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Sonic News Network
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Classic Sonic underwater in Seaside Hill, from the console/PC version of Sonic Generations.

Water[1] is a recurring element in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It acts most commonly as obstacles in coastal and underwater-themed stages, but has also occasionally served as special powers.


Hazards and obstacles

Sonic and Tails underwater, from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

The primary hazard deep water presents is drowning the player. If the player remains underwater for too long, the playable character will start to run out of air, resulting in an instant death once the time is up. To extend one's time underwater, the player needs to collect Air Bubbles. Alternatively, the player can use Aqua Shields or Red Schools for infinite air supply. When being submerged in water, the playable characters also become slower, although their jumping height will increase. For the characters who can swim or something similar, however, the player is able to move around everywhere the water reaches.

Sonic running on water, from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version of Sonic Unleashed.

While some pools of water have bottoms, water may sometimes cover up bottomless pits, meaning the player will first sink into the water before entering said pit. Starting from Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the player will be able to run across water surfaces, allowing them to reach new areas or bypass underwater obstacles. In addition, water typically features sections known as rapids,[2] where the character is automatically sent to a different section of the level, commonly by fans. In these sections, the player has minimal or no control over their character. In the former cases, rapids feature gimmicks such as iron balls, which the player has to avoid, and poles the playable character can grab. In the latter cases though, rapids are merely used to help or prevent the player from reaching a different section quickly.

Attacks and powers

In a few games, water has been incorporated as a special power or gimmick that the player can use in conjunction with their attacks for more potency.

Game appearances

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

In Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), water appeared for the first time as the main hazard and gameplay effect in Labyrinth Zone, where the concept of drowning and Air Bubbles is first introduced. In that Zone, water takes a greenish color. It is also featured in Scrap Brain Zone Act 3, with a pinkish color.

Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit)

In Sonic the Hedgehog (8-bit), water is featured in Labyrinth Zone. Like in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, it is greenish in color. Most of Labyrinth Zone takes place underwater, where the player has the risk of drowning, unless they go to the surface or use Air Bubbles. However, in Labyrinth Zone Act 3, which takes place exclusively underwater, the playable character cannot drown.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit)

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit), water is featured in Aqua Lake Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, water appears in Aquatic Ruin Zone. The game also introduces Mega Mack, a pink substance that is described as poisonous but still functions like water gameplay-wise; which appears in Chemical Plant Zone. Additionally, in the 2013 remaster of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Mega Mack-like water in Hidden Palace Zone.

SegaSonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog CD

In Sonic the Hedgehog CD, water appears in Tidal Tempest. In this game, it behaves relatively the same as with its previous Sega Genesis installments. Sonic's Super Peel Out speed is drastically reduced in speed when used underwater, as well as there being no figure eight animation appearing when using the move.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles

In Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and the lock-on game Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, underwater sections appear in Angel Island Zone, Hydrocity Zone, Carnival Night Zone Act 2, IceCap Zone, and Launch Base Zone Act 2. The game also introduces the Aqua Shield, a variant of the Shield that lets the player breathe underwater. The player also can be immune to drowning by transforming into Hyper Sonic or Hyper Knuckles. Also, entering the water with the Fire Shield or Lightning Shield will cause the player to lose the shield (with the latter causing the water to flash).

Sonic Chaos

In Sonic Chaos, water is featured in Aqua Planet Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble

In Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, water remains mostly the same as in previous Game Gear titles. It appears in Turquoise Hill Zone and Tidal Plant Zone. A boss fight must also be fought underwater. An exclusive item for Tails, the Sea Fox, can be used to traverse underwater more freely and safely.

Tails Adventure

Sonic Blast

Sonic Adventure

Sonic underwater in Lost World, from Sonic Adventure.

In Sonic Adventure, its remake Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut and the 2010 remaster, water makes frequent appearances in all three Adventure Fields, though it is less common in Action Stages. Like in previous games, water can be found in deep pools, though it is more common for it to appear in shallow pools where it is impossible to drown. In Sonic's version of Lost World, the player must also raise the water level by pressing certain switches to be able to advance. In another section of this Action Stage, Sonic will slide down a large waterfall.

In gameplay, when the playable character submerges into water, they will notably slow down; in deep pools though, they will be able to jump much higher than normal. However, if they spend about twenty seconds underwater, a countdown will appear, like in older games. When this countdown reaches zero, the character will drown, and the player will lose a life. In most of its appearances though, water merely appears as a bottomless pit instead.

Certain characters can react differently when they dive underwater; notably, when he submerges into deep water, Knuckles will stop gliding, despite still being able to glide underwater. Also, Gamma and Super Sonic are unable to dive underwater, as both will hover above it. Also, by obtaining the Life Belt Level Up Item, Big will be able to float in the water, and dive into it when the player holds down the jump button.

The battle against Chaos 4 takes place in a small, albeit deep pond of water. Unlike in other appearances however, the player is able to step onto the water surface, though they will slow down and slowly sink into it, like sinking pools. This is because this water's propierties have been modified by Chaos 4.[3] During the boss fight, if the playable character stands on water for roughly two seconds, they will get damaged automatically.

Big fishing Froggy in a water pond in Icecap, from Sonic Adventure.

Water plays a major role in Big's Action Stages, where deep ponds of water will appear. Since Big's gameplay focuses around fishing, these pools will be full of fish, and certain spots will also have Froggy, who has to be fished to beat the stages. Nevertheless, water can be interacted with as normal.

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure

In Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, water makes an appearance in Aquatic Relix Zone. The water-like Mega Mack also returns in Secret Plant Zone.

Sonic Shuffle

In Sonic Shuffle, water is featured in the Emerald Coast board. When a player enters the water, a five-turn counter will be placed on them. By passing over an Air Bubble space, the counter will be reset to five turns. However, if the playable character does not reach an Air Bubble space or reach the surface before the counter reaches zero, they will drown and wash up on the surface, wasting a turn.

Sonic Adventure 2

In Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, traversable underwater sections appear in the Hunting Stages. By using Swim, the player move around everywhere while underwater. In addition, Knuckles can obtain the Air Necklace Level Up Item which lets him breathe underwater for indefinite periods. Like in Sonic Adventure, the games also include shallow water ponds in the Chao Gardens for the Chao to play in.

Sonic Advance series

Sonic Advance

In Sonic Advance, water makes an appearance in Ice Mountain Zone where it functions identically to that of the previous games. When playing as Knuckles, he has the ability to float on a surface of water whenever he drops into a body of water. While floating, Knuckles can move left or right, perform the Spin Jump and can look up. If the player presses down, Knuckles will stop floating and fall into the water depths. Also while submerged, Knuckles can swim.

Sonic Advance 2

In Sonic Advance 2, there are only two water sections in the entire game which are both located in Leaf Forest Act 1. While in these water sections, Tails and Knuckles are not able to perform their swimming moves from Sonic Advance. Regardless, these underwater sections can be bypassed completely by taking the act's higher sections and the player can run on top of the water surface if they are in Boost Mode.

Sonic Advance 3

In Sonic Advance 3, water sections are featured in Ocean Base and Twinkle Snow, functioning the same as those in Sonic Advance. In addition, Tails and Knuckles can perform their respective swimming moves. Knuckles and Cream (if the latter is partnered with Sonic) are able to float on the water surface in the same manner as with Sonic Advance, although Cream uses a floating ring while doing this. If Sonic is partnered with Cream, a bubble forms around him whenever he is submerged, gaining the ability to breathe underwater for indefinite periods.

Sonic Rush series

Sonic Rush

In Sonic Rush, underwater areas are featured in Water Palace.

Sonic Rush Adventure

In Sonic Rush Adventure, underwater sections are featured in Plant Kingdom, Coral Cave, Pirates' Island and Hidden Island 4. Unlike most games, none of the underwater sections in these stages have air bubbles though the underwater sections are not very long.

Sonic Unleashed

In Sonic Unleashed, water skimming is often a mandatory function in Stages such as Dragon Road, Cool Edge and Jungle Joyride, where the player has to run across waters to reach new areas. In the latter Stages, streams of water can also burst out of the water pools and damage the player.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

In Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, the game has an element system common to most fantasy RPGs. Water is one of its elements. Organic enemies, N'rrgal and Voxai are resistant to water while robots, Kron and Zoah are weak against it. Ghise and equipment such as Water Rings add water damage to attacks while Perty grants protection against water.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Metal, water makes an appearance in Lost Labyrinth Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II

In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, water is featured in Sylvania Castle Zone Act 2 and White Park Zone Act 3. While underwater, the player can use the Submarine Combo to swim.

Sonic Colors

Sonic in an underwater section, from the Wii version of Sonic Colors.

In the Wii version of Sonic Colors, and the remaster Sonic Colors: Ultimate, water sections are predominant in every Act of Aquarium Park except Act 2, though they also appear in Asteroid Coaster Act 6 and Game Land. In these games, they only appear in 2.5D segments. Like in previous games, speed is reduced while underater, though the player can run over it while boosting above its surface. Spending too long underwater will cause the playable character to drown, though getting out of the water, inhaling air bubbles and using Red Schools resets the timer, while using Color Powers pauses it. Unlike other games, the player can continuously Double Jump to ascend. Alternatively, they can use the Yellow Drill to swim freely around at high speeds.

In gameplay in the Wii version of Sonic Colors and Sonic Colors: Ultimate, water in the Aquarium Park appears as seas or lakes. In the Asteroid Coaster and Game Land, however, some water pools can be found floating, while the areas below and next to them have no water and can be breathed in. The entire battle against the Admiral Jelly takes place underwater, with the player only being able to avoid drowning by inhaling the few air bubbles that appear in the Act or by attacking the Admiral Jelly. Also worth noting is that the ending screens of the Aquarium Park Acts take place underwater, usually making it somewhat of a hassle for the player to smash the letters due to the water physics, though Sonic cannot drown there.

In the Nintendo DS version of Sonic Colors, water appears in Aquarium Park. Here, its physics play more similar to the previous Sonic Rush titles, with the added inclusion of the Yellow Drill.

Sonic Generations

In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, water appears in Seaside Hill, while the water-like Mega Mack substance makes a return in Chemical Plant. Additionally, water-skimming actions are present in the Perfect Chaos boss fight.

In the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, Water Palace features water, along with a few water skimming sections in their second Acts.

Sonic Lost World

In the Wii U version, PC version, and Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Lost World, the player can traverse underwater sections in Tropical Coast. In the Wii U/PC version though, the player needs the Yellow Drill to enter to enter them.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

In Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, water makes numerous appearances throughout the game. Touching it will cause the playable character to die.

Sonic Mania

In Sonic Mania, and its expansion Sonic Mania Plus, water is featured throughout most of Hydrocity Zone, as well as in small pools in Green Hill Zone, and in Angel Island Zone in Sonic Mania Plus' Encore Mode. In addition, the water-like Mega Mack substance returns in Chemical Plant Zone. In gameplay, water behaves the same as in earlier titles. Also, the playable character becomes immune to drowning by using a Water Shield.

Sonic Forces

In Sonic Forces, Mega Mack makes an appearance in Chemical Plant.


  1. Sonic Advance 3 (Game Boy Advance) United States instruction booklet, pg. 9.
  2. Prima Publishing (1993). "Sonic The Hedgehog for Sega Genesis". Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2: Sega's Official Player's Guide. Prima Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 1-55958-335-5.
  3. (in Japanese) ソニックアドベンチャー オペレーションガイド. SoftBank. January 1999. p. 46. ISBN 978-4757203006.
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