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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[1] (ヒドゥンパレス[2] Hidunparesu?, 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. Hidden Palace Zone is the resting place of the Master Emerald and the Super Emeralds, and is thus considered sacred territory only Knuckles can enter.[3]


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' 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 Egg Inferno 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 and 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, to stop Robotnik.

Knuckles' story

Entering Hidden Palace Zone from Lava Reef Zone, Knuckles uses this location to reach the Sky Sanctuary Zone via the local Warp Point.


When entering the first Special Stage after defeating Big Arms 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 gray 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

Upon arriving in Hidden Palace Zone, the player has to navigate several Springs until they reach a Warp Point that launches them up to where they can see the Death Egg looking down from the mouth of the volcano. Proceeding further in, the player will encounter Knuckles, leading to a fight with him. After the player beats him, a short cutscene will play. Once it is over, follow Knuckles to the right, and another cutscene will play that shows Dr. Robotnik stealing the Master Emerald with the Egg Mobile. After that, the player must follow Robotnik. The player can attack the Egg Mobile, but it will not make a difference. Meanwhile, another sequence will play, showing Knuckles' futile attempt to get the Master Emerald back. After Knuckles falls to the ground, the floor underneath the playable character will be destroyed, leaving them to fall into a pit. After Knuckles recovers, he will break down the barricade on the left and tell the player to follow him. From there, follow Knuckles to a Warp Point. There, the player is automatically taken to Sky Sanctuary Zone.

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 and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus 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

Books and comics

Sonic the Comic

In the Sonic the Comic 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 remaster 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 Warp Point, 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.


Concept artwork




Name Artist(s) Length Music track
N/A (Lava Reef Zone Act 2) Masayuki Nagao 1:43



  1. 1.0 1.1 Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis) 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.
  3. (in Japanese) ソニックジャム オフィシャルガイド. SoftBank. 2 October 1997. p. 86. ISBN 978-4797303377. ""From Sonic Team: From here, it's sacred territory that only Knuckles can enter. Hidden Palace is the resting place of the Master Emerald, and Sky Sanctuary is above Angel Island, no one has gone there. On a side note, the Eggman Robos coming from the back is an expansion of the software."

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