Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic3-box-us-225.jpg
North American box art
Developer(s)Sega
Publisher(s)Sega
Director(s)Hirokazu Yasuhara
Producer(s)Yuji Naka
Designer(s)
Programmer(s)
  • Yuji Naka
  • Hiroshi Nikaidoh
  • Masanobu Yamamoto
Artist(s)
  • Takashi Yuda
  • Satoshi Yokokawa
Composer(s)
SeriesSonic the Hedgehog
Platform(s)Sega Genesis, Windows
ReleaseSega Genesis
  • NA: February 2, 1994
  • PAL: February 24, 1994
  • JP: May 27, 1994
Windows
  • JP: February 14, 1997
  • WW: 1997
Genre(s)Platform game
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Sonic the Hedgehog 3[a] is a 1994 platform game developed and published by Sega. It is part of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992). Following the events of Sonic 2, Doctor Robotnik's spaceship, the Death Egg, crash-lands on a mysterious floating island. There, Sonic and Tails must once more retrieve the Chaos Emeralds to stop Death Egg from relaunching, while making rounds with the island's guardian, Knuckles the Echidna. Gameplay is similar to previous entries, with players controlling Sonic and Tails through side-scrolling levels at high speeds while collecting rings and defeating enemies.

Development began in January 1993, shortly after the release of Sonic 2. It was initially developed as an isometric game similar to Sonic 3D Blast (1996), but became a more conventional 2D platformer due to time constraints. Sonic 3's production took place simultaneously with Sonic & Knuckles; they were developed as a single game until time constraints and cartridge costs forced the developers to split them in two projects. The Sonic & Knuckles cartridge features "lock-on" technology that allows it to be physically attached to the Sonic 3 cartridge, creating a combined game, Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Pop musician Michael Jackson reportedly composed portions of the soundtrack, but left the project and went uncredited.

Sonic 3 was released for the Sega Genesis in North America and Europe in February 1994, and in Japan the following May. As with its predecessors, the game was a critical and commercial success, with critics seeing it as an improvement over previous installments. It sold over one million copies in the United States; though this makes it one of the bestselling Genesis games, its predecessors, bundled with the Genesis in some regions, had sold a combined 21 million. The game has been rereleased in compilations and download releases for various platforms, including Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Gameplay

Sonic and Tails exploring the underwater portion of Hydrocity, the second zone

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a 2D side-scrolling platformer. At the start, players can select Sonic, Tails, or both. In the latter choice, players control Sonic while Tails runs along beside him; a second player can join at any time and control Tails separately.[1] Sonic 3 adds the ability for Tails to fly for a short time by spinning his twin tails like helicopter rotor;[1] when he tires, he falls. Unlike Sonic, Tails can also swim underwater.[2]

The game takes place over six zones,[3] each divided into two acts. Levels are populated with Robotnik's robots, called "badniks"; Sonic and Tails can defeat badniks by jumping on them or using the "spin dash" attack, which also gives the character a speed boost.[2] The levels include obstacles and other features such as vertical loops, corkscrews, breakable walls, spikes, water that the player can drown in, and bottomless pits.[4] There is a miniboss fight with one of Robotnik's large, powerful robots at the end of the first act of each level and a full boss fight with Robotnik at the end of the second.[5] Reaching a new level saves the game to one of six save slots.[6]

As with previous Sonic games, Sonic 3 uses rings, scattered throughout the levels, as a health system; when the player is attacked without rings, is crushed, falls off-screen, drowns, or exceeds the act's ten-minute limit, they lose a life and return to the most recently passed checkpoint. Dying with zero lives gives the player a game over. The levels also include power-ups in television monitors that, when hit, grant the character an extra life, temporary invincibility to most hazards, a number of rings,[7] a shield that allows them to breathe underwater, a shield that allows them to withstand fire from enemy projectiles, or a shield that attracts nearby rings.[8]

Tails in one of the special stages, in which the player can earn Chaos Emeralds
A diagram of how rings are generated by walking the perimeter of a group of blue spheres

The game contains two types of "special stages". When the player collects at least 50 rings and passes a checkpoint, they can warp to the first type,[9] which involves bouncing up a gumball machine-like corridor to earn power-ups by hitting a switch. Both sides of the corridor are lined with flippers, which disappear when the character bounces on them, and the switch drops when both flippers supporting it are removed. The corridor's floor contains a bounce pad, which also disappears after one use; falling afterwards causes the player to leave the stage with the most recent power-up collected.[10]

The second type, triggered by entering giant rings found in secret passages, involves running around a 3D map and passing through all of a number of blue spheres arranged in patterns. Passing through a blue sphere turns it red, and touching a red sphere causes the player to leave the stage, unless the player has just completed a cycle around an arrangement of blue spheres, in which case all of these spheres turn to harmless rings. Removing all of the blue spheres gives the player a Chaos Emerald; if Sonic (not Tails) collects all seven, he can become Super Sonic at will, which makes him invincible to most obstacles.[8][11] Failing to collect the seven Chaos Emeralds triggers a post-credits scene in which Robotnik and Knuckles taunt the player.[12]

Sonic 3 includes a competitive mode: two players, controlling Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles the Echidna, race through one or all of five stages that do not appear in the main game. In these same stages, a single player can compete against the clock in time attacks.[13]

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were intended to be a single game, but were released separately due to time and financial constraints.[1] The Sonic & Knuckles cartridge features a "lock-on" adapter that allows other Genesis cartridges to be physically attached to it. Connecting the Sonic 3 cartridge creates a combined game, Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The lock-on function is available in some digital releases of the games, such as the Virtual Console service for the Wii.[9]

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles allows the player to play Sonic 3 levels as Knuckles or Sonic & Knuckles levels as Tails or both Sonic and Tails.[14] Other new features are the ability to collect Super Emeralds, unlocking new "Hyper" forms for Sonic and Knuckles and a "Super" form for Tails, improved save options, access to new areas that Sonic or Tails could not previously access, altered boss forms, and an additional ending that shows Sonic returning the Master Emerald to Angel Island.[15]