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Sonic & Knuckles (and Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles) 21st Anniversary Topic


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Welcome SSMB to the amazing, spectacular Knuckles-tastic:

Sonic & Knuckles (and Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles) 21st Anniversary Topic. 


                                                           Happy 21st to Sonic & Knuckles! Here’s a shiny new wallpaper, on us.



Experiencing deja-vu? Well, due to the temporary outage earlier this year on SSMB, the S&K topic I created a year ago to mark the 20th anniversary was sadly lost. I decided against just making the topic again due the time elapsed since the anniversary date, so I chose to wait until the 21st anniversary before creating another topic with even more Buffles The Echidna!!!


So, where to start? Oh yeah, about that prophecy.

------------------------------------------------ The Prophecy --------------------------------------



This mysterious cryptic image carved into the ancient walls of Hidden Palace had long left Knuckles the Echidna concerned for the safety of Floating Island and the Master Emerald (ME). Could this image be foretelling an epic battle between a mad genius-scientist hell-bent on harnessing the power of the ME to conquer the world and a fast blue hedgehog determined to protect the planet he dearly loves? Looks more like some kind of Aztec warrior and a sea horse :P


Knuckles knew the peace and tranquility of Floating Island would one day be interrupted............and then it happened; Dr Eggman – and his Death Egg – crash-landed on to the aforementioned island. Unfortunately, Knuckles chose to believe Eggman’s version of events that it was Sonic who was after the Master Emerald with the intention of taking over the world...


Knuckles, you...are...an...idiot <3




Sonic had interrupted Eggman plans to try and relaunch the Death Egg in Launch Base zone (at the end of Sonic 3) and this is where the story continues....




------------------------------------------------- Reception --------------------------------------------------


Upon release in February 1994; Sonic 3 received critical acclaim. It was an all-round excellent sequel to Sonic 2 with terrific stage design, kick-ass music and memorable bosses. There was just one nagging thing which I didn’t like. It felt too short. Despite having six - be it large and very detailed - zones, the game still felt unfinished, perhaps. So, on 18 October 2014 another Sonic game was released worldwide (November 1994 in Australia) on the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive:



                                  Sonic & Knuckles



As soon as the title screen appears you can choose between playing as Sonic or Knuckles. You can now play as KNUCKLES THE FREAKING ECHIDNA along with his trademark climbing, gliding and rock breaking abilities.


Upon playing S&K it becomes evident the graphics and physics are identical to Sonic 3. S&K also takes place on Floating Island. This time you get to play through eight brand-new zones, consisting of; Mushroom Hill (also known by the beta name; Mushroom Valley), Flying Battery, Sandopolis, Lava Reef, Hidden Palace, Sky Sanctuary, Death Egg & Doomsday Zone: 


Sonic & Knuckles title.pngMushroom Hill ZoneFlying Battery ZoneSandopolis ZoneLava Reef ZoneHidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)Sky Sanctuary Zone Death Egg Zone (S&K)The Doomsday Zone





You also get to play two brand new bonus stages; "Glowing Spheres & Slot Machine" which can be accessed through the starposts by collecting at least 50 rings. You also get to play new blue-sphere special stages (which include a new yellow sphere which bounces Sonic the air).






------------------------------------------------ The Story ------------------------------------------


With the Death Egg crash-landing back onto Floating Island, Sonic is in hot pursuit of Eggman with Knuckles still trying to thwart Sonic's every move


Sonic has to collect to collect all seven chaos emeralds again as he makes his way through the Mushroom kingdom, the flying fortress, the trap-feel Sandopolis with the ghosts which never leave you! Sonic chases Eggman into the depths of Lava Reef, but is too late, as upon reaching Hidden Palace, Eggman steals the Master Emerald finally revealing Knuckles that he was the bad guy along, and successfully re-launches the Death Egg.


With the help of Knuckles, Sonic navigates the decaying ruins of Sky Sanctuary and manages to reach the Death Egg. Sonic confronts Eggman and after an epic battle with Eggman’s Giant Robo. Eggman tries to escape with the Master Emerald.


In a final showdown in space, Sonic successfully retakes the Master Emerald after defeating Eggman. Returns the ME to Knuckles, who puts it back in it's rightful place on Floating Island.









Strangely there is no option to play as Tails or Sonic & Tails. Sonic does not get an opening cutscene in Mushroom Hill, although Knuckles does get an opening cutscene; which showcases him being attacked by a robot (aka Egg-Robo) that looks kind of like Eggman. Also, the chaos emeralds are locked away in the special stages, even though Sonic had collected them all by the end of Sonic 3. So a lot of things didn’t make sense...............and then you to turn the S&K cart around and...............









--------------------------------- The miracle of lock-on technology ---------------------------


 Sonic 3 and S&K were originally meant to be released as one massive game. SEGA took the decision to split it in half – due to apparent time constraints and the game being too big to fit on one cartridge – but they still wanted fans to experience the Sonic 3 saga as one full game, so they coded the second half of Sonic 3 into the S&K cartridge. By simply putting the S3 cart on top of S&K’s cartridge you get to experience the full complete 14 zone game known as it was meant to be:




Now, there are some differences in what happens in the story and zones depending on whether you S&K (and Sonic 3) on its own or by playing the full S&3K lock-on. The most interesting differences when playing S3&K being that:


- You can play with Sonic & Tails, Tails alone as well as playing with Sonic alone and Knuckles.

- In Sonic (& Tails) story you get an opening cutscene which shows Knuckles hiding something..............which turns out to a giant flashing ring which leads to Hidden Palace where the Super Emeralds and the Master Emerald are hidden.

- By completing each Blue Sphere special stages, you are awarded Super Emerald (instead of the Chaos Emeralds which you get when playing S&K on it's own). By collecting all Super Emeralds you can unlock an even more powerful super form known as Hyper Sonic.

- If playing as Tails, your reward for collecting all Super Emeralds is a "Super" form including his very own "flicky army of death". 




With Knuckles story – which takes place after the events of Sonic & Tails story - you get to play through all of Sonic 3 zones as well as those in S&K. You also get to play in different parts of the zones. Knuckles pursues Egg-Robo and eventually confronts him in Sky Sanctuary. It’s at this stage that Mecha Sonic makes his move, destroys Egg-Robo, ambushes Knuckles and tries to use the Master Emeralds to finish Knuckles (Mecha Sonic was lying-in-wait after Sonic left him for dead), But of course you’re playing as Knuckles the freaking Echidna and defeating Mecha Sonic proves no trouble.






S&K is the game which keeps on giving: 


------------------------ Knuckles The Echidna in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 -------------


As a bonus you can also lock the Sonic 2 cartridge onto the S&K cartridge and play as Knuckles in Sonic 2 which was a masterstroke. They even added some hidden high-up extra lives to reward eager climbers/explorers.


Fun fact: They programmed it so that you require less rings to beat the special stages with Knuckles and you get to keep all your rings when exiting the special stages, unlike losing all your rings when playing with Sonic or Tails. For the most part Knuckles smaller jump doesn't particularly hinder his gameplay, with the exception of the final Eggman-Robot boss fight, which is, how should I put this...........fucking hard to beat with Knuckles.




 ----------------------------------------------- Blue Sphere ----------------------------------------


You can also lock Sonic 1 (or any other Genesis game) onto the S&K cartridge which allows you to play up to a whopping  134,217,728 blue sphere special stages! I wonder if anyone has ever beaten them all??????


 ------------------------------------------------- Releases ------------------------------------------


Sonic 3&K has been re-released many times, although notably not as much as the other classics. A lack of new releases over the last few years is believed – whilst unproven - to be related to rights issues surrounding Sonic 3’s soundtrack, among other things. I hope - as I'm sure we all do - that these issues will one day be resolved and that StealthTax or some other talented developer will get the chance to do a remastered version of the game.


Stealth & Taxman were of course behind the excellent mobile remasters – considered by most as the definitive versions – of Sonic 1, 2 & CD. They even pitched a remastered "proof of concept" of Sonic 3&K to SEGA, but this was sadly never green-lit.


petition to get Sonic 3&Knuckles on mobile devices (& other consoles) was also started just under a year ago. Despite receiving over 10,000 supporters it's difficult to say whether this has made any impression on SEGA what-so-ever. 


There have been many 3&K hacks. The most popular being the Sonic 3 Complete hack which fixes a lot of the bugs in the original game and adds a ton of customization. If you haven’t yet played this hack then why the fuck not?




 ----------------------------------------------- My thoughts ----------------------------------------

Sonic & Knuckles is a good game. However, in my humble opinion the full lock-on “Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles” is the best Genesis game, best 2d game and the best Sonic the Hedgehog game ever made. Everything about it; the length, music, story, large zones with alternative routes, bosses, Knuckles, Super Emeralds, 2player vs, bonus stages and replay value makes for a really enjoyable experience. 21 years on and it’s still out on its own.



So enough of my words of wisdom. What do you think of S&K (and S3&K)? What do you like about it? What don’t you like? Has it aged well? What could have been done better?


Happy 21st birthday!






Edited by QuietTheSniper
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And this is how Sega of America saw it out.

SoJ didn't say anything on it, I don't think. Certainly nothing from their Twitter or any staffs' Facebooks. Makes sense, it probably wasn't released on the same date there and they're not so keen on celebrating a game's release every year, plus it was Chaotix's year to get the limelight (which they got through 20th anniversary fanart being displayed on Sonic Channel and the character event in Runners way back in March). 

That said, I do think that celebrating the anniversary of this game (and other Sonic games) every year is a bit excessive. Milestones sure, but not every year.

Edit: Not a game's release every year, but they're busy celebrating a console's regular anniversary; the Master System's 28th. Huh.

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I myself have never played Sonic & Knuckles because I don't like playing incomplete games or episodic games in general.

But in terms of Sonic 3 as complete, this has been said so many times but it's my favourite 2D Sonic and Sonic game in general next to Sonic Adventure (SA1 only wins because I prefer 3D). It takes everyting great about previous games and makes them so much better.

Story: I think that game has the best story in the entire series and it's quite impressive how much there is that in platformer game from 1994, where stories normally didn't matter. Especially considering that it was all done without a single line of dialogue.

Presentation: Graphics and sounds hold up very well for a 16-bit title, enviroments are quite varied and it's nice to see that there is always some sort of transition between zones and acts. In my opinion game also has easily the best soundtrack in the classic series.

Gameplay: One thing I have to say that this game fixed was the difficulty. There isn't nearly as much bullshit as in Sonic and and game over no longer meant starting game all over again and losing all the emeralds collected.

I have probably said before that additional characters should be brought back in the way they were in here because they were implemented perfectly, all were fast and had some unique ability which makes them fun to play. Also elemental shields are something that should be brought back permanently.

Level desing is very good in general even if not all of them are, I (like probably some other people) hate Sandopolis, especially act 2 but other than that I like every single level. Bosses seemed to be a bit more unique than they were in previous games and addition of mini bosses were nice touch even if they usually were patheticly easy. But probably the biggest improvement were the special stages and overall completion bonus. Getting all the emeralds isn't normally something I do because of badly designed special stages and/or payoff that just isn't worth it. In this game, I always try to get all 14 emeralds with all 3 characters as hard as I can because this game doesn't have any problems that other games have.

Is there any negatives? Well, I don't really like that game uses only one button, for example why didn't spind dash has it's own button so I could use it while moving? Also annoying part about getting all emeralds is that if I have 50 rings I can't use characters special ability because they are under the same command. Mega Drive controller had 3 buttons (or 6) so why don't use them?

Other than that probably the only other negative thing is that SEGA hasn't greenlighted the mobile remake of the game.

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Happy 21st anniversary, Sonic & Knuckles!

Ah, I had tons of fond memories playing this game on the Sonic Mega Collection and it was really cool finding out about Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a kid.

"Wait, so it's two games in one with more stuff? Sign me up!"

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Imagine how incredible it'd be if SEGA had made the "& Knuckles" thing a tradition. Sonic Unleashed & Knuckles DLC. Sonic Generations & Knuckles where you can play as Modern and Classic Knuckles. Sonic 4 Episode Knuckles where you get to play stages full of spikes as Knuckles.

If only :/

That said, like anyone else I love S3K. And I much prefer Sonic 2 and Knuckles over the regular Sonic 2.

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