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.
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.
Another summer, another Summer Games Done Quick. If you’re not familiar with what the it is: basically it’s an event where a lot of speedrunners do live runs of various games for charity. In this case for Doctors Without Borders. And this year they’ll be streaming some Sonic games on the first day already.
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!
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.
Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live are teaming up once again this year for Summer Games Done Quick 2014. A charity event hosted by speed runners to help the less fortunate starting today and airs nonstop until the 29th. Once again they’re raising funds for Doctors Without Borders and continue to offer incentives by voting for certain content as well as offering prizes.