The sky has darkened as Sonic moves into his second ever zone, starting off on the surface of a mountainous/forest region. There are ancient ruins lying around, and huge pits of boiling lava to leap over. Go underground to find a whole massive dungeon maze, made up of narrow corridors and loaded with traps, deadly devices and small puzzles, taking up the majority of this large level. A long, slow-paced stage.
Far removed from the happy surroundings of the Green Hill Zone, the second ever level in Sonic history is largely based on a design that has barely been touched since; a dungeon. Again, the exact opposite to Green Hill's highly influencial style. The unusually short-named Marble Zone starts outside though, and the weather is fairly misty and cloudy up there, but it appears to be daytime, still. This is the Ancient ruins section of the level, and every act starts and ends here. In the background are high, purple-coloured mountains, behind a forest of pointed fern-trees, positioned at our eye-level. There are various tall ruins and pillars poking out of the forestry, left by a forgotten civilisation. This only accounts for the very top of the stage, as the rest of it takes place beneath it, in a massive dungeon with a distinctively purple colour scheme. The closer background walls in this spooky hangout are lined with simple bricks, but more open areas in the dungeon also contain torches, more pillars, paintings of weird symbols, and black windows with bars over them, all dotted around the walls. A simplistic, but effective design. The ground everywhere is a very basic purple brick pattern, with grass on the surface of the outside areas. Dotted around the foreground are various large greenish pillars and ruins, some still standing straight, others slanted and slightly crumbled.
The level design up on the open surface pretty much only takes you right, along the ground, and with several pools of lava to leap over. There can also be the occasional steep slope now and then, and bumpy terrain throughout the stable areas. Down in the dungeon though, the level becomes nothing short of a large, complicated maze. You'll be heading back and forth through narrow, compressed corridors, positioned to create an intricate path of tunnels that weave up, down, left and right between each other. The more open areas inside usually contain a long pool of lava at the bottom that you'll have to be careful of, when hopping across platforms above it, or riding on a small block that floats along. You'll also have to make your way up steep steps that are cut into the walls, but be very careful of large crushers that drop by chains from the ceiling, in the open vertical passages. All the paths underground are made up of perfectly straight brick surfaces, though the steps in the vertical sections can get fairly small in places. As for multiple routes, there are a number of secret areas hiding power-ups around the maze, but the only real choice of route you get is in Act 3. At the begining, you can choose one of two different entrances into the rest of the maze, and later there is a secret shortcut inside the foreground walls that cuts out a sizeable portion of the act. Everything else is largely based on one, solid path though. A very slow level, but filled to the brim with traps and tricky bits, and there's alot of platform hopping to do too.
Above ground, badniks aside, you only really have to worry about the pools of lava all over the place, and the small fireballs that shoot up out of them in a straight line. You'll need to do alot of platform hopping to make it across them, and some narrow chunks of ground will move slowly up and down in the lava, while lighter platforms that rest on it will catch fire once you land your weight on them, so jump off quickly.
The dungeon is a different story entirely. This place is absolutely loaded with traps, many of the spiked variety, aswell as buttons and blocks to push, but before anything else, you'll encounter the first ever crushing devices here. Get trapped under/over these huge, sluggish, green glass things as they move up and down against the floor or ceiling, and you'll be unfairly (and wince-inducingly) killed instantly, regardless of rings, shield or invincibility. If you need to get past one that's not moving, stepping on a nearby button will trigger it. Long platforms held on chains, lined with spikes underneath will repeatedly drop from the ceiling and then the chain will slowly pull it back up, releasing it again when it reaches the top. Sonic-sized weights on similar pulling chains may also be nearby, and both of these objects have the potential to crush you too, but once they've fallen, you can jump onto their top parts to use as platforms to take you up a little way, or to jump to the next one. Make sure you walk off before it crushes you into the ceiling. If you reach a point where you have to jump up to a higher level in an open area, I would always recommend looking up (hold up on the D-pad), to check if they're there waiting for you or not.
Underground, the lava flows in rivers, but small chunks of brick (sometimes falling from the ceiling) or swinging pendulum platforms will allow you a safe journey across. Alternatively, you'll have to push a green block into the lava and stand on it, letting it carry you (rather slowly) down the river. To push a block, Just in case it's not obvious to newbies, simply stand on the opposite side of it and press against it using the D-pad, in the direction you want it to go. There will be occasional bursts of bubbling lava throwing the block up high into the air, at which point you sometimes have to jump off to a nearby ledge. Also, while travelling on it, you'll often approach chunks of ground that sit just above the lava, which the block can squeeze underneath, but you can't, so make sure you jump off onto the tops of them, and then drop down off the other side onto the block when it gets through. Holes in the ceiling periodically dump big doses of lava down into a lava pool at the bottom of an open section. There are usually small platforms positioned directly underneath them, so make your way across them with care.
When chunks of the ceiling fall down just in front of you, don't worry about those that are still in the ceiling and moving up and down rather ominously - they won't fall on you. In corridors, beware of fireballs, shot out from openings on the walls and ceilings, and blocks that slide in and out provide a means to get to a higher level. On stairways in the ground, you may encounter single spikes that slot in and out of every other step, so travel up/down them carefully. Use a spin attack to break small green blocks that are arranged over a gap in the floor, but in certain areas, some of these blocks crumble when you stand on them anyway. When you break them, they'll give you bonus points in the same way that badniks will, when you hit them in succession without breaking your spin. 100 for the first, then 200, 500 and 1000 for each remaining one, until the 15th where you'll get a big 10,000 points for each - possible at one point in Act 2.
Badniks common to this zone are the Buzz Bombers from Green Hill, who lurk above ground only, aswell as Caterkillers, who work their magic all over the place. They're a classic worm bot, with many variations later on in the series, that slowly wriggle around a set area. Hit them on their heads only, or you'll take a hit, and worse, the pieces of their spikey bodies will scatter, causing more problems. In narrow corridors, use your rolling attack to take them out safely, when they're facing your direction. In the dungeons only, Batbrains often hang from ceilings, usually in clusters, and flap around when you get close, sometimes taking you by surprise.
- In some early screenshots of Sonic 1, including beta versions and pre-releases, etc, the Marble Zone looks fairly normal, except that it seems to be infested with mysterious, round UFO objects, or possibly ringed planets in the sky. Needless to say, these did not make the final cut, but one has to wonder just what is up with that? Believe it or not, this mysterious phenomenon also appears at the very beginning of the movie "Wayne's World", which features a brief clip of the game. It seems to be an early version, and the UFO's/planets are right there in it, in the Marble Zone!
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#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 3rd October 2008, 4:19pm (BST)
#2. Comment posted by Vintage on Thursday, 29th January 2009, 3:26am (GMT)
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 27th July 2009, 6:25am (BST)
#4. Comment posted by Super Volcano on Saturday, 29th January 2011, 7:28am (GMT)
#5. Comment posted by Philip on Monday, 14th February 2011, 6:13am (GMT)
#6. Comment posted by Andrew on Wednesday, 27th April 2011, 6:28am (BST)
#7. Comment posted by Henry on Wednesday, 27th April 2011, 6:29am (BST)
#8. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 19th August 2011, 8:05am (BST)
#9. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 25th September 2011, 10:34pm (BST)
#10. Comment posted by Da RoMan!!!! on Sunday, 23rd June 2013, 12:22pm (BST)
#11. Comment posted by theblackferret on Thursday, 28th November 2013, 3:32pm (GMT)