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''[[Sonic the Hedgehog 3]]'' has gone through several changes over its development process. There are several rejected ideas, levels, and other things that were left on the cutting room floor. The following details several of these things.
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''[[Sonic the Hedgehog 3]]'' and its sequel ''[[Sonic & Knuckles]]'' went through many ideas and changes during the development process. What follows is a collection of items related to the game's development.
  
==Development Process==
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==Game Development==
According to sources, such as the Japanese ''[[Sonic Jam]]'' strategy guide and [[Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Behind the Scenes (GamesTM issue 60)| issue 60 of Games TM]], ''Sonic 3'' began development as a isometric game, similar to ''[[Sonic 3D]]'', but this idea was abandoned as the development team did not want a radical departure from the traditional Sonic forumla so soon.
 
  
===Sonic 3 Part One===
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[[File:MTV Yasuhara.png|thumb|190px|Hirokazu Yasuhara working inside Sega.]]
The game was envisioned to be quite large but many levels were shaved off the final release and later used in ''[[Sonic & Knuckles]]''. This was likely due to time constraints and the manufacturing costs of a 32 MB cartridge with battery. Thus ''Sonic 3'' became half as large as it was intended to be. Official artwork refers to this game as ''Sonic 3: Part One''. According to issue 60 of Games TM magazine the decision to split the game in two was probably made before the Alpha development stage of ''Sonic 3'', which would be quite early.
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In the wake of ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)|Sonic the Hedgehog 2]]'' and its tremendous success in the west, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that another sequel would be created in the franchise. Wanting to keep the ball rolling, Sega once again looked towards the [[Sega Technical Institute]] and the now-veteran game creators [[Yuji Naka]] and [[Hirokazu Yasuhara]] to create a third entry in the main numbered series. Fresh from the intense creation of the second game, Yuji Naka at first hit the same hesitation that he had when approached with ''Sonic 2'', not wanting to simply work on the same game over and over again. He finally agreed to be a part of the project if he was allowed to work primarily with the Japanese-half of STI, hoping to avoid much of the drama that resulted during the last game because of the differences between the Japanese and American work culture. Also fishing for a promotion, Sega decided to give in to Naka's demands, knowing how important the game was and its almost assured success. Giving him the title of Producer, Naka was granted the freedom he had been looking for, once again embraced into the staff of Sega of Japan. Not wanting to leave the American side of STI in the dust, Sega gave them a separate ''Sonic the Hedgehog''-related project to work on that would fill in a gap in scheduling between ''Sonic 2'' and ''Sonic 3'', ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball]]''.
  
===Sonic 3 Limited Edition===
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At first, work on ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' was intended to be developed using a new technology Sega was working on with microprocessor producer Hitachi. Looking for an answer to Nintendo's Super-FX Chip, Sega licensed the SH-1 chip (meant to be dubbed the "Sega Virtual Processor") that would be placed in specific [[sega:Sega Mega Drive|Sega Mega Drive]] cartridges, allowing rudimentary 3D graphics. With Naka's interest in taking the franchise in new directions, the original plan was to use the chip to create an isometric world for [[Sonic the Hedgehog|Sonic]] to run in (the perspective similar to what was used in ''[[Sonic Labyrinth]]'' and ''[[Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island]]'') which would have resulted in a vastly different game. However, Sega refused [[Sonic Team]]'s demands, stating that the chip would not be ready to use before they wanted ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' to hit store shelves. Instead, the development team decided to create another traditional two-dimensional platformer. In the end, the only title released by Sega to use the chip was the Mega Drive port of ''[[sega:Virtua Racing|Virtua Racing]]''.
There is evidence Sega planned to release a special version of ''Sonic 3'' with all the levels of ''Sonic 3'' and ''Sonic & Knuckles'' combined under the name ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Limited Edition]]'' as a German magazine referring to it has been found as well as internal Sega papers. More info is available on the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Limited Edition article.
 
  
==Michael Jackson involvement==
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[[File:Possible S3 Concept Art.png|thumb|190px|A collection of art possibly related to ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3''. From the MTV Special "Inside ''Sonic & Knuckles''."]]
[[Michael Jackson]] was apparently involved in composing for ''Sonic 3'''s soundtrack, but never credited. Several similarities between Jackson songs and tracks from the soundtrack are documented on [[Michael Jackson|his article]]. [[Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Behind the Scenes (GamesTM issue 60)|GamesTM magazine]] claimed that compositions of his were implemented in the game before having to be hastily replaced. Moreover, when the game was ported to the PC as part of ''[[Sonic & Knuckles Collection]]'', several songs were replaced with MIDI versions, with one suggested cause being Jackson's involvement in their composition.
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As the plans for the game were laid out, Yasuhara and Naka wanted to create a large, sprawling game, grander in scope than any Sonic title to date, essentially accomplishing what they had hoped to do in ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2'' but couldn't due to time constraints. [[sega:Roger Hector|Roger Hector]], a director at STI and Executive Coordinator for ''Sonic 3'' and ''[[Sonic & Knuckles]]'', knew almost from the start that such an ambitious project might be impossible in the form they wanted to take it.
  
Theories for Jackson's absence in the credits include him being dropped due to child molestation allegations. A more recent [[Michael Jackson#Brad Buxer Interview|2009 interview with Brad Buxer]] (one of the composers credited) confirmed that he and Jackson collaborated on music for the game, but Jackson was not satisfied with the quality of the sound produced by the console, and that this could be a reason for his absence in the credits.
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{{quote|1=There were so many creative ideas that it would take too much time to develop such a massive project. The team brainstormed up two games' worth of material initially and it was decided, before the Alpha stage I think, that it would make more sense to split it into two games.|2=Roger Hector, Executive Coordinator, ''[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles]]''{{ref|[[Sonic 3 & Knuckles - Behind the Scenes (GamesTM issue 60)]]}}}}
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Though it was decided early on that the game may be needed to be split in half, what form this would take was still unknown, material for both games developed concurrently.
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Just as had happened in the last game, it was decided that a new character should be added to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, yet another internal competition held to decide what form they would take. [[sega:Takashi Thomas Yuda|Takashi Yuda]] would end up winning with his design, [[Knuckles the Echidna]]. Originally conceived as yet another friend for Sonic, it was decided later on that he would instead become Sonic's rival, becoming yet another obstacle for the hedgehog to overcome. When the design was presented to a focus group composed of children, the design was taken favorably except for one element: the character's color. Meant to originally be green, the research from the group led to his hue being changed to the now-classic red echidna. While the design of the character was being molded, Sega was in the process of working out a merchandising deal with Nike. In a show of good will, a white swoosh was added to Knuckles, resembling that of the Nike logo. While the deal fell through, the markings on Knuckles remained, giving him the look that would make him stand out from the rest of the cast.
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As development on ''Sonic 3'' got underway, the team decided to take inspiration from the world around them, designing entire [[Zone]]s from names of places and trips the group took together to get away from production for a couple days. [[Angel Island]], for example, was named after an island off the coast of San Francisco where the team made the game, which was once a hub for immigrants coming to America. [[Carnival Night Zone]] was inspired by the many roving local carnivals that the group would see around the area, and [[IceCap Zone]] was derived from an often-visited relaxation spot for the team.
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{{quote|1=While developing, we went snowboarding a lot at a nearby resort. People kept getting injured though… (laugh) Originally, this stage was planned to begin after zone 8 (Flying Battery Zone). Sonic was going to break down the door from the airship and make a snowboard out of it on the way down. The other characters can fly, so they wouldn't appear in that event.|2=Yuji Naka, Producer, ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles''}}
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[[File:Sonic3TitleFullBody.png|thumb|190px|Sonic the Hedgehog as depicted on the ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' title screen.]]
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As hinted at in the above quote, the fourteen Zones of ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' were already laid out, the earlier levels given higher priority due to the game being split in half. As the release date for America drew closer, it was decided that [[Flying Battery Zone]], once the fifth Zone, would be moved over to the sequel, the game ending at [[Launch Base Zone]]. Polishing up the six levels, the idea came as to how the two halves of the game would be presented. The first half, simply titled ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'', would be a game that could be standalone. However, inside the code for the game were numerous pointers and leftover data from the second half, placed there for a specific reason. Wanting people to be able to play the game as they intended, Sonic Team came up with the idea of "[[Lock-On Technology]]," which would make the next game released (titled ''Sonic & Knuckles'') "lock on" to the previous title through a specially designed port in the cartridge. It was only with the two cartridges together that the true version of ''Sonic 3'' could be played, with all three characters, bonus rounds, and the fourteen Special Stages.
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Knowing that people would be essentially paying for the one game twice over, Sonic Team decided to try and extend the "backward compatibility" of the cartridge to their previous Sonic outings. Developing a special patch that allowed the game to connect to ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2'', the public was given the option to run through the classic game with Knuckles the Echidna. The ability to play with Knuckles in the first ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' was also considered, but halted as time did not allow for the amount of work needed to make the character work properly in the game, the team focusing on the remainder of ''Sonic & Knuckles''. Instead, the "[[Blue Sphere]]" mode was created, that allowed an almost limitless amount of ''Sonic 3''-styled [[Special Stage (Sonic 3 & Knuckles)|Special Stages]] to be played through when the first game was connected.
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While in the west ''Sonic 3'' was released in February, the game would not see release in Japan until May of that year. Though no official word was given on the delay, rumor was that Sega was planning on releasing a 24-megabit version of the cartridge in Japan, but instead, released the standard version that had been in Europe and the United States, unable to hold off any longer because of import shops selling the western copy of the game.{{ref|[[Game Preview - Sonic 3 (Famitsu, June 1994)]]}} Years later, it was discovered that Sega, not content with only releasing ''Sonic 3'' and ''Sonic & Knuckles'' separately, had planned on releasing a ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Limited Edition]]'' that would take the two halves and release them as a single cart, as was originally intended. While work on this version of the game continued for a while, it was ultimately shelved, the only public release of the game being in two parts. It is quite possible that Japan was originally meant to only have this "limited edition" released, but was changed at the last minute. ''Sonic & Knuckles'' and its Lock-On powers would be released in October in all regions, including Japan.
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With the two parts finally out, much of the Japanese staff at STI decided to return to their native land, including Yuji Naka. Yasuhara, however, elected to remain in the United States. Though the reasons as to why are unknown, some rumors suggest that the legendary partnership between the two minds of Sonic had become strained, with Yasuhara not wanting to continue dealing with Naka. Whether or not this is true does not change the fact that ''Sonic & Knuckles'' truly marked the end of an era. Though he would have some input in ''Sonic 3D: Flickies Island'', ''[[Sonic R]]'', and the ill-fated ''[[Sonic X-treme]]'', it was the swan song for the man who had directed the four main Mega Drive entries in the series. The Sonic Team name would live on, however, as Yuji Naka would reunite with Sonic creator [[Naoto Ohshima]] back in Japan, where the pair would spearhead such [[sega:Sega Saturn|Sega Saturn]] titles as ''[[sega:NiGHTS into Dreams|NiGHTS into Dreams]]'' and ''[[sega:Burning Rangers|Burning Rangers]]'', and eventually return to the Sonic franchise with the [[sega:Sega Dreamcast|Dreamcast]] title ''[[Sonic Adventure]]''.
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==Music==
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{{mainArticle|{{PAGENAME}}/Music}}
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==Promotion==
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[[File:Wonderman cover.png|thumb|190px|The cover to the publicity single "[[Wonderman]]."]]
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For the release of ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'', an active publicity campaign was put behind the game. Released on February 2nd in the United States, the release date was dubbed "Hedgehog Day" by marketing, to cash in on the fact that it also happened to be "Groundhog Day." From McDonald's toys to tie-ins with Lifesavers and Spaghetti-O's, Sonic was everywhere, all amping up for the title's premiere in the states. The festivities went into full swing when the game "officially" premiered in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the home of Groundhog Day. Bringing out the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Sonic balloon, the game was ushered out in style, complete with miniature Sonic balloons for the kids, and kiosks set up in the local Junior High so everyone from the youngest kid obsessed with Sonic to the top hat-wearing guardians of the groundhog could experience ''Sonic 3'' firsthand.{{ref|http://video-game-ephemera.com/026.htm}}
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In the United Kingdom, Sega reached out to pop group Right Said Fred to compose a song connected to the game. Entitled "[[Wonderman]]", the single was released with a music video utilizing Sonic the Hedgehog imagery as well as using [[Steve O'Donnell]], one of the faces of Sega's advertising in Europe.{{ref|[[Sonic The Wonderman I'm Too Sexy - Sonic 3 (SEGA Magazine, 1994)]]}} The track peaked on the U.K. Singles Chart at #55.
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''Sonic & Knuckles'' also met with its own push, a television special airing on the MTV Network. The special, called ''Inside "Sonic & Knuckles"'' but also referred to as ''Sonic & Knuckles Rock the Rock'', was the finale of a videogame competition that had been occurring across the country. Sponsored by Sega, the program was hosted by Daisy Fuentes and Bill Bellamy. The collected finalists in the competition had to play through the first level of ''Sonic & Knuckles'', the [[Mushroom Hill Zone]], and collect as many rings as possible before reaching the end. Taking place on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, the special also featured interviews with many of the people who worked at STI, including [[Roger Hector]], [[Hirokazu Yasuhara]], [[Victor Mercieca]],  [[Adrian Stephens]], [[Howard Drossin]], [[Kunitake Aoki]], [[Chris Senn]], and [[Dean Lester]].
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The game ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' was also the first Sonic game in the west to offer an incentive to people who preordered the game, receiving a free copy of the music CD ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog Boom]]''. Although paired with ''Sonic 3'', the disc actually contained music from the American soundtrack of ''[[Sonic the Hedgehog CD]]'' and ''Sonic Spinball''. In Japan, a "[[Commercials:Sonic 3 & Knuckles#Sonic the Hedgehog 3#Japan Commercials#Sonic History Video|History of Sonic]]" VHS was given to those who preordered the game, just as a [[Commercials:Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)#Japanese Advertisements#Sonic Panic!|similar video]] was available to Japanese residents who had preordered ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2''.
  
 
==Concept Art==
 
==Concept Art==
The following are images which do not really fit with any other section.
 
  
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" >
 
Image:S3 IceSlip.jpg|Sonic in Ice Level.
 
Image:S3 IceSlip.jpg|Sonic in Ice Level.
Image:S3 Stagmites.jpg|Appears to be icicles falling.
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Image:S3 Stagmites.jpg|IceCap Zone concept art.
 
Image:S3 Surfing.jpg|Sonic snowboarding.
 
Image:S3 Surfing.jpg|Sonic snowboarding.
Image:S3 concept-.png|Just some concept art.
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Image:S3 concept-.png|Character concept art, including a "How To Draw Sonic" tutorial.
 +
Sonic3 ConceptArt 1.png
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
==Early Game Design==
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==Prototype screenshots==
These scans come from various magazines. They display different aspects that were removed from the game before release.
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Unlike ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' and ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2'', very little was previewed of ''Sonic 3'' before launch, possibly so as not to accidentally give away clues for ''Sonic & Knuckles''. Very few magazines were given access to pre-release material, and it was originally questionable as to whether prototypes were given out - although the discovery of [[Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (prototype; 1993-11-03)|a prototype build]] confirmed that at least one prototype was given out to the press.
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Recurring themes include the use of ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2'' sprites and a differing HUD, as well as some missing features like the snowboard in IceCap Zone.
  
 
===Angel Island Zone===
 
===Angel Island Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 AngelIsland3.jpg|Green HUD due to Knuckles sock palette. His socks are green in ''Sonic & Knuckles''.
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S3 AngelIsland2.jpg
Image:S3 AngelIsland4.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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GD Sonic3 AIZ 03.png
Image:S3 AngelIsland1.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites again.
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S3 AngelIsland4.jpg
Image:S3 AngelIsland2.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites again.
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GD Sonic3 AIZ 02.png
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S3 AngelIsland1.jpg
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GD Sonic3 AIZ 01.png
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GD Sonic3 AIZ 04.png|Sonic's gained some abnromally long arms in this placeholder animation.
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S3 AngelIsland3.jpg|What seems to be a later prototype - Knuckles' green socks cause many problems for ''Sonic 3'', and here they have turned the HUD green (while in the final, the HUD turns the socks yellow).
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Sonic 3 early AIZ layout.png|A cropped layout of Angel Island Act 1 that was shown off in a German magazine. The layout and some graphics are slightly altered compared to what is seen in the final.
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Sonic3 AIZ 05.png|A very late prototype, however one can notice that the blue and purple chaos emeralds switched places in final, possibly because the blue emerald blended in too much with the waterfall.
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
 
===Hydrocity Zone===
 
===Hydrocity Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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[[Hydrocity Zone]] sees the most differences to the final game, opting for a green flora background. Water is handled differently too - in the final game a pseudo-3D effect simulating the surface of the water way into the distance is created depending on the camera's Y position. Here it seems to be entirely missing, leading to the situation where a large pool of water in the background is seen underneath a large pool of water in the foreground.
Image:S3 Hydrocity.png|What's with the bubbles?  A Sonic 2 sprite again.
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 Hydrocity2.jpg|Sonic Spinning out of wall.
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S3 Hydrocity.png
Image:S3 Hydrocity3.jpg|Sonic 2 sprites again.
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S3 ProtoHCZ2.jpg|
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S3 ProtoHCZ3.jpg|
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S3 ProtoHCZ4.jpg|
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S3 ProtoHCZ1.jpg|Some different bricks in the beginning of act 2.
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GD Sonic3 HZ 01.png
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
===Carnival Night Zone===
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===Marble Garden Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 CarnivalNight1.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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S3 MarbleGarden1.png|
Image:S3 CarnivalNight2.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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S3 MarbleGarden2.jpg|
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GD Sonic3 MGZ 01.png
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GD Sonic3 MGZ 02.png
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
===Marble Garden Zone===
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===Carnival Night Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 MarbleGarden1.png|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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S3 CarnivalNight2.jpg|
Image:S3 MarbleGarden2.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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S3 ProtoCNZ1.jpg|
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S3 ProtoCNZ2.jpg|
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GD Sonic3 CNZ 01.png
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GD Sonic3 CNZ 03.png
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GD Sonic3 CNZ 04.png
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GD Sonic3 CNZ 05.png|
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GD Sonic3 CNZ 02.png|This suspicious palette of Act 2's underwater sections is thought to be an error. Apply Launch Base's underwater palette to this section and you'll get similar results.
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
===Ice Cap Zone===
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===IceCap Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 Icecap1.jpg|Sonic running down hill instead of snowboarding.
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S3 Icecap1.jpg|The most notable change in IceCap Zone is that Sonic runs down hill instead of using a snowboard.
Image:S3 Icecap2.jpg|Running again a little further down the hill.
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S3 Icecap2.jpg|Running again a little further down the hill.
Image:S3 Icecap3.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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S3 Icecap3.png|Another shot of the hill; this one happens to be zoomed in.
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GD Sonic3 ICZ 01.png|
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GD Sonic3 ICZ 02.png
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GD Sonic3 ICZ 03.png
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Sonic3 MD Development ICZ 01.jpg|Act 2 boss with act 1 palette and old HUD.
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
 
===Launch Base Zone===
 
===Launch Base Zone===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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Launch Base has minor palette differences - in Act 1, the water is blue, the sky is purple and the Death Egg is a little bit more green. This is actually consistent with the level's stage select icon.
Image:S3 LaunchBase.jpg|Sonic 2-ish sprites.
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
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S3 LaunchBase.jpg|
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S3 ProtoLBZ2.jpg|
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GD Sonic3 LBZ 01.png
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GD Sonic3 LBZ 02.png
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GD Sonic3 LBZ 03.png
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
===2 Player Mode===
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===Competition Mode===
<gallery widths="148px" heights="140px" perrow="4">
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<gallery widths="320px" heights="240px" >
Image:S3 Balloonpark.jpg|Blue countdown number instead of red.
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S3 Balloonpark.jpg|Here the countdown number is blue instead of red.
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GD Sonic3 Competition 01.png|Palette issues in the background of [[Desert Palace]].
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GD Sonic3 DPZ.png|Another layout that was shown in the German Magazine. This shows what is presumably an early layout for Desert Palace Zone that has some differences compared to the final version. Notably, the length of the course is a bit longer before it loops.
 
</gallery>
 
</gallery>
  
{{Sonic3&KOmni}}
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==External Links==
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*[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oACljLSn4SY ''Sonic the Hedgehog 3'' World Premier] - Footage from the release of the game in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, including interviews.
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*[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IFkdq3hn3U MTV's Inside ''Sonic & Knuckles'' (Rock the Rock)] - The MTV special hosted by Bill Bellamay and Daisy Fuentes showing the final round of the Sega-sponsored video game championship, as well as premiering ''Sonic & Knuckles''.
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*[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_25hXDmbyc Sonic History Video] - Promotional video for Sonic 3 detailing Sonic's origin and history up until that point.
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 +
==References==
 +
<references/>
 +
 
 +
{{S3Omni}}
  
[[Category:Game Development|Sonic the Hedgehog 3]]
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[[Category:Development]]

Latest revision as of 21:13, 3 December 2019

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and its sequel Sonic & Knuckles went through many ideas and changes during the development process. What follows is a collection of items related to the game's development.

Game Development

Hirokazu Yasuhara working inside Sega.

In the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and its tremendous success in the west, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that another sequel would be created in the franchise. Wanting to keep the ball rolling, Sega once again looked towards the Sega Technical Institute and the now-veteran game creators Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara to create a third entry in the main numbered series. Fresh from the intense creation of the second game, Yuji Naka at first hit the same hesitation that he had when approached with Sonic 2, not wanting to simply work on the same game over and over again. He finally agreed to be a part of the project if he was allowed to work primarily with the Japanese-half of STI, hoping to avoid much of the drama that resulted during the last game because of the differences between the Japanese and American work culture. Also fishing for a promotion, Sega decided to give in to Naka's demands, knowing how important the game was and its almost assured success. Giving him the title of Producer, Naka was granted the freedom he had been looking for, once again embraced into the staff of Sega of Japan. Not wanting to leave the American side of STI in the dust, Sega gave them a separate Sonic the Hedgehog-related project to work on that would fill in a gap in scheduling between Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball.

At first, work on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was intended to be developed using a new technology Sega was working on with microprocessor producer Hitachi. Looking for an answer to Nintendo's Super-FX Chip, Sega licensed the SH-1 chip (meant to be dubbed the "Sega Virtual Processor") that would be placed in specific Sega Mega Drive cartridges, allowing rudimentary 3D graphics. With Naka's interest in taking the franchise in new directions, the original plan was to use the chip to create an isometric world for Sonic to run in (the perspective similar to what was used in Sonic Labyrinth and Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island) which would have resulted in a vastly different game. However, Sega refused Sonic Team's demands, stating that the chip would not be ready to use before they wanted Sonic the Hedgehog 3 to hit store shelves. Instead, the development team decided to create another traditional two-dimensional platformer. In the end, the only title released by Sega to use the chip was the Mega Drive port of Virtua Racing.

A collection of art possibly related to Sonic the Hedgehog 3. From the MTV Special "Inside Sonic & Knuckles."

As the plans for the game were laid out, Yasuhara and Naka wanted to create a large, sprawling game, grander in scope than any Sonic title to date, essentially accomplishing what they had hoped to do in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 but couldn't due to time constraints. Roger Hector, a director at STI and Executive Coordinator for Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, knew almost from the start that such an ambitious project might be impossible in the form they wanted to take it.

There were so many creative ideas that it would take too much time to develop such a massive project. The team brainstormed up two games' worth of material initially and it was decided, before the Alpha stage I think, that it would make more sense to split it into two games.

— Roger Hector, Executive Coordinator, Sonic 3 & Knuckles[1]

Though it was decided early on that the game may be needed to be split in half, what form this would take was still unknown, material for both games developed concurrently.

Just as had happened in the last game, it was decided that a new character should be added to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, yet another internal competition held to decide what form they would take. Takashi Yuda would end up winning with his design, Knuckles the Echidna. Originally conceived as yet another friend for Sonic, it was decided later on that he would instead become Sonic's rival, becoming yet another obstacle for the hedgehog to overcome. When the design was presented to a focus group composed of children, the design was taken favorably except for one element: the character's color. Meant to originally be green, the research from the group led to his hue being changed to the now-classic red echidna. While the design of the character was being molded, Sega was in the process of working out a merchandising deal with Nike. In a show of good will, a white swoosh was added to Knuckles, resembling that of the Nike logo. While the deal fell through, the markings on Knuckles remained, giving him the look that would make him stand out from the rest of the cast.

As development on Sonic 3 got underway, the team decided to take inspiration from the world around them, designing entire Zones from names of places and trips the group took together to get away from production for a couple days. Angel Island, for example, was named after an island off the coast of San Francisco where the team made the game, which was once a hub for immigrants coming to America. Carnival Night Zone was inspired by the many roving local carnivals that the group would see around the area, and IceCap Zone was derived from an often-visited relaxation spot for the team.

While developing, we went snowboarding a lot at a nearby resort. People kept getting injured though… (laugh) Originally, this stage was planned to begin after zone 8 (Flying Battery Zone). Sonic was going to break down the door from the airship and make a snowboard out of it on the way down. The other characters can fly, so they wouldn't appear in that event.

— Yuji Naka, Producer, Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Sonic the Hedgehog as depicted on the Sonic 3 & Knuckles title screen.

As hinted at in the above quote, the fourteen Zones of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 were already laid out, the earlier levels given higher priority due to the game being split in half. As the release date for America drew closer, it was decided that Flying Battery Zone, once the fifth Zone, would be moved over to the sequel, the game ending at Launch Base Zone. Polishing up the six levels, the idea came as to how the two halves of the game would be presented. The first half, simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog 3, would be a game that could be standalone. However, inside the code for the game were numerous pointers and leftover data from the second half, placed there for a specific reason. Wanting people to be able to play the game as they intended, Sonic Team came up with the idea of "Lock-On Technology," which would make the next game released (titled Sonic & Knuckles) "lock on" to the previous title through a specially designed port in the cartridge. It was only with the two cartridges together that the true version of Sonic 3 could be played, with all three characters, bonus rounds, and the fourteen Special Stages.

Knowing that people would be essentially paying for the one game twice over, Sonic Team decided to try and extend the "backward compatibility" of the cartridge to their previous Sonic outings. Developing a special patch that allowed the game to connect to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the public was given the option to run through the classic game with Knuckles the Echidna. The ability to play with Knuckles in the first Sonic the Hedgehog was also considered, but halted as time did not allow for the amount of work needed to make the character work properly in the game, the team focusing on the remainder of Sonic & Knuckles. Instead, the "Blue Sphere" mode was created, that allowed an almost limitless amount of Sonic 3-styled Special Stages to be played through when the first game was connected.

While in the west Sonic 3 was released in February, the game would not see release in Japan until May of that year. Though no official word was given on the delay, rumor was that Sega was planning on releasing a 24-megabit version of the cartridge in Japan, but instead, released the standard version that had been in Europe and the United States, unable to hold off any longer because of import shops selling the western copy of the game.[2] Years later, it was discovered that Sega, not content with only releasing Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles separately, had planned on releasing a Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Limited Edition that would take the two halves and release them as a single cart, as was originally intended. While work on this version of the game continued for a while, it was ultimately shelved, the only public release of the game being in two parts. It is quite possible that Japan was originally meant to only have this "limited edition" released, but was changed at the last minute. Sonic & Knuckles and its Lock-On powers would be released in October in all regions, including Japan.

With the two parts finally out, much of the Japanese staff at STI decided to return to their native land, including Yuji Naka. Yasuhara, however, elected to remain in the United States. Though the reasons as to why are unknown, some rumors suggest that the legendary partnership between the two minds of Sonic had become strained, with Yasuhara not wanting to continue dealing with Naka. Whether or not this is true does not change the fact that Sonic & Knuckles truly marked the end of an era. Though he would have some input in Sonic 3D: Flickies Island, Sonic R, and the ill-fated Sonic X-treme, it was the swan song for the man who had directed the four main Mega Drive entries in the series. The Sonic Team name would live on, however, as Yuji Naka would reunite with Sonic creator Naoto Ohshima back in Japan, where the pair would spearhead such Sega Saturn titles as NiGHTS into Dreams and Burning Rangers, and eventually return to the Sonic franchise with the Dreamcast title Sonic Adventure.

Music

Sonic Retro emblem.svg Main article: Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Development/Music

Promotion

The cover to the publicity single "Wonderman."

For the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, an active publicity campaign was put behind the game. Released on February 2nd in the United States, the release date was dubbed "Hedgehog Day" by marketing, to cash in on the fact that it also happened to be "Groundhog Day." From McDonald's toys to tie-ins with Lifesavers and Spaghetti-O's, Sonic was everywhere, all amping up for the title's premiere in the states. The festivities went into full swing when the game "officially" premiered in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the home of Groundhog Day. Bringing out the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Sonic balloon, the game was ushered out in style, complete with miniature Sonic balloons for the kids, and kiosks set up in the local Junior High so everyone from the youngest kid obsessed with Sonic to the top hat-wearing guardians of the groundhog could experience Sonic 3 firsthand.[3]

In the United Kingdom, Sega reached out to pop group Right Said Fred to compose a song connected to the game. Entitled "Wonderman", the single was released with a music video utilizing Sonic the Hedgehog imagery as well as using Steve O'Donnell, one of the faces of Sega's advertising in Europe.[4] The track peaked on the U.K. Singles Chart at #55.

Sonic & Knuckles also met with its own push, a television special airing on the MTV Network. The special, called Inside "Sonic & Knuckles" but also referred to as Sonic & Knuckles Rock the Rock, was the finale of a videogame competition that had been occurring across the country. Sponsored by Sega, the program was hosted by Daisy Fuentes and Bill Bellamy. The collected finalists in the competition had to play through the first level of Sonic & Knuckles, the Mushroom Hill Zone, and collect as many rings as possible before reaching the end. Taking place on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, the special also featured interviews with many of the people who worked at STI, including Roger Hector, Hirokazu Yasuhara, Victor Mercieca, Adrian Stephens, Howard Drossin, Kunitake Aoki, Chris Senn, and Dean Lester.

The game Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was also the first Sonic game in the west to offer an incentive to people who preordered the game, receiving a free copy of the music CD Sonic the Hedgehog Boom. Although paired with Sonic 3, the disc actually contained music from the American soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog CD and Sonic Spinball. In Japan, a "History of Sonic" VHS was given to those who preordered the game, just as a similar video was available to Japanese residents who had preordered Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Concept Art

Prototype screenshots

Unlike Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, very little was previewed of Sonic 3 before launch, possibly so as not to accidentally give away clues for Sonic & Knuckles. Very few magazines were given access to pre-release material, and it was originally questionable as to whether prototypes were given out - although the discovery of a prototype build confirmed that at least one prototype was given out to the press.

Recurring themes include the use of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sprites and a differing HUD, as well as some missing features like the snowboard in IceCap Zone.

Angel Island Zone

Hydrocity Zone

Hydrocity Zone sees the most differences to the final game, opting for a green flora background. Water is handled differently too - in the final game a pseudo-3D effect simulating the surface of the water way into the distance is created depending on the camera's Y position. Here it seems to be entirely missing, leading to the situation where a large pool of water in the background is seen underneath a large pool of water in the foreground.

Marble Garden Zone

Carnival Night Zone

IceCap Zone

Launch Base Zone

Launch Base has minor palette differences - in Act 1, the water is blue, the sky is purple and the Death Egg is a little bit more green. This is actually consistent with the level's stage select icon.

Competition Mode

External Links

References


Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic3 title.png

Main page (S3&K)
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Development
Hidden content (S3&K)
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