Sonic the Hedgehog 2. For some, it represents everything that a Sonic game should be. The pinnacle of the series, an entry point for millions of kids who would become life long fans. Due to its development, an extra layer of mystique has also surrounded the game, which is why when anything new comes out regarding its creation, people get excited. Just one more piece of the puzzle that showcases how such a beloved game came into being.
You might remember that last month, we posted about Craig Stitt. Not only was he an artist on Sonic 2, he went on to have a pretty impressive career outside of SEGA, working on such classics as Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet and Clank. Over at the Facebook group SEGA Retro Gamers, he’s been sharing stories of his time working in the gaming industry, and posting content that has never seen the light of day. That Treasure Tails pitch? Yeah, he’s the one who shared that.
Well, earlier today, Craig posted another slew of art connected to the development of Sonic 2, drawn by none other than the creator of Miles “Tails” Prower, Yasushi Yamaguchi.
These are photocopies I made of Yamaguchi’s oringal drawings; to help me stay in sync with the game’s style while designing the art for the levels I was working on. (Hidden Palace and Oil Ocean)
On this, our milestone 50th episode of SEGA Talk, we look back on the development, release and legacy of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive. We cover the game’s unique creation in America, the debut of Miles “Tails” Prower and the comics and cartoon adaptations that took place following the game’s release.
If you want to give us feedback, suggest a topic for the next podcast or want to ask a question for us to answer on the next episode you can add them as a comment below or send theme directly to our email. Make sure you use subject line ‘SEGA Talk’ and as always, thanks for listening!
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!