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A lot of Sega Genesis owners think this is a great and fantastic game that has several hours of play time, and well... they're right! There are definitely some pros and cons to this game, so let's go ahead and dive right in, shall we? I'll add a few tips and pointers to make your gameplay easier if you've somehow never managed to play this before. If you have the Sonic and Knuckles cartridge, you'll notice there's a lid to another place to insert a cartridge. That's because you can insert Sonic 1, 2, and 3 and get a variety of more game play from simply combining two cartridges. When you insert Sonic the Hedgehog 3 into the slot, you essentially get the two games combined into one long and interconnected gameplay. There are four ways to play this game. This game has tons of obstacles, and if you’re planning to get through it all, you’ll need hours of playtime.
- Sonic and Tails: I really dislike this style of play through because Tails usually does more harm than good unless you have a skilled player two on board. I usually play video games so I don't have to talk to real people. With this one, if you gather the Chaos Emeralds then Sonic can become Super Sonic.
- Sonic Alone: This option is much better than the first, in my opinion. It's also much better than the recent trailer that came out. You have the option to gather the Chaos Emeralds if you want things to be too easy, or you can play the old fashioned way with skill. Sonic can still gather the Chaos Emeralds to become Super Sonic.
- Knuckles: At first glance, you'd think playing a character who can glide and climb walls would make the game easier. It really doesn't. Knuckles cannot jump as high as Sonic, so there are parts of the game that are particularly more challenging to get through. The boss at the end of level two can be particularly annoying, if you don't know what you're doing. And if you don't have a water shield, it's very easy to drown. You can gather the Chaos Emeralds and Knuckles can become Hyper Knuckles.
- Tails: With this character, you get the benefit of being able to fly and get to more places in the game, but even if he gets all then Chaos Emeralds then he can't transform into Hyper Tails. You'll have to get through everything the old fashioned way with skill.
In the game, you'll come across boxes with different images on them. Breaking open these boxes can give you useful things such as rings and shields.
- Water Drop: This water shield gives Sonic the ability to bounce up and down on enemies. It also gives Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails an infinite amount of air to breathe underwater. As long as you have this shield, you won't drown.
- Fire: This fire shield will make you invincible against any fire attack. If any sort flame is thrown your way, it will have zero impact on you. Sonic can do a neat attack where he lunges forward into enemies with this shield.
- Lightning Bolt: The lightning shield makes rings gravitate towards you so you're less likely to be in short supply with this shield. It also makes you more resistance against some electric attacks. Sonic can jump higher with this shield.
- Ring: It gives you 10 rings.
- Dr. Robotnik: Deals one hit of damage or if you have no rings or shield you die.
- Sparkles: Makes you temporarily invincible.
I'm actually going over ALL the levels, so if you want a long read on tips and pointers for all the levels, here you have it.
Level One: Angel Island Zone
This is a typical first level. It's very easy. To make it even easier get a fire shield for the bosses. This first boss is easy as Sonic and Tails since you only need to worry about dodging the flames, but as Knuckles you have additional things you'll need to dodge. Also, Knuckles won't have the usual route in this game, so if you want a fire shield for the end boss in the 2nd stage make sure you have 50 rings before you activate the place saver that activates the mini games so you're more likely to get one where you can acquire the shield. The boss battles for Knuckles will always be slightly harder because there are more obstacles and his lack of jumping ability. You simply have to find a pattern that works for this character to compensate.
Level Two: Hydrocity
This level is still fairly easy, but there are some annoyances you'll want to look out for. There are tiny red fish that latch onto you, then slowly drain all the rings from you before killing you. I destroy these or avoid them. You can get them off you if you ball up just right, but it takes persistence. I'd recommend the water shield for this level. Playing as Knuckles in this level can be challenging because he can't jump as high as Sonic or Tails. I jump over it the first few times it comes down, then before it starts it's spin cycle I spin dash in a way that lets Knuckles go up into the air. Then I continuously bounce on the enemy till it's destroyed. For the second boss I usually depend heavily on jumping on the water pillar made by Robotnik after he's done creating it to get a hit in and timing the explosions of the bombs just right so I get an extra jump to get another hit in.
Level Three: Marble Garden Zone
This isn't a tough level, but here are are few things you may want to know to make the play through for this easier. You will want the electric shield for this level. There are blue spiky NPCs that put their spikes in and out. Only hit these once their spikes have gone in. There are spikes that shoot balls of energy at you. If you have the electric shield the energy balls should just bounce right off. For the first boss you'll want the lightning shield as well, because sharp objects fall from the ceiling and deal damage to your character unless you dodge them. Also, while playing as knuckles a pillar of spikes will continuously come up and cross the screen. I jump on top of the pillar and use it to deal a hit of damage to the boss. In the second stage of this level Knuckles will have to climb to the boss unlike Sonic or Tails. All three of them will have some obstacles to get through while the threat of being smashed is there because the area is getting smaller. Knuckles has it the hardest since for him he has to get through obstacles, plus activate openings with jumps and spin dashes. The boss for the second act looks similar to a turkey in my opinion. Battling it as Sonic you'll be jumping from Tails to deal a hit of damage to the boss when the chance arises. You need to make sure to avoid the drill and the light bulb type devices on his aircraft. Fighting as Tails you'll have to fight from below only attacking by bumping his underside when you get the chance. Knuckle's fight is on land. You'll hit him every chance you get.
Level Four: Carnival Night Zone
This is actually where I want to say the game becomes slightly more difficult, especially for beginning players. The bat NPCs may not seem annoying at first, but these buggers can catch you off guard in vulnerable states. There's also the clams that shoot spiky balls at you at inconvenient locations. And then finally there's the electric hand grenade looking NPC that just looks at you and throws balls of electricity at you. The electric shield makes the balls bounce off of you. If you're Knuckles you only have one boss fight in this level. For the first boss I tend do bounce on top of the main machine while the spinning spiked platform beats it up. For the second boss I wait till Robotnik is picking up his ball and deal a hit of damage. Remember that the spinning platforms that go up and down sometimes require you to simply push up and down for them to go up and down.
Level Five: Ice Cap Zone
For the most part this level isn't too difficult. Sonic starts out rocking the snow board. Surprisingly the most useful shield in this level is the electric one. The enemies that throw the spiky ice crystals are helpless against you once you have this shield on. Be aware though that there are machines that blow cold air that freeze Sonic/Tails/Knuckles into a cube of ice for a period of time, then when you break free it deals a hit of damage. The only defense against this is avoiding it or becoming Super Sonic or Hyper Knuckles. The first boss is a machine that controls some chunks of ice that damage you if you touch them. When the opportunity strikes make sure to deal as many hits of damage as you can. After the chunks of ice have been rotating around the machine they'll fall to the ground and you'll need to avoid them so you don't take any hits of damage. The Second boss will be Robotnik and he has an extension that lets him blow puffs of freezing gas at you. Don't let the puffs hit you or you'll freeze. If you don't have all Chaos Emeralds I'd suggest getting the electric bubble as the double jump is especially useful in this battle. For Knuckles or Tails, though, you'll simply have to do without this perk.
Level Six: Launch Base Zone
This level is just a giant pain in the butt to get through. There are alarms that call bird-like NPCs to the attack. Fire shooting flame throwers can deal damage too. The fire shield can be useful for a time, but eventually you can areas with water and flame throwers so you have to be fast with your thinking and controller. There is also an NPC surrounded by metal spike balls that you can only kill in invincible or Super Sonic/Hyper Knuckles mode. There are also lasers that shoot out at inconvenient places and times. You'll notice an NPC on the wall that sometimes opens and shoots balls of energy. The only time you can destroy them is when they're open. Don't depend too much on spin dashes here, because there are also a good number of spike traps that will kill you. The first boss battle is actually pretty easy. You dodge the spiked chains when they're swinging outside of the robot and hit the robot once they've retracted. The second boss is a little trickier, even if you play as Super Sonic. The first portion of this boss has Robotnik lunging giant balls of iron at you as you dodge and try to hit him. I just wait for an opportunity to start bouncing on him till he's defeated. Then you take a ride over to the second portion of the fight where Knuckles punches at you and laughs at you if you're Sonic, then clumsily falls off his platform. You then get to a platform where Robotnik is in a craft that shoots lasers and has metal spiked balls circling him. You'll have to avoid these and hit him at every opportunity. If this were just Sonic the Hedgehog 3 you'd have another version to fight where he has a claw that grabs and kills you instantly.
Level Seven: Mushroom Hill Zone
This is basically having you start at square one. This is another first level. Also if you had all Chaos Emeralds you're starting at square one with that too. The levels to get the new emeralds are a bit more challenging, but still nothing compared to spheres. I'd say it's a bit more challenging to find the giant rings to get to these levels though. There are NPCs that throw mushrooms that force you to bounce into spikes and take damage. The flying NPCs that look like dragon flies can only be destroyed by jumping on their heads. The butterflies can also be destroyed. You'll notice bouncy mushrooms that if you hit them turn out to be robots. You have to hit them twice to destroy them. The first boss is a robot woodsman that chucks wood at you. You'll need to dodge his wood and the flames on the bottom of this robot and look for an opportunity to bounce on it till it's destroyed. In the second stage there are chicken robots that blow you backwards into obstacles. Destroy them the first chance you get. The second boss is Doctor Robotnik in another flying device that looks like a turkey. You'll be chasing him and you'll need to jump over some bars of spikes to avoid taking damage. Only hit him when the lights on the bottom of his flying device have turned off. If you hit them when they're on you gain one hit of damage.
Level Eight: Flying Battery Zone
This is a fast paced and fun level, but look out since there are flame throwing platforms here that will bounce you upwards, even when you don't want them to. I'd recommend hunting a fire shield for this one. There are also land mines that will explode on you if you stand on them too long and deal a hit of damage. There are also fake level ending switches that give either rings or enemy bots. A few of them are actually springs that you bounce on deceptively. You'll reach a point in the game that seems like it's a dead end, but really you just need to wait till some bombs blow a hole into the aircraft for you to go inside. The first boss for this level is another switch that you'd normally jump on to end the level, but once you jump on it a pair of eyes appear along with two spiky arms. How you defeat this boss is pretty simple. You stand on it's head and when it straightens one of it's arms you jump off it and let it hit itself until it's destroyed. In the second stage there are spiraling platforms that work similar to elevators. Some of them are so small you need to spin-dash through them so you won't be smooshed. The second boss will have you fighting Robotnik. At first he'll have you trapped between two beams of light and he'll be shooting a giant laser beam at your character. Merely dodge this laser and let him destroy the ship. After he runs off you'll need to race to the top so you aren't smooshed by the upward moving platform to get to Robotnik. He'll be hanging by spiked hooks that deal damage as well as shoot fire at you. The opportunity to hit him here is when he's swinging up and down around the platform. He swings around four times before he stops.
Level Nine: Sandopolis Zone
I always thought this level was kind of cool. Some annoying NPCs include Scorpions that poke you with a round metal stinger, sand worms and robots pretending to be boulders that just walk towards you. The first boss is a piece of cake. Just lead him into the sand where he sinks making sure you don't sink in and die. The second act is a little trickier. It's set up to where you "accidentally" release some ghosts and if you don't keep the lights on these nuisances show up and deal blows of damage. I've personally tried figuring out how to not release them, but if you're playing without any type of hack it's simply impossible since it's actually triggered by you accidentally hitting an end of the level switch. More often than not, it'll be a race to the next pully that will light the room up again. For the second boss you'll need to jump on the arm that is more visible to hit the head avoiding the spike. That'll reveal Robotnik in his ship which you then also hit. He'll slowly walk towards you and shoot a laser at you. Of coarse avoid the laser.
Level 10: Lava Reef Zone
The NPCs here are either annoying or weird. There are rocks that open their eyes, heat up and explode into hot rocks that do damage. There's also this eye on a stick that looks like it's getting high in some cloud of mist. I normally just kill these since I figured that wasn't the type of mist I'd want to inhale and I was right. It slows Sonic down to a crawl and drains him of rings till he's dead. There's also giant balls of spikes rolling around you'll want to avoid. There's also what I'd describe as flying fire centipedes. The fire shield is the most useful in this level. The first boss is simple. Simply avoid the fire balls and getting smooshed by the hand while hitting the two metal balls and the hand when the opportunity arises. Keep in mind though that these are actually three separate enemies and you'll need to defeat them all. The second boss starts off by Knuckles screwing you over as usually, pushing a boulder down some stairs to knock you off. This is then proceeded by you being forced to chase a robot over some lava. I'd highly suggest grabbing the fire shield. You'll be forced to jump from rock to rock as Robotnik hurls spiked balls at you. He's covered in spikes so you can't hit him yourself. Merely avoiding the spiked balls and letting them hit Robotnik will let you defeat him.
Level 11: Hidden Palace Zone
The 'boss' for this comes very early in the game. You beat up Knuckles if you're playing as Sonic. Don't try to hit him while he's gliding, that does damage to you. Only hit him when he's just standing there. You encounter Knuckles fighting Robotnik soon after and you can see he realizes now Robotnik is the bad guy and you're the good guy. He lets you into a secret passageway that leads into the Sky Sanctuary zone.
Level 12: Sky Sanctuary Zone
This level always reminds me of the Wizard of Oz... probably all the green in this map. This is a very easy level. The first boss is basically a copy cat of the first boss in the first Sonic the Hedgehog game for Sega Genesis. The second boss I encountered was a copycat of the boss from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 from the level Metropolis also piloted by Metal Sonic. The third boss is Metal Sonic himself. Dodge him when he's balled up and when he's opened up hit him.
Level 13: Death Egg Zone
Not gonna lie, this level can be frustrating. Electric floors you need to cross. Traps that shoot things at you and other obstacles mean you'll need to be patient here. The first boss is tricky. You have to hit the red eye, but there are several metal balls circling it. If you have the electric shield the double jump from this will help immensely. When the balls are circling the bottom of the bot as tightly as possible jump and hit the eye. You'll eventually defeat it only for there to be a second version of the same boss. This time it'll have platforms with spikes on the bottom. Stand on one of the platforms and hit the bot. Once you hit it make sure you're on the platform which will speed up for a few moments. Rinse and repeat till it's defeated. The second boss is more difficult. The second act will be twice as annoying since you'll be playing parts of this upside down. Once you reach the second boss you'll have to constantly take the portals to make the enemy bot hit himself. Once he's defeated you have to defeat Robotnik. First he'll try to smash you with his fingers which are easy to hit and defeat. Then he'll try and defeat you with a megazord-type bot powered by a Chaos Emerald. You'll need to dodge the flame thrower and the laser beam that gets shot at you hitting it when it's open. After you defeat that you'll chase Robotnik who's still carrying the Chaos Emerald until he's defeated.
Level 14: The Doomsday Zone
Here you'll instantly be playing as Super Sonic or Hyper Knuckles the whole way through. This doesn't make this level any easier. If you run out of rings you die, so you have to collect as many as possible. There are missiles and rocks you'll need to dodge. The first boss is an aircraft that you trick the missiles into hitting the front by leading them there. After that you're chasing Robotnik and repeatedly hitting him making sure you don't run out of rings. You fly down with the emerald and tails picks you up. Angel island rises from the ocean to float in the sky once more and the day is saved thanks to Sonic and pals.
These take some practice and some hunting down, but once you know where to find and complete them all gathering all Chaos Emeralds the remaining giant rings that lead to these mini games give you 50 rings each. They can seem tricky at first and some of them take trial, error and memorizing.
Other Tips and Pointers
If you're Sonic and have all Chaos Emeralds, but are wearing a shield, if you double jump you won't turn into Super Sonic when you have 50 rings or more. If you're Knuckles and have 50 rings or more, you'll transform into Hyper Knuckles, with or without a shield from double jumping.
This game will force you to explore and memorize where everything is if you want to be good at it.
The boss battles in the first stages will have you hit the boss six times and the second boss is always eight times.
If you plug Sonic the Hedgehog into Sonic and Knuckles you get a game called Spheres. It's nothing but more of the Chaos Emerald mini games similar to the ones in Sonic and Knuckles and Sonic the Hedgehog 3.