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 appearance Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Created by Hirokazu Yasuhara [1]
Genre Platforming
Notable characters Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman

Green Hill Zone or simply Green Hill [lower-alpha 1] 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 Robotnik before moving to the second level, Marble Zone. It was constructed by level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara and its musical theme was created by Masato Nakamura.


Green Hill Zone is considered to be a classic within both the Sonic the Hedgehog series and in video games in general. The level and its music have also received positive opinions from critics. It has appeared in other games, such as Sonic Adventure 2 , Sonic Generations , Sonic Mania , and Sonic Forces . 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] 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. [7] 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. [8] A reinterpretation of the level appears in the 2017 title Sonic Mania . [9] Green Hill reappears in Sonic Forces , having partially turned to desert due to resource depletion by Eggman's industries. [10]

In addition, Green Hill appears as a stage in the 2.5D fighting game Sonic Battle , [11] 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. [12] [13] In the 2020 film Sonic the Hedgehog , Green Hill appears as a small town in Montana under the name of Green Hills. A game-accurate version of Green Hill also appears in the film, depicted as Sonic's original home. [14]


Green Hill Zone has received consistently positive opinions from critics, particularly for its music. 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". [15] Game Informer 's Tim Turi found the level's music "catchy", [16] and Wong ranked it as the thirteenth greatest piece of gaming music from the 16-bit era. [17] In 2010, Sega's community manager, Aaron Webber, returned from a vacation to find his cubicle redecorated to resemble Green Hill; IGN's Levi Buchanan claimed that "everyone wants to come back to" this, [3] and Owen Good of Kotaku exclaimed "I want to work in Green Hill Zone, too!" [18] Writing for the Sabotage Times , Carl Anka ranked the original Sonic the Hedgehog as having the greatest music of any video game, largely as a result of Green Hill's theme. [19]

Critics have compared levels of later Sonic games to Green Hill, as well as to World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. Turi considers Emerald Hill from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 , Mushroom Hill from Sonic & Knuckles , and Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes to fit the same general mold as Green Hill, noting repetition in Sonic level design and stating that "gamers have played Green Hill Zone dozens of times." However, he has opined that the Sonic Generations version of the original Green Hill "trounces them all" in both its 2D and 3D incarnations. [16] Justin Baker of Nintendo World Report and Skrebels both analogized Windy Hill from Sonic Lost World to Green Hill, [20] [21] while Carter thought similarly of The Legend of Zelda downloadable content levels. [22] 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. [23]

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

Green Hill Zone has also 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. [22] [24] [25] Comparably, Joe Skrebels of Official Nintendo Magazine called it "nostalgic", [21] while Christopher Grant from Joystiq considered it to have a place "in the center of your retro-gaming shrine". [26] 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." [17] 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. [27] Anka has summarized that "Green Hill Zone in the original game has gone down as an instantly recognisable piece of music in pop culture". [19]

To mark Sonic's fifteenth anniversary in 2006, Sega released a papercraft version of Green Hill as a PDF on its website. [26] 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. [28]


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

See also

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