One more time!

Sega brought back the blue blur himself, Sonic the Hedgehog, for a third adventure on the Sega Genesis back in 1994 along with Tails, the evil Dr. Robotnik, and a new character: Knuckles the Echidna. Boasting larger levels, more bosses, the ability to save the game, and new abilities, Sonic 3 was the biggest game of its time. All of the classic Sonic sprites were redesigned to provide more frames of animation per character and the game featured a little smattering of digital voice (limited to "Come on!" when a boss appeared, but that counts).

The game's plot picks up from where Sonic the Hedgehog 2 left off. Dr. Robotnik's Death Egg crashed after Sonic defeated it in the previous game, and now the mad doctor is looking to repair it with the aid of the Master Emerald. However, the Master Emerald is protected by Knuckles the Echidna. In order to get Knuckles out of the way for a while, Dr. Robotnik tells him that Sonic and Tails have come to steal the Master Emerald. With Knuckles out trying to stop the speedy duo, Dr. Robotnik has a clear path to steal the Master Emerald. It's up to Sonic and Tails to stop Dr. Robotnik and set Knuckles straight on what's really going on.

Sonic and Tails are both playable characters, and once you select a character to play as you must continue using that character for the rest of that save file's life. Fortunately there are several save slots. Sonic retains all his old moves from Sonic 2, but Tails can now fly and swim on command by double jumping.

The new special feature in Sonic 3 is the new protection shield. While in previous games the shield was a simple glowing blue barrier around our hero, there are now three seperate shields: Electric, Water, and Fire.

The Electric Shield surrounds Sonic (or Tails) with an electrobarrier that allows him to pass safely through electric sparks, to double jump, and also causes all rings in the area to be drawn towards him. The Water Shield allows your character to maneuver underwater without having to come up for air as well as allows the shield to act as a bouncing ball. The Fire Shield allows the character to pass safely through fire barriers as well as rocket forward as a living fireball. Note that the Fire and Electric Shields vanish when they get wet.

As in the previous Sonic games, Sonic and Tails need to collect the seven Chaos Emeralds. Doing so will allow you to see the real ending (as opposed to the "Try Again" screen) at the end of the game as well as allows Sonic to become the speedy and invincible Super Sonic. Chaos Emeralds are obtained in 3D bonus rounds where Sonic must touch all the blue spheres on the playing surface while avoiding the red spheres. Touching a red sphere ends the bonus round. Sonic can also collect rings in the bonus round in order to earn continues.

Sonic and Tails traverse the following stages on their adventure:

  • Angel Island Zone
  • Hydrocity Zone
  • Marble Garden Zone
  • Carnival Night Zone
  • Ice Cap Zone
  • Launch Base Zone

Each stage has a certain theme: Angel Island Zone is a forest, Hydrocity Zone is water, and so on. One notable level is the Ice Cap Zone where Sonic rides a snowboard down a mountainside, collecting rings as he goes.

The game ends after the Launch Base Zone and at the time the brief ending left gamers frustrated. The game seemed to be a wild ride that didn't go anywhere as the finale showed Sonic giving a thumbs-up followed by the credits. However, in October gamers were given the chance to complete the saga by locking on the Sonic and Knuckles cartridge to the game, revealing the combined force of Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Also note that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 turned up in The Sonic and Knuckles Collection for the PC and 2002's Sonic Mega Collection for Nintendo GameCube.

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