Once upon a time, a man named Simon Wai came across a prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Not only did it include lost and unused content, it was a window into the development process of one of the most celebrated games of the franchise. Sharing it with the Sonic Internet community, this discovery inspired an entire generation. Not only to wonder, to dream of things they could create, but to also research into the history of the Sonic franchise, and preserve it for future generations.
Over the past few weeks, a plethora of brand new prototypes for a number of games starring Sonic the Hedgehog surfaced. Presented by both Hidden Palace and The Cutting Room Floor, these early versions have answered questions, sparked debate, and most importantly, provided further context for understanding not only Sonic, but game development as a whole.
We also got to see Knuckles make Sonic talk to the hand.
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]
The latest issue of the UK classic gaming magazine Retro Gamer is celebrating its 150th issue in a big way by counting down the 150 Greatest Games Ever as selected by readers. What’s so cool about the issue is that for many of the entries, they turned to those in the fan community to wax nostalgic on the greatest games. Several classics from the developer have made the cut. Just some include 1986’s OutRun with a piece written by Sumo Digital’s Steve Lycett, Shenmue with thoughts from the Shenmue Dojo webmaster, and (as stated in our headline) a write-up on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by Sonic Retro’s very own webmaster Scarred Sun.
Seeing as the magazine is out there for sale right now both physically and digitally, I’m not going to spoil the surprise of the game’s placement or what was said, so you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
On this week’s SEGAbits Swingin’ Report Show podcast, we’re joined by Stealth, who worked on the official recent remasterings of Sonic The Hedgehog CD, Sonic The Hedgehog, and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 alongside fellow developer The Taxman.
Stealth talks to us about how the remasters began development, the process of remaking classic Sonic titles, the much talked about the remastered Sonic The Hedgehog 3 proof of concept, and what fans can do to try and make Sonic 3 remastered a reality. Also featured is discussion of Sonic The Hedgehog 4 and the recent decisions SEGA has made with the franchise. If you love classic Sonic games and behind-the-scenes stories of game development, this is the show for you!
Also, Barry and George discuss the recently revealed ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Kickstarter by Greg Johnson (who will be joining us next week) and Sonic Team’s mobile release Sonic Runners, which soft launched yesterday.
Support the Sonic 3 Remastered campaign: http://sonic3remastered.com/
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SEGAbits and Sonic Retro made our very first convention appearance together this year at TooManyGames in Oaks, PA. In addition to walking the convention floor, Barry the Nomad, Patrick aka Kori-Maru (Website of the Dead), Sonic Retro’s own David the Lurker and A.J. Rosa (My Life with SEGA) held a panel discussing the life and death of SEGA’s swan song, the Dreamcast. The same panel also included a presentation from Retro, covering the history of Sonic the Hedgehog 2‘s Hidden Palace Zone – with rarely seen footage of Sonic 2‘s release and early efforts to remake the lost zone. We also met with several fellow SEGA fans, gave away a pile of rare SEGA swag, and did we mention the panel was standing room only? SEGAbits (and Sonic Retro) Does.
Also featured in this video is a convention walkthrough with the crew, and a one-on-one bout between Patrick and A.J. Like this video? Subscribe to the SEGAbits YouTube channel!
After missing it’s November release date, Taxman and Stealth’s remastering of Sonic 2 is finally coming to iOS and Android tomorrow. The delay is made worthwhile though with the addition of perhaps the most well known of the scrapped levels found in the beta versions: the Hidden Palace Zone. If you’ve played the duo’s Sonic 1 iOS/Android remastering, you probably know that they like to add other new stuff to the game. So you can probably expect other new features in this release as well.
If you already own the former Sonic 2 iOS port, you’ll be able to download this new version as a free update. This is the first time the game is released on Android though, so your only option is to buy it new when it comes to that platform. You can find a couple more screenshots of the remastering below.