- For the Green Hill Zone that appeared in the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog, see Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog) (8-bit).
Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Go around the giant loop, tumble down tunnels, and jump over crumbling cliffs before you get a chance to blink. Bounce on Spring-boards but not on spikes. Ouch!
— Description from the instruction manual.
Green Hill Zone is the first Zone of the original 16-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog. It is located around a bright lake on South Island. Green Hill Zone contains three full-length Acts, which take place on steep hills of green palm trees, whose paths go through bright moving flowers, numerous shuttle loops and curling tunnels.
Sonic starts his adventure in the Green Hill Zone, which has been taken over by Dr. Robotnik's Badniks. After Sonic has defeated Robotnik, he returns to Green Hill Zone in the game's cinematic ending, where he used the Chaos Emeralds to ensure the island's prosperity (if the player has collected all of them).
Green Hill Zone is much more peaceful and natural compared to the other Zones in the game. The background of the Zone features sharp hills, green forests and waterfalls on the other side of a bright lake. Green Hill Zone also includes tall palm trees, bright moving flowers, hard pointed bushes and different types of totem poles with several facial expressions. There are also bright blue uncanny blocks set along the paths. The ground of the Zone is covered in green grass (except on shuttle loops and ramps) and the landmass itself is covered in checkerboard patterns in different shades of brown. There are also several log bridges, which can have waterfalls below them, stretching over gaps on the paths.
Green Hill Zone has more variable terrain, but most of the time the terrain is unequal, as there are hillocks meant to utilize the player's platforming skills. The player can gain more speed by performing the Spin Attack while moving downhill while a certain level of speed is needed to get through shuttle loops.
Green Hill Zone is a fast-paced Zone in the game and has numerous features and obstacles. Some palm trees can contain hidden monitors and springs. Many portions on the cliff edges in the Zone's structure are weak and will collapse when the player steps on them just once. There are also platforms attached on chains that swing in horizontal directions. These platforms are useful when the player has to cross hazardous gap sections, such as spike fields. The player may also come across walls which can be broken through by gaining enough running speed and/or using the Spin Attack. Behind these walls the player can find hidden or alternate pathways.
There are many pathways in the Zone to choose, whether if the player wants to go along the higher route with numerous floating platforms, the basic center route, or the lower pathway which is the most dangerous. The player can reach the top of high hills by using higher pathways or climbing up from below using certain routes. The center route and the lower pathway contains more platforming sections that go over areas covered in spikes and bottomless pits.
There are automatic curling tunnels that go through large hills and sends the player curling through tunnels at high speed. Once getting out on the other side of these tunnels, the player cannot backtrack through them, unless he/she can gain enough speed by using red springs or performing the Spin Dash (only in re-releases of the game). Green Hill Zone Act 3 features long, rotating spiked logs above waterfalls. Here, the player has to avoid the rotating spiky parts of the log by jumping. These sections have also horizontally swinging platforms to help the player over spiked logs.
The player starts out on a straightforward path that has first features log bridges, a small ramp and upward-going hill with two Crabmeats. It is not until when the player falls down after the second waterfall and log bridge that the lower pathway opens up with many sets of spikes and four monitors with Super Rings and Invincible near the end of the pathway. The higher pathway starts from the first lamppost, featuring many platforms and goes above the center route's shuttle loop which has a Shield monitor on it. The higher pathway then divides into two routes: the first route, which goes even higher, is on the top of the tall hill and features a long line of Rings before ending on a series of platforms on the other side. The second route has Newtrons and a small curling tunnel that leads to the other side of a large hill with the higher pathway.
If the player stays on the center route and goes through a shuttle loop and two curling tunnels, he/she gets sent high into mid-air by a small ramp. In the mid-air there are huge amount Rings floating. The player will then fall down on the higher pathway on top of the hill with a single log bridge. The lower pathway has several spike and Badnik placements and leads straight to the end of the Zone.
Act 2 begins near a log bridge and waterfall. Below the log bridge, there are Super Ring and Shield monitors which the player can reach by doing small jump between the spikes and the upper ground on the right side of waterfall. The player can get out of the place with the hidden monitors by breaking the wall on the right. The upper pathway continues to a place with horizontal platform and a large ramp by crossing upper and lower pathways. If the player backtracks on the lower pathway, he/she will end up on a more dangerous route with spikes and Badniks. The upper pathway continues through the shuttle loop and ends up on a straight and forward platforming section with moving pillars over spike fields.
After this section, the player travels through a large hill and another waterfall with a log bridge where the route again splits into two path. However the player can also keep going to the faster route to the right which leads into a curling tunnel and the end of the Act. The lower and serpentine route has dangerous spike pits and more Badniks to get through.
The Act begins at the split of the path which leads to two higher paths and one lower path. While the higher route is faster and splits into two other routes at the mid-point, the lower pathway has a breakable wall and a long curling tunnel that go to the lower part of the act. There are numerous Badniks and spike placements, while one bottomless pit is set at the mid-point of the route. At the end of lower pathway, if the player skips the yellow spring and jumps over the spring and the spikes to the waterfall, the player will end in a hidden place with several Super Ring monitors and a 1-Up monitor located on the right.
The two upper pathways have platforms and two rotating spiked log sections. After one of the spiked log sections on the center route, the player has to either break through a wall or use a hidden Spring and platform to get to the higher pathway in order to pass a tall hill. After crossing the last spike pit, the player enters a straight road to the boss of the Green Hill Zone.
The earliest known battle against Dr. Robotnik in his mobile takes place at the end of Green Hill Zone Act 3, as the doctor has a wrecking ball attached below the mobile, that swings back and forth while trying to hit Sonic. The player has to avoid the wrecking ball by standing on two platforms and jumping over. The player can destroy it by jumping off of the platforms and into Robotnik's vehicle eight times.
- Green Hill Zone, while not the first level being under development, had heavy visual changes in development, as Sonic Team wanted to convey an eye-popping computer graphics look at the time. Because the level's graphics were redone several times, Green Hill Zone took half a year to be finished in terms of art and maps according to Yuji Naka.
- In the most early known screenshots, Green Hill Zone was shown having different aspects from its final concept in the final game. One screenshot is showing a billboard saying, "You are welcome. Green Hill" and another one shows Sonic with a blue minion that is never seen in the final version of the game, but was originally submitted from early concept art along with numerous different minions. These screenshots were taken in the game's first prototype that was introduced at the Tokyo Toy Show in 1990.
- Elements from these early designs were used for the second Act of Green Hill Zone from Sonic Mania.
- A good deal of unused content of Green Hill Zone includes an unused Badnik called Splats and a separated wrecking ball that, according to magazine shots, show Sonic being able to walk on it and thus keep it moving. All of these later became functional though Debug Mode in the 2013 re-release of the game.
- As Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was built from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill Zone remains as a playable level in the Nick Arcade prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It can be selected from Level Select and, due to differences on how the game loads collision, sprite and monitor data and physics, some of the sprites are corrupted and incorrect monitors are used, making the level almost unplayable.
- However, a large list of Game Genie codes will fix most of the physics issues. Despite that, the shuttle loops in the level still do not work properly.
- Sonic was colored a darker blue due to his original color (teal) blending in with the water in the background.
- The parallax scrolling of clouds is faster in the Japanese version of the game.
- The 2013 re-release of the game added several changes, including a small section in-between two curling tunnels in Green Hill Zone Act 1, which Tails or Knuckles can use to get to the section above the lamppost where Rings were added.
- Each Act of Green Hill Zone has only one loop.
- This is one of two Zones in which an Invincible Video Monitor can help with the boss, the other being Spring Yard Zone. It is hidden in a high tree which Sonic can grab by leaping off the end of the hill at top speed. In fact, the boss can be defeated before it even wears off.
|Green Hill Zone||Masato Nakamura||2:38|
- "This is the stage that took the designers the longest to get properly arranged, and from the beginning of development the graphics were probably redone 4 or five times. The art and maps for this zone alone took half a year to produce! At the time, we were aware of computer graphics, but we tried to get that look by hand. (laugh)" - Yuji Naka, Sonic Team Commentary in Sonic Jam Strategy Guide.