OH yes, the ultimate wombo combo cartridge. That thing was huge, this is pretty much the best 2D Sonic game BUT its not the kind of game you try and finish in one sitting, its too long for that and when you game starts to be too long, the flaws start to show up... looking at you goddang cylinder on the amusement park (these days everyone knows the trick but back then.... oh boy... its the reason i finished this game first with knuckles instead of sonic) and on the sonic & knuckles side that pyramid levels are a real chore to go through. Don't get me wrong though, the game is a masterpiece and the OST is godlike, this was created using sonic 2 as a foundation and phew, they did a amazing job building upon it.
This is a more straightforward Sonic experience compared to previous games, and I think that's why many hold it in higher regard than those. That said, despite its straightforwardness, it's got tons of style, some sick levels, and an excellent soundtrack.
The "Sonic 3 Complete" rom hack is the way you need to experience this.
for lthe longest time if you asked me to name my favorite video game of all time it was a dead heat between this & ocarina of time. and it's not really that they were ever surpassed. (well... i think wind waker surpassed ocarina of time, actually, but that's another conversation.) it's just that our understanding of what a video game can be changed drastically.
but like... in terms of what we understood video games to be in the 90s, this is still (and always will be) the absolute pinacle to me.
Very good sequel, adds new, very welcome power-ups. Levels up to the later third of the game are very strong, but then they dive down in quality a lot like in Sonic 2 (I do like Death Egg though). The game as a whole is much less concerned with beating levels quickly, levels are longer and a bit more linear. Special Stages (and how to access them) are a tad better than Sonic 1 and 2. Lots of time-wasting though, and lots of fake walls everywhere, tempting you to be overzealous in exploring levels and making the game's pacing incredibly slow. Too many bosses, and not many good ones.