Sonic & Knuckles
Sky Sanctuary Zone (スカイサンクチュアリー ゾーン Sukai Sankuchuarī Zōn?), also known as the Sky Palace, is the sixth overall Zone of Sonic & Knuckles (and the twelfth of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). It is a cesspool of ancient ruins scattered in the sky above Angel Island. It is considered to be sacred ground which is forbidden for anyone except Knuckles the Echidna to enter or walk on.
Sky Sanctuary is composed mostly of pillars and towers that appear to bear some type of Roman or Gothic-style architecture. The Zone features sparse bridges and beams connecting them. Only the tops of the towers are ever seen, as the Zone takes place towering above a thick sheet of clouds, but the whole of the sanctuary is believed to float in a manner similar to Angel Island. The stone pillars are all a weathered yellow in color, and vines grow unrestrained everywhere.
In Knuckles' story, the zone overlooks Angel Island, floating far away amongst the clouds. All that is seen of the Zone is a dull, flat arena where Knuckles faces Mecha Sonic. The Master Emerald sits near the right of the arena. Also, in Knuckles' version of the Sky Sanctuary Zone, Angel Island continually descends in the background as the player spends more time in the Zone. At ten minutes, which is the normal time limit for the Zone, Angel Island disappears under Sky Sanctuary Zone.
Having arriving in Sky Sanctuary Zone via a Warp Point, Sonic and Tails are subsequently forced to jump from platform to platform, climbing up the Zone and chasing the ascending Death Egg before it rises too high into orbit. Knuckles briefly helps Sonic and Tails by activating a bridge in the Sky Sanctuary Zone, but he is not able to continue any further due to exhaustion from the events in Hidden Palace Zone. Along the way, Sonic and Tails are also forced to battle numerous Eggrobos. After making it to the end of the Zone however, Sonic is forced to fight Mecha Sonic. After a series of battles however, Sonic defeats Mecha Sonic. Following their final battle then, Sonic and Tails run up a corkscrew ramp to the top of a tall floating landmass that literally crumbles and falls beneath them, then leaps aboard the Death Egg.
Having arrived in Sky Sanctuary Zone via a Warp Point, Knuckles finds himself looking for the Eggrobo he has been chasing all over the Floating Island. Immediately after however, said Eggrobot appears in an Egg Mobile with a hook claw attached to it. Knuckles tries to get away, but is grabbed by the Eggrobo with its Egg Mobile's hook claw while he is revving up a Spin Dash. Knuckles is then carried before Mecha Sonic, who is revealed to have stolen the Master Emerald, meaning that it is only a matter of time before the Floating Island falls down from the sky. As Mecha Sonic moves in and gets ready to finish Knuckles off with a Spin Dash though, Knuckles breaks free from the Egg Mobile's claw in the last second and glides away while Mecha Sonic rams into the Egg Mobile, destroying it and the Eggrobo. Afterward, Knuckles begins his fight with Mecha Sonic.
At Knuckles brings Mecha Sonic on the verge of defeat, the robot retreats and uses the Master Emerald to enter its Super State. With his opponent stronger than ever, Knuckles is forced into a race against time to get the Master Emerald before the Floating Island falls into the sea, which is visible to him in the distance. After Knuckles defeats Mecha Sonic though, it detonates with a large explosion, initiating a cascade effect that destroys any remainder of the zone; Knuckles barely escapes unscathed thanks to a timely assist from Sonic and the Tornado.
Fortunately, Knuckles also manages to salvage the Master Emerald from the chaos; as he and Sonic fly back to Angel Island, they rightfully deposit the sacred gem back into its home island, causing the Floating Island to flash and rise higher and higher into the sky.
After making it to the end of Sky Sanctuary Zone, Sonic is forced to fight Mecha Sonic, in three separate boss battles. In the first, Mecha Sonic pilots Dr. Robotnik's Egg Mobile-H (from the Green Hill Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog); in the second, the robot pilots the Flying Eggman (from Metropolis Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2); and in the third battle, Mecha attacks on foot, without assistance, proving itself a dangerous enemy in its own right.
As Knuckles, this is the final Act of his story, and consists of two boss fights against Mecha Sonic. The Act itself is very short, with only three Rings to help Knuckles through both fights. The Zone is very small - just a flat, boss stage - after most of the Zone fell to pieces and disappeared in Sonic's storyline.
- Sky Santuary Zone's background music featured in Sonic & Knuckles • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 soundtrack album is arranged by Akinori Minami. In the November 1994 issue of Beep! MegaDrive magazine's promotional interview for the music album, the album's sound director referred the track as "Castle in the sky" (天空の城 Tenkū no shiro?).
- All three of the fights with Mecha Sonic bear some similarity with bosses in earlier games, although the second fight is made much easier by the Insta-Shield move, something which Sonic did not have when facing the original version in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The last battle with the two Sonics on foot can be likened to the fight with Mecha Sonic in the Death Egg Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
- If the player plays this Zone as Sonic and/or Tails and crouches at a certain location after Knuckles activates the bridge, Knuckles will make a "shooing" gesture at the player's character(s) before turning to the player themselves.
- If the player finishes the stage with a shield power-up, they will notice that when Sonic leaps off the corkscrew, his sprite is just left suspended barely off screen, and half of his shield will remain visible in midair.
- In the Sound Test option, the Knuckles and Sonic (and Tails) version of the Zone is separated by two Acts.
- The music for the Sky Sanctuary Zone was remixed for Chaotic Space Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.
- If the player triggers the sound effects SFX (i.e. collecting Rings, destroying Badniks, etc.) during the music of Sky Sanctuary Zone, the trumpet instrument of the track will momentarily disappear, with the bass still playing.
|"Sky Sanctuary"||Tomonori Sawada||2:09|
|"Sky Sanctuary (FM Synthesizer)"||2:03|
|"Sky Sanctuary (General MIDI)"||2:03|
- Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Mega Drive) United States instruction booklet, pg. 13.
- Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Mega Drive) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 36.
- (in Japanese) ソニックジャム オフィシャルガイド. Soft Bank. 2 October 1997. p. 86. ISBN 978-4797303377.
- "ゲームサウンドから見んてくるソニック&ナックルズの全統". Beep! MegaDrive 1994-11. Soft Bank. 8 October 1994. p. 32. "編集部 8曲目はどういう意味なんだろう。 セガ 我々は「天空の城」って呼んでましたね。 イメージは、青い空があって、雲がブァーッと浮いてて、上へ上へと昇っていくような。 これはアナログシンセサイザーの音をイメージして音を作っています。 プアーッと広がるという。 個人的に気に入ってますし、一番聴いてもらいたい曲です。"
- 多数のファンがソニックの生誕20周年を祝いにお台場へ集結。「ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ20周年記念展 バースデーパーティー」レポート (Japanese). 4Gamer. Archived from the original on 12 September 2021.