Sonic 3 and Knuckles/Sonic

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Current Fastest Time

30:53 by mike89

Act 1 of each stage links to a tutorial video by mike89 for that zone. Because the two acts of each stage are contiguous, having the two acts together in a tutorial shows how you would do both stages together, and preserves the context for some of the things you can do in act 2s. The times in these videos are towards the upper limits of what is possible with what we currently know, and the total time of all of them is 29:36, which gives you an idea of how much improvement there still is.

Unless otherwise stated, you should start each stage with a 6 tap spindash.

Angel Island 1

  • Make sure you tap left just before going through the first ramp, so you hit the bottom of the spring up ahead rather than the side.
  • The vines at the start are based on how much time you've spent in a stage while the game is powered on, which is essentially random after your first attempt. You can hard reset them back to their initial position, but that one isn't really favourable.
  • When the screen stops scrolling for the boss, take a look at your time. It takes almost exactly 7 seconds from the screen stopping to defeating the boss if you do it ideally, but depending on when it ticks over to the next second determines whether the last hit is worth going for. If it's in the middle of a second, just wait for the fire to dissipate before attempting the last hit, but if it's close to a change in the second, then you need to make sure all the insta-shields go off perfectly. If done just right, the last one will make you invincible just before the fire goes off, after which you'll get the hit and then have the fire hit you.

Angel Island 2

  • It's possibly slightly faster to charge a spindash on the first crumbling platforms rather than bounce down, but there's not much in it and bouncing is much easier.
  • After the second pipe, simply mash the buttons and hope you get a bounce. There's two ways up: a bounce straight onto the spring, or off the slightly raised portion of ground, up to the slightly lower part of the platform.
  • The bounce to the lightning shield is important. The two jumps are both short (if the second one is too big, you'll hit the enemy above) but you also can't hit any walls, because the revolving bridge is on the camera timer and it has already started by the time you reach the checkpoint. Then you have to bounce to your maximum height or else you won't reach the above platform with the bounce.
  • The last pipe has a habit of slowing you down at multiple points, if you do a 2 or 3-tap spindash this tends to occur less often.
  • Again, you can tell what time you're going to get before the end: as the first step goes off screen to the left, add 40 seconds to your time and that's what you'll end up if you do the spindash at the end. The way that works is: after all the bombs have dropped, brake, then quickly turn right and spindash, and you'll be dragged along by the autoscroller. Once the trees appear, follow the pairs of trees in the foreground. As the 9th pair hits the left edge of the screen, the autoscroller will end and releasing the spindash will send you off at full speed. Once you hit the right edge, turn left, pause slightly and release a 3-tap spindash, then full jump once you hit the left edge. Ideally you just bounce the same amount on odd and even hits, but sometimes your odd or even hits will be too low; if so, you need to move over to the right on the second low bounce (either the 3rd or 4th hit).

Hydrocity 1

  • The spindash off the spikes is a bit tricky. It has to be timed so you just catch the fan just as it starts again: line Sonic up with the third spike on the left, and wait for the fish to run into you. Then release a 2-tap spindash, tap left a little to land on the second set of spikes up ahead, then hold left once you move off of those, with the objective of hitting the enemy up ahead from the side: if you hit it on the top you'll bounce up and lose a second or so.
  • Land on the set of spikes at the bottom. You have to be at a dead stop before you can spindash off these, so try and line yourself up while falling.
  • Turning around after the second set of three rings over the water lets you slow down just the right amount so you can clearly see where to land on the platform. Once you land on it, the fastest way to progress is a 3-tap spindash and -very- quick jump. This is a fairly difficult (and risky) move; if you don't feel comfortable doing it, simply wait for the second platform to fall and jump across.
  • If you spindash while standing up against the boxes on top of the loop, you'll break into a run as soon as you do, stopping you right in front of the second box. So stop before the boxes instead.
  • The boss of this stage is really stupid. To get a good time, you need at least four hits while the boss is in the middle of the screen, all while you have no idea where you are relative to it. My method is basically as follows:
  • Start at about the middle, do a full spindash up the left wall, trying to time it so you go off the top of the screen just as the boss music starts. Once you go off the top, hold right, and you should get the first two hits. At some point between the second and third hits, release right for a fraction of a second and press it again. Sometimes you'll get hit and you'll have to do the fight in a slower way, but that's manageable. If you get the third hit, then between that and the fourth hit, release right twice in the same way, then do this again to attempt to get a fifth hit (you'll often get hit at the same time yourself: watch the HUD, if it flashes you got a hit).
  • The next part can go a few different ways depending on how many hits you got. If you have 4 or more hits, you will be waiting down the bottom while invincible, and regardless of which side you're on should be able to get two hits as it moves across the bottom.
  • If you have three or less, listen for the spindash sound as the boss moves down the left side: once you hear it, spindash up the left wall. On the flat ground at the bottom, jump and insta-shield for a second hit, and you'll get hit in return. Then spindash up the right side for hit 5, and quickly insta-shield for hit 6 before becoming vulnerable again.
  • Make sure you're facing right when the stage ends!

Hydrocity 2

  • As you approach the ramp, short jump and insta-shield. The checkpoint time actually doesn't matter, what matters is the time when you get crushed by the wall. Spindashing here actually makes your hitbox expand slightly horizontally, meaning you get crushed sooner.
  • When you respawn, do a quick 1-tap spindash and immediately do as short a jump as possible. You should bounce off the ramp. Hold down to roll down the ramp, then, as Sonic is over the top of the dark green tile in the ground, do a small jump and insta-shield. This one's kind of tricky, but your aim is to just pick up a ring from the set of three at the height of your jump. It takes a fair bit of practice to understand just what the height needs to be, and often it'll feel like it should work and it doesn't, but this is the best setup I've come up with. This should push you into the ground.
  • Hold right. The screen should pan to the left, then back to the right, and eventually downwards as well. Once this happens, switch to holding left, and the screen should "bounce", and a short while later you should hear the braking sound.
  • While facing left, charge a spindash, and as you see the second ramp come onto the screen (at around 19 seconds), release it. Jump off the ramp and hold the jump for as long as you feel you need to - you should see the last current go past on your way up, that's about the height of the boss room.
  • For the boss, line yourself up on the dark green tile just below and to the right of Robotnik, and jump when the bottom of the ship lines up with the bottom of the pink section of the background. Then just continue to insta-shield for the remaining hits.

Marble Garden

  • Hold right all the way down the initial fall, then switch to left as soon as you hit the ground. Use the wall below to guide your fall onto the steepest part of the upcoming ramp, then jump off both of the next two ramps as soon as you hit them. The platform at the bottom of the second ramp will sometimes just let you straight through, as well as the one at the bottom of the third ramp but this is much rarer.
  • Charge a spindash on the crumbling platform, release it on the ground and jump into the ceiling, then jump and insta-shield through the upcoming ball and chain.
  • Wait for the platforms just past the driller to move - REACT, don't anticipate, if you're too early you'll just fall.
  • Next is a screen wrap - hold down until Sonic is right next to the top of the screen, then quickly release and jump. Tap right just after jumping just to stabilise yourself, since you need to spindash next thing. After spindashing, hold right until the screen scrolling slows down, then switch to left and do a short jump, and you should land on the speed shoes when the camera re-centres on you.
  • The platform just after the spikes can be just about anywhere depending on how the stage has gone. If the stage has gone really well so far it's right up the top and you can jump underneath it and insta-shield off one of the ring boxes, but if it's further down the cycle you can either roll off it and bounce off, or if it's right at the bottom, roll underneath the ceiling and skip all of them.
  • Jump down out of the loop and hold against the left wall, then come to a stop and hold down to do another screen wrap. Sometimes you'll stop right behind this pillar, so if you can't tell which way you're facing, make sure you tap right before doing the next spindash. Full spindash to the right, then when the scrolling slows down, you're up against a wall, and if you stay there a spring is going to appear where you are. In order to progress from here, you need to spindash, then jump a few frames later - sweep all three buttons to give you three attempts at this jump. Once in the wall, hold left until you appear on the ramp.
  • Once you see yourself on the ramp, hold right and roll. You should detach from the ramp and then land on it again, switch back to right before hitting the ground.
  • Stop at the dip in the ground nearest the left side of the spikes above, and hold down for a third screenwrap. This time, hold right just a fraction before jumping - you'll find it helps both in making the next part go slightly faster, as well as preventing you from doing a spindash instead of a jump. Continue holding right, then once the screen starts scrolling faster for an extended period, switch to holding left. Sometimes you'll get stuck on a ledge up top, if this happens just jump down from it and carry on.
  • Jump down the slopes as you would have at the start, except that this time as you go down the second one, hold left slightly, this will keep you away from the opposite facing slope. Once at the bottom, make your way into the pit (where the spikes are in the normal stage), hold down, and prepare for the hardest part of the run.
  • The safest way to make your way into the middle here is to do spindashes; however, you've gotta do them pretty quickly, otherwise the drill hits you, and any hit here ends the run because it changes the screen position. You need to do nine spindashes here, the 6th one gets the first hit, then do two more, and HOLD the 8th one until you hear the sound for a hit, then release it and do a 9th spindash, which you hold until the boss comes all the way back up. That should get five hits. Now hold right so you move to the left edge, and charge another spindash. Hold it and get hit - you're OK to get hit if you're on the very left edge of the screen - and tap left to move towards the middle and hold one more spindash for the last two hits.
  • Now, it's still not over! You should be able to see a silhouette of Sonic as the boss explodes, remember your position in the wall and, as the capsule passes over it, jump. If you jump at the wrong time, you can no longer complete the stage, so be very careful!
  • Finally, in order to end the stage safely, hold down until the screen scrolls all the way down, then hold right and quickly switch back to left (if you hold right for too long, you can run right underneath the crusher that appears and die). After the bonus tally the game will play the transition to Carnival Night, adding three seconds to your time.

Carnival Night 1

  • Tap left a bit to slow down before approaching the bumpers after the first spindash. If you hit it too quickly you'll bounce all the way back to the barrel, losing time.
  • As soon as you land on the boxes here, the game thinks you're standing on the wheel and changes the physics accordingly, that's why this stage plays the way it does. In order to get off the wheel normally, you jump. The lesson here: DO NOT JUMP or the effects of the glitch will end, and you need to keep them well into act 2.
  • After landing on the boxes, brake slightly so you land on the platform before falling; the gravity doesn't take effect until you land on something else. Face the ramp, charge a 2-tap spindash and release it just as the spikes retract. Hold left a little after you go over the lip of the ramp, you should land on the edge of the platform with the fire shield. Now hold left and roll as you go around the corner, but LET GO OF EVERYTHING before you hit the spikes. For some reason this makes the next part much more consistent than anything else we've tried. Now, once the spikes have retracted, but not before, start holding left again to go around the other side of the platform. Sometimes, instead of going around the corner you'll just fall towards the ceiling - the requirements are too precise to eliminate the chance of this happening entirely, but around 80% of the time you should go around the corner.
  • Continue holding left until you go past the ring boxes, then do a 1-tap spindash. It helps to imagine that, essentially, you're on a very steep slope similar to a backslash, and by holding left you crawl slowly up it, and you can spindash but only if you start charging quickly; if you leave it too long you'll just roll and jump and have to set the glitch up again.
  • Once you pass the left edge of the screen and it starts panning back to the right, you need to do two more 1-tap spindashes, except this time you can't see where you are. So it's a little more difficult, but the same premise as the first spindash should get you through.
  • Try to aim at the yellow block in the left wall before the boss starts. From here, hold left until the boss releases its spinning top and you see it hit the bottom of the screen twice while moving left. On the second bounce, hold down and you should roll down the wall and land on the top as it reaches the left wall. Continue holding down and charge a spindash, do NOT release it. Hold it all the way until you get hit, then let go of down. Move to the right edge of the top as it reaches the right wall, then as the top bounces off the boss start moving left, and roll off it as it reaches its highest point. Now continue to bounce on the boss and wait for the top to deliver the remaining hits.

Carnival Night 2

  • Full spindash, don't jump into the ceiling even though the temptation is there, and switch to holding left as soon as you hit the boosters. Now you should land on a barrel - jump off it, while you're on a barrel is the only time you can without breaking the glitch - and ever so slightly edge to the right, landing on the clam below. Bounce over to the left and hit the side of the barrel moving away, then do a 2-tap spindash as soon as you land. Two things can happen as you go through the corner: ideally, you fly off the corner and end up alongside the barrel, or you stay on the wall, and after a second fall back down it and get pushed up into the wall. In both cases, the input is the same: press right to move right up against the barrel, then tap left. As the barrel moves to the lowest point in its cycle, do a 3-tap spindash to go past it.
  • From here, hold right and you will move left off the platform you're on. Then press left to go right off the second one, and stop at the edge of the gravity tube, and instead of letting it take you up, spindash. Now the screen scrolls up quite slowly, but you need to hold left to move to the right edge of this platform, and as soon as you're off it, do a 3-tap spindash and you should roll around the wall, going through a 10 ring box and into some antigravity platforms. Controls finally go back to normal!
  • A 1-tap spindash should hit the first two balloons, then use the yellow and red ones to get up to the next platform. Just run off the second one at full speed and you'll hit a balloon, turn straight around and stop dead on the third platform, 1-tap spindash and tap left slightly and you'll hit a balloon clearing the spring.
  • As soon as the barrel starts moving up you get extra jump height from it - enough to get up to the second barrel. For the second barrel you need to move it down and up four times, switching from down to up and vice versa as you pass the centre of the pendulum. As you go up the fourth time, jump as you go past the centre, then hold the jump button as you bounce off the bat, and the 10 ring box, and let go just as you make contact with the ramp in the ceiling. When you see Sonic stand up on the wall, switch from right to left and run into the wall. Hold left until you're most of the way down, then quickly switch to right so that you stop in the wall for a fraction of a second, then back to left again, and the booster should push you into Knuckles's area. If you don't switch to right at all you'll get stuck in the wall instead, this is really important!
  • The next spindash really should be timed so that you can get past the bumpers up ahead, but it's really tricky because what time they open up like this isn't something you can tell just from the act 2 timer. All these objects actually started rotating at the start of act 1! If you get past all three sets of bumpers, you can line yourself up on the side of the cannon platform, tap right three times to wait for the next set of bumpers to open up, and do a full spindash. DON'T HOLD RIGHT, if you do you'll just get thrown into the spikes. More likely though you'll get stopped by a bumper somewhere and just have to take the cannon up to the top.
  • Spindash up the hill, jump to start running again, then after you go through 12 boosters, jump and release all directions and you should fall through the two boxes like this. Then 1-tap spindash and jump. The next section has 25 boosters - I count them in lots of four, and in the middle of the 6th set of four I jump, then move left towards Knuckles.
  • Knuckles will only notice you if you're facing right, so if you just walk through this cutscene trigger the game softlocks. So jump just before you reach it and tap right in the air.
  • Jump and insta-shield at the top of the jump and you'll land the first hit as early as possible. If all the hits go well, the last hit should be just as Robotnik drops the ball - you actually want to do your last insta-shield a bit earlier than the others to avoid getting hit.

Ice Cap

  • What you're aiming for with the pause on the falling platform is to land on one of three frames. Watch Sonic's head and try to get the top of it to line up with the bottom of the spikes: the perfect frame is where they're lined up nicely, but one frame either side of this one works too. While paused, hold right and keep it held after unpausing and you should be standing in mid-air alongside the wall. Next, do a short jump, don't press any directions yet, let Sonic get about halfway down the first slope and then jump twice. Because you're slightly offset from the actual ramp here, the first jump will merely put you back on the ramp, so you need the second one to get off it and onto the right-facing slope below.
  • As you land on the second slope, hold down. As you enter the wall, hold left, then switch to right for one beat in the music, then back to left. Keep holding left for about five seconds until you hear some rings and a checkpoint - you won't always hear the checkpoint but it's good to know where it is - then quickly switch to right for another beat in the music and back to left. Now keep your eye out for a pit that appears at the end - this is the pit in Knuckles's end to this stage, which is covered by a bridge. If you stand on that bridge, you lose the effects of this glitch, so wait until after you're certain you are horizontally past this pit and then jump. There's a few different places you can end up here; sometimes you end up in a wall and all you need to do is hold right to zip out of it, then jump down and you end up roughly here anyway.
  • Now jump on the right side of one of the mounds of snow with four little dimples on it (aim for between the two on the right) and hold right to zip. Once the screen starts scrolling to the right you'll see one of two things: a checkpoint or a switch encased in ice. If you see the switch, it's really easy, just hold right for a second or so, wait for the final corridor of Ice Cap 2 to appear, then hold left and jump and you appear in the boss room. If you see the checkpoint, it's a little more involved.
  • As soon as you see the checkpoint, move your eyes over to the clock. Hold left for two seconds, right for one, and left for one. Start attempting to jump on this last second, and as soon as you hear the jump sound, switch to right. Keep jumping while holding right until you don't notice the screen moving down any more. Then, when you see the top path with the large ring, jump again and you should fall into the boss room. Move all the way to the left.
  • As the boss music starts, short jump and hold right, landing on the upslope on the ground. Before reaching the right edge of the screen, jump up and insta-shield to grab a hit. With good timing you can get two more from the ground before the platform falls.
  • Dodging the ice blast as you go for hit 6 is actually trickier than it looks, the hitbox is much wider than it appears to be, particularly at the top. If you consistently get caught by it, it may be worth waiting half a second before jumping on the platform, which will put you at the top of your bounce when it's firing.
  • If for whatever reason Robotnik ends up on the left side of the screen after this fight, make sure you delay hitting the capsule by a couple of seconds. If Robotnik is still on the screen when the bonus tally is being loaded, it won't do it properly (the numbers just won't appear) and you won't get back control after it finishes.
  • Also remember that "act 2" will count towards your time if you let it tick over to one second.

Launch Base 1

Launch Base 2

Mushroom Hill 1

Mushroom Hill 2

Flying Battery 1

Flying Battery 2

Sandopolis 1

Sandopolis 2

Lava Reef 1

Lava Reef 2

Hidden Palace

Sky Sanctuary

Death Egg 1

Death Egg 2

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