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Sonic & Knuckles
Hidden Palace Zone

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Some mysteries are solved! Robotnik makes his big play, and Knuckles finds out who the REAL bad guy is!

— United States instruction booklet, Sonic & Knuckles[1]

Hidden Palace Zone (ヒドゥンパレス[2] Hido~unparesu?, lit. "Hidden Palace") is the fifth overall Zone in Sonic & Knuckles, and the eleventh of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. It is the shortest zone in the game, featuring a single brief act, and solely functions as a qualitative transition between the Lava Reef and Sky Sanctuary zones. A unique feature that sets it apart from all other zones of the Sega Mega Drive-era Sonic the Hedgehog games is that it is purely devoted to the plot progression of the game.


Hidden Palace Zone takes place in a massive subterranean cavern populated by plateau-like formations of crystalline rock that line the floor and ceiling for as far as the eye can see; far in the background, a large, luminous entrance shines light into the cave. The Death Egg, face-down, sticks through the entrance so that it is visible from the player's perspective. The Death Egg is present in Sonic's Story, but absent in Knuckles'.

The Hidden Palace itself is depicted as a large castle-like structure. Sonic and Knuckles's image of the palace is a castle-like stronghold that houses the Master Emerald and seven smaller gems known as the Super Emeralds. The palace's architecture is adorned with pillar walls and a multitude of bright neon colors. The room of the Zone's boss battle is particularly notable for hosting a large stitched mural abstractly depicting what appears to be Super Sonic confronting Dr. Robotnik in a large robot, holding the Master Emerald.


Sonic's story

After defeating Dr. Robotnik and his Hot Mobile in Lava Reef Zone, Sonic and Tails arrive in Hidden Palace Zone. There, Sonic encounters Knuckles the Echidna, who still believes Robotnik's claims that Sonic is evil, and the two proceed to fight each other. After Sonic wins the fight against Knuckles, Knuckles flees the scene, quickly followed by Sonic and Tails. The protagonist moves into an open-air room of the palace where he finds Knuckles, angrily cursing Robotnik. The furious echidna watches spitefully as Robotnik tears the Master Emerald from its shrine with his Egg Mobile (which reveals to Knuckles that Robotnik is the real villain) and begins to escape. Knuckles attempts to attack Robotnik and grasps desperately onto the stolen Master Emerald, but cords snake down from the Egg Mobile and latch themselves onto Knuckles. Knuckles gets zapped, is knocked unconscious, and Robotnik gets away without any further resistance. The floor underneath Sonic and Knuckles then suddenly collapses and sends them plummeting into the palace's basement. Knuckles regains consciousness and leads Sonic/Tails to the palace's Warp Point. He then jumps into the active device, quickly followed by Sonic and Tails, into Sky Sanctuary Zone.

Knuckles' story


When entering the first Special Stage after defeating Big Arm in Launch Base Zone, the Chaos Emeralds are transported to the Hidden Palace Zone's shrine and transformed into Super Emeralds, although they have lost their potency and are a discolored gray hue. Jumping onto a grey Super Emerald will transport the player to that Emerald's Special Stage, the completion of which will grant the player a Super Emerald and restore the null Emerald into its original color. When all seven Super Emeralds are restored, the player unlocks Hyper Sonic (or Hyper Knuckles, if playing as Knuckles), a more powerful form of Super Sonic/Super Knuckles.


Sonic's story

Knuckles' story

Hidden Palace Zone through Knuckles' perspective is a largely abridged version of Sonic's journey through the Zone; no enemies or bosses are present, and the Act ends immediately when Knuckles jumps into the Warp Point, teleporting him directly to Sky Sanctuary Zone. The Warp Point that warps Knuckles to Sky Sanctuary Zone is the same Warp Point that Sonic uses mid-act to teleport him onto the palace's roof.

Other game appearances

Sonic Mania

The Hidden Palace Zone returned in Sonic Mania as part of Lava Reef Zone. The Hidden Palace has two different entry points depending on if the player is controlling Sonic/Tails or Knuckles, leading to two different versions of the area, much like in Sonic & Knuckles. The rocket bound for Little Planet near Hidden Palace serves as the location for the boss battle of the Zone, with Sonic/Tails fighting the Heavy Rider, whilst Knuckles faces off against the Heavy King in front of the Master Emerald.

In other media

Sonic the Comic

In the Sonic the Comic series and its spin-offs published by Fleetway Editions, Hidden Palace Zone appeared as "Hidden Palace", an ancient underground building holding the Master Emerald.

Archie Comics

In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, Hidden Palace Zone was originally an enigmatic Zone on Angel Island that housed the Hidden Palace stricture.

After the Super Genesis Wave rebooted the timeline, Hidden Palace Zone became a location on Angel Island, with a past virtually identical to its game counterpart's. It was where Chip spoke to Tikal.


  • Hidden Palace Zone is based off of a deleted zone with the same name from Sonic the Hedgehog 2; although, that is considered a separate location as it would have likely been located on West Side Island (as the 2013 mobile re-release of the game reveals).
  • The prophetic mural in the background when the player is fighting Knuckles actually foreshadows the final boss fight in The Doomsday Zone.
  • The player cannot beat Dr. Robotnik while he is stealing the Master Emerald. However, if the player can somehow get to where the trap is without Knuckles, the player character can hit Robotnik as many times as they want. Strangely, when the player hits him 256 times, he poofs into a Flicky like his Badniks. This triggers a glitch, where if the player uses Debug Mode and puts something in, Dr. Robotnik will be on it.
    • Additionally, If the player defeats Knuckles while using Tails to keep Sonic in the air, the player can access the cutscene. If the player jumps into Robotnik, they may be taken to a Special Stage. After the Special Stage, the game will place the player back on Angel Island, the game will buzz and the ground will rise up before turning red. The sound of the Flying Battery airship will play, and the game will crash and reset itself.
  • After the first teleporter, there is a secret area that only Tails (or Sonic with Tails) can reach without using Debug Mode, consisting of two ledges either side of a large gap. This contains 20 rings, invincibility, an extra life, a speed boost and all three kinds of shields.
  • If the player plays as Knuckles, the Death Egg is gone from the background, most likely due to the fact that Sonic's story takes place before Knuckles', thus the Death Egg had already been destroyed at that point in time.
  • In the Sound Test option, it is considered the fourth act of Lava Reef (the Lava Reef boss fight area is coded under "Lava Reef 3").
  • This Zone uses the same theme that plays during the second act of the Lava Reef Zone.
    • In the beta versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, this Zone uses Sky Sanctuary's theme.
  • The Hidden Palace Zone appears as a part of the Sonic the Hedgehog Adventure World in LEGO Dimensions. It contains a puzzle in which the player must memorize the order that the Super Emeralds light up in and mimic it.
  • In Sonic Mania's Debug Mode Level Select, the Hidden Palace Zone portion of Lava Reef is listed as Act 3 of the Zone.





Name Artist(s) Length Music Track
Lava Reef Zone (Act 2) Masayuki Nagao 1:43



  1. Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Mega Drive) United States instruction booklet, pg. 14.
  2. (in Japanese) ソニックメガコレクション最強攻略ガイド. Shogakukan. 1 March 2003. p. 176. ISBN 978-4091060907.

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