Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Hidden content

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Level select + Debug mode


Right after the Sega logo's screen darkens and Sonic starts jumping towards the screen, quickly press Up Up Down Down Up Up Up Up. This code is notoriously hard to do, due to the weird frame windows, but if performed correctly, the Ring collection sound will play. In the Sonic Jam version of the game the code is entered on the title screen and no precise timing is required. Press Down twice (or Up once) to see a "Sound Test" option on the title screen.

Pressing C on the level select screen increments a counter that determines the players' characters in the Competition mode Zones, with the first controller incrementing the left counter and the second counter incrementing the right:

This cheat also enables debug mode, which is activated by holding A and pressing Start to choose a level. A Game Genie code for accessing the level select is also available. During gameplay:

  • Press C+B to cycle through all mapping frames of the character when in normal mode.
  • Press B to toggle normal and debug mode.
    • Press A to advance forward through the debug object list.
    • Press A+C to advance backwards through the debug object list.
    • Press C to place the selected object at the current coordinates.
  • During pause press A to fade to black and restart from the level select screen.
  • During pause press and hold B to enable slow-motion (this proceeds at half-speed for as long as the B button is held down).
  • During pause press C to advance one frame.
  • Current coordinates are designated by the top line of hex digits in the HUD.
  • Viewport coordinates are designated by the bottom line of hex digits in the HUD.

All Chaos Emeralds


Play sounds 02, 04, 05, 06 in the sound test. A Chaos Emerald sound will confirm correct entry.

Eighth Special Stage

Sonic3 MD SpecialStage8.png
Sonic3 MD Map SpecialStage 8.png

Go the level select, play any sound between 00-07, and press A + Start on the "Special Stage 2" selection to choose a particular Special Stage. Playing 07 will load an eighth Special Stage layout that is not used in normal play.

This Special Stage consists of a long spiral towards the center. There are no Rings to collect, which will make getting a Perfect Bonus impossible. Clearing this Special Stage awards a grey Chaos Emerald that has no special effect in-game, and does not appear on the results tally in any form other than a score increase.

Night mode

Sonic3 MD NightMode.png

Enable the level select, then select a Zone and press C+Start.

Unused content


Art Description
Sonic in his signature "waiting" pose, but instead of pointing towards the direction he's facing, he falls asleep from boredom instead. Never used in-game. The version of Sonic Jam uses this animation.
Sonic whistling. Not used in-game.
Sonic Retro
reveals that this animation may have been paired with a "Help-Item" mentioned in a German magazine article. Sonic would have broken the monitor, used the whistling animation, and then Tails would fly in from out-of-screen to carry Sonic around as he pleased, similar to a second player controlling Tails while holding the first player. A whistle sound which is probably related to this can be heard when breaking S-monitors and at the beginning of Doomsday Zone. It was also used in the version of Sonic Jam.
A black & white version of Sonic's death sprite, similar to the one seen in the previous two games. It's still not used.
Sonic3 Unused Sonic FBZ.gif
Sonic 3 alone Unused Tails FBZ.gif
These animations would later be used for Flying Battery Zone's monkey bars in Sonic & Knuckles.
Sonic 3 Unused Sonic holdon Vertical.gif
Sonic 3 alone Unused Tails horizontal hold.gif
These animations would later be used for Knuckles' wind trap in Sonic & Knuckles.
Sonic 3 FBZ Unused.png
Sonic 3 alone Unused Tails.png
These sprites would later be used for swinging off the poles in Mushroom Hill Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
Sonic 3 alone unused sonic sprite.png
Sonic 3 alone unused Tails sprite SOZ.png
These sprites would later be used for cascading down the towers in Sandopolis Zone in Sonic & Knuckles.
Sonic 3 unused data slect Knuckles.png
Knuckles on the Data Select screen. This can be seen when trying to play as Knuckles in Sonic 3.
Sonic 3 Unused Knuckles Continue sprites.gif
Leftover sprites for Knuckles on the continue screen. Later used in Sonic & Knuckles.
Sonic 3 unused Knuckles text.png

Sonic3 unused Knuckles icon.png
Knuckles text which would have been used upon Act and Special Stage completion. Knuckles's life icon also remains in the game, albeit unused. Both were later used in Sonic & Knuckles.
Leftover animation from the continue screen in Sonic 2.
Unused Gliding/Climbing animations exist for Knuckles in two-player mode, even though he doesn't have the ability to glide or climb while in two-player.
Smaller rendition of the Death Egg. It seems to be part of a Death Egg hologram projector which was also unused in Sonic & Knuckles.
Diagonal frames of the Penguinator from IceCap Zone. These can be seen for a split second if they are placed on the large hill at the beginning of Act 1 using debug mode.
Unused running frame where Eggman has a different facial expression.
An unused Eggman object discovered by Nemesis. It appears to be nothing more than Eggman flying away towards the horizon. Purpose is unknown.
Sonic 3 Flying Battery icon.PNG
An unused Data Select icon for Flying Battery Zone, from the days when Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were to be a single game. The Sonic 3 icon can be found in both the PC and Mega Drive versions of Sonic 3, and can be viewed by hacking the SRAM for the game to access level slot $04, or by using the PAR codes 00C324:601E and 00C338:6002 to view the icon in a completed game save slot while scrolling through the levels. The Sonic 3 & Knuckles icon is displayed here for comparison.
Leftover signpost sprites identical to Sonic 2's that remain in both this game and Sonic and Knuckles. Additionally, there's art for Knuckles, which is close to the final art, but with less shading. His nose is thinner and more of his spines cover the signpost.


Placeable in edit mode

Art Description
Sonic3K MD Sprite Monitors.png
An "S" monitor, which transforms Sonic into Super Sonic when broken.
Sonic3 MD Sprite AIZ2BreakableWall.png
A breakable wall in Angel Island Zone Act 2, which can only be placed with debug mode and is destroyed with a Spin Dash on the ground. A similar object is used as a wall that is opened with a switch.
Sonic3 MD Sprite CNZButton.png
A button of unknown purpose. It can be placed in either Act of Carnival Night Zone via debug mode, but it doesn't appear to do anything. Also unused in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Sonic3 MD Sprite CNZDebugRing.png
An unknown Ring-like object that appears to spawn slope collision when placed. It is placeable in Carnival Night Zone.
Sonic3 MD Sprite ICZBreakableBlock.png
A glowing block that can be placed in either Act of IceCap Zone via debug mode. Jumping on it destroys it like the ice blocks. Also unused in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
Sonic3 MD Sprite CompetitionSpikes.png
A set of spikes for Competition Mode. However, spikes do not appear in any of the five Zones, but they can be placed with debug mode.

Red revolving spheres


This is a spinning mass of red spheres, placeable by debug mode in the first part of Angel Island Zone Act 1. The spheres look similar to those appearing in the game's Special Stage. When it is placed, many palette and VRAM complications occur in the level, and the game slows down considerably. It can be manipulated with the second controller:

  • Up — Rotates the object vertically.
  • Right — Rotates the object horizontally.
  • Down/Left — Moves the object up or down.
  • A/C — Changes the object's size.
  • B — Rotates the object sideways.
  • Start — Toggles automatic rotation.

This object was originally used to test the 3D mechanics of the Special Stage in the November 3rd prototype.


Art Description
Sonic3K MD Sprite Monitors.png
A blank monitor that harms the player when broken. Set a monitor subtype to 00 to view it in-game.
Blaster, who is intended for Flying Battery Zone with leftover code. Its projectiles can be destroyed like regular Badniks.
Technosqueek, who is intended for Flying Battery Zone with leftover code.



  • 09: Flying Battery Act 1 (The loop point in the "echo" track of the lead instrument is set slightly later than the rest of the tracks. This leads to the song falling further and further out of sync each time the song loops. This was fixed in Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3 & Knuckles)
  • 0A: Flying Battery Act 2
  • 0F: Mushroom Hill/Valley Act 1
  • 10: Mushroom Hill/Valley Act 2
  • 11: Sandopolis Act 1
  • 12: Sandopolis Act 2
  • 13: Lava Reef Act 1
  • 14: Lava Reef Act 2/Hidden Palace
  • 15: Sky Sanctuary
  • 16: Death Egg Act 1
  • 17: Death Egg Act 2
  • 18: Sonic & Knuckles Act 1 Boss (not totally unused as it can be heard while fighting the Hydrocity Zone boss by jumping out of the water after the drowning music starts)
  • 1A: The Doomsday Zone
  • 1B: Glowing Spheres Bonus Stage
  • 1D: Slot Machine Bonus Stage



Some data for Knuckles seems to be in the game still. Using Game Genie codes created by LocalH (ASCA-AAHC + ASCA-BA9Y), Knuckles character select and continue icons will appear in game. The level clearing text and the end sign will also have Knuckles graphics. The player will still be playing as Sonic.

Leftover Sonic 2 menus


By setting the game's screen mode to $24, the Sonic 2 options menu can be accessed in Sonic 3. Either use the following patch code:


Or follow the instructions on SCHG How-to:Restore Sonic 2 Menus to Sonic 3.

Sonic 2's level select code can be entered here, along with Sonic 3's otherwise pointless debug mode code.

The 2-player menu from Sonic 2 can also be found by setting the screen mode to $1C, or using the following patch code:


Not much can be done in this menu however, each Zone is X'ed out and it plays an error sound when pressing Start.

Surfboard intro


This animation was found in the Sonic 3 ROM. It's part of an unused intro sequence that was originally used in the November 3rd prototype, in which Sonic surfs onto Angel Island, rather than riding in on the Tornado. The sprites are based on Sonic 2's style, rather than those of the final Sonic 3. This savestate (info) (45 kB) will allow you to see the full sequence in action (thanks to Nemesis).


These sprites were probably used when jumping off the board.

Scrolling credits


The game has a unused and unfinished scrolling credits routine. It can be activated by setting the RAM address FA87 to 02 during the credits screen. Just bits of letters scroll as it was not finished. A YouTube video of the scrolling ending credits can be seen here. Normally the credits scrolls through static pages of text.

True Level Order/Unused Levels


The level select menu reveals what the level order may have looked like had Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles not been split into two separate games. The Sonic 3 levels are arranged the same as they are played in the game, but Flying battery from Sonic & Knuckles can be seen listed in between Carnival Night and IceCap. Following Launch Base two more Sonic & Knuckles levels can be found, Mushroom Hill (which goes by the name Mushroom Valley here), and Sandopolis.

In a commentary found in the Sonic Jam Official Guide book, it was revealed that the transition between Flying Battery Zone and IceCap Zone would have Sonic break off the ship's door and use it as a snowboard.

Also, when a level is highlighted, a level icon from Sonic 2 is shown, with the icons appearing in the Sonic 2 order e.g. Angel Island has the Emerald Hill icon, Hydrocity has the Chemical Plant icon, Marble Garden has the Aquatic Ruin icon. Even the special stage has the Sonic 2 special stage icon. It can also be noted that the second '2P VS' level has an icon which resembles the cut 'Hidden Palace' level from Sonic 2. However, in the Sonic Jam version of the game only the sound test icon is used.

None of the zones that would later appear in S&K can be selected normally, including the S&K Bonus Stage selections.

SEGA screen technical details

The following table explains how the frames work on the SEGA screen, describing when the cheat code can be entered, when can it not, what frames have input disabled or enabled, and other info.

Description Frames in current section Frames since startup
Game startup
Input disabled 1 - 9 1 - 8 1 - 9 1 - 8
Input accepted, but ignored 10 - 30 9 - 29 10 - 30 9 - 29
Input disabled 31 - 36 30 - 34 31 - 36 30 - 34
Input enabled, but ignored 37 - 58 35 - 56 37 - 58 35 - 56
Input almost always disabled 59 - 237 57 - 235 59 - 237 57 - 235
Skipping with Start possible on 78 94 110 126 142 158 174 190 206 222 76 92 108 124 140 156 172 188 204 220 N/A N/A
Dark(ening) SEGA screen
Input enabled, but ignored 1 - 10 1 - 10 238 - 247 236 - 245
Input disabled 11 - 21 11 - 20 248 - 258 246 - 255
Cheat code input can start now
Input enabled 1 - 23 1 - 23 259 - 281 256 - 278
Input disabled 24 - 25 24 282 - 283 279
Input enabled 26 - 28 25 - 27 284 - 286 280 - 282
Input disabled 29 - 39 28 - 36 287 - 297 283 - 291
Input enabled 40 37 298 292
Input disabled 41 38 299 293
Input enabled 42 - 44 39 - 41 300 - 302 294 - 296
Input disabled 45 - 51 42 - 47 303 - 309 297 - 302
Input enabled 52 48 310 303
Input disabled 53 49 311 304
Input enabled 54 - 56 50 - 52 312 - 314 305 - 307
Input disabled 57 - 62 53 - 57 315 - 320 308 - 312
Input enabled 63 58 - 61 321 313 - 316
Input disabled 64 62 - 66 322 317 - 321
Input enabled 65 - 67 67 - 71 323 - 325 322 - 326
Input disabled 68 - 73 N/A 326 - 331 N/A
Input enabled 74 - 78 N/A 332 - 336 N/A
Input disabled, code opportunity ended 79 72 337 327

That's the reason why this code is so hard to input: the player has a short time to do it, it starts a small bit after what most people think (it was initially thought that input started when the background was starting to darken, whereas one needs to wait 21 frames, a bit before Sonic starts moving). Additionally, there are several lag frames in which the input isn't accepted.

Extra info

  • The RAM address that stores the code's progress is 00FFFFD5.
  • The game is only ready to let the SEGA screen be skipped to the darkening part on frame 59 (57 @50FPS) (which, in practical terms means frame 78 (76 @50FPS), seeing as frames 59 - 77 (57 - 75 @50FPS) are lag frames). However, the Start button can actually be used on frame 58 (56 @50FPS), and the skip will work... but the title screen music will be disabled.[1]

Cheat device codes

These are cheat codes that can only be used with game enhancer devices. Support for these codes is available in most emulators.

Game Genie

Official Codes, Sonic 3 Alone

Code Effect Reference
AWHA-CA92 Don't lose rings.
SCGT-DJYL Rings worth 2.
SCGT-DNYL Rings worth 3.
SCGT-DTYL Rings worth 4.
SCGT-DYYL Rings worth 5.
SCGT-D2YL Rings worth 6.
SCGT-D6YL Rings worth 7.
SCGT-DAYL Rings worth 8.
KRGT-CAE0 75 Rings needed for a free guy.
GLGT-CAE0 50 Rings needed for a free guy.
D4GT-CAE0 30 Rings needed for a free guy.
CWGT-CAE0 20 Rings needed for a free guy.
BLGT-CAE0 10 Rings needed for a free guy.
HCGT-DJZY Get 2 free guys for 100 rings instead of 1.
HCGT-DNZY Get 3 free guys for 100 rings.
HCGT-DTZY Get 4 free guys for 100 rings.
HCGT-DYZY Get 5 free guys for 100 rings.
HCGT-D2ZY Get 6 free guys for 100 rings.
HCGT-D6ZY Get 7 free guys for 100 rings.
HCGT-DAZY Get 8 free guys for 100 rings.
AC5A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 0.
A05A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 5 instead of 10.
B85A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 15.
CW5A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 20.
DG5A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 25.
D45A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 30.
GL5A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 50.
NW5A-CAHN Super ring powerup worth 100 (1-Up every time).
AJZA-CA8N Super Sonic doesn't lose rings.
AJ3A-CA7A Infinite lives.
AG4T-AAH4 Start with 1 life.
AL4T-AAH4 Start with 2 lives.
A04T-AAH4 Start with 5 lives.
BL4T-AAH4 Start with 10 lives.
DG4T-AAH4 Start with 25 lives.
GL4T-AAH4 Start with 50 lives.
NR4T-AAH4 Start with 99 lives.
ACAT-CAB6 Shield can be activated multiple times.
AJRT-CA8R Invincibility power-ups last forever.
986A-CAB6 Invincibility lasts almost twice as long.
KR6A-CAB6 Invincibility lasts half as long.
E06A-CAB6 Invincibility lasts 1/4 as long.
SCFT-BJT4 Only need 6 chaos emeralds.
SCFT-BNT4 Only need 4 chaos emeralds.
SCFT-BTT4 Only need 3 chaos emeralds.
SCFT-B2T4 Only need 2 chaos emeralds.
ACGA-AA8T 1 Blue sphere needed for chaos emerald.
TAYA-CRB6 Bonus jump.
AAYA-CWB6 Super jump.
AAYA-C0B6 Mega-jump.
ATST-CA38 Sonic never drowns.
AA6T-AAXC Level select menu enabled.
SCGA-BL0N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 2.
SCGA-BR0N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 3.
SCGA-BW0N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 4.
SCGA-B00N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 5.
SCGA-B40N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 6.
SCGA-B80N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 7.
SCGA-BC0N + A4GA-A28T Blue spheres worth 8.

Unofficial Codes, Sonic 3 Alone

Code Effect
ATLA-CARA Invincibility.
AAYT-CAGC Sonic can use bubble bounce (can’t use a Aqua Shield or become Super Sonic).
AAYT-CAY4 Sonic can use Electric Jump (can’t use Lighting shield or become Super Sonic).
AAYT-CAWT Sonic can Use Fireball Attack (can’t use Fire Shield or become Super Sonic).
P42S-8ABL All Powerful (Invincible, Aqua Breathe, Magnetism).
AAYT-CAHR Become Super Sonic With 0 Emeralds.
AAYT-CAH0 Become Super Sonic With 0 Rings.
D3AT-AR2E 'Sound Test' Menu Enabled.
AAZA-CAEY Don't Use Up Rings To Maintain The Super Sonic Transformation.
AE5A-AABL Enable Debug (If using an emulator, "reset" the game after entering the code).
AFLA-CARE Tails Always Swims.
VPLA-CACG Tails Never Get Tired of Flying.
ASCA-AAHC + ASCA-BA9Y Play as Knuckles (Knuckles appears at the save screen but you will control Sonic).

Action Replay

Unofficial Codes, Sonic 3 Alone

Code Effect
008630:603C Red Spheres have no effect in special stages (you can walk through them).
008672:6622 + 00868C:4E75 White and Red Star Spheres have no effect in special stages (they won't bump you backwards).
FFFE12:0009 Infinite Lives.
FFFE20:00C8 Infinite Rings.
FFF710:00 Rings Multiplier.
FFFE24:000F Stop Timer.
FFE438:0001 Only Need 1 Blue Sphere For Chaos Emerald.
FFFFB0:0007 All Emeralds Collected.
FFB02A:006E All Powerful (Invincible, Aqua Breathe, Magnetism).
FFB02F:00 Never use up shield (Sonic)
FFFFFA:0100 Enable Debug Mode.
FFFFD0:0100 Enable Stage Select.
FFFF95:00 Special Ring Always Available.


Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic3 title.png

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