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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 Sonic is Tarzan
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Genesis Tails is giving Sonic a lift
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Xbox 360 Sonic, Tails and airplane
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Xbox 360 Damn you, Knucklehead!

Promo Images

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Screenshot
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Screenshot
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Screenshot
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Magazine Advertisement

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 Genesis Classic Nigel (150)
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 is one of the best Sega Genesis games ever created. Genesis Dark Lord (46)
72% Genesis Liam Dowds (51)
One of the best Sonic games! Genesis Neocube (147)
best sonic game EVER! Genesis marielle goaway (3)
Sonic Can Jump Sharks Too! Wii So Hai (371)

Critic Reviews

Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) Genesis Mar, 1994 38 out of 40 95
VicioJuegos.com / uVeJuegos.com Genesis Jun 26, 2006 94 out of 100 94
Game Players Genesis Mar, 1994 92 out of 100 92
Jeuxvideo.com Wii Jan 11, 2010 18 out of 20 90
IGN Wii Sep 11, 2007 9 out of 10 90
Play Time Genesis Mar, 1994 89 out of 100 89
Megablast Genesis Mar, 1994 83 out of 100 83
GameSpot Wii Sep 12, 2007 8 out of 10 80
Retro Gamer Xbox 360 Sep 10, 2009 80 out of 100 80
PAL Gaming Network (PALGN) Xbox 360 Jan 28, 2009 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.

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Contributed to by Bahz (240), JudgeDeadd (28156), Ben K (23888) and samsam12 (731)
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