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Trivia / Sonic 3 & Knuckles

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  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In Sonic 3 you were originally meant to go to "Flying Battery Zone" between "Carnival Night Zone" and "Ice Cap Zone", which in the latter case, explained how you ended up on top of a mountain miles away. The zone was dropped due to being unfinished at the time the decision was made to split the game up. A convincing attempt to recreate the original level transitions was made in the hack "Sonic 3 Complete".
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  • Christmas Rushed: This was such an ambitious game, that it became clear that it would be impossible to finish it as a whole in time, forcing Sega to split the entire game in half, and even then Sonic 3 arrived later than expected (February 1994), with Sonic & Knuckles arriving eight months later with its Lock-On Technology added to allow Sonic 3 to be played as it was originally planned. It didn't help that McDonald's, who had a tie-in deal with the game, ended up pushing Happy Meal toys before the game was released, forcing Sega's hand in the entire thing. On top of that, both games are loaded of glitches and polish issues, some of which are game breaking, to the point where the manual had to handwave these issues (such as Sonic being liable to accidentally get stuck in certain scenery or Tails sometimes being unable to complete Hydrocity in standalone Sonic 3 due to the screen locking up) as "diabolical traps" set up by Robotnik.
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  • Copy Protection: 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.
  • Fan Remake: Sonic 3: Angel Island Revisited, or Sonic 3 A.I.R. for short, is a remaster built upon the code of the Steam versionnote  that adds native Widescreen Support, unlockable features such as the Drop Dash from Sonic Mania and the ability to play as Knuckles with Tails, improves the Special Stages, and several gameplay tweaks such as the ability to push the rocks faster in Sandopolis Zone Act 2. It also incorporates several features from Sonic 3 Complete (mentioned under Game Mod) such as music selection, and the creator plans to add more.
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  • First Appearance: Of Knuckles, the Master Emerald, and Angel Island.
  • Game Mod: Sonic 3 Complete is a mod that polishes the game in areas that the official Sonic 3 & Knuckles neglected (fixing glitches, giving Super Sonic actual sprites for certain level gimmicks) 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 Sonic CD. For more extras, you can even create IPS patches that change the game even further, such as changing Sonic back to his Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 sprites, with new sprites to accommodate them for all of the actions he could only do in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
  • God Never Said That: Takashi Iizuka only said that Super Emeralds were a late addition to Sonic 3 & Knuckles due to wanting a bonus lock-on incentive, which causes certain fans to interpret them as being "non-canon" (though he also indicated they wouldn't return to the series following Sonic Adventure).
  • Manual Misprint: The two Badniks from Flying Battery Zone in Sonic & Knuckles first showed up in the Sonic 3 instruction manual (though it's understandable given Flying Battery's last-minute removal from 3).
  • Name's the Same:
  • Old Shame: Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka have both publicly apologized for the infamous Barrel of Doom from "Carnival Night Zone" in Sonic 3, as seen here.
  • Refitted for Sequel:
    • Sonic & Knuckles consists almost entirely of material that was originally intended for Sonic 3 but was cut due to time and hardware constraints. The two games can, however, be locked on together, which creates the official full game, and the longest in the original Sonic trilogy.
    • Hidden Palace Zone was an idea developed for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but cut from the final game. The name is reused for an otherwise completely different level in Sonic & Knuckles. The idea of the level being a place where the player would unlock a Super Mode may also have been reused, as the player visits Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles to collect the Super Emeralds (and the transformations they bestow).
  • Screwed by the Lawyers:
    • 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, Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer, directly sampled songs from their respective discographies, the latter is the most likely.
    • The music issues are likely the reason why the incredibly popular IceCap Zone hasn't appeared in Generations nor Mania, despite both games being dedicated to re-imagining popular levels from previous games. Its background music was an originally unreleased song called "Hard Times" by The Jetzons, a band that composer Brad Buxer was once a part of. Because of this, Sega likely does not hold the rights to the song, preventing its appearance in said games.
    • Since the beginning of The New '10s, the legal issues surrounding the game seem to have come to a head, as it has been excluded from many Sonic and Sega-centric compilations and plug-n-play units. Combined with its lack of release on eighth generation consoles, this leaves Steam as the only currently supported way to play the game (itself released in 2010). The last re-release it has seen on any console was the Sonic Classic Collection for the Nintendo DS, also released in 2010. It's generally believed this is also the reason why a Taxman/Stealth remaster like Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD is unlikely (though Taxman made a proof of concept video in honor of the game's 20th anniversary). Also, AtGames, prior to being removed from development on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Mini, explicity stated music licensing issues were the reason for Sonic 3 & Knuckles being excluded from the system, without directly mentioning Jackson or Buxer.
    • In February 2018, Naoto Ohshima revealed that Michael Jackson sent Sonic Team a demo tape of original songs for the game. According to Ohshima, none of the songs from the tape were used, and Sega has the tape locked away in a vault. Whether or not any of those songs became the one of the MJ-made tracks in Sonic 3 will likely never be known.
  • Shrug of God: The Super Emeralds only existed in this game and they simply vanished after the events of the game:note 
    Kazuyuki Hoshino: "They're gone. I don't know how it happened, but they're gone."
  • Troubled Production:
    • As noted in Christmas Rushed, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were once planned to be one big game. However, time restraints forced Sega to split the game in two in time for 3's release, leaving many fans to wonder what these other stages were once they put in the insanely difficult Stage Select code.
    • Michael Jackson's rumored involvement in the game's music is a whole story of its own, which ranges from anonymous credits and dropped finished tracks because of his child molestation allegations, to him being dissatisfied with the Sega Genesis sound hardware.
  • Uncredited Role: Jackson contributed to the soundtrack, but he was dissatisfied with the sound capabilities of the Genesis and decided to go uncredited.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda:
    • There tends to be confusion as to why Sonic 1 could not be locked in with Sonic & Knuckles. The two most popular explanations are that Knuckles would have dramatically altered the color pallete or that Knuckles gliding on conveyor belts in Scrap Brain Zone would cause the game to 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 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.
    • Sega Magazine (UK) claimed in its issue 11 (page 70) that there was a secret character hidden in Sonic & Knuckles: "Rankles, the green otter with outsize sparkly ankles and Knuckles' sidekick." They offered a million pounds to the first person to send them a photo of Rankles. At the end of the paragraph, they outright admitted that they just made him up, but some kids at the time missed the addendum and thought it was all real:note 
    Anyone who sees Rankles should call Alcoholics Anonymous because Tom Guise just made him up. And we're afraid we couldn't give you the million pounds anyway.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • As noted above, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were originally intended to be a single game. Before then, the game was planned to be a 3D polygonal isometric platformer game using the Sega Virtua Processor Chip, the Genesis version of the Super FX chip, that was used in the Genesis port of Virtua Racing. The idea was scrapped due to unsatisfying gameplay results and the cost of the SVP chip.
    • Sonic 3 was intended to have both Tails and Knuckles as playable characters, but after being rushed for time, only Tails was left in the game planning. You can play as Knuckles when the Sonic 3 cartridge is locked onto the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge, however.
    • Flying Battery Zone was originally planned to be in the Sonic 3 half, between Carnival Night and IceCap.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 
    • This game has an item monitor that can only be accessed through debug mode. The item in question is just a blue "S" that grants the character their super form and 50 rings, even if the player did not collect all the Chaos Emeralds. Whether the item was just for bug/balance testing or something more remains to be seen.
    • The magazine Sega Magazin makes mention of a "Help item". Sonic would break a monitor and whistle for Tails who would then carry him about akin to a second player. Although not present in the final version, Sonic's whistling animation is still present within the game's code and a whistling sound is heard at the start of The Doomsday Zone.
    • In a case of What Could Not Have Been, the Super Emeralds and their powers were not part of the original plan. According to Takashi Iizuka at 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.
    • A theoretical Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog was going to be accessible by locking the game to Sonic 1. However, this idea was scrapped, mostly due to palette issues (as all the in-game graphics used Sonic's palette as a base) and bugs involving the gliding mechanic in Scrap Brain Zone. Naturally, in the decades since then, there's been a ROM hack or several that fixes both of these problems.
    • The replacement tracks thought to have been made for the Sonic & Knuckles Collection are actually redone versions of early tracks intended for the Genesis version of Sonic 3 prior to being replaced.
    • During development, Sonic Team experimented with different moves for Sonic, such as a ring attack, an air dash (which would be kept as the Fire Shield's ability and one of Hyper Sonic's abilities) and even a move that is extremely similar to Sonic Mania's Drop Dash, before ultimately setting on the Insta-Shield seen in the final game.
  • Working Title: Sonic 3D, when it was developed as a 3D Polygonal Isometric Platformer with the SVP chip in mind. No relation to Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island


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