Green Hill Zone originally appeared as the first stage in the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog, featuring brown checker-board earth covered in thick grass, totem poles, mechanical-looking palm trees and sunflowers, and a background filled with waterfalls, large bodies of water, and jagged mountains. Since this original appearance, Green Hill Zone has been the location that has appeared in the most Sonic games and both its visuals and music have been recreated numerous times.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the first game to revive the location, featuring a fourth level called "Green Hills Zone". This level was much like the original Green Hill Zone, but featured very different plants and ground that was made up of rectangular blocks as opposed to checker-board earth. The stage made a reappearance in Sonic Adventure 2 where it could be unlocked after achieving an A rank on every level and collecting all 180 emblems. Green Hill Zone became even more prevalent in more recent Sonic games. Sonic Generations featured the location as its first zone for both the console and portable versions. Sonic Lost World had Windy Hill Zone, aesthetically identical to Green Hill, and the level proper returned in both Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces. Somewhat more realistic versions of Green Hill Zone also appear in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and Sonic Blast, with Dark Brotherhood presenting a more rocky version of the area, while Blast presented a more sandy one.
Variations, Spin-Offs, and Other Appearances
Outside of the main Sonic games, many spin-off games from the Sonic franchise, and other games by Sega feature the Green Hill Zone, such as racing game Sonic Drift, sports game Sega Superstars Tennis, driving game Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, and rhythm game Samba De Amigo Wii. Nintendo's fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl also featured a Green Hill Zone stage, and Sonic fighting game Sonic Battle featured a stage called Emerald Town which was stylistically identical to the location. Green Hill, or some version of it, appears in several mobile games including Sonic Dash and Sonic Runners.
Sonic Advance and Sonic N featured a "Neo Green Hill Zone", a variation on Green Hill Zone, which acted as its first level and appeared in the style of the original, except with a lighter colour palette and the ground being made up of small bricks. Similarly Sonic Chaos featured a "Mecha Green Hill Zone" which appeared much like an armour-plated version of the original, and Sonic Advance 3 featured a "Sunset Hill" not entirely dissimilar to Green Hill Zone, and using a remixed version of the Green Hill Zone music. Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes also appears to take some inspiration from the location.