* The sheer scope of this game, just look at how many levels it features. (Most likely influenced by how many levels they had to cut out from VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2).
** You can play this game for over twenty years and still find new (non-glitch) content within the levels. Check the playthroughs of Main/BrainScratchCommentaries, Main/HellfireCommentaries, or Super Gaming Bros ({{Main/Somecallmejohnny}})
** From repeated gaming sessions on the original cartridges, this troper personally took around 3.5 hours to finish either Sonic 3 or Sonic & Knuckles ''by themselves'', due to [[Main/HundredPercentCompletion being OC enough]] to scrounge up almost every secret available to the respective characters being used at the time, or grab all the bonus stages for tons of rings (which partially resets the timer to the nearest minute upon exiting). Combined, that's over 7 hours' worth of gaming alone in one sitting from start to finish, assuming you don't pay too much attention to the 10 minute time limit per level. By comparison, Sonic 2 clocks in at around 3 hours under the same conditions, which is still quite impressive. That's how much content the games actually have [[Main/NotTheWayItIsMeantToBePlayed if you bother to slow down a bit and look carefully, which may be quite ingenious for a video game about speed]].
* The fight against Knuckles at Hidden Palace Zone. The boss fight is really easy, but what makes it so awesome is that you finally get to have your revenge on Knuckles for every last cheap shot, trick, and trap that he's been pulling on you since your first encounter with him at the beginning of the game.
* Drill Eggman battle at the end of the Act 2 of Marble Garden Zone, Eggman uses his machine to destroy the stage itself around Sonic, dooming him to certain death. Tails, however, swoops in to carry his idol and chase Eggman down for a battle in the skies. Tails has very little stamina in the air in normal gameplay, and less so while carrying Sonic, but he hangs on through the whole boss fight and even manages to catch Sonic if he ever should fall, and then for good measure keeps going long enough for the sun to set in the background.
** Really, the fact that Eggman '''''destroyed the entire level just to kill Sonic''''' is, in itself, a CMOA for Eggman. And for Sonic too.
** The entirety of ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' is a crowning moment for Eggman, simply due to the sheer amount of effort he puts into it from start to finish. In the ''first'' level, he starts a forest fire with Sonic in the middle, and then as soon as the hero escapes, cue an airship bombardment. And as awesome as Doomsday Zone was, the preceding boss fight featured Eggman piloting his gigantic mecha, Kyodai Eggman Robo, it is so titanic that its head almost filled the entire screen -- and so did its laser beam, incidentally.
*** The fact that after reaching the end of Death Egg Act 2 you have to fight a total of SIX boss battles (counting all the phases of the DEZ and TDZ bosses) is testament how prepared, determined and serious Eggman is in this game.
*** That he recovered, repaired and launched the Death Egg ''twice'' in the span of just one game is a feat of awesome all its own.
*** What also makes this a CMOA for Eggman is unlike most of his plots which are foiled by Sonic at the end of other games, the whole Death Egg saga takes from ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2 Sonic the Hedgehog 2]]'' all the way to the Sonic & Knuckles portion of this game for Sonic to stop completely. It took two games (or three if you consider the two portions of this title their own games) to completely foil this one plot, which proves how much a {{Determinator}} Eggman can be.
*** He also managed to create Big Arms, a powerful mecha capable of knocking the rings out of ''Super Sonic'' if it got a hold of him. [[spoiler:Too bad he did not account for something stronger than Super Sonic. Hyper Sonic, for example.]]
* Doomsday Zone, where you fly through space as Super Sonic chasing down the ship, avoiding asteroids...
* Temporarily defying GoodIsDumb, Knuckles gets his personal CrowningMomentOfAwesome as he completes his HeelFaceTurn at the end of Hidden Palace Zone, coolly smashing the wall and leading Sonic and Tails towards Eggman. Depending on who you're playing as, he either collapses from pain and exhaustion or battles Super Metal Sonic for the Master Emerald.
** Another one of Knuckles' best moments: when he ''punched the Chaos Emeralds right out of Super Sonic''. The invincible Super Sonic BroughtDownToNormal with just one punch.
** Playing as Knuckles feels like a CMOA for him in a way, since his abilities allow him explore whole new areas that Sonic and Tails couldn't access, and he battles and takes out tougher bosses, including Mecha Sonic in his Super form, making it feel like the character you're controlling is a whole level above Sonic and Tails.
* Sonic's determination to defeat Eggman and stop the Death Egg once and for all (especially awesome in the Japanese S&K backstory, where he vows that he won't rest until this one is destroyed). And the fact that he succeeded in the end despite everything Eggman and Knuckles threw at him over the course of the game, which included ''throwing him into the bottom of a volcano and shooting the Death Egg's huge [[DeathRay death beams]] at it''.
* Sky Sanctuary Zone: Chasing the recently revived Death Egg through floating ruins high in the sky as it escapes into space, and then succeeding in boarding it at the very last second just as the whole area crumbles under your feet makes for a very epic part and enforces the title character's unstoppable [[{{Determinator}} determination]] and [[ImplacableMan implacability]].
* Death Egg Zone: The ring shooter machines that send Sonic all over the place in neon yellow rings. [[spoiler:They make another appearance in ''SonicTheHedgehog4'']].
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