Sonic The Hedgehog 3 - European Box Art


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 series with their now solidified mascot and release Sonic 3.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 represents the pinnacle of Sonic Mega Drive 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...

Sonic The Hedgehog 3


Knuckles the Echidna

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...


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.
Sonic's Instra Sheild Tails Flying Tails Swimming

Instra Sheild

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.
10 Rings

gives 10 rings


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

Speed Up

gives a speed boost for a short amount of time

Extra Life

Extra Life

Extra Life

Extra Life


Take a hit


act as restart markers and access to the Bonus Round (described below). Simply run past to activate.

Giant Rings

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.
Aqua Sheild

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.

Fire Sheild

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.

Electrical Sheild

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.


Angel Island Zone

Hydrocity Zone

Marble Garden Zone

Carnival Night Zone

Ice Cap 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. Save States

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.

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.

empty / transparent ball - nothing

Bounce off these

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

10 Rings

gives 10 rings

Aqua Sheild

Aqua Sheild

Fire Sheild

Fire Sheild

Electrical Sheild

Electrical Sheild

Extra Life

Extra Life


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

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.

Special StageChaos Emeralds

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

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.

Azure Lake Endless Mine

Azure Lake

Endless Mine

Balloon park Chrome Gadget

Balloon Park

Chrome Gadget

Desert Palace

Desert Palace

  • Time Attack - single player race against the clock. Your time is added to a leader board.

  • Grand Prix - plays through each of the levels against the clock or another player.

  • Match Race - a race on a stage of your choice against a second player or the clock.

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:

  • red trainers - temporary speed boost

  • blue trainers - temporary slow down

  • banana - drops a banana on the floor which causes who ever runs on it to loose control

  • ring - protects you from one hit

  • spheres - sends a drone across the level to intercept your opponent.

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

Leader Board

Leader Board


Level Select Level 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 level select screen.

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.

Extra Chaos Emerald

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. Another Special Stage with an eighth emerald awaits. This seems to have no effect on the rest of the game.

Extra Lives

On the first stage of Launch Base Zone at the start is an alarm. Make Sonic prepare for a Spin Dash and keep revving. The robot buzzing around above you will keep crashing into you and eventually they will be worth 10,000 points each. Every 5 will get you an extra life.

Debug Mode Debug Mode in Angel Island

Highlight a level on the level 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.

Different Boss Music in Hydrocity

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.


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


Sonic 3 was released as part of the Sonic and Knuckles Collection. Check out this page for more info.


You can download the soundtrack to the game in MP3 format on the Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Soundtrack Page.
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Soundtrack

Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Title Screen Music

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Sonic The Hedgehog 3 - US Art