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This article pertains to the beta elements of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Red revolving Spheres


This is a spinning mass of red Spheres, placeable via Debug Mode in the first half of Angel Island Act 1. The spheres look similar to those appearing in the Special Stage, but the object itself seems to have no apparent gameplay purpose. When it is placed, many palette and VRAM complications occur in the level, and the game will lag. Player 2 can manipulate this object.

These Red Revolving Spheres were originally going to appear in an early version of the Special stages.

  • Up - rotates the object vertically.
  • Right - rotates the object horizontally.
  • Down / Left - moves the object up or down.
  • A / C - changes the object's size.
  • B - rotates the object sideways.
  • Start - toggles automatic rotation.

Unused Icecap Zone breakable block

Sonic3 unused

There is an unused block that can be placed with Debug Mode in Icecap Zone. Jumping on it will break it.

Unused sprites

"Bored" AnimationSonic in his signature "waiting" pose, but instead of pointing towards the direction he's facing, he falls asleep from boredom instead. Never used in-game. Strangely, the final frame is used for the instructions for Sonic 3 in Sonic Classic Collection.
"Whistle" AnimationSonic whistling. Not used in-game.

Speculation reveals that this animation may have been paired with a "Help-Item" mentioned in a German magazine article. Sonic would have broken the monitor, used the whistling animation, and then Tails would fly in from offscreen to carry Sonic around as he pleased, similar to Player 2 controlling Tails while holding Player 1. A whistle sound which is probably related to this can be heard when breaking S monitors and at the beginning of The Doomsday Zone.

Unused 2P Knuckles SpritesUnused Gliding/Climbing animations exist for Knuckles in two-player mode, even though he doesn't have the ability to glide or climb while in two-player mode.
Leftover Continue AnimationLeftover animation from the Continue screen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Mini Death EggSmaller rendition of the Death Egg. It seems to be part of a Death Egg hologram projector, which itself was unused in Sonic & Knuckles.
Diagonal Penguinator SpritesDiagonal frames of the Penguinator badnik from IceCap. These can be seen for a split second, if you place a Penguinator on the large hill at the beginning of the zone using debug mode.
Unused Robotnik SpriteUnused running frame where Robotnik has a different facial expression.
"Surfboarding" AnimationAn alternate animation for the intro. At one point, Sonic would have been surfboarding to Angel Island, rather than going Super Sonic. Interestingly, Sonic looks like his Sonic 2 incarnation. The surfing Sonic sprite can be placed in AIZ1 via Debug Mode. Also, the surfboard was reused as a Snowboard when IceCap needed a new intro, considering the lack of Flying Battery Zone.
SurfboardThese sprites were used when Sonic jumped off the board in his surfboarding animation.
Robotnik flying away

An unused Robotnik object discovered by Nemesis via Debug Mode in Hydrocity Zone. It appears to be nothing more than Robotnik flying away towards the horizon. Its purpose is unknown, though it may have been intended for an early bad ending.

Sonic 3 Flying Battery icon
FBZ Data Select iconAn unused save file icon for Flying Battery Zone before it was re-ordered to be in Sonic & Knuckles, which is different than the corresponding icon in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The background seen in this icon is also a more saturated blue than in the actual zone. You can view this icon in the PC and Genesis versions by hacking the save data to access level slot, or by using the PAR codes to view it in a completed game save slot while scrolling through the levels.

Sonic & Knuckles Zones

Sonic 3 - Accessing Sonic & Knuckles' Zones

Sonic 3 - Accessing Sonic & Knuckles' Zones

A few remnants of all the Sonic & Knuckles zones are still left in the game. As mentioned earlier, Flying Battery would have been played between Carnival Night Zone and IceCap Zone, but when the game was split into two that Zone was moved into Sonic & Knuckles to give it more levels. Most of the data that once belonged to these levels either is not present in the game anymore or is not currently accessible. Still, there are some leftovers in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – a data select icon, its music, and even its bosses.

Even though the player can use codes or use Sonic 3C's savestates to access the unused zones, those will crash the game. All unused Zones outside of Flying Battery will say "Zone." Most (such as Sandopolis Zone and Death Egg Zone) will crash on the title card, while some (like Lava Reef Zone) will load the level and end up in a glitchy mess and crash. In the case of Flying Battery, while one can access it by way of PAR codes, it will be corrupted with IceCap Zone tiles appearing all over the place. However, the player will need to do this in a specific way because alone, these codes will crash the game when trying to access that level data. Using Sonic 3C's savestates to access the Lava Reef Boss Area or Hidden Palace Zone will have glitchy collision data, and Angel Island's sprites appear all over the place. Oddly enough, the Special Stage music plays here.

November 3, 1993 Prototype

In this pre-release prototype version of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, a lot of progress had already been made, but a huge amount of content was initially changed before the final release. The SEGA intro is reused from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (though somewhat glitched in appearance), the title logo is altered, and Sonic and Tails use their Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sprites. The Sound Test Menu is identical to the one used in the final version of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 alone.


Most, if not all Zones contain an altered layout, mainly for Sonic and Tails' route.

Angel Island Zone

A huge waterfall with lots of falling logs are a recurring gimmick for both Acts. This was eventually removed and simplified in the final release.

Act 1

Sonic starts on a surfboard, surfing onto the island. Upon running further, he encounters Knuckles, standing and blocking the hedgehog. After taunting Sonic, Knuckles quickly runs away to the right, allowing the player control over Sonic. The final intro still exists in this beta but the game soft locks when Knuckles punches the player. The mini-boss during the burning of the island takes longer to leave.

Act 2

Hydrocity Zone

Act 1

Has a much different background, containing leaves coming out from the walls (similar to Marble Garden, which is the next Zone after this one).

Act 2

Marble Garden

Act 1

The slope Sonic starts off will have a different layout near the end. The Spinning Tops hover in midair when jumped off of.

Act 2

Carnival Night Zone

The white spinning cylinder of lights create a different sound effect.

Act 1

Knuckles' area before the boss contains two rising platforms instead of one, as well as two spike pits below them. The Self D-Struct Machine's background area is not moving, but still hovers over a bottomless pit. The area is not fully connected to the walls, so the player will fall through the sides if not careful. The boss itself has a slightly different behavior than in the final version. When hit by Sonic, the core opens for a set amount of time and no longer closes after being hit with its spinning top (allowing for consecutive hits).

Act 2

A few Barrels are either alternately placed or not present. The water remains at its low point throughout the entire Act, meaning Knuckles does not appear to raise the water and darken the Act. Also, the Switch to relight the Act is not present. Knuckles also does not appear to affect the tunnels near the end, and of course, his teleporter is inactive.

Flying Battery Zone

This Zone is quite intact, albeit heavily unfinished. The background is slightly altered when compared to the final release (the prototype background more closely represents the unused icon found in later builds). There are no objects to be found at all, save for the end of the Acts and Debug Mode which, aside from the usual objects found in other Zones/Stages, only contains Blasters and the three Technosqueeks (the wall moving one looks a bit glitched when placed).

Act 1

One of the backgrounds contains a few containers with the words "EGG" on the side. Gapsule is fully loaded and defeatable.

Act 2

There is no laser boss fight, so Sonic may end up running straight into the Hang Mobile (who is already loaded upon entering the area and fully defeatable as well). The rising floor section does not appear to be implemented yet, though the closing wall for it is still present. The end Capsule is present as well, but the exit door afterwards appears to be blocked and unavailable.

IceCap Zone

Act 1

There is no snowboard yet, but the area for it appears functional (meaning Rings are placed and the avalanche at the end will still appear). Knuckles' areas differ. The first one does not have any objects loaded at all (save for the blocking column of ice at the entrance). The second one interestingly has a stack of four ice blocks instead of a one-way column of ice seen in the final builds.

Act 2

It is possible to break out of the ice without assistance. On one of the lower bridges in the underground path beneath said bridge lies two ice blocks with two upside-down Snowblowers firing upward through the Bridge. Doctor Robotnik’s Freeze-O-Matic seems to fire a bit slower than in the final.

Launch Base Zone

Act 1

The elevators are a bit wide, meaning to activate them Sonic will need to position himself in the center. The boss room for Sonic and Tails' route contains two unique transport tunnels that when entered, will transport them directly above one of the yellow boxes that contain the mini-boss (left tunnel for left box, and right tunnel for right). Why this was removed remains unclear. The scripts for the mini-boss to appear do not seem to function, making the mini-boss impossible to encounter.

Act 2

A slope-tunnel is present at the bottom of the starting area. Horizontally retractable spikes are placed before the first drop containing three flamethrowers, making this section much harder than in the final. There are no spikes present in the following tunnel containing the switch for the next drop. Ball Shooter requires only one hit to defeat, and past this, Knuckles stand on a circular, vertical bridge, instead of a vertical beam in the final. Sonic appears stuck when riding the Egg Mobile.

Other Stages

Mushroom Valley and Sandopolis are inaccessible, but the data for their respective mid-boss fights remain. Some data for the rest of the inaccessable Zones still exists within this build.

While Lava Reef Zone is normally inaccessable and very glitchy, restoring the color palettes and graphics can make it become somewhat playable. Interestingly, the crashed Death Egg in the background is upside-down, instead of face-downward seen in the final.

The multiplayer Stages are all playable. Interestingly, some of the item icons are different (such as Speed Up/Down).

The three Bonus Stages are only partially completed. They are all accessible, but none of them function properly yet.

The Special Stages do not exist yet, though the music for it does. Accessing either of them will load up some test screen with the manipulative red spheres from the Debug Menu of Angel Island Zone (they can still be controlled within these screens).


It appears the stages were already planned out from the start of development, as the Sound Test reveals that all stages seen within the final version have their tracks already created within the prototype (including a few extra tracks, such as the credits and multiplayer menu). Some tracks, however, have received minor to major development changes over time as development continued.

Alternate Soundtracks

Before Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer came in to record the music for Carnival Night Zone, IceCap Zone and Launch Base Zone, these Zones originally had different music, as heard upon entering said respective Zone(s) or played from within the Sound Test. Those music tracks were eventually used in MIDI form in the Sonic & Knuckles Collection for PC (as well as the Knuckles encounter theme also heard within the prototype). The mini-boss music heard from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles is used in this prototype.

Name Artist(s) Length Music Track
Carnival Night Zone (Act 1) Sega 1:04
Carnival Night Zone Act 1 Prototype
Carnival Night Zone (Act 2) Sega 0:55
Carnival Night Zone Act 2 Prototype
IceCap Zone (Act 1) Sega 1:06
IceCap Zone Act 1 Prototype
IceCap Zone (Act 2) Sega 1:15
IceCap Zone Act 2 Prototype
Launch Base Zone (Act 1) Sega 1:16
Launch Base Zone Act 1 Prototype
Launch Base Zone (Act 2) Sega 1:12
Launch Base Zone Act 2 Prototype
Competition menu Sega 0:54
Competition Menu prototype

Other Zone music were slightly altered in sound or quality. Besides the Zones, some other soundtracks are completely different when compared to the final release and/or Sonic & Knuckles:

Name Artist(s) Length Music Track Description
Angel Island Zone (Act 2) Sega 2:25
Angel Island Zone Act 2 - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
Flying Battery Zone (Act 1) Sega 1:30
Flying Battery Zone Act 1 - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
The audio glitch from the next Sonic the Hedgehog 3 build is still present here.
Flying Battery Zone (Act 2) Sega 1:32
Flying Battery Zone Act 2 - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
Mushroom Valley Zone (Act 1) Sega 1:32
Mushroom Valley Zone Act 1 - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
The "jumping on a mushroom" sound effect is more noticeable in this version.
Mushroom Valley Zone (Act 2) Sega
Sky Sanctuary Zone Sega 2:15
Sky Sanctuary Zone - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
Credits Sega 3:25
Credits - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
Has a few sound tones from the Sega Genesis variant of Diamond Dust Zone.
Unused Theme Sega 1:58
Unused Theme - Sonic 3 (Nov 3 1993 Prototype)
Listed as Number 2E in Sound Test menu.

External links

Main articles (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, Sonic & Knuckles Collection) | Gallery (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic & Knuckles Collection) | Beta elements (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles) | Staff (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic & Knuckles Collection) | Glitches (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, Sonic & Knuckles Collection) | Manuals (Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles)
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