don't click here

Is Mushroom Hill Zone suppose to exist?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Flygon, Jul 23, 2021.

  1. Flygon


    I've never seen this bought up in the discourse, and I've seen everyone just assume that Mushroom Hill was always a fully planned zone, rather than something pushed out to become the first zone of Sonic & Knuckles, but this's something that's been bothering my mind for quite a few years now - but a question I've been afraid to ask because, frankly, I've been too terrified to ask on these forums.

    Was Mushroom Hill always planned to be part of what Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was intended to be?

    The original zone order that we knew of, and the transitions between them, as we know, largely makes sense.
    You fall from the Angel Island waterfall to Hydrocity, the Hydrocity water spout pushes you high into Marble Garden, Marble Garden falls apart - night falls - and you fly down over to a nearby Carnival, you take the cannon to Flying Battery, you escape Flying Battery on a door and use the door to ski down the mountainside, and near the bottom of the mountain you pop out of the snow into the Launch Base.

    Which is when it all gets a bit weird, when you think about it.
    Yes, it makes sense that you could fall down to just about anywhere after the aborted take off of the Death Egg, that justifies the transition to Mushroom Hill.
    But I can't parse any real sane way you'd go flying down from Mushroom Hill to Sandopolis.

    And the transition from Launch Base Zone, complete with its vaguely Middle Eastern aesthetic, to literally falling down to Sandopolis, just makes way too much sense to me.
    I'm hitting the point where I genuinely think Mushroom Hill Zone was the one unplanned zone of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and I can't figure out how it was suppose to ever normally fit in. It even stylistically stands apart from the other zones.

    I'm sorry if this thread is a mess. I don't have much experience making these for Sonic Retro. And, again, I'm honestly still terrified of asking questions around this community.
    How much do we actually know about how Mushroom Hill Zone was conceived? Was it always planned and I'm just all wrong? How the heck were the zone-to-zone transition for Mushroom Hill to Sandopolis actually suppose to work, in that case?
  2. Snub-n0zeMunkey


    yo what up Member
    You're probably right about Mushroom Hill not originally being part of the intended level progression storyline.

    Since Sonic & Knuckles was released as its own standalone title I guess it really needed its own introductory level. Not really ideal to plonk the player straight into Sandopolis/Flying Battery
  3. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL

    The Sonic 3 level select would suggest that it absolutely was intended.
  4. Pengi


    Mushroom Valley follows Launch Base in the Sonic 3 Level select.


    In the concept art it is labelled "Zone 8".

    • Informative Informative x 8
    • List
  5. TheOcelot


    Scooty Puff Jr sucks! Member
    In the Sonic 3 level select (and in the recently released beta version) it lists Mushroom "Valley" (between LB & Sandopolis) so it seems logical to me this zone was planned early in development-planned to be what Sonic 3 was originally intended to be. It could be that some of the level design was changed after the decision was made to split the game in half (S3 and S&K, and the name was changed from Valley to Hill), perhaps to accommodate for the insane number of special stage rings they needed to include in this zone in order to make easy to collect the super emeralds quickly (to get the hyper form) which were not intended to be collectable as part of Sonic 3's original design.

    As for a Mushroom Hill transition to Sandopolis, yes it doesn't make much sense. There is a rare gimmick in MH act2 where Sonic can grab onto a mushroom which briefly moves-springs upwards. So maybe Sonic could use this gimmick-a mushroom to float to Sandopolis.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  6. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    I was about to bring the Sonic 3 level select myself, but that's already been done.

    Sandopolis leads to Lava Reef which goes to Hidden Palace > Sky Sanctuary > Death Egg > Doomsday already so the game wouldn't have changed from that, so yeah, I believe Mushroom Valley was always intended.
  7. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Regarding the original planned MHZ>SZ transition. The MHZ>FBZ transition we got ties into the MHZ boss doesn't it? Eggman is hidden sending signals with a satellite dish to have the Flying Battery pick him up, Sonic discovers him and attacks him, Eggman tries to run off, Sonic gives chases and kicks his ass, the FB finally arrives after the boss battle and picks him up, Sonic hitches a ride. The whole transition doesn't look like something that was just quickly thrown together. So maybe it was always planned, but it was tweaked when FBZ was moved to S&K? Perhaps the original MHZ>SZ transition was going to have Eggman get picked up by a different aircraft (the green airship that bombards you in AIZ2?), Sonic hangs onto it, hitches a brief ride but loses his grip and falls down to Sandopolis.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  8. Flygon


    That was what I was actually thinking - we are pretty sure that Sonic 3 prototype we have was made after the decision to split the game in half was made.

    I'm willing to trust the concept artwork, but I'm curious when it was actually created. Sonic 3's dev process was so messy I'm willing to believe that they only formalised the concept artwork after they were already compiling the game, and formally dubbed the zone order in the concept artwork after it became apparent they had to split the game in two.

    I'm aware what I am saying isn't without any real proof aside from Mushroom Hill's sheer "out of placeness" within the game. I'm not saying otherwise. I'm just curious if there's any formal indications that they did design Mushroom Hill very late to give Sonic & Knuckles a starting level.
  9. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    often the real thing™ Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    It's wiki time. There's no need to be afraid.
    I would imagine they didn't plan zone transitions until after the levels had been conceptualised. I mean most of the transitions are just "fall down" or "fly up" - I don't know if there are any clues in our Sonic 3 prototype as to how you were meant to get to "Mushroom Valley" but I would guess the initial thinking was similar to Sonic 2 - Hill Top Zone follows Casino Night... "just because".
  10. Pengi


    I think you're misinterpreting what the satellite dish is doing. In Act 1 Mushroom Hill has a green Spring/Summer look. In Act 2 it has a brown Autumn look (with fallen leaves when Sonic runs) and later a grey Winter look. When Sonic destroys the satellite dish, Mushroom Hill instantly becomes green again.

    It's labelled "Zone 8", so this was before Flying Battery Zone got cut/moved.
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  11. _Sidle


    In terms of plot...
    AIZ1- Super Stopping Ambush
    AIZ2- Bridge Drop
    HCZ2- Bridge Drop the Second
    CNZ2- Lights Off + Flooding
    LBZ1- Building Begone
    LBZ2- Sudden Plunge into Water and Rockets
    MHZ1- We Livin' (Real Careful Now) + Early HPZ Reveal
    MHZ2- To the Winds With Ye
    LRZ2- Rock Launch
    HPZ - Fight Sonic + Jewel Theft
    SSZ - Helping Hand
    DDZ - Master Emerald Returned
    The LBZ2 and MHZ1 scenes feel quite natural together, being the two moments back-to-back where Knux isn't staying confident and fully in control of the situation. Those scenes are pretty memorable, being noticeably different from the usual switch-flicks and chuckling seen in all previous scenes with him up to that point.
    Would be quite surprised if the Mushroom Hill one wasn't part of the game originally, even in the pre-Super Emeralds script.
  12. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Aaah, that makes sense.
  13. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    I think we should be cautious when making bold claims based upon 'logical' stage transitions. Firstly, the level order was probably designed with game balance in mind and not transitions. Secondly, a lot of the transitions aren't exactly smooth. Hydrocity to Marble Garden is pretty lazy. It's a nice contrast in theme (water to grass) but Sonic shooting off in the air from a spout and landing in a garden is very half-hearted. Sandopolis to Lava Reef is similarly lazy. Ice Cap to Launch Base is nonsensical. He rolls into snow so long that he ends up in a secret base? Then you have the transition from Marble Garden to Carnival Night which was thought up in such a way it could be used for any stage.

    The designers could have thought up all kind of ways to fudge Mushroom Hill to Sandopolis.
    • Agree Agree x 6
    • Like Like x 3
    • List
  14. Pengi


    The Flying Battery almost certainly wouldn't have been piloted by a palette swapped Madmole if it followed Carnival Night Zone.

    Was there any kind of technical advantage to re-purposing Madmole this way (memory, etc.), or did it just save them having to design a new robot?
  15. Fadaway


    I don't think much thought was put into it until later on. Flying Battery probably got moved to the second half because it wasn't completed. Then, when trying to add some type of transition, they just went with an easy idea at the time. If Flying Battery would have remained between Carnival Night and Ice Cap, who knows what the transition would have been between Mushroom Valley and Sandopolis? The transition in Sonic 3 Complete was probably just Tiddles' idea, unless someone else contributed the idea. I dunno.
  16. Having grown up watching Dragon Ball, the intended transition from Mushroom Valley Hill to Sandopolis makes sense to me. It may have made more sense with the Valley connotation, if we assume rightly or wrongly that the greener/first stage aesthetics were added after the split. In very early episodes of Dragon Ball, there is a mushroom valley that leads into a vast desert. It wouldn't surprise me if both of these zones took some inspiration from the close proximity those two areas shared in the show.

    The using a mushroom to fly over to the desert certainly also makes sense for Sonic's actual transition between the two.
  17. saxman


    Oldbie Tech Member
    Not discounting anything said, but I can't help but think about the conditions in which a desert exists. On one side of a mountain, sand. On the other side, greenery. I can't help but think of the palette swaps in Mushroom Hill as you progress through it and how it gives a vibe of less desirable plant-growth conditioning. Also, it's not uncommon to place a satellite on top of a mountain or big hill. Not pushing a theory per se, but it's a thought I've had lurking around for years.

    Regarding the satellite, the fact that things become green again lends itself to "weather satellite". But then what exactly is the point of manipulating the weather to begin with? It seems to me that being a signal for the warship would be a more rational use of the satellite. Neither conclusion on what the satellite is for sits 100% well with me, but I don't think either can be discounted entirely.
  18. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    I'd suggest it's indeed sending a distress signal, but doc's tech isn't eco-friendly and that how Sonic knows where to go to progress through and find Eggman.

    And, if Mushroom Valley was planned to be different, it would only require a different background and a slightly changed palette to achieve the "between lake and desert" look that would make more sense. Even the music sounds appropiate for a dry area.
  19. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    I don't see any reason to believe it wouldn't have been there. I'd actually argue that even if the game hadn't been split, a breather level after the mid-story climax is necessary.

    I did always question whether the Super Emeralds would've existed (which IIRC an interview said they were specifically made after the split), but that's besides the point.
  20. Frostav


    Yeah this is a thing to mention and I think the narrative that S3&K was this meticulously planned game and all the transitions were carefully designed to form a cohesive world is a bit of a fandom fiction. The level transitions are cool but the majority of them just have Sonic arbitrarily land somewhere (Tails runs out of steam after five seconds of flight in the actual game, but can carry Sonic all the way from MGZ to CNZ, a place that isn't even in MGZ's background and thus has to be MILES from it?). There's very little sense of Sonic cohesively traveling across a world. I guarantee you the dudes at SEGA did not think about this one half as much as the Sonic fandom does. Or probably 1/5th.

    The Classic Sonic fandom's endless navel-gazing about the design of 3&K is their equivalent to the Adventure fandom's navel-gazing about plotholes and narrative cohesion in the SA1-06 stretch and getting the response "why the hell do you care about that?" from Sonic Team.