how Sonic 3 was split into two games
Stuffing other games on top of Sonic and Knocked Out.
While Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was intended to be placed on top of Sonic & Knuckles using the lock-on technology, Sega anticipated that players would experiment with other games being put in that slot. Contingency plans had to be devised by the developers in the event of a failure. So, the team decided to play around with the lock-on slot of Sonic & Knuckles by reading the ID of whatever cartridge was inserted. Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles’ “blue sphere” stages serve as inspiration for most games. As a result, the lock-on slot on top of the Sonic 2 game is a unique feature for gamers.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 could be played as Knuckles if a Sonic & Knuckles cartridge was placed on top of it. Knuckles didn’t debut until Sonic the Hedgehog 3. According to series producer Takashi Iizuka, the maps for Sonic 2 were designed so that players can easily fly around as Super Sonic. “We included Knuckles in the maps because of their height during construction. To see what would happen if Knuckles were to be dropped into Sonic 2, we did some testing on our end. “Wow, that’s a cool little surprise!” we exclaimed when we realized there was no problem. That’s something we should probably leave in.'”
Aside from allowing players to experience Sonic 2’s unique lock-on mechanic, the developers discovered that Knuckles would have been out of place in the original Sonic the Hedgehog’s maps. For the first time, Iizuka says, “we realized that we had built a world specifically designed for Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and that when you put other characters into that world, it didn’t work.” “It just didn’t feel right to me. To avoid a bad experience, we decided not to put you in Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and let you play with Knuckles or anyone else, but instead put you in the special stages.”
For developers who worked for Sega when the company was developing hardware, they had the luxury of developing only for Sega’s one console. It was also possible to request hardware changes to help with development during Sega’s time as a platform holder.
“When Sega stopped making hardware, things changed in development,” says Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka. “Being able to work on our hardware was something that everyone at Sega who made software was used to and saw as having many advantages. Whenever we had requests for our software, we went to our hardware team and said, ‘Look, I’m making a game like this, and I need this to be done.’ It is up to you to make it happen.'”
Adding a second screen to the controllers so that players could play minigames while on the go was first proposed to Sega’s hardware team in the late 1990s. The result was the Sega Dreamcast’s Visual Memory Unit. There had been previous occasions when hardware engineers had sought assistance from this group.
The Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sequel was in development in 1993, and the team had big plans for it. It was a goal for Iizuka and his teammates to hit a home run in the third inning of the game. More maps meant more time and more money to make, so we opted for much larger but also more numerous maps than were found in Sonic 2.
After further development, it became clear that the game had exceeded its scope. Several factors sped up the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s larger stages than anticipated.