by Emerald Mentality in

Sonic 3 and Knuckles: The Challenges

Creator: ColinC10

Classification: Mod/ROM Hack

Base Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles


Sonic 3 & Knuckles: The Challenges is an award-winning hack of Sonic 3 & Knuckles by ColinC10. In this hack the player must complete various levels from S3&K, which newly feature specific challenges to complete, e.g. collecting a certain number of rings or protecting Tails from danger. Completing challenges unlocks more challenges, and players’ progress is automatically saved to SRAM.


On the main screen, players are provided a screen resembling a level select screen, containing 12 categories of challenges to complete. In each challenge, players must accomplish a certain goal using a specific character and reach the end of the level, within the given time limit. Upon completion, they recieve a Rank based on the amount of time remaining and the achieved score, which depends on the content of that challenge. Timer functions as a countdown as time goes backwards in every challenge. If the timre reaches 0:00, the player’s character instantly dies and is teleported back to the Challenge Select Screen regardless of how many lives were held or the time remaining at the last passed checkpoint.

Some levels have been slightly altered for these challenges. In particular, special stages have all their rings completely removed from the game and checkpoints no longer teleport you to a Bonus Stage. Also, bosses have been teleported to other levels for challenges. (Example: Death Egg Act 1 Boss). if the player dies in a level (not by a Time Over), once they are returned to the last Checkpoint, the timer retains the time remaining upon death, not when they hit said Checkpoint.


Here the player must reach the end of the act before time runs out. This is the first group for Time Attack. This category is available from the beginning of the game. Featuring Sonic, levels Angel Island Act 1 and Ice Cap Act 2 along with bosses are included.

This category is also available from the start. Playing as Tails, players must grab a total of 200 rings in the level and reach the place where the pre-boss cutscene with Knuckles occurs.  If he arrives there without the needed rings, Knuckles will become angry with him, a Game Over message will show and the player will have to replay the entire level again, starting from the main screen.

Being hit by a badnik and losing rings does not affect the outcome. Every ring collected adds to your “Score”. So regardless of if the ring count is less than 200, if you collect 200 rings throughout the level, your score will reflect as the challenge is based on rings turned into your score.

Available form the start, you play as Knuckles and you get one point for every obstacle you break. In order to face Dr. Robotnik, you must achieve a score of 35 points. Reaching the boss area without enough points results in a “Game Over” Message. You will then be returned to the Main Menu with an incomplete challenge.

Unlocked after completing the other 4 challenges

Player One controller will move Player Two Tails. You must make Tails follow Sonic through Sonic’s programmed route on the level. Every time Tails is left-off screen and must fly back to reach Sonic, the player loses a point ( shown in “Score”). If the points reaches 0, the level ends and is incomplete.

The Rank is determined only by the number of points the player has left once finishing the level as the time left is always the same due to Sonic’s route being pre-programmed. Angel Island Act 2 and Sandopolis Act 1, with their bosses included, are the levels where this challenge takes place

Unlocked after completing 4 other challenges

What is likely the hardest in the game, players must reach (as Sonic) the end of the level but the gravity switching every time they jump. (Not to mention that they still have to go as fast as possible, as the time limit is 5 minutes.

Levels included are Death Egg Act 1 and Lava Reef Act 2. The first ends right before the sub-boss area, while the second ends several steps before triggering the cutscene (where Knuckles smashes you with a boulder right to the boss level). In other words, neither of them have bosses, as it would be impossible to defeat them with the gravity switching, and trying to reach Knuckles’ cutscene in Lava Reef would make you die by ‘falling up’.

Also available after completing a minimum of 4 challenges

Being one of the most creative challenges, players start the level as Sonic or Knuckles but you can transform into the other character whenever you want by pressing A. Simply reach the end of the level and defeat the boss.

The Bodyguard challenges aren’t available until 8 challenges have been completed.

This is another of the most creative challenges, but also one of the hardest. Play as Knuckles with Tails as your partner and reach the end of the level without Tails dying. Rings are shared with him as well as lives. Tails will always try to follow you which means that if either of you get hit, all your rings go to 0. If one person dies, you lose a life even if it was Tails who died. You start with 3 lives. You have 10 full minutes.

Levels included are Mushroom Hill Act 1 and Hydrocity Act 1 along with bosses.**Oddly Mushroom Hill plays Knuckles’ background music and doesn’t show a title card at the beginning, while Hydrocity plays its normal music and displays a title card.

Unlocked with a minimum of 8 completed challenges.

In a race against both the timer and a constantly draining ring counter, the player must hurry to the end of the level while keeping Sonic’s “Rings” meter as high as possible. Much like Super Sonic, he will gradually lose rings, but the more rings you have, the faster they’ll drop; you start with just 10. If you run out of rings, you will lose your current shield (if held) and then a life.

Getting hit and losing all your rings can be really dangerous, but for the few seconds you are invincible (when you’re blinking after being hit) you can recover some rings so you won’t die. Moreover, running out of rings is like being touched by a Badnik or by spikes, as the character doesn’t die right away if they have a shield or if they grab some rings before they stop blinking.

Levels included are Marble Garden Act 1 with boss and Launch Bass Act 2  (entirely until you defeat the first boss).

Unlocked after completing at least 12 other challenges.

Similar to Tag Team, the Double Team challenge involves Sonic and Knuckles working together to reach the end of the level, but each taking their own route. You can switch between both characters by pressing A, which costs 50 rings.

Here, the meaning of switching is that you get warped to the other character’s parallel position in the level, NOT to the beginning of it. Shields are shared between characters. Switching can be performed in the boss area, were it acts like switching on the Tag Team challenge but still costs 50 rings.

Levels included are Carnival Night Act 1 and Lava Reef Act 1 along with bosses.

From the creator of the Gravitation dare, Doctor Ivo Robotnik, here players must control Tails across the whole level, with the condition of not touching the floor with his feet (i.e. running or standing). He must Spin Dash, roll, hang onto handles, and fly until the end to avoid being electrocuted; each time this happens, the player will lose a point from its “Score”, and if they reach 0 points they are returned to the menu. It’s important to note that after being hurt by something else than the floor, you’re invincible for a few seconds and thus the floor doesn’t electrocute you.

Floor in this case means the main level layout, so floating platforms, monitors and several other objects (e.g. magnetic platforms) are fair game. The full 10 minutes are available, so players can take their time to get to the end. Because of this, finishing the level with all “Score” points intact guarantees an excellent S Rank.

Unlocked after completing 16 other challenges.

The goal is the same as the first Time Attack except players must use Knuckles and play through Launch Base Act 1 with boss and Death Egg Act 2 util you defeat the first boss).

After completing the other challenges, players unlock the final showdown of each character against Robotnik’s most intimidating machines.

  • The first Final Battle is unlocked after completing 20 challenges. It features Knuckles and starts in Lava Reef’s Act 2 Boss, then goes through Sonic’s route in Hidden Palace (which includes a battle with a Fake Knuckles) and ends on Knuckles’ Sky Sanctuary level.
  • The second Final Battle is unlocked after completing 24 challenges. It features Sonic and starts with Death Egg’s Act 1 Boss, then goes for a showdown on Death Egg Act 2 with Launch Base’s second and third bosses and ends with Death Egg Zone’s Act 2 second boss.
  • The third and most difficult Final Battle is unlocked by getting an S Rank on every other challenge of the game. It features Tails, riding the Tornado on the Doomsday Zone and chasing after the real final boss of the game, the Egg Missile/Egg Bomber.

Sonic Metropolis Credits

All credit for this mod/ROM hack goes to ColinC10 and any others involved in assisting the developer in this mod creation. 

Information was provided by Sonic Retro. Some info was modified or paraphrased.

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