Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Progress Report II

So, where were we? Oh yes, we had just beaten Hydrocity. Standing triumphantly after freeing our animal friends something rather inconvenient happens... 

Welcome to Marble Garden Zone, a bunch of ruins in a hilly area. This Zone actually marks the halfway point in Sonic 3. As such, things do start getting quite hard. The level also has a few new gimmicks including: 

These spinning tops. By running on them they will take you higher and if you land on the ground you will get good speed. They are also useful as acting as an extra shield, if you get hit while on one you just fall off it without losing rings. You can also jump off it, but once you do you can't get back on it.

Both of these traps can be rather annoying. Well...technically the top one is an enemy. You have to jump into its glowing weak point a few times. However it does shoot out arrows, but work out the timing and you shouldn't have much problem. The spike balls however do give me a problem. The vertical ones aren't so bad, a well timed Spin Dash will allow you to pass underneath. There's a few that go back and forth horizontally and they do have a habit from coming off-screen. It sounds like an excuse for being terrible, but don't get me is.

The mini-boss of this level is very similar to a Sonic 2 Robotnik boss...

This fella will drill into the ceiling and debris will fall down like so...

Again, the rocks are harmless, the stalactites are not. However, you have more room than the Sonic 2 boss and less debris too dodge. And four hits is all that takes to cause this...

The last picture is just to show that you get an extra life when reaching 50,000. Act 1 has a ton of rings, so getting a couple of hundred isn't a hard task.

One of the gimmicks in the start of Act II are these, you jump into the hoop and Sonic will automatically hold on and be brought up.

Twenty five seconds in, we meet our boss. A very short Act this is, but fortunately this turns out to just be a little Sonic 3-style cutscene. Eggman will drill into the ceiling and cause some of the level to actually change. Damn you Eggman, messing with nature!

Now, I would like to introduce you to my least favourite type of enemy ever. I've complained about this type of enemy before.

The kind that lures you in with the promise of "I'm vulnerable, please put me out of my misery" only to go "SCREW YOU, LOSER, I'M COVERED IN SPIKES!". Luckily these ones usually come on screen all spiked up, but they make a beeline straight for Sonic. I usually hold back and as soon as they retract their spikes, I mess 'em up.

This level is a long one, we meet Eggman one more time to allow him to change the landscape of the level before finally getting a chance to kick his ass.

I didn't get a good screenshot as I was too busy failing to hit him (hence the sudden loss of five rings) but Eggman will immediately drill into the ground causing the level to disappear, Sonic along with it. Well, it's been two and a half games, but it looks like Eggman has finally gotten the best of Sonic. It's been a great journey guys, but it's time to say goodbye. God dammit, if only Sonic could fly...

WOO YEAH, TAILS! So, even though we abandoned Tails at the beginning to go through the games Hans-style (Solo), he will come to save our butt and in the meantime create a rather unique boss battle. It's a big like Sky Chase, except you are in no real danger of falling to your death. If you jump into Robotnik and bounce off to the bottom of the screen, Tails will just pick you right back up. Robotnik has a couple of tricks up his drill though...

He will shoot off into the distance, and then come in one of the four directions with his drill pointing in whatever direction he's moving. If you stay in the middle, you will generally have enough time to dodge and attack, but if you don't, jump out of the way. Eventually this happens, as expected:

It will get darker and darker until...

It's the standard night of Sonic 3, and it is filled with balloons, bouncers, pinball bumpers. Obviously a very exciting level, yeah? Well, maybe a little too exciting, as I literally only took one more picture in Act I before the mini-boss...

Hooray, life-up! Also, see where Sonic is standing? That's an elevator, jump into and Sonic will float to where he needs to be. There's also sideways one that makes him go super fast which are awesome.

Here's the boss. I hate it.

I couldn't get a good picture of it, but there's a little spinning top-esque thing that will gradually destroy those blocks. If it manages, you can fall to your death. You have to hit the big thing that will make it extend it's phallic looking mechanism and eventually the top will hit it. Four hits like this and...

I got a little juggling and I got a thunder shield, my favourite. Except the first few seconds of the level makes Sonic go underwater and the thunder shield automatically disappears in water. Luckily there's a not very well hidden secret area that gives us...

A water shield. There are many in this level, because there are a few water sections. Now, you're also seeing a couple of barrels, but these are ones that move on their own accord. 

We bump into an old friend a few minutes into the level...

He...err...turned off the lights. How evil. Also, another life up! (thanks to the slots mini-game which I will talk about in a separate post).

A cool little fluff thing in this level is that the balloons, when you pop them underwater, unleash an air bubble. Handy if you don't have a water shield.

I wanted to point out something. As I've said, although I've never played this far in Sonic 3, I have seen it a fair amount of times. I remembered someone saying to bring a thunder shield to the boss. The second image shows Sonic turning back on the lights. Because we had to, for some reason.

This is the barrel that you have to control yourself and the game does not make it obvious at all. You have to alternate pressing up or down, depending on which direction the barrel is bouncing towards, and eventually it will get the momentum to go to where you need to go. I also mess around on a barrel to get an extra life, but this almost costs me dearly. See the time? I only have 2:13 left to finish the level and beat the boss.

Eventually, you down a tube only for Knuckles to push a switch causing you to go back up and beyond and meet the boss. Again, my lack of a trigger finger for screenshots means I have to borrow from another site. Oops.
See those electric charges? That's why I thought to bring the thunder shield. Unfortunately I literally lost the shield on my first attempt in jumping into Robotnik. When he's up like that he's very hard to hit without harming yourself. Eventually he'll drop the ball, and rotate a bunch of electric charges which will try to drag you in to the harm zone. Once he's done, he will drop down on top of the ball to allow you a hit or two.

I did not have time for this, so I said "to hell with it" and threw caution to the wing. I just kept trying to hit him at any possible moment. It might cause a life or two to go away, but I had plenty. Luckily for me...

See that? Five seconds away. If I had been playing this level without any prior knowledge, I don't doubt for a second I probably would have been on this level for a long, long time. 

This cannon will shoot you into the next Zone. I will see you there...snowsuit up!


Marble Garden Acts 1 & 2
Carnival Night Acts 1 & 2

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