Act 2
Sandopolis Zone
Third Zone, Sonic & Knuckles
Number of Acts: 2
Location: Angel Island
Level themes: desert/western, spooky/supernatural
Sub-boss: Guardian
Boss: Egg Golem
Maximum rings, Act 1: 383 + 210
Maximum rings, Act 2: 284 + 80
Non-English names:
Flying Battery Zone | Lava Reef Zone

Sandopolis Zone is the third Zone of Sonic & Knuckles (the ninth Zone of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles) and is separated into two parts: a sandswept, quicksand-filled desert for Act 1, leading to a giant, labyrinthine pyramid for Act 2. The latter one is well known for featuring ghost enemies.


Sandopolis Zone is a fairly long level, taking on a more platform-based, puzzle-oriented style than most levels before it. The Zone is entered by all characters falling from the sky into the sand at the beginning, requiring the player to press a button to jump out of the sand. Puzzle navigation is crucial in Act 1, as the player has to move stone blocks out of their path and onto small wheels to ride on, jumping up and riding along "sandfalls", and grabbing on to hanging rope handles to abseil down long ravines to progress. The Zone is also filled with catapults that launch the player diagonally, as well as networks of diagonal sand slides. Sinking into the quicksand pits throughout the Zone will either lead to lower routes or to death, but they can be escaped by repeatedly jumping.

At the end of Act 1, a giant pyramid rises from the sand, releasing the Guardian. Once it is defeated, the player enters the pyramid where Act 2 takes place inside. The torches in the background of Act 2 are not just for decoration; they serve as actual illumination for the level and will progressively get dimmer until a light switch is pulled. The light has 4 stages: bright, semi-bright, dim and dark. The pyramid is also filled with timed doors operated by heavy black switches that have to be pushed or Spin Dashed into, and a section with rising sand halfway through.

The player (unintentionally) meets the Hyudoro by falling on a Capsule in Sonic and Tails' story and they then attempt to thwart the player's travels throughout the rest of the Act. The Hyudoro are likewise affected by the light; as the lights get darker, the ghosts get more powerful and aggressive. They are at their most powerful when the lights go out, and at that point they can physically hurt the player. If Act 2 is being navigated by Knuckles, the Hyudoro have already been freed prior to Knuckles' arrival (possibly due to Knuckles' story taking place right after Sonic's, or, out-of-universe, Knuckles' ability to avoid it otherwise) and will immediately attack him upon the start of the level, as it is dark.

After Act 2, the Zone is exited by Sonic and/or Tails falling into some kind of hole in the ground, or by Knuckles just walking over it (both ways lead to Lava Reef Zone).


No desert has shiftier sands than this treacherous terrain. Play the sands to your advantage. Time your attack on the Skorp just right!

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

Here's the desert stage, something that hadn't appeared in the series until this point, so we were able to make it relatively free of earlier influences. The ghosts appearing in the second half are the first enemies who weren't made by Eggman. When he infiltrated the pyramid, he must have worked very hard to trap them inside that box.

Takashi IizukaSonic Jam Official Guide[5]


Skorp — Scorpion Badniks that whip out their stingers.
SandwormCaterkiller-like bots that dig in the quicksand.
Rock'n — Robots guarded by sand blocks.
Hyudoro — Ghost enemies inside the pyramids.


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In other media

Sonic the Comic

Sandopolis Zone as it appears in Sonic the Comic #47.

In the Sonic the Comic series, Sandopolis Zone is first visited by Sonic and Knuckles in issue #47 in their attempt to stop the Death Egg from launching, only to run into Captain Plunder and his Sky Pirates, who have come to loot the treasure of the Lost Pyramid of Sandopolis. When the pyramid is unearthed, the Guardian is released, and Captain Plunder and his crew sneak into the pyramid while Sonic and Knuckles are distracted by the Guardian. After activiating the lighting system, the pirates smuggle as much of the treasure as they can, only for the lights to go out and the pirates to be chased out of the pyramid by the Hyudoro, abandoning the stolen treasure in the process. Knuckles would then bury the pyramid in sand again.

In the Knuckles Knock-Out Special, the pyramid is unearthed a second time by Nack the Weasel using his shrinking technology to shrink the sand, and he somehow reprograms a second Guardian to get in Knuckles and the Chaotix's way. The weasel manages to loot the pyramid of its treasure, shrinking it down into a box to carry it more easily, and escape by plane. However, Knuckles uses Nack's shrink ray on the treasure to enlarge it and destroy Nack's plane, preventing him from getting away. Knuckles is then left to pick up the treasure, which had scattered all over the desert.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie comics)

In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs, Eclipse the Darkling and the Dark Arms make it across Sandopolis Zone with the Master Emerald in order to reach Launch Base Zone and escape while being pursued by Knuckles and Shadow. Rouge would attempt to slow him down by activating the Guardian.


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