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?