* ChristmasRushed: The game in its completed state was too ambitious for it to be released as a whole in such a short time. As well, UsefulNotes/McDonalds ended up pushing Happy Meal toys before the game was released, forcing Creator/{{Sega}}'s hand in the entire thing. ''Sonic 3'' was released in February 1994, while ''Sonic & Knuckles'' was released eight months later.
* CopyProtection: Pirate copies of the cartridge obviously do not have the lock-on slot. This means a huge chunk of content will be unavailable, so even though the game is still fully playable, it's a lot less interesting.
* FanRemake: ''Sonic 3 Complete'' is a fairly well-known hack that polishes the game in areas that the official ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles'' didn't (fixing glitches, giving Super Sonic actual sprites for certain things) as well as allowing a plethora of options such as choosing individual tracks between ''Sonic 3'' or ''Sonic & Knuckles'' and allowing the ability to play ''Sonic 3'' or ''Sonic & Knuckles'' standalone in the same game. It also added some goodies like restoring the "Beta" level order (Flying Battery after Carnival Night), and the option to do the Super Peel Out from ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehogCD Sonic CD]]''. For more extras, you can even create IPS patches that change the game even further, such as changing Sonic back to his ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog1 Sonic 1]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2 Sonic 2]]'' sprites, with new sprites to accommodate them for all of the actions he could only do in ''Sonic 3 & Knuckles''.
* ManualMisprint: The two Badniks from Flying Battery Zone in ''Sonic & Knuckles'' first showed up in the ''Sonic 3'' instruction manual.
* NamesTheSame:
** In English materials - Blastoid from [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Blastoid Hydrocity]] and [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Sparkle Carnival Night]], and Mushmeanie from [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Mushmeanie Mushroom Hill]] and [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Iwamodoki Lava Reef.]] In Japanese materials, these enemies have separate names, but [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Sandworm Sandworm]] shares its name with the first [[http://info.sonicretro.org/Caterkiller Caterkiller]] from ''VideoGame/{{Sonic the Hedgehog|1}}'' (Gnarl).
** The robotic duplicate of Sonic that appears late in the game also has multiple names depending on the source - Metal Sonic according to the [[AllThereInTheManual back of the original North American release box]] of ''Sonic & Knuckles'', Mecha Sonic according to [[NoExportForYou Japanese strategy guides]], [[Comicbook/SonicTheHedgehog Archie Comics]], and recaps on the ''[[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog4 Sonic 4: Episode I]]'' websites, and the Evil Sonic according to the ''ComicBook/SonicTheComic'' Q Zone. Officially, the recurring Metal Sonic from ''Sonic CD'' has no connection with this character, but it MAY be related to the Mecha Sonic robot(s) from either version of ''Sonic 2''.
* ScrewedByTheLawyers: According to Cirocco Jones (mistakenly credited as Scirocco in the ''Sonic 3'' credits), there's a ''huge'' legal mess concerning the music used in the games, likely due to unpaid royalties, improperly crediting the musicians, or (as was the case with Dreams Come True), licensing issues. Considering that two of the music composers (Music/MichaelJackson and Brad Buxer) directly sampled songs from their respective discographies, the latter is the most likely. It's generally believed this is the reason why a Taxman[=/=]Stealth remaster like the first two ''Genesis'' games is unlikely, as Sega has only been able to release direct emulations of the original game or recoded versions with different music (as seen in the PC version).
* UrbanLegendOfZelda:
** There tends to be confusion as to why ''Sonic 1'' could not be locked in with ''Sonic & Knuckles''. The two most popular explanations are Knuckles would have dramatically altered the color pallet or that Knuckles gliding on conveyor belts in Scrap Brain Zone would cause the game to [[GameBreakingBug crash]]. Both of which were solved by the famous ROM hack ''Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog'' as well as any future ROM hacks starring characters other than Sonic.
** Despite what your third grade friends (and basic logic) told you, it's not possible to beat Fire Breath the first time you see it and stop it from burning Angel Island. No matter how fast you hit it, it'll successfully set off the firebombs and escape with its robotic life.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen:
** Flying Battery Zone was originally planned to be in the ''Sonic 3'' half, between Carnival Night and [=IceCap=].[[note]]Sonic would have improvised the broken door as a snowboard.[[/note]] Time constraints intervened, and it (along with at least "Mushroom Valley" and Sandopolis) had to be cut and moved to the ''Sonic & Knuckles'' half. In the end, this was probably a good call, as it helps to balance the emerald collection in the combined game.[[note]]However, the snowboarding off a sheet of metal from Flying Battery Zone at the beginning of [=IceCap=] did inspire the opening to the Hero side story as well as the first part of the City Escape level in ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure2'' a few years later with something similar to the original snowboarding planned transition between Flying Battery and Ice Cap from this game happening in it.[[/note]]
** The Super Emeralds and their powers were not part of the original plan. According to [[WordOfGod Takashi Iizuka]] at [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nzxRoIX4QU&t=19m40s Sonic Boom 2013,]] they were only added after the game was split so the player would have an incentive to go through another set of Special Stages.