Sonic 3 & Knuckles Bonus Stage FAQ - Guide for Sonic Mega Collection

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Sonic 3 & Knuckles bonus stage FAQ by ulillillia
Questions?  Comments?  E-mail me at [email protected]
FAQ version 1.0
Last updated on Jan 15, 2004 at 10:40 AM Central Time

This FAQ contains a lot of details about the three bonus stages used with Sonic 3 & 
Knuckles.  Features in this FAQ include detailed descriptions of each bonus stage 
explaining their nature and the items.  Others include weird glitches that you can 
use to your advantage with a very detailed desciption on how to use that glitch.  
Strange phenomenon only available with debug mode enabled is also included in it's 
own special section.  Also included is how many rings are needed to access each 
bonus stage.  Below is the table of contents:

1.  The gumball machine stage [from Sonic 3]
  A.  Basics
  B.  The items
2.  The slot machine stage [from Sonic and Knuckles]
  A.  Basics
  B.  The blocks
  C.  Slot values
3.  The glowing spheres stage [from Sonic and Knuckles]
  A.  Basics
  B.  The items
  C.  Strange glitch
4.  The pros and cons between the stages
  A.  Most rings
  B.  Difficulty
  C.  Most one ups
  D.  Continues
5.  Debug mode special features and glitches
  A.  How to enable
  B.  Gumball machine stage
  C.  Slot machine stage
  D.  Glowing Spheres stage
6.  Other notes
  A.  Determining which bonus stage you'll get
  B.  FAQ Update log
  C.  Copyright information

| Section 1:  The gumball machine stage |

A.  Basics

The gumball machine is found only on Sonic 3 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and not in 
Sonic and Knuckles.  In this interesting, highly creative stage, you have a series 
of 4 catapults [also referred to as "springs" from the modern Sonic games, but in 
this FAQ, they are called "catapults"].  On the sides of the walls, you see some 
small yellowish objects.  These spring you to higher levels to turn the handle to 
release a gumball.  Each time the handle is turned, a gumball falls out and drops at 
a steady rate of 2 pixels per frame [this is, if you were to watch this gumball 
slide across the screen from a given start point, it would take just shy of 1.9 
seconds to cross the entire screen if the screen was still].  To collect the gumball 
[one cannot be grabbed], just drop down onto it or touch it in anyway.  The stage 
ends in only one way:  drop below the bottom of the stage without the catapults 
being there.  If you have Tails with Sonic, I highly recommend that you get rid of 
Tails as soon as possible, as he'll waste some of the springs and yellow things 
without your control or permission, and could spill out a solid gumball that'll make 
you exit the stage more quickly.  Without Tails, you'll be in better control and 
could typically stay in the stage nearly twice as long as you would with Tails.

B.  The items

The gumball machine spills out a variety of items ranging from nothing to giving 
rings and even 1ups.  Here's the complete list:

Clear - worth nothing, avoid chasing after this one.
Ring - worth ten extra rings, worth going after if you have all Chaos or Super 
1up - does what it says, gives one free extra life.
Red B - gives a fire shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.
Yellow B - gives a magnetic shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.
Blue B - gives a bubble shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.
Solid - these cannot be grabbed, attempts to grab it will throw you off in another 
direction, opposite of the point in which you touched it [that is, if you touch the 
top going down, you'll get thrown up].  Use these wisely to bounce off of them to 
spin the handle again in hopes for rings, a 1up or something else you want more.
Rep - replaces the catapults below giving you an extra chance.

| Section 2:  The slot machine stage |

A.  Basics

The slot machine stage is a cross between Sonic 1's special stage and Sonic 2's 
casino night zone.  That is, it's a rotating field with a slot machine in the 
center.  When you first start the stage, don't mess with the controls as you'll 
automatically get a free chance at the machine.  Once your character enters the slot 
machine, the machine starts spinning and selecting all on it's own [the manual lies, 
pressing A, B, or C [or B, A, and X respectively on the Gamecube controller] doesn't 
do anything but allow you to jump and nothing with the machine.].  Once the machine 
finishes, you may get something, and if you don't get anything or after it gives 
whatever, you'll automatically drop from the machine.  To replay the machine, simply 
get into the slot again and it'll go again.  If you want to avoid the machine as 
much as possible, get into the small packets where the rings are and collect the 24 
that are available.  These rings are the only way to get a continue.

To exit this stage, there are two ways.  First, find one of the goal areas and jump 
onto one of those blocks to exit.  Second, stand on one of the blocks that flashes 
colors for a long enough time and it'll eventually change into a goal making you 
leave the stage.

To stay in this stage the longest to activate the machine the greatest number of 
times, when your character gets launched from the machine after using it, jump 
immediately when he hits the color-changing blocks below.

B.  The blocks

This stage has a few blocks to either help or harm your progress.  Here's the list 
of each:

Glass octagon - activates the slot machine - the key to this stage
Blue, yellow, and red blocks - for landing on, but stay on them too long and they'll 
turn into a goal block!  Blue means that 3 touches or 3 seconds remain to the goal 
formation, yellow for 2 and red for 1.
Goal block - these blocks are used to exit this stage.  Without them, the stage 
would never end.
Spinning wheel - resembles the colored blocks, but you don't have the fear of them 
changing into a goal block.  Use these as a stepping stone to reach the machine at 
the center or to collect the 24 rings around the central area in hopes for the 
Star block - these bump you in the opposite direction of the impact point.  Be 
careful around these or you may end up out of control.
R block - reverses the current rotation [from clockwise to counterclockwise and back 

C.  Slot values

The slot machine has a good combo of goodies, but one not worth entering this stage 
for.  Here's a list on what each is worth when you get them in the machine:

3 Ring - 10 rings
3 Sonic - 30 rings
3 Tails - 20 rings
3 Knuckles - 25 rings
3 Bar - 8 rings
3 Jackpot - 100 rings
3 robotnik - lose 100 rings - the fear of this stage
1 jackpot and 2 ring - 20 rings
1 jackpot and 2 sonic - 60 rings
1 jackpot and 2 tails - 40 rings
1 jackpot and 2 knuckles - 50 rings
1 jackpot and 2 bar - 16 rings [? never got this, predicted given the patterns shown]
1 jackpot and 2 robotniks - lose 100 rings [be lucky it isn't 200 knowing this 
2 jackpot and 1 ring - 40 rings
2 jackpot and 1 sonic - 120 rings [even more powerful than the jackpot!?  Weird!]
2 jackpot and 1 tails - 80 rings
2 jackpot and 1 knuckles - 100 rings [as good as the jackpot]
2 jackpot and 1 bar - 32 rings [? never got this, predicted given the patterns shown]
2 jackpot and 1 robotnik - lose 100 rings [lucky enough that it isn't 400!]
1 bar and junk* - 2 rings
2 bar and junk - 4 ring
All junk - nothing

*  "junk" refers to having nothing like, for example, ring, robotnik, tails, which 
gives nothing.  "Junk" may include things that weaken an effect, particularly with 
the "bar" item.

| Section 3:  The glowing spheres stage |

A.  Basics

This stage is my favorite [because I always seem to get the super form or hyper form 
quite easily, Super form by Hydrocity 2, Hyper form usually before Lava Reef], thus 
I know a lot about it.  The glowing spheres stage is the most related to the normal 
levels.  You have the same acceleration and controls [minus jumping], Tails can die 
and revive exactly like that of the normal levels, the only real difference between 
normal levels and this bonus stage is it's concept.  Upon entering this stage, you 
start on the very bottom and drop down onto the rapidly flashing, colorful spheres.  
On these spheres, the controls are simple.  Use the directional pad to control the 
direction of aim, and the jump button to launch off from these.  To have maximum 
speed, jump when the character is in the very center of the sphere.  Above these 
start spheres, you'll see a variety of objects:  flippers [when you land on one, 
just like pinball, use the jump button to lauch up higher], stars [these bump you 
off them opposite the direction of impact], and tiny glowing spheres.  In this 
stage, your goal is to touch the small glowing spheres to receive a random gumball 
increasing in effectiveness as you climb up.  Creeping up from below is the exit 
portal, fall in and you exit the stage.  The other way to exit the stage is by 
getting up to the very top of the stage and attempting to go past it.  If you have 
Tails with Sonic, Tails, here, isn't much of a worry, just dumb enough to fall into 
the exit portal below or, if you're far enough above it, die [this is explained 
later on how this happens].  Though, if you move fast enough, Tails would be a 
minimal worry.  Though, if you're not careful enough, Tails may end up getting you 
something you don't want, and Tails, whether hitting the exit portal or dying, will 
automatically revive [just like the main levels] after roughly 8 seconds of being 

B.  The items

This stage has an odd feature that makes it very tempting:  as you go up, the value 
of the items increases exponentially.  The rings are the primary example.  Here's a 
list of what you'll expect:

Ring - worth from 5 rings when low to 10, 20, 30, 35, 40, 50 and eventually 80 on 
the very top increasing as you go up [the top four alone can give 250 easy rings in 
less than 20 seconds even!].  If you have all the Chaos Emeralds or all Super 
Emeralds, these 250 rings would allow more than 4 extra MINUTES of the super or 
hyper form, even without collecting extra rings in the main stages.
Clear - worth nothing, just ignore these and continue on normally. - These no longer 
appear past 50% of the way to the top, past the point in which rings give 35 at once.
1up - does what it says, gives one free extra life - these are only available when 
you're about 50% of the way to the top, just past the point in which rings give 35 
at once.
Red B - gives a fire shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.
Yellow B - gives a magnetic shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.  - These are most common around the 20 to 35 ring range, 
otherwise rare.
Blue B - gives a bubble shield.  If you already have a shield, getting this will 
replace the old one.
Solid - of minimal use, useful for bouncing off of to get elsewhere more quickly.  
These do not appear when past the 60% mark, where rings give around 40 at once.

C.  Strange glitch

Good as this stage is, it IS very possible to stay in this stage for even 20 
minutes, possibly even 40 minutes!  Though enforcing the glitch is hard to pull off, 
you need to have very good maneuvering skills, and good timing to allow for you to 
have a lot of speed.  Here's how to pull off the glitch [note, Tails, if you have 
him with Sonic, will not hamper the chances of success if you ignore him]:

1.  Know the background music for this stage well.  It can be a very powerful timing 
tool.  When the main theme of the song changes to some other part, that's your cue.  
1ups, if you got any, will weaken this effect, so it may take quite a bit of time to 
adjust to.
2.  Once you know the background music well enough, enter this stage then start 
climbing up to the very top grabbing as much stuff as you can as quickly as 
possible.  Do not exit by going past the top.
3.  Land on the top most large sphere and adjust your character so that, when he 
goes down, goes very slightly to the left on this sphere.
4.  Wait for the cue in the background music, then launch off this sphere at the 
quickest possible going straight down, not up.
5.  The tricky part now is control.  You need to evade all glowing spheres below you 
and all bumpers.  Upon the launch, start by moving your character to the left for 
about a half a second to a full second.
6.  After this, quickly shift to going to the right to evade colliding with the 
spheres.  Once past these, the character will start falling off the screen [from 
going too fast], but the moment you pass these, go to the left as much as you can.  
If you're lucky, you'll pass right through the exit portal not exitting the stage.
7.  Then, wait for a while, usually go back down some and try to activate the small 
glowing spheres to gain extra items.  After roughly two minutes, you're free to roam 
the area and practice this maneuver evading the glowing spheres and the stars.  This 
trick is very hard to get it to work, and the more speed you have, the greater your 
chances.  I myself, having done this about 200 times [attempts], about 10 to 15 of 
which have worked, just to give you an idea on how challenging it is.  This 200 
count refers to successful evading only.  Without successful evading, it's around 
300 counts [for beginners, it's likely to be around 600 for the same 10 to 15 
8.  You can play around in the stage all you want for about 19 minutes or so.  Past 
that, you can either repeat this process to gain another 19 minutes, with the same 
low chances, or just exit all together.  You don't have to worry about dying from 
wasting too much time, there is no time limit.  If you don't want to wait 19 
minutes, use the alternative exit:  go past the top of the stage.

WARNING:  if you drop down too low, you'll not only just lose a life [unless you 
have debug enabled and use it to cancel the loss of life], you lose all rings you 
had [unless, of course, you have debug enabled and cancelled this loss], no matter 
how many the screen says when you reenter the main game's current stage.

| Section 4:  The pros and cons between the stages |

A.  Most rings

This one is more of a tie between the slot machine stage and the glowing spheres 
stage.  The slot machine stage, provided you get a lot of jackpots [especially the 2 
jackpot 1 sonic combo], is worth a lot more than the glowing spheres stage, however, 
the fear of losing 100 rings instantly from getting 3 robotniks makes the slot 
machine stage the most variant.  At times, I've had a grand loss of over 300 rings 
and a grand gain of over 250 rings, however, if it's rings you're after with minimal 
worry of losing them, the glowing spheres stage is the best.  To get the most rings 
for the glowing spheres stage, the top two are key.  For the one on the left, keep 
activating it until you get rings, pause the game if you need to to see what you 
got.  If it's a 1up you got when it was activated, avoid it, drop down onto the 
glowing sphere just below and try again.  80 easy rings isn't worth giving up for a 
dumb 1up, especially if you've maxed your lives at 99, or rarely use them.  The one 
on the far right worth 80 is far harder to avoid, sometimes can be hard to even 
get.  The best way to ensure accuracy on this one is to take it slow.  Launch up 
carefully from the glowing spheres below and use the stars to bounce around.  
Usually, for this one, provided I got the rings quickly for the left one, I ignore 
1ups and give it another go.  Below these 2 powerful ones, you'll find another one 
worth 50 rings.  Usually, this one I don't care much for what I get, except the fire 
shield as that I ignore.  Upon the usual climb up, you could pick up a good 100 to 
150 rings prior to these huge ones above anyway.

B.  Difficulty

The easiest stage is the gumball machine one, only need to travel from left to 
right, nothing special.  Though, for taking it easy, you don't get much credit.  
Just some shield swapping and at most 40 rings and a lucky 1up if any is all.  The 
glowing spheres stage is, by far, the hardest to deal with, but the most rewarding.  
The slot machine one is in the middle and it's of more of a disadvantage overall 
than most anything else.

C.  Most 1ups

The glowing spheres stage has a maximum of 6 to 8 1ups, not including those from 
getting rings.  The slot machine stage is strictly based on ring 1ups, useless if 
you have more than 200 rings [even if you lose some to go below, you won't get 1ups 
from gaining back 200 again].  The gumball machine has about 1 that's typical, 
though, I've seen it give two before.  The 1up  in the gumball machine stage usually 
appears when you've been in the stage for at least 30 seconds, possibly 20 on the 
low end.

D.  Continues

Yet another lie in the manual.  The manual states that you can get continues in the 
bonus and special stages, however, that's ONE of the 3 bonus stages.  The manual 
indirectly relates to all bonus stages, not just one.  The one stage is the slot 
machine one, but to get it, you need to collect the little rings halfway to the slot 
machine in the corners when you have 50 of them.  I never use continues [in fact, I 
don't even know what the continue screen looks like either for any of the Sonic 
games except Mean Bean Machine] as I always seem to have 40 lives by the start of 
Carnival Night Zone [provided I use the bonus stages, otherwise, it's usually around 
20 lives by Carnival Night Zone].  The Sonic games are too easy, so easy that I 
kinda forced myself into developing some much more difficult challenges:  usually 
hunting for bugs.

Below is a table to compare each feature to help you decide which bonus stage is the 

| feature    | Gumball Machine |   Slot Machine    | Glowing Spheres |
| Most rings |   at most 40    |   -300 to +300    |   300 or more   |
| Difficulty |  1.8 - Easy**   | 2.6 - Easy-medium |   5.6 - Hard    |
| Most 1ups* |    at most 2    |         0         |     6 to 8      |
| Continues  |       no        |       1 max       |       no        |

Table footnotes:

*  Does not include 1ups from rings
**  This is a precise numerical scale with it's corresponding word value.  0=given - 
no work neccessary to complete, 1=Very easy, 2=Easy, 3=Easy-medium, 4=Medium, 
5=Medium-hard, 6=Hard, 7=Very Hard, 8=Impossible - cannot be done.

| Section 5:  Debug mode special features and glitches |

Debug mode is my favorite feature in the classic Sonic games and it's what gave me 
the interest to develop my own game!  Debug mode is just that, it allows you to add 
objects to the level however and whereever you'd like, almost as if you were 
building the level yourself.

A.  How to enable

Debug mode is quick and quite easy to enable.  First, enter 1 player mode and select 
Zone 1, Angelisland Zone.  Find the swinging vines on the low course after two sets 
of spikes and grab on.  While hanging on, press left three times, right three times, 
then up three times.  You should hear the same sound as if you collected a ring.  
Pause it and press B.  On the main menu, go below the "competition" to find "Sound 
test".  Enter this to find the level select screen.  Then, select mushroom hill Zone 
act 1, and find a pulley within this act.  If you use Sonic, it'd be easier [press X 
to change the number on the level select screen to 00 or 01 [02 [Tails] would work 
also]] and likely quicker unless you know how to glide-hop with Knuckles.  If you 
follow the low path with Sonic, you'll find one after the speed shoes icon and the 
mad mole.  Grab onto it and press left three times, right three times, then up three 
times as before.  Again, you should hear the same sound as if you collected a ring.  
Pause it and press B to exit.  Enter the sound test option and choose one of the *2* 
bonus stages.  To choose with debug enabled, press and hold B then hit start holding 
these two until you see your character.  Press A to enter debug, B to change 
objects, and X to place that object in your current location.  In the bonus stages, 
you cannot see the coordinates because you cannot see the score.

B.  Gumball Machine stage [You can only access this stage via a starpost, see the 
ring requirements to maximize your chances of getting this stage to all the time].

Debug in the gumball machine stage is fun if you have Sonic and Tails together.  If 
you use debug just right, you can make Tails jump around needlessly by spikes 
causing him to spin the handle releasing a gumball every time.  Though it is very 
hard to set up and fails often, here's the process to maximize your chances, 
sometimes, you need to be fast like Sonic.

1.  Upon entering, only accessible via using the star posts, don't do anything until 
Sonic drops down with Tails on the catapults below.  Upon impact, quickly enter 
debug, change to the catapult that points down, and place it where Tails started, 
get above it and exit debug BEFORE Tails lands, otherwise Tails would disappear for 
good until you reenter the stage.  This is the second hardest part.  Tip:  Before 
entering this stage, enter debug, and scroll through the list of items until you 
come across the ring and advance to the up-facing catapult.
2.  Once Tails is firmly on the catapult, wait about 1 second doing nothing, then 
enter debug standing still with Tails still on the catapult.
3.  Place a row of catapults leaving a small gap on either side, preferrably the 
right side as you can control the width better, too wide, and you may fall through, 
too narrow, and you may not be able to do what is needed in step 4.
4.  Switch to the catapult pointing straight up and place one a little lower than 
the rest of the catapults.  This catapult would be used for shooting Sonic and Tails 
up to removing the yellow things.
5.  Return to the down catapult object and place an extra row of these below.  To 
optimize it, position the catapult so that it matches the exact height of the upper 
ones, and tap down on the control pad ten times.  Place these catapults here.  Doing 
so, in case if you end up directly under the solid gumballs, you won't unexpectedly 
fall though, [add a third layer if needed].
6.  With the same down catapult, move it to the far left side where the wall of 
yellow things are.  Place one on the bottom of the 3rd yellow thing from the bottom 
then another on the top.  This prevents it from being activated to keep the slot 
machine high giving you plenty of maneuvering room.  If you provide some space above 
the top of the yellow thing and some below, that's better and preferred.  The small 
gap between the catapults is no worry, you cannot fit through them by a long ways.
7.  Return to a position a little above the catapults and exit debug.  Then, the 
hardest part comes.
8.  With Tails' unexpected help, you need to remove all of the yellow things all 
without losing Tails [Tails may be off screen, but more than 5 seconds off screen 
calls for the risk of losing him for good, thus having to restart this process.
9.  After completing the hardest part, especially the top yellow things, the slot 
machine will come all the way down to the point in which the inaccessible yellow 
thing was blocked off in step 6 above.  Without that yellow thing, the machine would 
fall a lot more making it impossible to maneuver around well, which is why step 6 
was essential.
10. For more fun, especially with all those shields popping out.  Stop all movement 
and wait for Tails to come close to Sonic.  Enter debug, change to the spikes, and 
place them at a position so that the tops of the spikes are just above the tops of 
the catapults, preferrably so that the tops of the catapults are centered with the 
spikes and so that the spikes are partially into the wall leaving the left half 
11. Using those spikes in step ten, place a row of them so that the tops of the 
spikes are a little below the bottom of the handle of the gumball machine [about 
half the height of the spikes is preferred].  Placing these spikes can be difficult, 
but, if you look carefully enough, and know how you're placing them, taking the 
shadow left behind as a hint, this shouldn't be that much of a problem.
12. Finally, the game's about to begin!  Go back down where the lower, now enclosed 
area is and exit debug.  Wait for Tails to come by and jump.  Upon jumping, enter 
debug really quick when Tails jumps, wait for Tails to reach the highest point of 
his jump, exit debug, press B to flip upsidedown, enter debug, wait for Tails to get 
above those spikes, exit debug and quickly press B again to flip back to normal with 
Tails now jumping around on the spikes spinning the handle repeatedly.

The fun part now is collecting all those goodies.  Collect all shields you can and 
get rid of them as quickly as you can via the spikes on the lower area preset in 
step 10 above.  Collect as many goodies from this as you can.  With a little 
creativity skills, you can develop your own games from this!  If you ever do get 
bored of this, you can always enter debug at any time, and drop down to exit this 
stage.  If you ever do get bored, you could try this idea to really show Sonic can 
go hypersonic:

At any time, whether you just entered this stage or otherwise with any character, 
immediately press B to flip upsidedown and watch the character accelerate upwards 
like crazy.  Eventually, like the Metropolis Endless Fall glitch I submitted, you'll 
reach the fastest possible speed, the 128 pixels per frame speed, then suddenly, 
you'll go in the opposite direction you were going in!

C.  Slot Machine Stage [Bonus stage number 2 on the level select screen]

Debug mode in the slot machine stage is much different.  After a little roataion 
with the area, the controls in debug are confusing.  Press down, you go at a 45° 
angle to the up and left?  Weird.  However, there is something truly interesting 
that makes using debug in this stage worth checking out.  Here's two I know of so 

Upon entering the stage, quickly enter debug mode.  In debug mode, the stage will 
not rotate until you exit.  With good controls [up is up, left is left, etc.], move 
up to the very top just outside the area and position Sonic so that he's on those 
color-changing blocks., especially in a combo exactly like this diagram shows:

       -- ------
      |  ||    |
       -- |    |
|    |    |
|    |    |

In this diagram, the small block represents your character, and the 3 squares 
represents the block combo to look for.  Exit debug to land on them from a little 
above them [the object you use makes no difference].  Your character will drop onto 
these blocks.  Listen to the sounds made.  After you hear the third one after the 
board rotates like 60° or so, jump before the goals appear and head to the right 
avoiding those goals.  Then, wait about 4 to 5 seconds and eventually, you'll see 
the character go past the top of the screen.  Once he does so, you'll see a world of 
completely randomized objects!  Here, the blocks, despite the strange sounds they 
make, never change and collected rings never disappear.  If you land in a good spot, 
there's an area in which a ring in on one of those color-changing blocks, but if you 
try to collect it, strangely enough, you'll see that your ring count counts 
extremely fast, 1 time each frame that goes by [1 second would deal you 60 rings!].  
Be careful of those star blocks, they don't follow the rules as they should, 
instead, they only send you in one direction, even if it's right through the 
object!  If you ever get stuck, or want to exit this area, just enter debug to watch 
everything suddenly disappear.

The second area is similar to the first, but everything is in full working order 
[that is, the stars send you in the direction opposite of impact and rings disappear 
once you get them], however there's something strange about this world!  To see this 
wacky world, as you first enter the stage with the correct controls [up is up, left 
is left, etc.], enter debug immediately.  Hold down while in debug [the object makes 
no difference], and, eventually, you'll see a mess of objects all quite scattered 
around but in interesting patterns unlike the first world where everything is 
random.  The weird feature of this world is that some blocks change their looks each 
time you change your position!  If you find a block, while playing around in this 
area that changes very rapidly, this is that block.  Enter debug if you aren't in 
debug already, and tap the directional pad in any direction, and the block will 
change to something else.  Tap it again, and the block will change once again.  
Repeat to see all objects in this particular bonus stage.

D.  Glowing Spheres Stage [Bonus stage number 1 on the level select screen]

Despite the fact that I know this stage the most, there really isn't much of a treat 
with debug mode.  There are three things, to consider, however, they are not as good 
as any other feature listed above.

1.  Upon entering this stage, enter debug, scroll down to where the exit portal is, 
exit debug, fall into this exit portal, enter debug quickly, go up, and exit 
quickly, entering again as soon as you exit debug, and the exit portal will never 
start to rise.  Proceed normally otherwise without worries of the exit portal 
getting you.  If Tails falls into it when Sonic and Tails are together, the exit 
portal won't be affected.

2.  When you reach the top, either via the normal procedure or by debug, place one 
of those gray platforms and land on it.  Change your item to the small glowing 
spheres and place a bunch of them.  Exit debug, and jump up and down over these like 
crazy to almost instantly max the rings out and/or get tons of 1ups.  If you do this 
enough, you'll see some strange notations in the lives menu, even have 0 lives left 
without a gameover [however, you cannot pause the game when you have 0 left.]  With 
debug, you are immune to the exit portal.  If it comes up too close, just enter 
debug, and wait for it to pass by.

3.  The third thing deals with Tails when you have Sonic and Tails together.  Ever 
wonder why I mentioned "die" when describing this stage earlier above?  Here's why 
it happens:

1.  If you use feature 1 listed just above to stop the exit portal, you'll 
understand this better and have a greater chance for success.  Also, you could wait 
about a minute or so to let it pass by you in debug giving you a 100% chance of this.
2.  Enter debug and go to the very top of the stage.
3.  Place that gray platform at a point just above the top of the highest large 
glowing sphere and a little ways to the left of it.  Go up on top of it via debug 
and exit debug.
4.  Wait for Tails to come flying down.
5.  Jump up when Tails lands swinging back and forth repeatedly on the control pad 
to lure Tails further to the left.  Eventually, Tails will miss the platform and 
fall a long ways.  After about 4 seconds or so, gaining tons of speed [about 48 
pixels per frame [estimated by some formulas I have of this game] or about 3/4 the 
height of the large glowing spheres moved in 1/60 of a second], Tails will either 
fall through the exit portal as explained in the glitch in Section 3 and die because 
of the bottomless pit, or, by about a 1 in 2 chance, end up in the exit portal [the 
chances are actually either all the time or never, determined by the placement of 
your object and how high you jump].

| Section 6:  Other notes |

A.  Determining which bonus stage you'll get

This time, the manual is mostly correct with one small error, the bonus stage is 
determined by the number of rings you have when you activate a star post.  The only 
exception to this is when you have Hyper Sonic or Hyper Knuckles [and a wall].  
However, because the manual has nothing to do with the Hyper forms, only possible in 
Sonic 3 and Knuckles taking no special note on it, I'd say that the manual is fully 
correct instead.  The colored stars above tell you what bonus stage you get.  White 
leads you to the gumball machine, yellow leads you to the slot machine stage and red 
leads you to the glowing spheres stage.

If the manual does say that it is determined by how many rings you have when a star 
post is activated, just how many is needed for each?  The pattern is simple enough 
as it is adding 45 each step as your ring count increases.  However, I almost never 
play Sonic and Knuckles as one game, so these values only refer to Sonic 3 & 

Slot Machine stage:

To activate the slot machine stage via starposts, you need any of these combos of 
rings when you touch the star post:

20 to 34, 65 to 79, 110 to 124, 155 to 169, 200 to 214, 245 to 259, 290 to 304, 335 
to 349, 380 to 384, 425 to 439, 470 to 484, 515 to 529, 560 to 574, 605 to 619, 650 
to 664, 695 to 709, 740 to 754, 785 to 799, 830 to 844, 875 to 889, 920 to 934, or 
from 965 to 979.  You cannot have more than 999 rings [unless you place a lot of 
those S icons, however, I'm not going to extend this to 65,535 anyway as it's 

Glowing Spheres stage:

The glowing spheres stage is activated when you touch a starpost having these ranges 
of rings:

35 to 49, 80 to 94, 125 to 139, 170 to 184, 215 to 229, 260 to 274, 305 to 319, 350 
to 364, 395 to 409, 440 to 454, 485 to 499, 530 to 544, 575 to 589, 620 to 634, 665 
to 679, 710 to 724, 755 to 769, 800 to 814, 845 to 859, 890 to 904, 935 to 949, or 
from 980 to 994.

The Gumball Machine stage:

This stage is accessible from any ring ranges not in the list above when touching a 
star post.  The remaining ones are:

50 to 64, 95 to 109, 140 to 154, 185 to 199, 230 to 244, 275 to 289, 320 to 334, 365 
to 380, 410 to 424, 455 to 469, 500 to 514, 545 to 559, 590 to 604, 635 to 649, 680 
to 694, 725 to 739, 770 to 784, 815 to 829, 860 to 874, 905 to 919, 950 to 964 or 
from 995 to 999

If you love getting rings to keep the super or hyper form active, this is the way to 
go to determine which you'll get.  You can enhance your chances if you have the 
hyper forms.  With Hyper Sonic, it's easy, but with Hyper Knuckles, it requires a 
wall and a fair distance to it, but close enough so that the stars remain on 
screen.  Let's say that you activate a star post with 54 rings and want the Glowing 
Spheres stage and have Hyper Sonic.  All you need to do is wait until the ring count 
gets less than 50, like 49, jump up away from the stars then use the jump button 
again to enter the Glowing Spheres stage.  If you Have Hyper Knuckles under these 
same conditions, you need a wall.  Like with Hyper Sonic, wait until the ring count 
goes below 50, which turns into a new category as from the list above.  Once the 
ring count drops below 50, jump up and glide into the wall to cause a big slam.  I 
believe that this is one of the 25 or so glitches in the game [almost all require 
debug in order to encounter].  With the normal form, or the super form, you'll have 
to wait until the ring count gets into the range of you wanted bonus stage before 
activating the starpost, then jump up into the stars above.  The method with the 
normal form and super forms also is workable with the Hyper forms and is the 
preferred method.  Use the special method if you accidentally activate one a little 

B.  FAQ update log

This FAQ was created on my system on Jan 15, 2004 at 10:40 AM.  There have been no 
updates made since.

C.  Copyright information

You may use this bonus stage FAQ, any part or all of it at your own will, provided 
you meet these two conditions:  You give credit to me, and, if you have a website 
highly related to video games, and want to use part or all of this it on that 
website, post a link to my site at on that page [unless your 
hosting service does not allow it, if so, you may not post any part of this, though 
you may still E-mail it provided you give me credit for it].

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