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Green Hill Zone. How many times has it shown up?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by The Joebro64, Jun 30, 2022.

  1. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    With the recent reveal that Sonic Frontiers will indeed feature everyone's favorite level Green Hill Zone in a Sonic game once again, a lot of people are wondering why Sonic games keep reusing Green Hill. But it got me wondering: how many times have Sonic games reused Green Hill? I decided to survey all the mainline Sonic games (both console and handheld, so this'll include all the Master System/Game Gear and Dimps-developed titles) and determine how many times it's shown up. Note that this excludes spin-offs (racing games like Sonic Drift, mobile games like Sonic Dash, etc.) and crossovers (Smash, Mario & Sonic, etc.) since those don't fall under the umbrella I'm looking into.

    The survey I've done divides stage appearances into three categories:
    • Green Hill itself: self-explanatory. The original Green Hill Zone that first appeared in Sonic 1.
    • Green Hill in all but the name: self-explanatory. Stages that are quite clearly Green Hill but not called Green Hill.
    • Green Hill-like/inspired: stages that aren't called Green Hill and feature unique mechanics/additions, but otherwise clearly have some Green Hill lineage.
    So without further ado, let's get started!

    Green Hill itself
    Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
    The one that started this whole mess. Appears in both the 16-bit and 8-bit versions.
    Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit version, 1992)

    Yes, there's an "s" after "Hill". No, I don't consider that enough to bump it down to "in all but the name". This is Green Hill again.
    Sonic Blast (1996)

    Everyone's favorite 8-bit Sonic game, in all its "we tried to rip off Donkey Kong Country but the specs made it too hard" glory. It's also got Green Hill.
    Sonic Adventure 2 (2001)

    Your grand reward for getting all 180 emblems (which no one ever did unless they had GameShark, people have lives) was a 3D recreation of Green Hill Zone Act 1 from Sonic 1. While it's not the first time Green Hill has reappeared in a mainline Sonic game, it's the first time it's reappeared in a way that's clearly meant to evoke nostalgia of the first game.
    Sonic Generations (2011)
    upload_2022-6-30_16-42-43.jpeg [​IMG]

    Begins with, you fuckin' guessed it, Green Hill. Notable for being the only stage in the game that appears in both the console/PC and 3DS versions (and the 3DS version's Act 1 is, like Sonic Adventure 2, a full recreation of Sonic 1's Green Hill Zone Act 1).
    Sonic Mania (2017)

    You're gonna play through Green Hill again and you're gonna fuckin' like it, buddy.
    Sonic Forces (2017)

    "There's sand everywhere! Green Hill's looking a lot more like Sand Hill right now!"
    Sonic Frontiers (2022)

    You know what? Fuck you. More Green Hill.
    By my count, a total of nine (counting Sonic 1 8-bit as a separate game) mainline Sonic games feature Green Hill itself.

    So what about Green Hill in all but the name?
    Green Hill in all but the name
    Emerald Hill, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

    This was the stage that made me decide to have a separate category for Green Hill in all but the name, because it's so obviously Green Hill but it isn't called Green Hill and I knew people would give me shit if I said it was Green Hill and would give me shit if I said it wasn't Green Hill. So I made this category. Anyway, Green Hill, but now called "Emerald".
    Turquoise Hill, Sonic Chaos (1993)

    what if I told you this is just Green Hill
    Green Grove, Sonic 3D Blast (1996)

    Pretty straightforward, basically Green Hill in every possible way except its name.
    Neo South Island, Sonic Pocket Adventure (1999)

    Completely different name, but also very obviously Green Hill (though it throws in some elements of Emerald Hill and PalmTree Panic). So it goes here.
    Leaf Forest, Sonic Advance 2 (2002)

    Apparently this is a forest instead of a hill, but I ain't seeing anything that says this isn't Green Hill. So it goes here.
    Sunset Hill, Sonic Advance 3 (2004)

    Like Emerald Hill, this would be up there in the "Green Hill itself" category if they just had the balls to call it Green Hill
    Splash Hill, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (2010)

    Windy Hill, Sonic Lost World (2013)

    Ditto ditto.
    With that, a total of seven games feature Green Hill but don't have the balls to admit it's Green Hill.

    And now for the stages that feature Green Hill-inspired levels but are distinct enough that they're not Green Hill in all but the name.
    Green Hill-inspired
    PalmTree Panic, Sonic CD (1993)

    It's pretty well known at this point that all Sonic CD's levels are based on Sonic 1's, but my personal belief is that they do a good enough job separating them from their big brothers to the point where the stages can be judged on their own merits. I hesitated between putting this in "Green Hill in all but the name" and here, but I think PalmTree Panic's additions of 3D ramps, log tunnels, time travel shenanigans, and whatnot mean it's distinct enough to slide into "inspired" territory.
    Great Turquoise, Sonic Triple Trouble (1994)

    Bouncy palm trees and a heavily modified aesthetic allow this to join the "inspired" crowd.
    Mushroom Hill, Sonic & Knuckles (1994)

    Mushroom Hill is mostly distinct, but there are enough similarities in its aesthetic and design that I'd say it'd be inaccurate to say there's not at least some Green Hill influence. So I'm including it here.
    Neo Green Hill, Sonic Advance (2001)

    This was a tough one - I accept that "Neo" is pretty flimsy justification for separating it from the "Green Hill itself" crowd, but I don't think it's so similar to the point that it's just straight-up Green Hill. There's enough changes to the aesthetic and mechanics that I don't think it's accurate to group it in the top two categories, so I think it belongs here.
    Seaside Hill, Sonic Heroes (2003)
    Aesthetically, Seaside Hill is an obvious riff on Green Hill, but it establishes itself as a unique stage by blending the basic look with ancient ruins and featuring mostly original mechanics and design.
    Seaside Hill, Sonic Generations (2011)

    Seaside Hill also returns in Sonic Generations, with an increased focus on the ancient ruins elements.
    So that is six games featuring a Green Hill-inspired level. Our final count is:
    • Nine games feature Green Hill itself.
    • Seven games feature a stage that is obviously Green Hill but isn't called Green Hill.
    • Six games (including one game repeated from the first category) feature a stage that's clearly a riff on Green Hill but is distinct enough to the point that calling it Green Hill isn't accurate.
    Ultimately, Green Hill has appeared nine times counting only levels called "Green Hill", sixteen times counting levels that are Green Hill but aren't called Green Hill, and twenty-two times counting all levels that are Green Hill-inspired but distinct enough to not be a Green Hill ripoff. We all know Green Hill has appeared a LOT, but it, or a stage inspired by it, has probably shown up a lot more than you'd think! It's not a recent phenomenon that Sega decided to milk the fuck out of it, they've been doing it for ages now.

    Of course, this list is subjective. There are probably stages you wouldn't call Green Hill-like on here, or stages you would but I missed. I was just interested in determining how many times it's actually shown up in some form and thought it'd be good to have posted for the record. Cheers!
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  2. SuperSnoopy


    I like Sonic Advance Member
    Lyon, France
    Slice of life visual novel, coming soon...?
    A very thorough post, good job!
    Despite my constant bitching about Sonic Team reusing Green Hill, I'd still like to say I think it's a mighty fine stage and probably the best stage in Sonic 1.
    Every time I replay it, I have a dumb smile on my face...but only in Sonic 1.
    In every other game it makes me feel nothing, because it represents this "nostalgia throwback" era in pop culture that I genuinely loathe.

    It's a good zone...just not good enough to be reused 16 times. At the very least, I think we can all agree it's not special anymore.
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  3. Sonic Warrior TJ

    Sonic Warrior TJ

    Have an ice time Member
    We can't forget GHZ's most appearance.
  4. sayonararobocop


    Green Grove was incorrectly referred to as Green Hill in this magazine article. I was incorrect and the prototype level name was Green Alley per the Senoue demo.

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  5. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    The question becomes... which games do not feature Green Hill in any shape or form?

    (I wouldn't consider any stage featuring funky geometric patterned soil with grass on top to be Green Hill for the purposes of this question)
  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    Sonic Runners. Smash Bros. The mobile games.

    Oh and Mecha Green Hill Zone if you want to count that.
  7. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    I explicitly discounted spin-offs/crossovers in my initial post, since then we’d be here for days.

    Mecha Green Hill’s a bit of a tough one. Its name makes it obvious it’s something of an homage, but the actual aesthetic and stage itself are totally different to the point that it’s hard to categorize it. Maybe it’d fall under “inspired”.
  8. Zephyr


    Sonic 2's Aquatic Ruin was also called "Neo Green Hill Zone" at some point during development.

    Not necessarily. The wiki already has a fairly comprehensive list:
    Emphasis on "fairly" comprehensive, since some have been mentioned in this thread that aren't on that page.
  9. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    I think there's stuff messed up here. Not all checkered patterns are Green Hill and not all areas named Green Hill are a clone of the original one. Green Hill as a trope but not as a returning zone could be applied to a lot of which you considered they didn't had the balls, while Palmtree Panic is not different enough to say that besides de futures which we don't have what to compare to. Also, Hill Top, Sky High, Scrambled Egg, Robotnik Winter... In any case, don't throw everything in as if it had no identity: the issue with Green Hill returning is when the return is so literal it hurts. Green Hill in Sonic Blast has absolutely different art, feels much more different to standard Green Hill than Emerald Hill or Palmtree Panic, and Emerald Hill was Green Hill on the first draft, hence why the still named Green Hills of 8-Bit S2 shares its look partially. And then there's bridge zone, which you didn't include.

    tl;dr: your list is indeed subjective and goes far beyond the number of times people count for the zone's return. I would only count full recreations and ripoffs, and make separate considerations about graphic art and music (examples: windy hill, visual ripoff; sunset hill, music ripoff more than anything).
  10. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

  11. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Wrong quote order, that's what I was replying to.
  12. Endgame


    Formerly The Growler Member
    The SEGASonic arcade game doesn't seem to have anything remotely like Green Hill Zone.
  13. _Sidle


    Pretty comprehensive list! Here's some more.


    Angel Island, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994) is an easy shoe-in for GHZ-inspired.
    • has grass
    • has parts of the ground damaged/cracked in a way that looks kind of like squares (not quite checkerboard tho)
    • has a surface of water in the background (the ocean, as Sonic or Tails)
    • has cliff structures in the foreground
    • has waterfalls in the foreground
    • has plants all over the foreground, notably palm trees
    • has enemies reminiscent of typical GHZ-esque ones
      • Motobug = Rhinobot
      • Crabmeat = Bloominator
      • Coconuts = Monkey Dude

    Collision Chaos, Sonic CD (1993) is a strangely good fit for GHZ-inspired, feels like a SYZ that just so happens to take place in a typical GHZ environment.
    • has grass
    • has a funky pattern on it's ground
    • has harsh geometric protrusions and indents on the walls/ground (is beveled the right term?)
    • has a surface of water in the background (a lake)
    • has cliff structures in the background, as well as what appears to be mountains (dark sections behind the cliffs below the sky, possibly covered in/just is foliage)
    • has plants all over the foreground
  14. My god, I'm always stunned by collision chaos's gorgeousness every time I see screenshots.

    I think SEGA's insistence on Green Hill is more of a Mario influenced thing. It's annoying and uncreative, I wish it would stop. Angel Island & Emerald Hill get a pass because at least they where a little bit different.
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  15. I feel its more of a case of expectations and precedent in the case of Sonic.

    Kirby fans don't complain about going through Green Greens or fighting Wispy Woods for the millionth time because the games have been doing that since near the beginning so fans are conditioned to expect it.

    Sonic has generally had new zones and locales every game, with few throwbacks. So for the series to suddenly double on reusing old zones is jarring because that precedent isn't there like it is for other games, so our expectations are different.

    But naturally creating new and unique zones for every game naturally costs money so the Green Hill reuse is definitely a cost cutting measure.

    In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good long term business strategy to establish your long-term series on being different all ofnthe time because inevitably the well will run dry and then what.
  16. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    The real issue I find here is there's people treating a recurring trope as green hill clones when having tropical coasts is a trope you can find in any videogame because it's a natural environment. Angel Island is the same trope but it looks very different to Green Hill and it's a lot closer to Jungle zone from 8-bit S1. Besides Splash Hill in Sonic 4 and Windy Hill and maybe some other level in Lost World, I think the only way the original Green Hill has returned is as itself in anniversary recreations and similar cases (SA2, Gens, Forces, Frontiers). Even Green Hills in 8-bit S2 is at least different enough to feel fresh despite referring to the same location of the original game.
  17. Zephyr


    I feel like people would have less of a problem with Green Hill only returning in anniversary titles if anniversary titles weren't pretty much the only Sonic titles we got anymore.
  18. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    I agree, the question is the OP and some people after him are exaggerating with this all. Soon we'll say metropolis zone is the second time Chemical Plant appears in Sonic 2 because there are similarities in their music tracks.
  19. DefinitiveDubs


    The Voice Maestro Member
    Cyber City
    Mega Man Zero: The Definitive Dub
    Green Hill Alignment Chart.png

    Whipped this up. :ruby:
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  20. Pengi


    Guardian Rock is literally a Green Hill. The stage title card says:

    STAGE 20
    Green Hill
    Guardian Rock