Software preservation can be incredibly tricky, as is the case for Hidden Palace’s recent discovery of an prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that was recently discovered from an old dumping group named CENSOR. Despite being made available to the public once before, it was not until recently that this version of Sonic 2 was not made available to a society dedicated to software preservation.
If you’re reading this expecting some significant new information about Sonic 2’s development history, you’re out of luck. However this build is actually older than the Beta 4, previously relesed by drx in 2008. This has led to speculation that this version is the Beta 3 build that was not included in SEGA’s QA archives. In fact this version is so close to the release of the final game from a matter of weeks, meaning the differences between this prototype and the Beta 4 prototype are not as drastic. However there are some notable differences, such as object layout changes in Wing Fortress, known as Sky Fortress in this version, slanted edges on the loops in Chemical Plant as well as longer load times when entering special stages due to how art was compressed in the Nemesis format.
Hidden Palace has provided a video playthrough showcasing differences, a brief history on dumping groups and the indirect role of software preservation (piracy!) as well as a page dedicated to the prototype detailing differences as well as links to download the prototype. The downloads include versions with CENSOR’s intro and copy protection bypass along with a proper dump of the ROM by itself.
Be sure to keep an eye on Hidden Palace as they have been on a roll putting out pre-release and prototype versions of games consistently. Aside from Sonic 2, they also rediscovered another CENSOR release of Gauntlet IV which predates the official Japanese release. One of the more interesting recent releases includes the 32X version of Pinocchio which, despite being ultimately cancelled, features increased color depth and parallax scrolling over the Mega Drive and Genesis versions. They also noted they will continue to put out more releases by CENSOR in the near future.
Thanks goes to GerbilSoft for pointing out the release in the Sonic Retro Discord.
[Source: Hidden Palace]
In case you’ve not noticed, it’s a Tuesday. Besides it being M. Bison’s favorite day of the week, this is a particularly special Tuesday: it’s Sonic 2sday.
Sonic 2 was released on this day 23 years ago. Fairly exciting stuff considering all that it packed after the Blue Blur’s first outing. It even brought along perennial buddy and the sometimes annoying Miles “Tails” Prower.
Five years ago, we hosted our first Sonic 2sday Challenge. The premise is simple enough: you attempt to destroy the arduous task of Nick Arcade Expert’s Challenge of collecting 25 rings in under 30 seconds. I mean, ’90s tv sitcom star Melissa Joan Hart couldn’t! Surely a ragtag group of Sonic fans could. The catch? You must use the existing Sonic 2 Nick Arcade prototype.
Still not enough challenge for you? Then for those seeking to REALLY show off how awesome they are, feel free to submit your own challenges, such as the dreaded Emerald Hill Sweep (getting all seven emeralds in Emerald Hill) using both Sonic and Tails. Or use the mobile version of Sonic 2 and go for the gold as the fastest speed demon of Hidden Palace Zone.
After all, Hidden Palace and Sonic 2 started this lovely mess that became Sonic Retro.
Otherwise, kick back and enjoy a super spin through one of the pinnacle titles of the classic era. Sorry Sonic 3 fans: you’re ignored until further notice. If you really want to show off, you’re welcome to shamelessly plug yourselves in the comments below attempting this dreaded challenge or just streaming some Sonic 2 goodness. You could send it to the contest email from five years ago, but I hear a certain demonic presence inhabits that account now…
And on the subject of Sonic development stuff, this book by Read-Only Memory has lots of never-before-seen visual material from Mega Drive games and the console itself. This of course includes stuff related to Sonic as well. Forum member 87th has been kind enough to post a photo of the design documents for Sonic 1 showing some storyboards of the original ending. If you want to see more of it, you can buy the book here.
Also, yes we know that all of this news is old. We’re playing catch-up. :V
18 years ago, the destiny of millions of kids (and a few hundred crazy Internet people) was forever changed with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, arguably the hedgehog’s most successful outing to date. For those of us who were there from the beginning, the release of Sonic 2 was a homecoming unlike any we had imagined, and those eleven new zones became burned into our very souls (which is why we still can run through Emerald Hill Zone with our eyes closed).
Now, it’s no secret that Sonic 2 went through its fair share of developmental trouble, and there were plenty of zones that were left on the cutting room floor. Heck, even levels we’ve grown to love had vast changes as it was developed, as proved by the release of the vintage “Simon Wai beta” and the lesser known (but equally important) “Nick Arcade Prototype.”
The latter of those two was made for one purpose – to make fun of Melissa Joan Hart. Now to be fair, she was just a kid (we all were) running through a level she had never seen, and had no idea the spin dash existed (there was a world before 1992, people), but still, the urge to insult her run through the game is so tempting. And yes, she wasn’t the only one who played and failed the game on that show, but it isn’t as fun to make fun of a random girl we know nothing about.