The forests on the edge of Angel Island make for a healthy tropical stage with a jungle twist, at least at first. A fairly simple, straightforward zone, though also unorthodox, as it contains a number of cut-scenes amidst the gameplay. Knuckles makes his debut by stealing Sonic's Chaos Emeralds, and then the entire stage gets set on fire halfway through Act 1, drastically altering its appearance from a lush green jungle into a burning inferno. Not your average, run-of-the-mill Green Hill clone, for sure. Grab swinging jungle vines and use unstable platforms to scale up huge waterfalls.
- Angel Island Zone has a lot of platform-hopping activity to take on board, so if your jumping skills are a little rusty, this is a good place to tune them up a bit. You also need to practise careful timing when jumping on platforms that alternate between stable and unstable, and watch out for all those crumbling ledges and bridges around. If you fall, it's not always a bad thing, because there may be another short route you can take below to get back on track, but other times, it can become a big setback.
- Both bosses are a lot easier to defeat if you have a fire shield handy. For Sonic and Tails, you can find one just before each boss, so there's no excuse for not coming prepared!
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View/add general notes for Angel Island Zone (3)
Sonic and Tails cross the edge of the island, through a sunny beach into a pleasant tropical jungle, surrounded by healthy green plants, vines and leaves. In the background, there's a still lake sitting peacefully along the bottom half of the act, reflecting the plant-life that hangs just above it. You can see several rows of trees and bushes above, beyond which lies the surrounding sea that Angel Island has fallen into, and an oddly light horizon below a suddenly dark blue sky, with small clouds floating past. Interestingly if you play the act as Knuckles, there is no water, suggesting the island has returned to the skies by this point. The background is rather blocky and vague, actually. Not the best, and certainly a departure from the details of Sonic 1 and 2. The ground is made of an uneven brown rock, with the surfaces covered in grass. Surrounding this all over the place are wild bushes with masses of huge green leaves, some appearing up close in the foreground. Dotted across the grass are plants of different shapes and colours, some animated, along with the necessary palmtrees, and internal rooms are a dark brown colour, with what appear to be little windows inside. There are also waterfalls, some small and embedded in the rock, and some very wide and tall, but all are dropping running water into the tranquil river below.
You don't get to enjoy this serenity for long though, as halfway through Act 1, Eggman's fire breathing machines set the whole jungle on fire, in a desperate attempt to stop Sonic and Tails from meddling in his plans before they've barely even had a chance to grasp the basic plot. They survive, but the appearance of the zone takes a nasty turn for the worse. All the previously green leaves and bushes are now a much duller, dead green colour and the palmtrees and plants are on fire. The background is a flashing inferno as the whole forest is ablaze, and you can make out silhouettes of burning palm trees and bushes back there, going from orange to red colours the further you go down the level. The brown rocks and foliage are constantly shimmering and changing colours slightly, as a result of the gases being released. Oddly, there's no thick, heavy black smoke like there usually would be with massive fires, but you can understand why that would be a bit of a boring aesthetic decision.
As you would come to expect from an introductory stage, Act 1 is nice and simple, with a fairly open layout, nice long stretches of ground with a few loop-de-loops here and there and some gentle slopes and curves, plus ramps at the end of speedy paths that throw you across an open area. Until the place gets set on fire, you don't really have anything to worry about here. There's a choice of higher and lower routes, all of which mainly lead right, and there are a few hidden items on high platforms around the top. Throughout the whole level there's a small amount of water along the bottom, creating several small pools, but these rarely become anything for water-phobes to get in a flip about. Remember though that your character's movement will slow down under water, and he only has 30 seconds worth of air before he drowns, so once you're in, you'll need to get out asap - always perfectly possible.
Act 2's structure tends to be a little more complex and challenging. There's less open space around and paths are a bit more broken up, meaning more platform-hopping, especially on large waterfall sections filled with small platforms. Directions are still mainly rightward, but also have a tendency to wind left and right over small distances at times, as you head upwards. There's still a decent amount of speed in some sections, plus long, winding tunnels to spin through. There aren't too many multiple routes throughout the whole of the act, but you will find one or two short alternate paths now and then, stemming from the main route, perhaps dipping into the water, but rejoining it not long afterward. There are several hidden rooms normally guarded by large breakable rocks and even a Tails-only shortcut. In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, you'll find that Knuckles actually has a completely separate Act 2 route from start to finish, never meeting the regular one at all. It travels along one single path beneath the rest of the stage and all of the water, and it mainly leads through internal passages filled with spikes. It's actually quicker than Sonic's path, but negotiating your way through the tunnels without hitting any spikes can be quite hard.
Some rock boulders on the ground, either rectangular clumps or small piles of rocks can be broken by jumping on them or spin dashing into them, while others will remain sturdy, and you can jump off of them to get to a higher platform. The tall ones that usually block your entrance to a cave will go down with a spin dash, and Knuckles just needs to touch them to send them tumbling with his spiky fists. You can also find columns of breakable ground in the floor that you can destroy by jumping on, though some can only be opened by coming up from underneath. Standard springs are hidden in the palmtrees and also regularly embedded in the ground, unexpectedly sending you upward when you step on them. Sometimes you'll find them hidden underneath breakable rocks. There are also the necessary crumbling ledges of rock and wooden bridges protruding from one edge, both of which start to collapse when you land on them, and don't forget the level's standard small moving platforms, sliding slowly along horizontal or vertical axis.
New for this level though are lengths of rope that swing back and forth, which your character will grab hold of upon contact with the bottom handle. Hop from one to the other, tarzan-style, and similarly, there are also long horizontal rope-rides that can take you over long gaps with no effort on your part, and are pretty fun. Just grab the handle at the top left end of the ride, and you'll slide down the diagonal rope. The bottom end is usually tied to a palm tree, and when you get there, you'll swing around 360 degrees on it until you jump off. In one case in Act 2, a fire on the rope actually cuts it prematurely, and you'll fall off before you get to the end. In the waterfalls, you'll often find small logs that cascade slowly down with it, and appear from the top, one by one, creating vertical stepping stones for you.
After the whole place gets burned up, you'll find logs with three spikes mounted on the underbelly floating on the surface of the water. Land on one, or splash in the water, and this log will rotate, bringing the spikes upward, creating a hazard for you. Be careful if you try passing underneath, because you may not be able to squeeze through, and you could get crushed between the spikes and the floor. You'll also find large blocks of rock that appear in and out through the wide waterfalls, changing at regular intervals, so when you need to hop across a pair of them, use careful timing. Series of little steps leading diagonally upwards will flip over one by one, at which time you cannot land on them, and if you're standing on a step when it flips, you'll fall through.
In the badnik department, Angel Island Zone stocks several Rhinobots, who rather aggressively charge back and forth over an area as soon as they lock eyes on you. Providing you have enough time though, they're easily disposed of at any angle. Monkey Dudes act like Coconuts from Sonic 2, and hang out in trees, hurling actual coconuts at you with their long, wiry arms. Catakiller Jr. are an evolved variety of the Caterkiller badnik and these float back and forth in the air, rather than crawling along the ground like their Sonic 1 predecessors. They emit a dangerous pulse of electricity across their bodies from one end to the other, and should only be hit on the head. Bloominators are weird, immobile flower badniks that stand there spouting spikeballs from the top which land either side of them.
When playing as Sonic, this level begins following a short cutscene. Standing on the wings of the Tornado plane, Sonic, accompanied by pilot Tails, is heading towards the grounded Angel Island, as it floats on the ocean. Before they reach it, Sonic leaps off-screen, reappearing as Super Sonic (he was holding the seven Chaos Emeralds, apparently) and skims across the water, leaving Tails behind. Going past the beach and through the jungle, he is then surprised by the official debut of Knuckles the Echidna, guardian of the island. Knuckles jumps out of the ground and knocks the tar out of Sonic, turning him back to normal, and scattering the emeralds across the jungle floor. Before Sonic has a chance to pull himself together, Knuckles has already picked up all the shiny jewels and made off with them, but not before laughing cruelly at your misfortune. Robotnik has tricked the Echidna into believing that Sonic has stolen the emeralds and that they need to be reclaimed, for his own evil purposes. Shortly afterward, the level begins.
Near the bottom, you can push this boulder to the side and knock through the breakable column below to find an invincibility and 20 rings in a small submerged cavern.
If you walk across the top of the loops toward the big tree trunk, you can grab the extra life you've no doubt spotted already, perched on a small branch.
Special Stage Rings
The first big ring can be found by dropping to the bottom of the zone as soon as possible (near the area with swinging ropes). It's in a room guarded by a large rock just to the left. Spin dash through.
The second occurs just below Point #3, the burning scene. You need to head through past Point #4 and then drop down through the breakable floor to the bottom. Then, head left through more barriers. A spring sends you straight up to the ring at the top of a tall room. When you're done, you can knock through the floor above to go back to the beginning of this half of the act.
Towards the end of the first half of Act 1, you'll find yourself entering this giant hollow tree trunk. The idea is that you run into it with enough speed behind you that you'll be able to run around the internal walls, making your way up to the next ledge on the top right of it. Hence the two loop-de-loops and slopes beforehand. If you're not going fast enough, you won't get anywhere, so hit a Spin Dash back up through the loops and try again. Control-wise, all you have to do is hold the right button on the D-pad while he's running around it, and with enough momentum, it's easy to get through.
Immediately afterwards, you'll meet one of these big purple flame pods, and there are more of them flying in the sky above. It'll come down from the top right, but even though you can leap and hit it to your heart's content, this weird little bit is not a boss, it's another cut-scene. Don't touch the flames at the bottom of it. The pod will start launching missiles and then disappear to the side of the screen when they fall back down to the ground, and the whole place starts to catch fire. It gets worse and soon the entire screen is engulfed in a huge inferno, emerging from the bottom and blocking everything else out from your view. Highly unorthodox! When it settles, you'll find that your character(s) are still standing, miraculously unscathed. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the appearance of the entire level, as the whole beautiful jungle has become a burned ruin, a shell of its former self. So much for Robotnik's attempt to burn our heroes to death, and surely Knuckles wouldn't be too happy to know that a chunk of his home has been completely decimated by his own ally.
After the stage gets toasted, progress onwards and past the checkpoint is a set of slotting spikes on the ceiling. Do not take these lightly, because if you're standing underneath when the spikes come down, you will get crushed. Note that this does not apply to Tails, who is actually short enough to fit through the gap. Beware of this hazard in later levels of the game as well, because it's a pretty cheap way to knock off a life.
Act 1 Boss
Before you progress straight into the arena for this boss, I strongly recommend picking up the fire shield just before it, in order to make the whole thing very simple. It's easy enough to spot - look past the Bloominator badnik over on the left hand ledge opposite the higher one on the right, which leads to the boss. You need to use the stable boulder on the floor below as a boost up to it, but watch out for the collapsing edges and spikes.
You've reached the end of Act 1 and here's another one of those flame pods again - this time it wants to stick around for a bit of a scrap. Possibly the same one as last time, who knows? It'll come down from the top right again and produce a flame blast from the flamethrower on its front. After hanging around a bit, it'll slowly move up, wander across the top to the other side and repeat the process on the left, and then back to the right, etc. Just jump and hit it on the top rather than from the flame-guarded bottom - unless you have the fire shield of course, in which case it's pretty much completely helpless against you. Six hits will see this thing off for good.
Knuckles' fight, like most of them in general, is a bit tougher in that the pod also fires off three upward-missiles while throwing its flame, and these fall back down to the ground, across the area, so be a little more careful. His arena is in a different place too, so getting a fire shield beforehand may not be so easy.
In the area with spiked logs floating on the water, not far off the start, you can find a nice little life down here, in the first small pool.
Another can be found later on if you fall down both sets of flipping stairway platforms after Point #5. After a submerged tunnel, you'll then find it here, awkwardly surrounded by spikes. If you let that bridge collapse without getting across it then it can be hard to successfully cross.
Knuckles' route is entirely different, meeting Sonic's at no point throughout. It's a secret tunnel made up of largely internal caves filled with spikes, moving platforms and enemies. There are no tough points particularly, just a lot of easy ring loss, so be careful!
If you find yourself against a tall wall, don't forget about Knuckles' climbing ability! Press jump twice and hold the button on the second press to glide, and simply glide into the wall to latch onto it. Climb with up and down.
Special Stage Rings
The first Special Stage opportunity of Act 2 is pretty much forced upon you. Simply roll through the winding tunnel and you'll almost definitely dash straight through the boulder in front of this room and just to the right of the ring, forcing you to go back straight into it.
Just before the final phases of the act, you'll need to wind your way up a huge, wide waterfall with block platforms protruding out of it. If you go to the bottom right of this waterfall area, into a small pool of water, you can spin dash up the curve to the right and into the ring's hidden room, in the wall.
When you reach this part, underwater, you won't be able to continue because there's an unbreakable wall blocking your path. Use the spring to the left to reach a ledge on the upper right. Head into a hidden room on the right and press the button, which will not only open up the wall below, it'll also lower the water level for you. There's another button in a room directly above that which will do the same thing, but is only accessible if you took the higher route, on a moving platform just before the twisting tunnel that lead to this bit.
Either button also opens up another unbreakable wall directly above that, which actually leads to a Tails-only shortcut, where you have to fly up a spiked vertical corridor. Not only does this cut out a more lengthy, zig-zagging portion of the act, but it also allows access to an extra life that is otherwise too high to reach. After the spiked vertical corridor, carry on down the curve, over the platforms and onto the swinging rope to a moving platform. Use it to find the life, above.
Just as it's best to approach the Act 1 boss with a fire shield, the same goes for Eggman himself in Act 2. When you've finished winding your way up a huge waterfall, the final checkpoint and a tunnel toward the end is just over to the right. Before that though, an essential fire shield is hidden in a palmtree just before. You can get up to it by spin dashing straight up the curve that's next to it, minding the spikes and the Monkey Dude.
Through the tunnel, and in yet another major attempt by Eggman to bury his adversaries, a huge green bomber airship appears above Sonic and Tails as they're running across a long open stretch just before the Act 2 boss. It has several tubes to release the big, heavy bombs and doesn't waste time in doing so. The screen scrolls along with you so that you can't go back, but if you hold the right directional button firmly, all the bombs will miss you entirely, though Tails will really take a battering if he's following you, in auto-pilot. Just keep running until the ship passes over you completely. Some say this is actually part of the Flying Battery battleship, which you hop on board later on in Sonic & Knuckles, but it doesn't really look anything like it. After the ship goes away, you'll see Eggman flying between the trees in the background. Keep running until you reach the Act 2 boss arena.
At first, your battle arena consists of a wooden bridge on the left and a ledge on the right, with a large waterfall behind. Eggman will appear through the waterfall on the left, above the bridge, at which time you can get in one quick hit if you want, but do NOT get cocky and stand on the bridge for too long, because he's about to burn it down, and it'll be sudden death if you fall. His machine this time is a rather impressive purple floating thing not unlike the flame pod we saw earlier. It has twin cannons which produce balls of flame, one on either side of the machine, and they can be directed straight down or diagonally downwards (where they will travel across the ground, when they land). Upon destroying the bridge with them, he'll go back in the waterfall and your access to the whole arena opens up, and you'll find the ledge goes on further across the screen, with an open gap on the far right hand side, in addition to the one on the left now.
He'll reappear in any one of the following four places: Above the right or left edge of the platform (where he will fire his cannons downward), or slightly lower and to the right of the right ledge, or to the left of the left ledge (where he will shoot diagonally downwards). When he emerges in one of these places, he'll fire each cannon once, one after the other, pause, and then go back through the waterfall and return in another, randomly selected place. Read his pattern and dodge the fireballs, and get a hit in (anywhere on the machine) at the end of each attack, but if you've got a fire shield, there's no need to worry about any of that. Just hit him repeatedly, but be careful that you don't fall down either of the gaps on the far sides. Eight hits, as usual. When playing as Knuckles in Sonic 3 + Sonic & Knuckles, the boss will fire two blasts out of each cannon, instead of one.
Upon defeating the boss, a bridge will appear over the gap on the right and the capsule will, rather obscurely, hover downwards from above, upside down. Hit the button as soon as it's low enough, get your score, and for the first time ever, a cut scene explains to us the transition to the next level. Sonic and Tails will automatically walk right, standing over the new bridge, and look up to see Knuckles again. He's standing on a ledge above them, still chuckling away because he knows all he has to do is touch that button next to him and the bridge will collapse, sending our heroes down into the subterranean aqueducts of the island. So he does.
- Some may be confused by the name of this level. Angel Island is also the name of the entire island that all levels in Sonic 3 and most in Sonic & Knuckles are located on. A main staple in the Sonic universe, also originally known as "The Floating Island" in Western marketing, and usually hovers peacefully in the skies. This level takes place in the outer jungles of the island, but is known as Angel Island Zone anyway, even though it's actually only part of the whole island. The same principle goes for the Angel Island Zone in Sonic Advance, which is more of a ruins level, based elsewhere on the island.
- After the whole level gets burned up halfway through Act 1, the Act 1 music will still be playing, but if you die or enter a Special or Bonus Stage before completing the act, the music will change to the Act 2 theme when you return to the level, despite the fact that you're still in Act 1.
- Jun Senoue, mastermind behind a vast array of Sonic tracks created a remix of this level's classic music, his earliest work for the franchise, in Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Nintendo Wii in 2007/2008. The game included Sonic and his signature Green Hill Zone as unlockables and Angel Island Zone was the only remixed track to be played in the background of this stage, amongst other classic Sonic originals. It features both Act 1 and 2 in a more slightly chaotic, rock-ish style akin to his later works and the track was available to fans on compilation album "True Blue: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog". You can give it a listen in the downloads section.
Each section of this page allows users to add their own notes to fill in any missing details or supply additional research etc.
View/add general notes for Angel Island Zone (3)