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Sonic & Knuckles was released when Sonic the Hedgehog 3 had to be split into two games to meet the deadline. The Lock-On port on the top of the cartridge could be used to insert a Sonic 3 cart and combine the two games (using Sonic 3's SRAM), or to insert a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cart and play as Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic 2.
Sonic & Knuckles carries on from where Sonic the Hedgehog 3 left off. At the end of Sonic 3, after Dr. Robotnik's defeat at Launch Base, the rebuilt Death Egg fell back onto Angel Island and crashed on top of Lava Reef's volcano (retconning the ending of Sonic 3, in which the Death Egg is destroyed). Now the evil doctor attempts once again to repair the Death Egg, this time by trying to use the Master Emerald to fuel its engines. This all-powerful jewel, upon which the Chaos Emeralds base their powers, is guarded by Knuckles. In Sonic 3, Dr. Robotnik was able to fool the echidna into working for him and against Sonic. In Sonic & Knuckles he betrays Knuckles in order to obtain the Master Emerald. Knuckles then realizes that Dr. Robotnik has been playing him all along. Sonic and Knuckles then reluctantly work together in order to stop Robotnik and save Angel Island. In this way Sonic & Knuckles resolves the feud between the two characters, and ties up the plot of Sonic 3.
- Mushroom Hill Zone
- Flying Battery Zone
- Sandopolis Zone
- Lava Reef Zone
- Hidden Palace Zone
- Sky Sanctuary Zone
- Death Egg Zone
- The Doomsday Zone
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