Sonic The Hedgehog 3

The popularity of the now solidified SEGA mascot has just reached sky high. Sonic 2 was a massive hit and the follow up, Sonic Spinball, did fairly well despite being a game that deviated from the now traditional style Sonic platformer. SEGA continue their flagship series and release Sonic The Hedgehog 3.

Sonic The Hedgehog 3

Sonic The Hedgehog 3

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 represents the pinnacle of Sonic Mega Drive/Genesis evolution. It came whilst the Sonic craze was still in momentum and became a major success. The game introduced the character of Knuckles the Echidna who went on to become of the series most popular characters and even had a game of his own but that is a different subject entirely.

Whilst being an excellent title, Sonic 3 did leave a little bewildered. It only had half the levels the previous game had, and the story line did not have that happy Sonic ending that fans had became accustomed to. It seemed as though it was only half a game but what Sonic fans did not know at the time it was...


Dr Robotnik, after being defeated by Sonic and Tails, crashes down onto a floating island in his Death Egg. The floating island is actually Angel Island, a mysterious place of legend and secrets. The crash of the Death Egg makes it sink slowly into the ocean.

Sonic and Tails approach the scene to finish off the Death Egg but Robotnik has tricked the islands defender and protector into believing that the heroes are the villains. Knuckles is the only living descendant of an ancient civilisation that mysteriously disappeared leaving behind many secrets and mystical powers.

Knuckles intercepts Sonic and knocks the Chaos Emeralds clean out of his possession.

Sonic and Tails are kept busy by the new red fiend whilst Robotnik repairs his orbital base...

Knuckles The Echidna

A New Enemy


Sonic 3 sticks with the traditional Sonic platform formula. Progress from left, finish right with rings, special items, bad guys in the form of robots in a time limit of 10 minutes per act with finding the Chaos Emeralds a pretty important thing to do along the way. Level designs in all the Sonic games were of a higher standard than any other platformer and Sonic Team upped the stakes further with Sonic 3. However people playing the game will notice certain oddities. There will be areas that are not accessible to either Sonic or Tails and there is a very good explanation for that.

Both Sonic and Tails are playable again in this adventure. Either on their own or as in Sonic 2 with both characters on screen at the same time with Tails copying everything that Sonic does. Character selection is made via the game select screen (see saves) by pressing up or down.

Controls remain the same for both characters; D-Pad moves characters left to right, up and down for crouching, looking up and scrolling the screen when stationary and buttons A, B and C are jump. Both characters are still able to roll by pressing down when running and are still able to perform the Spin Dash move by holding down and repeatedly pressing the jump buttons to rev up.

Sonic and Tails now each have an additional signature move.

Sonic has his new Instra-Shield. By pressing jump and then jump again whilst in mid jump a small flash of energy will surround Sonic for an instant. This protects him for a split second and increases your damage radius. You can only perform this once per jump. Perfecting this will help greatly when attacking certain Badniks and Robotnik himself.

Tails is able to both fly and swim. This is also done by jumping whilst in mid jump. Repeatedly press for Tails to get some altitude. Do this in water to swim in combination with the D-Pad to move.

Special Items
Sonic's Instra Shield Tails Flying Tails Swimming

Sonic's Instra Shield

Tails Flying

Tails Swimming

The biggest advantage is that a second player controlling Tails from a pad in port 2 can now assist Sonic in reaching greater heights and routes through an act finding extra special items and rings. Hover Tails over Sonic and have Sonic jump for him to hold on. Winching Sonic does reduce the amount of time that you are able to stay in the air but tap all the buttons rapidly and you can get pretty high. When Tails gets tired he will head towards the ground.

Special Items

Ring - gives 10 rings


Invincibility - makes Sonic or Tails invincible for a short period. Sonic can still die though by being crushed, drowned or by falling off the screen.


Speed boots - gives a speed boost for a short amount of time.

Extra Life

Extra life.

Extra Life

Extra life.


Take a hit.


Lampposts - these act as both restart points and access to the Bonus Round (decribed below). Simply run past them to activate.

Giant Ring

These are hidden in each act and are the ticket to the Special Stages (described below).

In addition to the now recurring special items available for collection throughout each act there are 3 different types of shield which have specific properties to them. These shields work in conjunction with the environments in some of the zones. Sonic can only use the shields to their full advantage by performing the Instra-Shield move. All shields protect each character from 1 hit also.

Special Shields
Water Shield

Aqua/Water shield surrounds Sonic and Tails with a water barrier. With this you will not drown should you go underwater and it deflects some underwater projectiles. Sonic can become a bubble when a double jump is performed allowing for higher and more rapid jumps.

Flame Shield

Fire/Flame Shield surrounds Sonic or Tails with a rotating circle of flames. When used Sonic will turn into a fireball blazing across the screen. This shield protects you from fire balls and lava. Should you go in any water your flame is instantly out.

Magnetic Shield

Electrical/Magnetic shield adsorbs electrical power that is sent towards you such as discharges. It magnetically attracts any rings you pass by and allows Sonic to perform a higher double jump. This is deactivated should you go in any water.

Each zone has 2 acts with a boss fight at the end of each. An act is now massive in comparison to Sonic 2. Several different routes can be taken and more to find with Tails assisting you with air lifts.

At the end of Act 1 is some supped-up Badnik which when defeated the familiar Sonic sign will fall from the air. This can be deflected about the screen by jumping at it. Apart from the 100 points each hit gives there are certain places on the floor that if touched by the sign will make a special item monitor pop up. The next act is then played from where you are actually standing rather than running of the screen.

shot: Monitor POP

Act 2 is a confrontation with Robotnik. The end of the zone is represented by destroying the capsule and releasing the wildlife. There will be a brief cut scene before moving to the next zone.

There are a total of 6 zones in the game. Click on any of the names for more info.


The Zones

Angel Island Zone

Hydrocity Zone

Marble Garden Zone

Carnival Night Zone

Icecap Zone

Launch Base Zone

Click on a name for more info...

The most welcome feature of Sonic 3 is the ability to save your progress of each game. There are 6 slots available from when you press start on the title screen including an option for no save. The saved game keeps a record of your lives, continues, completed zones and Chaos Emeralds collected.

Game Saves

Game Saves

In Sonic 3, Chaos Emeralds are again collected in Special Stages. There is also a separate Bonus Round. Both are accessible through the normal play of each act.

Bonus Round

The Bonus Round is entered via the star lampposts as in Sonic 2. Activate one these by running past them and should you have 50 rings or more a circle of starts will begin rotating around it. Jump inside them to be transported.

Simply put it is a shaft with a Gumball machine inside which dispenses some of the special items found during normal play. At the start you bounce off a set of springs to the top. Springs line the walls at both sides of you. Each time you use a spring it disappears. To trigger mechanism all you must do is stay above the dispenser by either bouncing off the springs or solid gumballs. Each time a ball is released the unit moves down the shaft to the nearest spring on the wall. This gets more difficult to activate the further towards the bottom of the shaft you get. When you fall out the shaft you will exit. The gumballs yield the following rewards.

Bonus Round

empty / transparent ball - nothing.


No reward but you can bounce off these. Aim just right and you can bounce back above the dispenser.


Gives 10 rings.

Water Shield

Aqua Sheild

Fire Shield

Fire Sheild

Electric Shield

Electric Sheild

Extra Life

Extra Life


Reinstates the springs at the bottom of the shaft only sending you up high.

Special Stages

Entrance to the Special Stages is through the giant rings. There are normally at least 3 in each act and are hidden typically inside walls. The Special Stages are almost worthy of a game on their own....They are chequered globes populated with blue balls, red balls, rings and bumper balls. Your goal is to collect all of the blue balls on the grid. Touching a red ball will result in an instant exit from the stage. The bumpers will bounce you backwards by about one square which tends to happen only at the worst of times.

Giant Ring

Giant Ring

Special Stages
Special Stage Special Stage

The stage starts when you begin moving forwards about a second or two after entering. You change your direction by pressing either LEFT or RIGHT as you approach a corner on any of the squares on the surface. The floor will rotate around you. You can also jump for the distance of one ball.

The stage ends when all of the blue balls have been collected. The number you have left remaining to collect is shown in the top left hand side of the screen. Your reward will be a sparkly Chaos Emerald.

Collecting rings will earn you points and a continue credit for every 50 rings collected.

A perfect can be achieved by collecting all of the rings possible in the stage for a reward of 50.000 points. This number varies, some rings are free for collection on the globe however the majority of them are locked inside of the red balls. To release them approach a field of blue balls however go around the perimeter of the collection. Upon collection of the last blue ball the red balls behind you and those inside of the group will become rings.

Super Sonic
Super Sonic Super Sonic

Sonic 3 has 7 Chaos Emeralds to collect. Upon collection of all of these you will then have the ability to again transform into Super Sonic. As his royal goldness you have double your speed, acceleration, are invincible and can jump twice as high. Similar to Sonic 2 your Super Sonic mode is activated when you perform a double jump with 50+ rings. For each second that you are Super Sonic a ring is deducted. Once you have collected all of the Chaos Emeralds the giant rings for entrance to the Special Stages will be worth 50 a useful rings each. If you are playing as Tails you are out of luck as he remains his old self.

Collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds will have a slight effect of the ending of the game.

Competition Modes

Sonic 2 introduced the concept of slit screen 2 player action. Sonic 3 improves on this greatly. There are 3 of play, another playable character and new levels and a marked improvement in the graphics. All these are accessed through Competition on the title screen.

For Sonic 3, 5 mini levels have been specifically designed for competition.

Competition Mode Zones
Azure Lake Endless Mine

Azure Lake

Endless Mine

Balloon Park Chrome Gadget

Balloon Park

Chrome Gadget

Desert Palace

Desert Palace

For competition modes Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are available for selection. Some characters are better suited for some levels than others. Sonic has his obvious speed ability, Tails with his flight and Knuckles has better breaking and acceleration abilities.

If special items are turned on they will rotate as icons in a static position in the courses. Special item activation is via the monitor icons initial competition screen. A monitor with a cross turns items off and a monitor on their own allows all items. They equate to the following:

All stats relating to competition modes are stored in the back up ram on the cartridge on a leader board of top 5.




Zone Select

Probably the trickiest Sonic cheat to do but it can be done. When the games fires up, as the SEGA logo fades and Sonic begins leaping at you; quickly press Up, Up, Down, Down, Up, Up, Up, Up. You should hear a ring sound and underneath Competition option should be Sound Test. Choose this for the zone select screen.

Level Select

Super Sonic

On the level select screen play tunes 02, 04, 05, 06. A Chaos Emerald sound will play. Start the game, collect 50 rings, do a double jump and you are Super Sonic.

Chaos Emeralds Early

At the Zone Select screen highlight Special Stage 2 and press START. Upon earning the Chaos Emerald the game will start in either Angel Island or the zone where you came. Pause the game and press A to return to the Zone Select screen. Play another Special Stage until all of the Chaos Emeralds have been collected. Alternatively use the Super Sonic Cheat.

Extra Special Stage/Chaos Emerald

On the Zone/Level Select Screen, play tunes 01 and 0F. Highlight "Special Stage 2". Hold A and press Start. A Special Stage that is not part of the usual game is played. The extra Chaos Emerald does nothing.

Alternatively, On the level select screen play tunes 1, 3, 5, 7 and there will be a ring sound. Highlight "Special Stage 2" hold A and press start.

Easy Points In Launch Base Zone (Extra Lives)

Move Sonic into the alarms on the floor. Remain inside revving for a Spin Dash. The enemies will come down and eventually be worth 10,000 points each. Every 50,000 will earn an extra life.

Debug Mode

Highlight an act on the zone select screen. Hold down A and press start to activate debug mode.

During the game press B to select an item, A to toggle through the items and C to place an object in the level.

With game paused, A = Reset, B = Hold for slow motions, C = Advance one frame

Debug Mode

Cycle through Animations

Whilst in Debug Mode press B+C to quickly cycle through Sonic or Tails' animations.

Alternate Angle Island Zone Act 2

The area Knuckles would play through in S+K is contained within the Sonic 3 cartridge and can be played / explored with the debug cheat.

Different Boss Music in Hydrocity Act 1

During the boss in Hydrocity Zone Act 1 stay under the water until the running out of air countdown starts. Then jump out the water and the music will be that from the bosses of Sonic and Knuckles. Spooky.

Play Any Act At Night

At the Zone / Level select screen, highlight an act hold down C and press Start. The act will play at night in the same manner as Carnival Night Zone Act 2.

Competiton Modes In Zone Select

Select 2P VS (item) 1 cycles through the competitions none stop.


Angel Island is the quint essential tropical first stage of any Sonic game. The graphics at the start of this level are excellent. The lush jungle with waterfalls create an idyllic setting. Robotnik soon appears and sets the entire region on fire. The landscape gets scorched and the plant life smoulders away.

Robotnik plays hide and seek with the waterfall in the background moving in front and behind. When in front the is vulnerable but fires huge fireballs. The fire shield will provide full protection. When he first appears he will destroy the rope bridge.

Angel Island Zone
Angel Island Zone Act 1 Angel Island Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Angel Island Zone Act 2 Angel Island Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


Hydrocity is a cross between Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2 and Labyrinth Zone from the original Sonic. Lots of water but with loads of steep slopes allowing you to gain some incredible speeds. Plenty of moving platforms and loads of fans around to make you hover in the air. The rev-up treadmills are an excellent touch. Sonic stands on a small rotating platform and then is let off at speed. When you rocket down the side of a wall and glide across the top of the water is what Sonic is all about.

Robotnik is fought in a shallow depth of water. He creates a vortex which can suck Sonic up to his propellers. He then drops that will explode after a few seconds. A correctly timed jump onto their fountain will push you upwards in order to get a hit.

The aqua shield will allow for jumps high enough to land a hit.

Hydrocity Zone
Hydrocity Zone Act 1 Hydrocity Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Hydrocity Zone Act 2 Hydrocity Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


Marble Garden comes across as a clean scrap yard. Loads of lethal contraptions litter the area. Spikes, swinging clubs, collapsing platforms as well as some lethal oil for you to drown in. Hovering spinning tops are used to glide across the floor and smash through platforms.

Your encounter with Robotnik this time is in the air. Tails must carry you through the battle. He must be attacked without touching his drill.

Marble Garden Zone
Marble Garden Zone Act 1 Marble Garden Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Marble Garden Zone Act 2 Marble Garden Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


One of the more irritating and perilous zones is set against a glitzy backdrop that is not a casino. Plenty of bumpers, wheels and springs adorn the zone and cannons that blast Sonic/Tails about the place. Some great speed can be had when spiralling down twisty slides!

Mid-way Knuckles appears and turns off the lights making the level dark and dingy. You proceed underwater where balloons must be popped for that essential oxygen.

Robotnik has a particularly nasty invention on this level. He dumps a big metallic ball and generates an electric field around it which pulls you in. He must be attacked just after he drops his ball and when he lowers down to retrieve it.

Carnival Night Zone
Carnival Night Zone Act 1 Carnival Night Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Carnival Night Zone Act 2 Carnival Night Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


Sonic leaps onto a snow board and glides down a mountain to then make his way into a an ice cave. Moving blocks of ice are of particular danger and robotic penguins litter the floors. The drones protected by icicles can be defeated easily with the fire or magnetic shield.

Icicles pose a sharp threat. Sonic can easily be frozen by any of the gas ejections. Should Tails be on hand he sometimes breaks you out quickly enough as to not loose your rings.

Robotnik hovers and drops out a spiked platform. Plumes of freezing gas are emitted in sequence. When there the centre is clear jump on and score a hit. The fire shield will provide protection from the gas. Beware not to touch the spikes.

Icecap Zone
Icecap Zone Act 1 Icecap Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Icecap Zone Act 2 Icecap Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


Robotnik's Death Egg has finished repairs and is prepping for launch. Here is where it's going to happen. Launch Base has plenty of pipes, moving platforms, lasers and plenty of Robotnik’s mechanoid minions.

Getting closer to his Death Egg, his contraptions are now more elaborate. First he will take charge of a cannon. This will fire a ball from alternate slots on the wall beginning with the top. Use the lowering platform as leverage to reach.

After commandeering one of the docs pods Knuckles awaits. After trying to mow him down the launch of the rockets promptly take him out.

For the next encounter his machine is stacked in 3 sections each with lasers. A hit must be landed from above, however watch the mine that orbits his head.

For his final attack he outfits his pod with formidable defences. The huge claw will grab if wondering to close which his movement about the screen makes difficult to avoid and the spikes make it difficult to attack. Hits can be made face on as he moves off the screen diagonally. Perfecting the use of the Instra-Sheild will benefit greatly.

Launch Base Zone
Launch Base Zone Act 1 Launch Base Zone Act 1

Act 1

Act 1 Boss

Launch Base Zone Act 2 Launch Base Zone Act 2 Robotnik

Act 2

Act 2 Robotnik


Sonic 3 works perfectly with Kega Fusion, Gens and Gens32. You can download these from the Mega Drive/Genesis Emulators Page.



Xbox Live Arcade Achievements



Gamer Points

Complete The Game

Finish the game.


Fast Freeze

Complete the Icecap Zone.


Complete Chaos

Collect all seven Chaos Emeralds.


Points III

Score 80,000 points.


Marble Finishes

Finish the Marble Garden Zone.


Wet Feet

Run across water.


Wet and Wild

Finish the Hydrocity Zone.


Points II

Score 40,000 points.



Collect a Chaos Emerald.


Half Way There...

Collect 50 rings.


Goodie Gumballs

Get a blue gumball.


Points I

Score 20,000 points.



Sonic 3 was released as part of the Sonic & Knuckles Collection. Check out the Sonic & Knuckles Feature for more info.


You can download the soundtrack to the game in either FLAC or MP3 format on the Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Soundtrack page.

Sonic 3 Soundtrack
Sonic The Hedgehog 3



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