Ports and Compilation Appearances
Sonic & Knuckles PC Collection
In 1997, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles made an additional appearance on the humble Windows PC with Sonic & Knuckles Collection, which was also re-released over here in Europe in 2004, for the bargain price of a fiver. The original release also included the highly animated and functional Sonic Screensaver.
Sonic & Knuckles PC Collection
This package not only contains the separate versions of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, but also the results of combining the two, creating the ultimate game; Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Not only that but hidden in the "Game" menu on the menu bar is "Special Stage mode" which is actually the near-endless bonus game obtained from locking Sonic 1 into S&K. Four Sonic games in one, and they're all virtually identical to their original Mega Drive counterparts, except for one thing.. the music. Most of the tunes we all know and love are still present, but rather than being maintained in their original states, they have been recrafted into MIDI or FM formats. Some, however are completely absent and replaced by original compositions, including both acts of Carnival Night Zone, Icecap Zone and Launch Base Zone, plus Sonic 3's Knuckles theme and the credits music. Interestingly these are the tracks that are suspected to have been created by a certain, uncredited King of Pop (see below), so there may have been legal issues in including these in this version, if indeed there's any truth to such rumours.
Carnival Night is a bit more upbeat than what we're used to, dropping the slightly disjointed gimmick, but still keeping the carnival theme intact. Icecap is also quite upbeat, with slightly less of an icy feel, but I must admit to being quite fond of the alternate theme for Launch Base. It's got quite an imperial, heroic flavour to it. Either music or sound effects can be disabled.
The more recent release of S&K Collection will run on Windows 95, 98, ME and XP, but not 2000 or 3.1. As for Vista, Windows 7, or anything more recent, it's anybody's guess really. Minimum requirements include a P100 Mhz processor, 16MB of system memory, a 16MB graphics card, 80MB of free hard drive space, DirectX 5, and 4x speed CD-ROM. It can be played full screen or in a small window, however for some reason it will only run stupidly fast and unplayable in windowed mode.
Xbox Live Arcade
Following on from successful ports of Sonic 1 and 2 by Backbone Entertainment, in 2009 Sonic 3 signed itself up to appear on Xbox Live Arcade, the Microsoft Xbox 360 downloadable games service. For 400 points (or a free one-level demo), you get much the same sort of experience that Sonic 2 offered, including online play of the game's Competition mode. The title screen and demo sequence occurs only within a small window on the screen, while you select your options next to it, thereby preventing the level select cheat from being activated, or even allowing access to the regular Data Select menu. Fortunately, you can save and load the state of the game at any time into one of three save slots via the more generic menu system, and extra options include the ability to enable or disable graphic smoothing, and adjust the size and stretching of the game on the screen. Custom controls can also be set, and when starting a new single player game, you're given the option of which character(s) to play as. Multiplayer mode is also available, featuring, in addition to the Competition mode, a co-op mode that is exactly the same as the 1 player game, but allows a second player to take control of Tails (which isn't possible otherwise, even though you can still play as Sonic and Tails in single player). Also in single player is a "Time Trial" option, though before you get excited, this is essentially where the single player Time Trial mode for the five little courses from Competition lives.
There are online leaderboards for all scores, and, like Sonic 2, there is an online vs mode, amongst the Multiplayer options, where players race against others in Competition mode over Xbox Live. You can choose to play against anyone or have a ranked match, and select between a match race (single, selectable course), or grand prix (all five in sequence), plus choose to enable or disable items. Again, this is done through the generic system menus rather than Sonic 3's own. You can also choose to create a match or join someone else who is waiting for you.
Lastly, there are 200 points available in Achievements on your Xbox Live Gamerscore. These include 15 each for reaching Hydrocity and Marble Garden Zones respectively, and another 25 for getting to Icecap. There are 10 for earning 20,000 points, 15 for 40,000, and you get 25 for netting 80,000 points. 15 G's can be yours simply for running across the water in Hydrocity Zone (which is fairly easy) and 10 for getting a blue gumball (the water shield) in the Gumball bonus round. Claim 10 G's for grabbing your first 50 rings, another 10 for a single Chaos Emerald and 25 for all seven. Finally, complete the game for 25 points. Easy peasy.
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Sonic 3 & Michael Jackson
MJ, you know the fella. King of Pop, and alleged Sonic fan, apparently. For years, the Sonic community has tirelessly debated over whether or not the late Michael Jackson actually contributed music to Sonic 3, and if he did, whether or not some of the compositions made it into the final release. There are a small selection of tracks that he's suspected to have had a hand in, including all of the those that, you might say, give Sonic 3 its unique musical style, as most of them can easily be separated out from the others as having a very different kind of sound to them - one that seems to unify them all. They include all of the music for Carnival Night Zone, Icecap Zone, Launch Base Zone, the Act 1 boss theme, Knuckles' theme and the credits music.
Sonic and Michael Jackson - best of friends.. Just not close enough for either of them to ever have acknowledged any kind of collaboration with each other, apparently.
In an interview in 2005, the Executive Coordinator for Sonic 3, Roger Hector, revealed that Jackson was brought on board to compose music for the game, but that this was dropped shortly after his scandals became public, coinciding with Sonic 3's release. Strange though, that there are some noticeable similarities between some of Jackson's actual songs and the Sonic 3 tracks listed above. In a slightly more exciting interview with Brad Buxer (who, unlike Michael, is a credited composer for the game and who collaborated directly with him), it's revealed that the chords for "Stranger in Moscow" originated from this very project. While he doesn't name the track in particular, you'd be hard pressed to deny the similarity between this song and the credits theme.
And that's not all, elements of Icecap Zone have been suspected in "Who Is It" and "Smooth Criminal", and "Jam" has unbelievably similar notes to the closing of Carnival Night's tune. While Buxer doesn't suggest that the music was removed altogether, he does add that if Jackson isn't credited for producing music for the game, it will have been because he wasn't happy with the audio capabilities of our good old Sega Mega Drive, which he felt didn't do his music justice, according to Buxer. Make of it what you will, but the exact same selection of tracks under suspicion were removed from 1997's Sonic & Knuckles PC Collection, which featured MIDI reconstructions of all of the rest of the music from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, but completely new tracks were created to cover these missing ones, possibly for legal reasons.
Sadly, we may never really get absolute confirmation, at least as far as exactly which tracks, if any, originated from Jacko, or if there are any more that never made it. I hope we do, but even without that, I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that he was involved and that his work did make it to the final release, contrary to any official response SEGA may be forced to give. It's ultimately very unfortunate that, if the matter of the PC Collection's music is anything to go by, we're unlikely to hear the beautiful melody of Icecap Zone (which is a phenomenally popular piece of Sonic music) ever again in a more up to date format in a new game. Not that we're often treated to such things for classic Sonic music anyway, but it's nice when it does happen.
For more information on this intriguing rumour, I'd highly suggest checking out Sonic Retro's article on the matter, which allows you to hear the similarities between Michael's own music and our Sonic 3 soundtrack. It's also where I got the picture of him hanging out with Sonic, above, so it's the least I can do, frankly.
#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 5th June 2013, 6:37am (BST)
I was under the impression that those tracks were all re-done on the PC version because they contain vocal samples that the MIDI cannot replicate...

...however, those vocal samples sound an awful lot like a certain pop star's trademark, don't they?
#2. Comment posted by angelthehedgehog on Tuesday, 27th August 2013, 4:31am (BST)
#3. Comment posted by provingapoint on Tuesday, 4th February 2014, 9:54pm (GMT)
You think Michael Jackson (god rest his soul) had a hand in Ice Cap Zone's music?

Well then take a listen to THIS:
#4. Comment posted by Dean Puckering on Saturday, 19th April 2014, 4:04am (BST)
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Level Select
One of the hardest cheats to pull off, probably ever. So hard that I've never actually been able to do it, though I have seen it being done. It sounds simple enough. When the game starts, wait for the screen to turn black, just after the Sega logo. As soon as it turns black, as quickly as you can, press the following sequence; Up, up, down, down, up, up, up, up. You need to do this while the screen is still black, before the title screen emerges. You'll hear a ring chime if you do it correctly and a secret level select option will appear underneath the usual 1 player and competition modes. Press down twice or up once to select it. You'll be presented with a list very similar to the Sonic 2 level select, containing all the levels and acts, plus 2 player levels, bonus and special stage options and a sound test. It even maintains Sonic 2's level icons instead of the correct ones. Also note that the first three Sonic & Knuckles levels appear in the list too. Only their names are present, however, and they cannot be played in Sonic 3 alone. Note that Flying Battery appears between Icecap and Launch Base, suggesting they were all originally intended to be part of a much larger, unified game. 'Mushroom Valley' is later renamed to Mushroom Hill, of course.
The extremely elusive level select menu of Sonic 3. Note the Sonic 2 level icons and the appearance of Sonic & Knuckles stages in the list.
Select an act or option with the D-pad and press start to begin. There are three "2P VS" options on the right side, each with two acts. These are actually the 2 player levels (not that you need to cheat to access them), but the sixth "act" is actually the bonus stage. The Bonus option does nothing. When you get to the Sound Test, the left and right buttons change the selected number and the C button plays the tune associated with that number. The A button skips ahead to the next set of tunes, and you'll also find all the Sonic & Knuckles tunes hidden away in there too. While you're playing a level accessed through this menu, when you pause the game, you can press A to return to the level select, hold B to play the game in slow motion, or press C to advance the current picture by one frame.
Debug Mode
Debug allows you free roaming access across the whole of the act you're on and the ability to turn into most of the objects that occupy that stage. You can then lay instances of them around wherever you like, but you must stay in the vicinity to prevent them from disappearing. First, access the level select menu described above, then all you have to do is select the act of your choice, and hold down A and press start at the same time to begin. The score and timer will be all screwed up, indicating that it worked. Now you can press B to start debug mode, during which time you can move around freely using the D-pad. Press A to change the object and C to lay down an instance of it in your current position. B changes you back to Sonic.
No, this isn't part of the actual level. This is merely the kind of result that comes of debug mode and too much spare time.
Super Sonic
To get Super Sonic for free without going on a quest for those emeralds, you first need to access the level select menu. In that, go down to the sound test and select and play the following tunes in order: 02, 04, 05, 06. When you play tune 06, it'll be the Chaos Emerald jingle, indicating that the cheat worked, now simply select a stage using the start button and Super Sonic will be activated. Collect at least 50 rings and do a double jump, as normal.
Secret Special Stage
Find a secret, spiraling Special Stage by entering a string of numbers into the level select menu's sound test.
To access a hidden Special Stage not normally found in the game, go to the level select once again and play the following tunes in the sound test; 01, 03, 05, 07. You'll hear a ring chime if done correctly. Go to Special Stage 2 and hold down A while pressing start. It's a dark blue planet that appears to be in a long spiral formation.
#1. Comment posted by Enyeribe C. Elegalam on Monday, 9th April 2012, 11:09pm (BST)
Even before the screen turns pure white, the only way to go to the third menu “Sound Test” is to press Up (2x), Down (2x) and Up (4x) quickly as Sonic rolls at the screen of opening credits right after the “SEGA” logo fades and turns black. Once you’ve done it correctly, You’ll hear a ring chime and the third menu “Sound Test” will appear at the title screen.
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 9th July 2012, 4:36pm (BST)
You can manual enable Debug mode by entering 1, 3, 5, 7 in the sound test!!!
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 9th July 2012, 4:37pm (BST)
You can also manual enable Debug mode by entering 1, 3, 5, 7 in the sound test menu in the level select screen!!!
#4. Comment posted by Natalie on Thursday, 12th July 2012, 10:10pm (BST)
There also appears to be a way to do it using the level select from sonic 2, as shown here.
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#1. Comment posted by Jordan on Sunday, 3rd April 2011, 12:25am (BST)
I Do The Level Select Right But It Doesent Work How Does It Work And Im Using A Wii
#2. Comment posted by hyperboy84 on Sunday, 12th June 2011, 6:57pm (BST)
Maybe some cheats in sonic games dont work when using a WII
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Saturday, 25th June 2011, 1:18am (BST)
I LOVE Debug Mode , It Has Almost Every Sprite In That Level , I Love Playing Around With It In Theese Levels:
Zone 1:Angel Island
Zone 3:Marble Garden
Zone 4:Carnival Night
Zone 6:Launch Base

Zone 2 / 8:Flying Battery
Zone 4 / 10:Lava Reef
Zone 6 / 12:Sky Sanctury
Zone 7 / 13:Death Egg
Zones 2 , 5 , 7 , 9 , 11 & 14 I Don't Realy Play With It (Incuding 11 , 2 & 14)
#4. Comment posted by yasin smaidy on Wednesday, 6th June 2012, 1:09am (BST)
the level select code is so hard that i could never get it right.
#5. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 11th July 2012, 1:39pm (BST)
The only thing that makes it hard to pull off the level select cheat for Sonic 3 is the game speed. Modern technology speeds up the game to 60Hz (speeds up the split-second time to perform a certain manoeuvre), compared to the original 50Hz that made it possible (only just).
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Content for this page last edited:
2nd February 2011

Files last uploaded for this page:
1st February 2011

Recent Notes
Sonic 3 & Michael Jackson
Posted by Dean Puckering on 19th April 2014

Sonic 3 & Michael Jackson
Posted by provingapoint on 4th February 2014

Sonic 3 & Michael Jackson
Posted by angelthehedgehog on 27th August 2013

Sonic 3 & Michael Jackson
Posted by Anonymous on 5th June 2013

Posted by Natalie on 12th July 2012

13 notes posted on this page in total