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    Competition Mode Guide by AJBSONIC

    Updated: 10/14/10 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    >>Sonic 3
    >>Competition Mode FAQ
    >>©2010 AJBSONIC (ajbsonic@aol.com) 
    This FAQ can only be posted on GameFAQs. Relevant, constructive email 
    regarding this FAQ (such as new tactics or revised information) must have 
    “Sonic 3 Competition FAQ” as the subject. Please don’t send me elitist emails 
    bragging about your best times, this isn’t a contest.
    I: Intro
    II: Fake Story
    III: Basic Information
    IV: Characters
    V: Items
    VI: Course Overview
    VII: Advanced Techniques
    VIII: Special Thanks
    I: Intro
    Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (& Knuckles) is undeniably one of the hallmark games of 
    the Sonic series and one of the strongest offerings the Sega Genesis has to 
    offer. Sonic 2 was the first of the series to offer a splitscreen multiplayer 
    mode, and remains a fan-favorite mode to this day. Sonic 3 continues the 
    multiplayer tradition but takes it a step further. Instead of racing through 
    condensed versions of the main game zones, Sonic 3 offers 5 unique, made-for-
    multiplayer zones and 3 playable characters, each with their own special 
    attributes. Also taking advantage of Sonic 3’s save features, best times for 
    each zone are saved, enticing you to perfect your runs and get your time 
    lower and lower.
    Sonic 3’s Competition Mode may not have gained as much popularity as Sonic 
    2’s multiplayer mode, but it’s still nothing to ignore. I personally prefer 
    Sonic 3’s mode over 2’s, mainly because the courses are designed for pure 
    speed and have been optimized to run in the multiplayer game engine (with no 
    framerate drops to speak of, something Sonic 2’s VS mode cannot boast). This 
    FAQ will cover as much of the mode as possible and offer strategies to get 
    your times as low as possible.
    II. Fake Story
    The game manual never mentions a story to go along with this mode, so I’m 
    making one up that happens to fit quite nicely between the storylines of 
    Sonic 3 and Sonic 4.
    >>Competition Mode...aka Sonic 3.5
    After destroying the Death Egg and saving the Master Emerald, Sonic, Tails, 
    and Knuckles return to the Floating Island to celebrate their victory. Sonic 
    is one who hates to sit still, so the trio sought out for something fun and 
    light-hearted to do when Knuckles realized there were still parts of the 
    Floating Island that they have not explored together. With no Badniks and no 
    Robotnik influences, the three decided to hold friendly races in these new 
    zones. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all raced their hardest and won various 
    zones based on how the zones played upon their unique abilities. In the end, 
    they mutually decided to take a small break from each other and venture off 
    solo. That’s when Sonic stumbled upon Splash Hill Zone...
    III: Basic Information
    Competition Mode consists of short, specialized zones designed to infinitely 
    loop. Each zone begins at a unique starpost (sans the star). An eggcrate-
    styled font will appear on your half of the screen counting down 3,2,1,GO! 
    During this time you have full control of your character; if you step past 
    the post before the GO!, you will FAULT and the zone and countdown will 
    reset. There is no real penalty for faulting, but no gain to it either. Each 
    zone lasts 5 laps, your lap counter appears on the top-right of your screen 
    and your timer clearly appears on the top-left. In the bottom-center of the 
    screen is a small box, this shows what item you’re currently holding (more on 
    items in Section V).
    Although there are no Badniks, some zones still have environmental hazards, 
    and you can die from them. Losing a life forfeits the lap and you must 
    restart from the post.
    Entering the Competition Menu from the Title Screen gives you three modes of 
    play (and one of my favorite music tracks from the game):
    	>>Grand Prix: A 2P mode where you play through the zones in order, with 
    	the winner calculated by shortest overall time. Frustratingly, after 
    	one player wins, the other has a few seconds to finish before the game 
    	automatically retires him/her, resulting in a time of 9’49”99.
    	>>Match Race: A 2P mode where you race through one zone of your choice. 
    	Unlike Grand Prix, the loser has a chance to fully finish his/her race.
    	>>Time Attack: Essentially a 1P-only version of Match Race. Your best 3 
    	times in this mode are saved, along with the character you used. This 
    	mode is what truly saves Competition Mode and extends the replay value 
    Pressing up and down will change the mode, and left/right will toggle the use 
    of items in 2P modes (more on that in Section V). Items are automatically 
    disabled in Time Attack. (A and C confirm menu choices and B cancels.) After 
    deciding your mode, You then select your character with left/right. Then you 
    choose your zone and the game begins (Grand Prix begins immediately after the 
    character select).
    Characters handle very differently than they do in the main game, mainly, 
    momentum and jump height are noticeably exaggerated. As in the main game but 
    more noticeably in Competition, jumps are indicative of how long the button 
    is held down. A light tap gives a small jump where a hold down gives a large, 
    hangtime jump. Mastering the slippery controls is key.
    IV: Characters
    Competition has 3 playable characters: Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Notably, 
    this is the only way to play as Knuckles in Sonic 3 without being locked-on 
    to Sonic & Knuckles. I assume that Competition Mode was already completed 
    when Sonic 3 & Knuckles was intended to be one game, so naturally Knuckles 
    would be a playable character. When the decision was made to split the game, 
    Knuckles stayed in Competition, although he did sacrifice some of his 
    signature moves in the process.
    	>>Sonic: A speedy blue hedgehog constantly defeating his nemesis Dr. 
    	Robotnik and foiling his evil plans. In Competition, Sonic is the 
    	fastest of the three characters but also has the weakest traction. As 
    	in the main game, Sonic can spindash by pressing down and jump (more 
    	jumps, higher rev). It appears that Sonic also retained his insta-
    	shield by pressing jump twice, however the move is completely useless 
    	and isn’t even visually recognized (you just hear the sound effect).
    	>>Tails: Sonic’s right-hand man, first introduced in Sonic 2. In 
    	Competition, Tails is the slowest to reach full speed but boasts the 
    	highest jump. Tails can spindash just like Sonic and also retains his 
    	flight abilities using his trademark two tails. Flight operates just 
    	like in the main game (press jump twice, more jumps will fly higher and 
    	Tails will eventually tire out) and is just as useful, but in a mode 
    	that relies solely on speed it is generally unadvised as the move is 
    	rather slow.
    	>>Knuckles: The newcomer to the Sonic franchise and guardian of the 
    	Floating Island and Master Emerald. In Competition, Knuckles’ speed 
    	falls between Sonic and Tails but he has the most traction. Knuckles 
    	can also spindash, and his jump is about the same height as Sonic’s, a 
    	vast difference from the main game. Since Knuckles didn’t make his true 
    	playable debut until Sonic & Knuckles, his wall climbing and gliding 
    	moves are absent from this mode. It is unclear if Knuckles would have 
    	had these moves if Sonic 3 & Knuckles was not split, but the lack of 
    	moves is not detrimental to his Competition performance.
    Although each character has advantages over the other, they are ultimately 
    well-balanced against each other and each character has at least one zone 
    that they perform best in.
    V: Items
    In the 2P modes, you have the option to play with items. Items have always 
    been a curious oddity to Competition since the game manual makes no mention 
    to them and some of the items are difficult to comprehend. I personally think 
    the items were a lame-efforted addition to the mode since the laps move too 
    fast for the items to really have full effect, but they can be fun to play 
    Starting with the second lap, two items will circle in the air nearby the 
    post. Grabbing the icon activates the item. Items can be offensive or 
    defensive and may be one-time use or held (in the HUD box mentioned earlier).
    >>Red Shoe: This item is held in your HUD box and drastically increases your 
    max speed. Coupled with the exaggerated physics of Competition, you will move 
    *extremely* fast. However this can prove to backfire on you since you’ll be 
    much more vulnerable to extended hangtime after shooting off of ramps. 
    Eventually the item will flash and fade away.
    >>Silver Shoe: This item is held in your HUD box and drastically decreases 
    your max speed. Coupled with the exaggerated physics of Competition, you will 
    move *extremely* slowly. You will have to rely on your spindash (or Tails’ 
    flight) to overcome even the smallest of ramps. Eventually the item will 
    flash and fade away.
    >>Circular Arrows: This one-time use item is a blue circle with arrows inside 
    pointing around in a loop. This item steals what your opponent currently has. 
    If your opponent is not carrying an item, then this does nothing.
    >>Spring: This one-time use item falls to the ground after being touched, and 
    sends whoever hits it high into the air. This is simply meant to shake off 
    your opponent.
    >>Banana Peel: This one-time use item also falls to the ground after being 
    activated. Whoever touches it next will get slipped up momentarily.
    >>Ring: This item is held in your HUD box and acts as a hit point from 
    opponent tactics.
    >>Bomb: This sinister one-time use item looks curiously like an evil 
    Knuckles. When touched, it will lower to the ground and accelerate through 
    the course backwards. Anyone who touches the bomb will lose a life and has to 
    restart their lap.
    VI: Course Overview
    Competition Mode features 5 completely unique zones based on classic Sonic 
    clichés. This section will outline each one individually and highlight key 
    features, traps and the like. For fun I’ll also list my personal best time. 
    Though I’ve played these courses for over 15 years, I’m by no means bragging 
    that my times are the best and can definitely be improved upon.
    ZONE 1: Azure Lake
    Aesthetic: A mountainous Angel Island turned purple
    Difficulty: Easy
    Best character: Sonic
    My best time: 0’22”55 (Sonic)
    Run-through: Azure Lake starts with a drop loop followed by a standard loop, 
    then a 90-degree ramp shoots you in the air. Your momentum will bring you to 
    the top of 2 layered platforms with a large orange tree blocking your 
    progress, forcing you to zigzag down the platforms to the ground. Following 
    this is another 90-degree ramp completing the circuit.
    Traps: A switch on top of the layered platforms triggers a red spring in the 
    middle of the loop section, knocking your opponent backwards. There is also a 
    small pool of mud immediately following the first 90-degree loop, taken right 
    from Oil Ocean. You can bounce up the oil but if you sink all the way through 
    you’ll die (though it’s very hard to do this accidentally).
    ZONE 2: Balloon Park
    Aesthetic: Carnival Night with a heavy circus theme
    Difficulty: Medium
    Best character: Knuckles
    My best time: 0’35”79 (Knuckles)
    Run-through: Balloon Park also starts with a drop loop that leads into a 
    large pit. 2 large platforms making up the floor move left and right, with a 
    small gap just big enough for your character between them. Falling through 
    the gap leads to another pit with 3 bumpers. To the right is a 90-degree ramp 
    leading to shaft with 2 yellow balloons. Bouncing directly on top of the 
    balloons will shoot you straight up back to the post.
    Traps: Bumpers will not hurt you but can annoyingly get in the way. The real 
    trap of this level are the balloons. Hitting them anywhere than directly on 
    top will shoot you in the opposite direction, bouncing you all over the lower 
    pit and bumpers. There’s also a small delay between breaking a balloon and a 
    replacement inflating, which can lead to errors in timing when getting up the 
    ZONE 3: Chrome Gadget
    Aesthetic: Industrialized Star Light
    Difficulty: Hard
    Best character: Tails
    My best time: 0’34”48
    Run-through: My personal favorite, Chrome Gadget starts with a platform that 
    sinks downwards to the level proper. To the left of the platform are two 
    floors with red springs at the end. To the right are 3 industrial fans that 
    lift you up to the next platform, with red springs leading up to a higher, 
    smaller platform. Across this platform is a small, narrow passageway, and 
    between you is a very narrow U-shaped pit. Through the passageway is a small 
    shaft of Metropolis-style yellow bumpers, leading down to the post.
    *Point of Interest*: This is the only zone that loops vertically rather than 
    horizontally, resulting in a small graphical glitch: the moon is only visible 
    in the background for the first lap, since the backdrop is moving down as you 
    run down the course.
    Traps: The underside of the sinking platform is electrified and will kill. 
    (Also note that the platform sinks faster with 2 characters on it.) The 
    narrow pit is very problematic, to make it worse there is a spring hidden 
    under the entrance of the passageway. It’s controlled by a switch on the 
    platform after the fans, and can be pointed up towards the passageway ceiling 
    (stalling your opponent), or jutted out (pointed up or down) into the pit. 
    This is hands-down the trickiest section of Competition Mode. This switch 
    seems to be the only one that also activates in Time Attack (generally traps 
    are deactivated in 1P mode), and is just as likely to trip you up as badly as 
    your opponent, so be very careful.
    ZONE 4: Desert Palace
    Aesthetic: Sandopolis with Chemical Plant/Aquatic Ruin level design
    Difficulty: Easy
    Best character: Sonic
    My best time: 0’34”08 (Sonic)
    Run-through: Desert Palace starts with a ramp leading down and then straight 
    up a 90-degree ramp. Then comes a huge downward ramp leading to a very tall, 
    narrow loop that ejects you into a large quicksand pit. Following the pit is 
    a semi-sharp upward ramp and slightly-downward path, leading to another 90-
    degree ramp. A long collapsing bridge then leads you back to the post.
    Traps: The quicksand is as deadly as the mud from Azure Lake. To aid you out 
    of the sand is a small platform that collapses when you step on it; a red 
    switch following it restores the platform. This switch also activates a red 
    spring just before the tall loop, pointing backwards. Finally, the collapsing 
    bridge at the end stretches over the quicksand, and regenerates on its own.
    ZONE 5: Endless Mine
    Aesthetic: Lava Reef Act2 colored green and even more demure
    Difficulty: Easy
    Best character: Sonic
    My best time: 0’46”78 (Sonic)
    Run-through: Easily the longest of the Competition zones, Endless Mine starts 
    with a few steps downwards leading to a red spring that sends you up a shaft. 
    Following the path, 3 yellow rocks block your way downward, reminiscent of 
    Marble Zone. Breaking the blocks and continuing right is a very broad U-
    shaped pit with the path following on the upper landing. This path leads back 
    down to the ground behind the foreground imagery, ending with a basic loop 
    before joining back up with the post.
    Traps: There really aren’t any here. The yellow blocks are hardly a challenge 
    and there are no switches. The only true detriment is that you might get 
    caught up in off-screen hangtime after going back up the U-shaped pit, as the 
    passageway is rather narrow (but not nearly as bad as Chrome Gadget’s).
    VII: Advanced Techniques
    Now that we know what each course is like, here are the master tricks of the 
    trade in order to get your Time Attack scores as low as possible. These 
    techniques are generally meant for optimal performance in 1P mode; offensive 
    tactics when racing another character were outlined in the previous section.
    >> Avoid running straight up a 90-degree ramp, as this will generally result 
    in you flying up in the air and caught in off-screen hangtime for a few 
    seconds. Instead, jump just before the ramp, right onto the landing without 
    sacrificing speed.
    >> A common speed trick used by Sonic speed-runners, when going around a 
    loop, jump very lightly *just after* passing the 9:00 position. If done 
    correctly, you’ll jump for a split second but immediately land on the curve 
    leading back down to the ground, going about twice your usual max speed.
    >> Although it is tempting, never use Tails’ flight ability. It’s just not as 
    fast as using proper timing, even in the tricky sections of Balloon Park and 
    Chrome Gadget.
    >> During the countdown, don’t hesitate trying to get as close to the post as 
    you can before you can actually start. Faulting has no time penalty.
    ZONE 1: Azure Lake
    >> Sonic’s high acceleration works best in this speed-driven course.
    >> Spindash right from the start and use the loop trick on the first loop but 
    not the second or else you’ll probably get hangtime and miss the shortcut.
    >> After the second loop, jump the 90-degree ramp and run straight ahead. 
    Your speed will cruise right over the mud pit and place you immediately on 
    the ground, avoiding the layered platforms entirely.
    >> Once you get a good feel for the zone you’ll be able to complete it by 
    holding right the entire time.
    ZONE 2: Balloon Park
    >> Knuckles’ traction really helps in this tactical course.
    >> Spindash up the initial drop loop but jump immediately once you clear it 
    to land directly on the ground. Going too fast will send you straight up the 
    other side, hitting a bumper and losing time.
    >> Getting past the narrow gap quickly involves a small amount of luck. It is 
    possible to go directly through it from the jump following the drop loop if 
    you’re lined up perfectly. Try to fall through when the gap is off-center to 
    help avoid the 3 bumpers lined up beneath you.
    >> The 90-degree ramp preceeding the first balloon is probably the only time 
    you’ll want to run straight up it, as you can use the minimal hangtime to 
    line up your balloon break. Do *not* spindash up this ramp thinking you can 
    bypass the first balloon. For a true time attack, you have only one chance to 
    break the balloons cleanly. Don’t rush.
    ZONE 3: Chrome Gadget
    >> Tails’ high jump is a godsend in this even more tactical course.
    >> Spindash immediately to the platform and then immediately run (don’t 
    spindash) towards the first left-side floor. (Roll along the floor once you 
    have enough speed). You want to hit the red spring on the bottom floor, 
    sending you straight toward the fans. The timing can be a little tricky, 
    moving too fast or too slow can send you back onto the platform or even 
    worse, underneath it without clearance, killing you.
    >> Hold right as you go up the air current. At the top, Sonic and Knuckles 
    usually get caught on the lip of the platform due to the switch being right 
    on the edge, but Tails’ size allows him to land on the lip easily. From here, 
    Tails’ jump allows him to clear the spring pit entirely, something Sonic and 
    Knuckles cannot do.
    >> Jump a little past halfway on the tall landing to clear the U-shaped pit 
    and slip into the narrow passage. It may take you a few tries to determine 
    your exact spot. Allow the yellow bumpers to knock you down the shaft as 
    you’ll want the speed boost they give you.
    >> Do *not* hit the white switch as it can make the tricky jump even more 
    ZONE 4: Desert Palace
    >> Sonic works best in this speed-driven course.
    >> At the start, jump right across the small pit. The 90-degree ramp heading 
    out of it is notorious for bad hangtime. No spindashing.
    >> Run straight down the steep drop. The Aquatic Ruin-style huge loop is too 
    big to take advantage of so just run it as well. Run about halfway across the 
    sand pit and time your jump so you land just past the red switch, right onto 
    the ramp.
    >> Just as you start climbing the steep upward ramp, jump. You’ll bypass the 
    climb and wind up right at the top. Continue running until about the halfway 
    point of the shallow path and you’ll bypass the 90-degree ramp leading 
    towards the collapsing bridge.
    >> Run straight across the collapsing bridge towards the post. At full speed 
    the bridge will hold long enough for you to cross it.
    ZONE 5: Endless Mine
    >> Though neither a highly speedy or tactical course, Sonic still works best 
    because there is a lot of ground to cover.
    >> Spindash at the post towards the spring. The ceiling drops down just 
    before the spring making a wall, and unless you’re moving at a faster-than-
    running speed you’ll smack into the wall. If you’re really fast your momentum 
    will clip you just underneath the wall and directly onto the spring.
    >> There’s no shortcut around the rock-breaking section. Breaking all 3 
    blocks doesn’t take up much more time than breaking just the 2 right-side 
    blocks, so just get through this section as fast as you can.
    >> Maintain a normal running speed through the broad U-pit. If you go too 
    fast you’ll miss the exit at the top-right and fly off-screen for a few 
    precious seconds.
    >> Do the loop trick at the very end to get to your faster-than-running 
    speed, setting you up to bypass the wall at the start of the next lap.
    VIII: Special Thanks
    SEGA/Sonic Team: For creating some spectacular games, especially Sonic 1-3&K.
    Parents: For making this game one of my Christmas presents back in 1995.
    You, the Reader: For allowing this FAQ to have a purpose.
    >>END OF FAQ

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