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Sonic & Knuckles Collection

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Title Screen

Sonic & Knuckles Collection

Developer: H.I.C.[1]
Publisher: Sega[1]
Platform: Windows
Released in JP: February 14, 1997[1]
Released in US: March 20, 1997[1]
Released in EU: March 20, 1997[1]

AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
CharacterIcon.png This game has unused playable characters.
CodeIcon.png This game has unused code.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
LevelSelectIcon.png This game has a hidden level select.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

Sonic & Knuckles Collection is a PC compilation of two halves and their whole.

What's notable is that some of the Sonic 3 music tracks, once thought to be original compositions created for this collection due to copyright issues, actually come from an earlier iteration of the original game's soundtrack before a certain pop star got involved.

Unused Music

General MIDI FM Synthesis

Track #44 in the sound test, which is normally reserved for the miniboss theme in the Genesis version of Sonic 3, plays an entirely different song that isn't used anywhere in the game (this version of Sonic 3 uses the S&K miniboss theme). Interestingly, a prototype of the Genesis version contains this song where the Sonic 3 miniboss theme would normally go as well (the prototype also uses the S&K miniboss theme). The Genesis version of this song would later be used in Sonic Origins for the difficulty rating screen of the New Blue Spheres mode.

Debugging Features

Level Select

In Angel Island Act 1, grab onto a swinging vine, and press Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Right, Up, Up, Up. A ring sound will play if you did it right. Press Alt + R to reset the game and from the title screen press Up to reveal "SOUND TEST" and press Enter. Press Numpad 3 to change your character.

The method of unlocking the Level Select in Sonic 3 & Knuckles apparently works in Sonic 3 alone (a good thing, too, considering it's a lot easier to unlock this way), though Debug Mode won't be unlocked along with it and you can select any Sonic 3 Zone as usual (but not Flying Battery, Mushroom Valley, Sandopolis, or Bonus).

In Sonic & Knuckles, this method must be done on the pulley lifts in Mushroom Hill Zone.

Debug Functions via S3K.ini

Though you can enter the debug menu code in-game, you cannot use any object placement functions as controls are limited to four directions and a single key for jumping. However, you can properly enable it by creating a file named "S3K.ini" in your C:\WINDOWS directory (where C:\ is the main partition used for Windows) and typing the following into the file:


Here's what each of these functions do. Note also that generally "1" means the option is enabled, while "0" means that it is disabled:

  • DebugMode - 1 will fully enable debug mode. When you load up any of the games, you'll start at the Level Select screen instead of the Sega logo. From there, just select any level and it'll be turned on automatically. As with the console versions you get unlimited time, a coordinates display, a sprite counter, and invincibility. When debug functions are enabled, the numeric keypad is mapped to the three buttons on a Mega Drive/Genesis controller, so make sure you have NumLock turned on.
    • Press Numpad 1 to reverse gravity.
    • Press Numpad 2 to toggle object placement mode.
    • In object placement mode, press Numpad 1 to move forward one object.
    • In object placement mode, hold Numpad 1 and press Numpad 3 to move backward one object.
    • In object placement mode, press Numpad 3 to place the selected object.
  • EnableFrameDrop - Sonic & Knuckles Collection is unplayable in windowed mode on computers with a CPU faster than 350 MHz because it lacks a speed-limiting feature in this mode. However, the timings used by fullscreen mode are based on the monitor's refresh rate, so the game can be played at the correct speed at a 60Hz refresh rate on any modern system. Set this to "1" and you can play in windowed mode at a perfectly playable speed.
  • MukaiDropFrame - Basically functions in the reverse fashion of EnableFrameDrop. Leave this one turned off.
  • ShowFrameCount - Displays the FPS in-game when enabled. This will obstruct the game screen, but if debug mode is turned on then the game screen will be shifted down the window to allow the FPS counter to display without covering anything up.
  • EnableFrameCapture - "1" allows you to take a screenshot of the game screen at any time by pressing F9. Screenshots are saved as "Cap(5-digit_number).bmp" in the game's directory.
  • UseModeX - Toggles Mode X on or off.
  • NoSoundEffect - Toggles whether or not sound effects will be disabled.
  • CDCheckEnable - Toggles whether or not the game will check for the S&K Collection CD-ROM. "0" will allow you to play without having to insert the CD!
  • SonicGameMode - Specifies which game will be loaded if "SONIC3K.exe" is directly launched in Windows. "0" loads Sonic 3 & Knuckles, "1" loads Sonic & Knuckles, and "2" loads Sonic 3.
  • BGMMode - Specifies which music setting will be used. "0" disables music, "1" uses FM synthesizer music, and "2" uses general MIDI music.
  • GameMode - Specifies which mode the game will start up in. "0" is the full version, "1" is demo mode, and "2" is trial mode.
    • In demo mode, all controls are disabled so only the title screen and rolling demos can be viewed. Used for demonstration purposes.
    • In trial mode, only the single-player mode of Sonic 3 & Knuckles can be played, and only Angel Island Zone is playable without saving. After clearing Act 2, the game ends with a dialog message, then returns to the title screen.
  • LangMode - Specifies what language the game will use. "0" is English, "1" is French, "2" is German, and "3" is Spanish.

Content Leftovers

Knuckles in Sonic 3

This isn't supposed to happen here...

Sonic 3 had leftover code for Knuckles, who was planned to be playable in the game, but when he was selected you controlled Sonic instead. Because the PC version of Sonic 3 has the S3&K coding (including fixes to bugs that were originally present in the Genesis version of Sonic 3), Knuckles is fully playable in Sonic 3 alone! There are two ways to play as him:

  • Use an external save editor (like this one) to modify SONIC3K.bin and create a save file in Sonic 3 with Knuckles as the chosen character, then you can play as him in Sonic 3. Because Knuckles (and Flying Battery) was planned for and still has existing data in Sonic 3, he is a selectable value in editing saves.
  • Activate the level select code by grabbing one of the rope swings in Angel Island Zone and pressing Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Right, Up, Up, Up. A ring chime will play if entered correctly. Press Alt + R to soft reset the game, then select the Sound Test option in the title screen by pressing Up then Enter. On the level select screen, select Special Stage 1 to be taken to the Blue Sphere menu. Highlight "Code" with Down then press Jump (Default: Enter) to change the selected character to Knuckles. Soft reset the game, then go back to the level select screen. From there, selecting any level within the level select screen (not the main data select screen) will allow you to play as Knuckles in Sonic 3 without modifying any files. However, keep in mind that your progress won't be saved this way.

Unfortunately, because only the Sonic/Tails boss triggers are in place, Knuckles cannot finish Angel Island 2 and Launch Base 1...but his bosses for Angel Island 1 and Marble Garden 2 are in place (they weren't there in the Genesis version). As Knuckles' Launch Base 2 bosses are absent, he must glide over to the Sonic/Tails boss area from his own and fight the final bosses.

After defeating the bosses and watching the Death Egg explode, the game will crash since Knuckles never had an ending programmed for Sonic 3 alone.

(Source: Sonic Retro)

Flying Battery Zone in Sonic 3

Just as originally planned...sort of.

Like with Knuckles, Flying Battery is playable in full form and you can access it. Use an external save editor to make a Sonic 3 save which is set to start at "Zone 5" - Flying Battery, complete with the unused Sonic 3 data select icon.

Flying Battery is the same as Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but in Sonic 3 it's sort of an odd stage, because once you clear it and reset the game will advance you to the "true" Zone 6, which is Ice Cap. Continuing to play the game after this will allow you to play through the remaining Sonic & Knuckles zones in Sonic 3 mode starting with Sandopolis. Clearing these zones will give the player the normal Sonic 3 & Knuckles credits/ending based on how many Emeralds you have, but when you get back to the data select screen the palettes turn pink for some reason, and the save file you used will be redirected to Marble Garden for some stranger reason.

Furthermore, once you beat Flying Battery, it can't be accessed again unless you create another file that can access it.

Incorrect Bonus Stage Palette Cycle

Sonic & Knuckles Collection Sonic & Knuckles
SnKC BonusGS.png SnK BonusGS.png

One of the Bonus Stages, commonly referred to as either the "Glowing Spheres" or "Pachinko" Bonus Stage sports a pink/blue/purple palette cycle for the orbs and the background as opposed to the Genesis version's rainbow palette cycle. This is actually the result of the game reading the compressed palette data (which remains unchanged from the Genesis version) in the incorrect byte order, resulting in the red and blue color values being swapped and the green color values being discarded entirely.

(Source: Sonic Retro)

B&W Death Sprite Glitch


An otherwise unused black & white Sonic death sprite (also found unused in the Genesis version) can be seen via a glitch by defeating the Marble Garden Zone Act 2 boss with Super/Hyper Sonic. As Tails is damaged by Robotnik and drops Sonic, he then cycles through various sprites (including the unused death sprite for a single frame) before hitting Robotnik and returning to normal.

  • This glitch does not work in the Genesis version.

Regional Differences

  • International releases include Sonic the Hedgehog: The Screen Saver, which was sold separately in Japan.