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.
|Button||A button with unknown purpose. It can be placed in Carnival Night Zone via Debug Mode but does nothing when pressed.|
|Breakable block||This block glows and is breakable by jumping on it. It can be placed in IceCap Zone via Debug Mode.|
|Breakable wall||This wall is breakable by rolling into it. It can be placed in Angel Island Zone Act 2 via Debug Mode.|
|Competition Mode spikes||A set of spikes for Competition Mode. Such objects do not appear in any of the five courses but they can be placed there with Debug Mode.|
|Unused ring object||An unknown object that appears to spawn slope collision when placed.|
|Static Monitor||An unused animation for a Monitor with static effects|
|S Monitor||An unused sprite for Monitor with the S item.|
|"Bored" Animation||Sonic 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" animation||Sonic whistling.|
|Black and white death sprite||A black and white version of Sonic's death sprite. Such a sprite has been found in the files of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog CD as well.|
|Unused 2P Knuckles sprites||Unused Gliding/Climbing animations exist for Knuckles in two-player mode, even though he does not have the ability to glide or climb while in two-player mode.|
|Leftover continue animation||Leftover animation from the Continue screen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.|
|Mini Death Egg||Smaller 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 Sprites||Diagonal 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 sprites||Unused running frame where Robotnik has a different facial expression. There is also one for jumping.|
|"Surfboarding" animation||An 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.|
|Surfboard||These 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. This can be re-enabled using the PAR code: 05165A:04F2.
|FBZ Data Select icon||An 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.|
|Leftover early sprites||Leftover sprites from early versions of the game. It has a progress bar for Competition Mode. These sprites can be seen in the November 3rd, 1993 prototype.|
|S-Ball||An unused S gumball intended for the gumball machine Bonus Stage. It can also found in Sonic and Knuckles.|
|Blue gumball||A blue gumball can be located in the far back of the gumball machine, obscured by the other gumballs and the glare of the glass. The shade of blue seen here varies from the Bubble Shield gumball.|
|Metallic structure||A sprite resembling a metallic structure that, based on its location at offset 18DB46, would have been used during the fight against Robotnik in Angel Island Zone Act 2.|
|Unknown||An unused object.|
|Tornado's shadow||A set of sprites resembling a shadow found within the graphics, used for the Tornado.|
|Unused Marble Garden Zone Robotnik sprite||During the boss fight at the end of Marble Garden Act 2, Robotnik will fly towards the horizon before beginning his next attack. This effect uses a sprite software scaling algorithm that allows this to be achieved. However, the effect begins to take place before Robotnik flies completely onscreen and as a result, the full unscaled sprite is never seen.|
|Launch Base Zone Act 2 object||This sprite is used in the Launch Base Zone Act 2 laser boss battle, but it is obscured and cannot be seen.|
|Carnival Night Zone light bulb||This light bulb is used in Carnival Night Zone, but it has an unused function. If the water rises over it, it will explode and show its unused frame. This can never be seen because the light bulbs never make contact with the water in the actual game.|
|Unknown cave spike||An apparent spike for a cave. This can be found in tile graphics of 162BCE-16B340.|
Sonic and Knuckles sprites
|Sonic and Tails climbing through the monkey bars of Flying Battery Zone.|
|Sonic and Tails during a cutscene after the Mushroom Hill Zone Act 2 Boss.|
|Sonic and Tails grabbing the swinging poles in Mushroom Hill Zone.|
|Sonic and Tails scaling down the towers of Sandopolis Zone|
|Knuckles' life icon.|
|"Knuckles" text, which would have been used upon the end of an Act and Special Stage completion.|
|Knuckles sprite for the Continue screen.|
|Knuckles sprite from the data select screen.|
|The Gapsule miniboss from Flying Battery Zone Act 1.|
|The laser turret from Flying Battery Zone Act 2's miniboss.|
|The Hang Mobile for Flying Battery Zone Act 2's boss.|
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 3rd, 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.
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.
Has a much different background, containing leaves coming out from the walls (similar to Marble Garden, which is the next Zone after this one).
The slope Sonic starts off will have a different layout near the end. The Spinning Tops hover in midair when jumped off of.
Carnival Night Zone
The white spinning cylinder of lights create a different sound effect.
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).
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).
One of the backgrounds contains a few containers with the words "EGG" on the side. Gapsule is fully loaded and defeatable.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Carnival Night Zone (Act 1)||Sega||1:04|
|Carnival Night Zone (Act 2)||Sega||0:55|
|IceCap Zone (Act 1)||Sega||1:06|
|IceCap Zone (Act 2)||Sega||1:15|
|Launch Base Zone (Act 1)||Sega||1:16|
|Launch Base Zone (Act 2)||Sega||1:12|
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:
|Angel Island Zone (Act 2)||Sega||2:25|
|Flying Battery Zone (Act 1)||Sega||1:30||The audio glitch from the next Sonic the Hedgehog 3 build is still present here.|
|Flying Battery Zone (Act 2)||Sega||1:32|
|Mushroom Valley Zone (Act 1)||Sega||1:32||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|
|Credits||Sega||3:25||Has a few sound tones from the Sega Genesis variant of Diamond Dust Zone.|
|Unused Theme||Sega||1:58||Listed as Number 2E in Sound Test menu.|