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Dr. Robotnik's Death Egg has crash-landed on Floating Island, so called because it harnesses the power of the Chaos Emeralds to float in the air. Robotnik needs them to repair the Death Egg, so he tells the guardian of Floating Island, Knuckles the Echidna, that Sonic and Tails are there to steal them. With Knuckles tricked and trying to stop the heroes at every turn, will they be able to stop Robotnik in time?

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is the third in the Sonic series of games. As with the previous games, it is a side-scrolling platformer based around speed. The basic game remains the same - players collect rings to earn extra lives, which are also used for protection, and scatter everywhere when Sonic is hurt. Sonic can jump on enemies to defeat them, and Spin Dash by holding down and the jump button, then letting go of down.

New to Sonic 3 are three different types of shields - the Fire Shield (which protects you from fire but disappears if you enter water), the Water Shield (which lets you breathe underwater infinitely) and the Electric Shield (which pulls nearby rings towards you). Sonic can use extra abilities when he has these shields by pressing jump while in the air - either a horizontal fireball dash, a vertical bubble bounce, or an electric double jump. If Sonic has no shield active, he can activate a brief energy shield, also by pressing jump in the air. Tails cannot use the shields' special abilities, but he can instead either fly or dog paddle (in water) for a limited time. He can also carry Sonic with him while doing so.

There are now two types of bonus stages - one is available by collecting 50 or more rings, running past a checkpoint lamppost and then jumping into the stars (as you could in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. This stage give you the chance to earn bonus rings, lives and power-ups. In this stage, there is a giant gumball machine. By hitting the crank, you'll spit out a bonus item that can either be rings, lives or bonus shields. The stage is over when you fall down the bottom of the screen.

The other, more important, Special Stage can be accessed by jumping into giant rings that are hidden away in secret areas in each level. In these stages, you must collect all the blue spheres while avoiding the red ones (which end the stage early). Collecting all of the outer blue spheres around square or rectangle sphere formations will turn them all into rings - if you collect 50 or more in this stage, you can earn a continue. Once you collect all the blue spheres in the stage, it clears and you earn one of the seven Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic 3 features six different Zones, which are made up of two Acts. At the end of each Act is a boss that must be defeated to complete the stage and rescue Sonic's animal friends that Robotnik has captured to turn into Badnik robots. The zones in Sonic 3 are approximately three times bigger than those in Sonic 2, and feature multiple, branching paths.

As with Sonic 2, there is a two-player Vs. Mode, which plays in a split-screen horizontal style. There are special monitor pick-ups in this mode which do things like swap player positions, lose rings, or cause a Badnik to appear. You can also race against the clock in a time trial mode.


Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Genesis Carnival Zone
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Genesis The carnival zone
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Genesis Marble Gardens
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Genesis Title Screen

Promo Images

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Screenshot
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Magazine Advertisement pp. 22-23
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Magazine Advertisement
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "Sonic 3" -- European title
  • "ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ3" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Weakest of the Genesis Sonics Classic Nigel (150) 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 is one of the best Sega Genesis games ever created. Dark Lord (46) 4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars
72% Liam Dowds (51) 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars
One of the best Sonic games! Neocube (147) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
best sonic game EVER! marielle goaway (3) 4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

Critic Reviews

Mean Machines Mar, 1994 94 out of 100 94
VicioJuegos.com / uVeJuegos.com Jun 26, 2006 94 out of 100 94
Game Players Mar, 1994 92 out of 100 92
All Game Guide 1998 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90
Retro Game Reviews Feb 07, 2016 9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars9 Stars 90
Video Games & Computer Entertainment Apr, 1994 9 out of 10 90
Play Time Mar, 1994 89 out of 100 89
Video Games Feb, 1994 83 out of 100 83
Sharkberg Dec 11, 2015 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
SEGA-Mag (Objectif-SEGA) Feb 04, 2008 7 out of 10 70


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SEGA included a rather lame excuse in the manual to try and cover up the game's many glitches. It states: "Don't run to fast or you might fall into one of Eggman's traps". This is obviously referring to the infamous wall glitch; if Sonic runs to fast and hits a wall, he gets trapped in it with no way out.


This game features the first appearance of Knuckles the Echidna, who would become as much a main character as Sonic, Tails and Eggman. He was the fourth most popular character in an official Sonic Team poll, after Tails, Shadow, and Sonic.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, along with some of his musicians, was originally going to do the music, but when legal scandals broke out SEGA didn't want him involved anymore. The completed songs were used and Howard Drossin finished the soundtrack, later used in Sonic & Knuckles.

Some of his tracks are still in there. The Ice Cap Zone theme, when slowed down, sounds like Who is It, five seconds of the Carnival Night Zone theme resemble Jam, etc.


This is the first Sonic game in which the player can save their progress.

Scrapped content

Due to time constraints, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 had to be released before it was completed. The extra material that was intended to be in this game became Sonic & Knuckles. This is noticeable on the stage select screen; stages such as Mushroom Valley, Flying Battery and Sandopolis were later in Sonic & Knuckles. By plugging Sonic the Hedgehog 3 into the top of the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge, the full game can be played as it was meant to be.


This is the first game in which the player is able to control Tails' flight ability. If there are two players, Tails can give Sonic a lift and carry him over short distances. He can also swim, though he cannot carry Sonic while doing so.


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • March 1994 (Issue 56) - Game of the Month
  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #57 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
Information also contributed by havoc of smeg, MegaMegaMan, Robbb, sheldon codling and Tracy Poff.

Related Web Sites

Bahz (240) added Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Genesis) on Jun 06, 2002
Other platforms contributed by JudgeDeadd (27892), Ben K (23888) and samsam12 (731)
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