Green Hill Zone

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Green Hill Zone
Sonic the Hedgehog location
Green Hill Zone as it appears in the original Sonic the Hedgehog
First appearanceSonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Created byNaoto Ohshima, Jina Ishiwatari, Hirokazu Yasuhara[1]
CharactersSonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman

Green Hill Zone[a] (or simply Green Hill) is the first level of the platform game Sonic the Hedgehog, which released for the Sega Genesis in 1991. The level is grassy and lush, with environmental features such as palm trees, vertical loops and cliffs, and is the home of numerous forest animals. Like the game's other levels, Green Hill comprises 3 acts; in the third, Sonic fights antagonist Doctor Eggman before moving to the second level, Marble Zone. It was constructed by level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara with its musical theme by Masato Nakamura.

Green Hill Zone is considered to be a video game classic; the level and its music have also received positive opinions from critics. It has appeared in other games in the series, such as Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Generations, Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces, and Sonic Frontiers. Critics have noted a Green Hill-like aesthetic in levels of other games.


Green Hill is the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog. Located on South Island,[2]: 4  it is a lush, grassy stage with unique features like droopy palm trees[3] and crumbling cliffs.[2]: 7  In addition, as with later levels in the game, Green Hill has environmental features and obstacles like ramps,[3] vertical loops, tunnels, spring-boards, spikes,[2]: 7  and checkpoints.[2]: 5  It is normally populated by woodland creatures, but antagonist Doctor Eggman imprisons them inside robots known as Badniks prior to the events of the game, so the player must destroy them to free the animals.[2]: 2  Green Hill consists of three acts, and the end of Act 3 features a boss battle with Robotnik.[2]: 10  After beating Robotnik, Sonic moves on to the second level, the lava-themed Marble Zone.[2]: 7 


Sonic the Hedgehog was created by the newly formed Sonic Team, a 15-member Sega subsidiary formed to create a character that could compete with Nintendo's Mario. The game's level design was handled by Hirokazu Yasuhara,[4] and the musical theme was composed by Masato Nakamura from the Japanese band Dreams Come True.[5] In designing Green Hill, Yasuhara was inspired by the U.S. state of California, while the game's color scheme in general was influenced by the work of pop artist Eizin Suzuki.[6]

The game's programmer, Yuji Naka, stated that it took him almost a year to create Green Hill and that it was created and destroyed multiple times before arriving at the final version.[7]


Green Hill as it appears in 3D ("Modern") form in Sonic Generations

While the original game was a 2D side-scroller, Green Hill was remade in full 3D as a secret level in the 2001 game Sonic Adventure 2; the player unlocks it after collecting all 180 of the emblems found by completing the game's many objectives.[8] The 2011 game Sonic Generations, a title that revisits past entries in the Sonic series, features both 2D ("Classic") and 3D ("Modern") versions of Green Hill, as well as of numerous other Sonic levels.[9] A reinterpretation of the level appears in the 2017 title Sonic Mania.[10] Green Hill reappears in Sonic Forces, having partially turned to desert due to resource depletion by Eggman's industries.[11] Digital recreations of Green Hill appear in the 2022 game Sonic Frontiers as part of the game's Cyber Space levels.[1]

In addition, Green Hill appears as a stage in the 2.5D fighting game Sonic Battle,[12] in the tennis video game Sega Superstars Tennis, in the sports video game Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, in the mobile title Sonic Dash, in the crossover adventure game Lego Dimensions, and in the crossover fighting games Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax and the Super Smash Bros. series.[13][14] In the 2020 film Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill is depicted as Sonic's original home.[15] The film also features Sonic living a small town in Montana named Green Hills.[citation needed]


A Lego Ideas set based on the level was released on January 1, 2022.[16][17][18][19] It received mixed reception from Alice Clarke of Kotaku, who called it "not the most thrilling build", remarking that its price was high, but that Sonic fans would love it.[20]


Green Hill Zone has been recognized by critics as a classic, well-known video game level. It has been described as "classic" by Samit Sarkar of Polygon and by Jim Sterling and Chris Carter of Destructoid.[21][22][23] Comparably, Joe Skrebels of Official Nintendo Magazine called it "nostalgic",[24] while Christopher Grant from Joystiq considered it to have a place "in the center of your retro-gaming shrine".[25] Kevin Wong of Complex stated that the game's and level's popularity were such that "even if you didn't have a Genesis, this was the level you played at the department store while your parents went shopping."[26] Craig Snyder at MakeUseOf named the level as one of the five best levels in video games, calling it "a great way to prepare for what’s to come".[27]

The level's background music was particularly noted as memorable. Andy Kelly from Computer and Video Games called the Green Hill theme a "monumental slice of Sega nostalgia",[5] and GamesRadar writer Justin Towell also referred to it as classic.[28] Game Informer's Tim Turi found the level's music "catchy",[29] and Wong ranked it as the thirteenth greatest piece of gaming music from the 16-bit era.[26]


Later Sonic games often included callbacks to Green Hill. Turi noted that Emerald Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Mushroom Hill from Sonic & Knuckles, and Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes all fit the same general mold as Green Hill, claiming that "gamers have played Green Hill Zone dozens of times." However, he opined that the Sonic Generations version of the original Green Hill "trounces them all" in both its 2D and 3D incarnations.[29] Justin Baker of Nintendo World Report and Skrebels both analogized Windy Hill from Sonic Lost World to Green Hill,[30][24] while Carter thought similarly of The Legend of Zelda downloadable content levels.[21] The decision to include Green Hill in other games in the series, such as Sonic Forces, has been a source of debate among some fans, who believe that Sega has overused the stage since its debut.[31]

The version of Green Hill featured in Sonic Mania became one of that game's most "hotly contested" speedrun courses due to its added complexity in comparison to the original. The fastest route through the level was noted as constantly shifting between the top, middle, or bottom segments as speedrunners further optimized the path. Trihex, a notable speedrunner, called the level "a monster" due to its difficulty, including timed platforms.[32]

To mark Sonic's fifteenth anniversary in 2006, Sega released a papercraft version of Green Hill as a PDF on its website.[25] In 2011, not long after the release of Sonic Generations, Sega held a contest inviting gamers to upload YouTube video playthroughs of the game's 3D version of Green Hill completed in less than one minute and fifty seconds; winners were eligible for Sonic merchandise.[33]

During the 30th anniversary of Sonic, Nakamura and Dreams Come True released "Tsugi no Se~no! De - On The Green Hill - DCT version", a single of the Green Hill Zone theme which introduced lyrics to the theme for the first time was released on July 7, 2021. A music video followed just a few months after the single's release in September of that year.[34][35] An alternate version of the track with more Genesis/Megadrive sounding instruments was released sometime after the single and was titled the "Masado & Miwasco version".[36]


  1. ^ Japanese: グリーンヒルゾーン, Hepburn: Gurīn Hiru Zōn

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Staff (August 2003). "Sonic's Architect: GI Interviews Hirokazu Yasuhara". Game Informer. Vol. 13, no. 124. pp. 114–116.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sonic the Hedgehog (manual booklet) (in Japanese). 1991.
  3. ^ a b Buchanan, Levi (August 12, 2010). "Who Wants to Work in the Green Hill Zone?". IGN. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Sam. "Sonic Boom". Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Kelly, Andy (April 28, 2012). "Video game soundtracks: The 100 best themes of all time (Part 1)". Computer and Video Games. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  6. ^ "The Making of Sonic the Hedgehog". Retro Gamer (100): 46–49. February 2012.
  7. ^ "Book of Genesis". Edge (272): 89. November 2014 – via Internet Archive.
  8. ^ Sega Studio USA (June 19, 2001). Sonic Adventure 2. Sega. Level/area: Green Hill. Caption: Extra Stage: Green Hill
  9. ^ Sterling, Jim (October 31, 2011). "Review: Sonic Generations". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  10. ^ Paget, Mat (July 23, 2016). "Two New Sonic Games Announced, Seek to Recapture the Glory Days". Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  11. ^ Sonic the Hedgehog (April 25, 2017). "Sonic Forces - Classic Sonic Green Hill Gameplay" – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Sonic Team (January 5, 2004). Sonic Battle. THQ. Level/area: Stage select screen. Description: MAP: GREEN HILL
  13. ^ Sora, Ltd. (March 9, 2008). Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nintendo. Level/area: Stage select screen. Description: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: GREEN HILL ZONE
  14. ^ Bandai Namco Games Inc. (October 3, 2014). Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo. Level/area: Stage select screen. Description: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: GREEN HILL ZONE
  15. ^ Tyler Fischer (November 12, 2019). "Sonic the Hedgehog Trailer Reveals First Look at Green Hill Zone" – via
  16. ^ Lego Group (December 28, 2021). "From Players to Builders: The new LEGO® Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog™ Green Hill Zone set offers fans a fun run of nostalgia". Lego. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  17. ^ LEGO Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone 21331 Designer Video. January 14, 2022 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "LEGO Ideas Second 2020 Review Results". Lego Ideas. 4 February 2021. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  19. ^ "Sonic the Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone 21331". Lego. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  20. ^ Clarke, Alice (2022-03-04). "Lego's Sonic The Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Set Is A Love Letter To The Old Blue Blur". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved 2023-05-10.
  21. ^ a b Carter, Chris (December 18, 2013). "A very brief, but welcome joyride". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  22. ^ Sarkar, Samit (7 June 2013). "Sonic: Lost World gameplay footage shows off three very different levels". Polygon. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  23. ^ Sterling, Jim (June 9, 2011). "E3: Sonic Generations might get more than a 4.5". Destructoid. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  24. ^ a b Skrebels, Joe (September 8, 2013). "Sonic Lost World preview". Official Nintendo Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 November 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  25. ^ a b Grant, Christopher (June 26, 2006). "Build Sonic a papercraft playground for his Bday". Engadget. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  26. ^ a b Wong, Kevin (September 5, 2013). "The Best Video Game Music of the 16-Bit Era". Complex. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  27. ^ Snyder, Craig (October 31, 2013). "5 Of The Best Video Game Areas, Levels, And Dungeons". MakeUseOf. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  28. ^ Towell, Justin (July 20, 2011). "Hands-on with Sonic Generations on 3DS reveals 1991 Green Hill Act 1 layout... in 3D". GamesRadar. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  29. ^ a b Turi, Tim (April 18, 2011). "Sonic Generations: Bridging A 20-Year Generation Gap With Two Gameplay Styles". Game Informer. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  30. ^ Baker, Justin (May 28, 2013). "First Trailer for Sonic Lost World Released". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  31. ^ Frank, Allegra (26 April 2017). "Sonic fans are getting a little tired of Green Hill Zone". Polygon. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  32. ^ Alexandra, Heather (2017-09-12). "How Speedrunners Are Racing Through Green Hill Zone, Sonic Mania's Most Contested Level". Kotaku. Retrieved 2023-05-10.
  33. ^ Good, Owen (November 2, 2011). "Run Green Hill Zone in Under 1:50 and Collect Some Nice Sonic Merch". Kotaku. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
  34. ^ Phillips, Tom (September 15, 2021). "Sonic's iconic Green Hill Zone soundtrack finally has lyrics". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  35. ^ DREAMS COME TRUE「次のせ〜の!で - ON THE GREEN HILL - DCT VERSION」(Official Video), retrieved 2021-09-17

External links[edit]

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