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|Set details for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Beta Version)|
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|This article is a work in progress.|
...Well, all the articles here are, in a way. But this one moreso, and the article may contain incomplete information and editor's notes.
Notes: A lot of misinformation here, especially on the sub-pages needs to be fixed.
This page details prerelease information and/or media for Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis).
- 2Early Development
- 3General Changes
- 3.4Sega Music Collection
- 4Level Changes
Builds and Videos
| February 1990|
The earliest known footage of Sonic the Hedgehog.
| 1990 Tokyo Toy Show|
The infamous demo build, and the game's public debut––sadly, now presumed lost. Thought to be dated late May.
| Pre-CES Build|
Considerably more fleshed out than the TTS build, seeing as this is dated months after, but still a typical early build.
| CES-like Builds|
Minor refinements relative to the previous build, though still far from complete.
| Later Prerelease Builds|
By this point, development is progressing and the game is a bit more finalized. Most pre-release coverage of Sonic featured these builds.
|Sega Shinsaku Soft Video Footage|
The game is clearly now in late development, but still features a multitude of small differences.
| USA Manual Build|
Very close to the retail US build. Only a few differences remain.
Before the release of the Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega wanted to make sure that their new console would sell as well as the NES. To do so, Sega held a competition throughout all of its branches to create a character that would end up replacing Alex Kidd as the mascot of the company. Many ideas were created for it, such as:
A wolf wearing an American flag T-shirt
An elderly warrior
An odd-looking jester
A bulldog with shades
A chick with a cap and overalls
Eventually, it came down to four designs created by Naoto Ōshima, who had previously worked on the Phantasy Star series:
|A fat, pajama-wearing man based on Theodore Roosevelt.||A hedgehog character called 'Mr. Needlemouse'.||A grey rabbit who could throw things with his ears.||A regular man, likely based on Bart Simpson and Mario.|
In addition, there was an armadillo character drawn by Ōshima, but no concept art has surfaced of this design.
It was decided that the hedgehog character was the best of the lot, and was redesigned into Sonic the Hedgehog (Seen right). Some of the other designs were reused later; the pajama-wearing character became the basis for Dr. Eggman/Robotnik's design, while the rabbit's ability to throw things would later be used in Ristar.
Early in development, several ideas for Sonic the Hedgehog were created by Naoto Ōshima. One of these ideas was Madonna, a human love interest that was described by Naoto as a 'male fantasy' who would chase Sonic around. She was scrapped early in development, but the reason why is split into two stories, both contradicting each other:
- The first one, told by Sega of America project manager Madeline Schroeder, says that she was responsible for removing Madonna in order to make the game easier to sell in Western markets.
- The second story, told by Yuji Naka, says that Madonna never got past the concept stage due to how she would have made Sonic the Hedgehog more similar to Super Mario Bros.
At the same time that Madonna was being created, Ōshima drew up a picture showing potential enemies that Sonic could have fought. They included a six-fingered hand, a purple creature with a large jaw and yellow gloves, a walking cannon and exclamation mark, a flying hand similar in appearance to Bat Brain, a large white ghost, and a bee-colored Robotnik. The development team thought that Robotnik's design was the best out of the bunch, so the other concepts were scrapped. The purple creature did make it to a prototype build shown at the 1990 Tokyo Toy Show but had its colors changed from purple and yellow to blue and red.
Another idea that was thrown out was the Sonic the Hedgehog Band. Originally, the plotline for Sonic the Hedgehog would have involved Sonic saving both his bandmates and the Animal Friends from Robotnik; concept art was drawn for this (shown below) but was never put into motion. In addition, there was a full sound test where Sonic breakdanced to his band playing music. Due to time constraints, the idea was scrapped, and the sound test ended up being on the level select. The room that the graphics took up on the ROM (around an eighth of the cartridge size) was replaced with the 'Sega!' chant heard at the beginning of the game.
The crocodile character, Vector, eventually debuted in Knuckles' Chaotix.
Collected Works Concept Art
Released in 2014, the book Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works contained some never-before-seen concept art of Sonic the Hedgehog. They are from an earlier version of the game's story when Sonic's band hadn't been scrapped yet.
An early version of the Sega logo and title screen. Instead of its short, iconic jingle, the Sega logo would have had Sonic leaning on it. The logo would have slid over to the left, making Sonic fall back. After this, the screen would have been covered in stripes (?) brought in by Robotnik and Sonic's bandmates, and the giant Sonic emblem falls in place from the top of the screen.
Within the concept art is an idea for a construction-themed mid-boss that Sonic would have fought, which held one of Sonic's bandmates and their respective animal species. Sonic would have had to dodge a giant wrecking ball as he used two platforms to destroy the machine. After the machine is destroyed, a small cutscene would play where Sonic and the respective bandmate would cheer.
Rather interestingly, Robotnik is watching the entire scenario unfold, and is riding on a flying sled that has a very similar appearance to the one shown in the ending to Sonic CD.
The first design for the final boss was very different: it would have consisted of Robotnik behind a shield, firing turrets at Sonic. Presumably, the boss would have to be defeated by tricking the turrets to shoot at Robotnik's shield. After the boss is defeated, Robotnik runs away from Sonic and jumps into a small plane. As he takes off, however, Sonic jumps onto the plane and destroys it.
As Sonic falls from the sky, he is swooped up and carried away by Sharps the Chicken, one of his bandmates. He is flown over to Green Hill Zone, where his other bandmates and animal friends are waiting for him. The two land, Sonic jumps towards the player, and the screen fades out to black.
A small animation that would play whenever Sonic got a 'special' item, i.e. a key. Other than the setting of the scene, which seems to take place in an early rendition of Marble Zone, it seems that the idea of Chaos Emeralds hadn't been thought up yet.
This screen would have played after a Zone was cleared. It shows Sonic jumping through a strange circle (of rings?), with a heart in the middle of it. Judging from where it would have occurred, as well as the layout of the 'items', it's possible that this would have been an after-Zone minigame where the player could have gotten more rings or points.
A prerelease screenshot shows Sonic jumping and doing a fist-pump after clearing an act. The sprites for this animation are still in the final game.
This screenshot shows an injured Sonic being knocked back.
It should be noted that Sonic, in many of the prerelease images for Sonic the Hedgehog, has a different palette with lighter blues, indicating that he used to have the same palette as he does in the final title screen and as seen in Tom Payne's Yamaguchi leaked art. This was changed at the last minute because he would often be hard to see against Green Hill's ocean.
Title Screen/Level Select
|Tokyo Toy Show||Early Prerelease||Later Prerelease||Final|
The title screen of the build shown at the Tokyo Toy Show has a smaller banner (and 'SONIC' text), sonic looks to have a more mad expression and is missing the background. Interestingly, this title screen heavily resembles the one from the 8-bit versions. An early 1991 prerelease screenshot shows the final title graphic, as well as the 'PRESS START BUTTON' text that was mistakenly 'dummied out' in the final game.
|Early Prerelease||Later Prerelease||Final|
The stage select once used a bluish-grey palette instead of a sepia-tone one. Later on, the palette got changed to the final's sepia-tone feel. Some acts have Xs listed after them (possibly to mark if they were incomplete), and Final Zone is missing from the list. It's possible that Scrap Brain/Clock Work Act 3 had the boss fight in it, similar to the other Acts. The stage select text is positioned upwards, too, possibly because of the lack of slots like Final Zone.
Many prerelease pictures of Sonic the Hedgehog have the HUD display the Ring counter as 'RING' instead of 'RINGS'.
The title cards had a minor addition in the prerelease photos: a small period can be seen after the word 'ACT'.
A couple of prerelease screenshots show an early version of debug mode, where numbers indicating Sonic's position are shown at the bottom of the screen (and replace the lives counter).
In addition, BallHogs originally faced the screen and walked similarly to Crabmeat.
Sega Music Collection
Three alternate versions of Sonic tracks appeared as part of Sega Music Collection, a collection of BGMs from several Mega Drive titles which was distributed digitally in Japan via the Sega Game Toshokan dial-up service.
As heard in this videotape recording of a user's online session with the service, this version of Green Hill Zone's BGM matches the recording of the Tokyo Toy Show '90 demo music, and all three tracks match the BGM for the Tera Drive store demo.
All three tracks have noticeable differences compared to the final game's BGM.
[4:26] 'BGM1' (Green Hill Zone)
- Much faster tempo.
- Missing the obligato; countermelody; descending arpeggio in the intro; synth chords...
- Far less fleshed-out in general.
[5:31] 'BGM2' (Special Stage)
- Slower tempo.
- The melody line is played at a single midrange octave, resulting in a mellower sound. (The final version's melody plays intervals an octave apart.)
- The music appears to utilize five FM channels in this build; the final Special Stage BGM uses all six available FM channels (which could explain the removal of the 1-UP icon from all final Special Stage designs, as a bug in the sound driver prevents FM channel #6 from reloading).
[6:26] 'BGM3' (Sparkling Zone)
- Very slightly slower tempo.
- Livelier kick drum programming.
- No noise channel imitating a shuffle hi-hat.
- The synth brass line has a more subdued arrangement.
In addition, both tracks with PCM drums ('BGM1' and 'BGM3') have the original kick and snare tuning as heard in the TTS '90 demo, the Tera Drive store demo, and the Sega Shinsaku Soft Video build.
I've extracted these three tracks from the video, looped them properly and normalized them for easier analysis. Download here. –Zoinknoise
Green Hill Zone
A large boulder was planned to have been at the beginning of Green Hill Zone, which would have chased after Sonic (more info in the Videos section). While the boulder was removed from the final game, the idle sprite was kept and used as part of the first boss. In addition, the boulder can be selected using debug mode, although it can't be placed. In the game's mobile release, while the boulder still goes unused, it actually can be placed in debug mode, and behaves faithfully to the original idea. It can also be placed like this in Sonic Mania's Green Hill Zone.
Green Hill Zone's background used to be brighter. This was changed later in development to have a darker tone.
The sunflowers seen in Green Hill were planned to be purple but were changed to green in the final game. They still use their original palette in the game's ending, however.
In Green Hill Zone Act 2, in the place where you break through the walls to get 2 Ring Monitors and a Shield Monitor, the Shield Monitor was originally going to be an Extra Life Monitor. This also takes place in some of the early stages of Sonic 1 because of the Purple Sunflowers scattered around the map. Other differences include no springs by the 3 patches of sunflowers with a rock in the center. The Source of this image is Raze UK Issue 12.
Robotnik originally didn't laugh when he dropped the checkered ball or hit the player. It seems like he lacked the laughing animation at this point of development.
Pictures exist of a very early (possibly mockup) version of Marble Zone, with flipping platforms, a more segmented ground, chunkier lava, and larger ruins.
Here's an alternate scan which has better colors. Note that Marble Zone was never blue; the blue hue is because of how the picture was captured.
|Early Prerelease||Later Prerelease||Final|
In many prerelease screenshots, and in the background of a scene in Wayne's World, UFOs are seen spinning in the sky in Marble Zone. The UFOs were red early on and then changed to a green and blue look until they were removed from the game in the final version. The first 3 rings in act 1 are also absent and replaced with a Buzz Bomber and a Yadrin badnik.
Spikes was also planned to be in the zone in place of Caterkiller and can be still be spawned with debug mode in the final game. In addition, this area's moving platform was changed.
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In this screenshot, the background is positioned higher up and lacks rings. The lava has a less polished appearance, too.
This very late screenshot shows of Act 2 with a monitor before the lava flow. This monitor is not there in the final game.
An early screenshot of the end of Marble Act 1 shows an unused, sideways variant of the 'spike chandelier'. It was replaced in the final game with the moving green blocks seen throughout the level. The object itself wasn't removed, however, and will properly work if placed back into the Zone using a level editor. The used spike chandelier was made smaller for the final game, and flames were added to the torch in the background.
This late screenshot of Marble Act 3 shows a broken animation of the fire from the torch in the background. Note that the animal friend in the final is not Picky, the pig. This was possibly due to the zone order being rearranged.
Spring Yard/Sparkling Zone
Early in development, Spring Yard Zone had a completely different look and was called Sparkling Zone. The foreground was the same and was left relatively unchanged, but the background showed a large city with flashing lights and signs. In addition, the pillars seen throughout the level were originally colored both purple and blues.
|Earlier Prerelease||Later Prerelease||Final|
This area near the starting point in Act 1 once had spiked balls spinning around a bumper, presumably removed due to making the part too difficult. Interestingly, this obstacle was kept when Sparkling Zone was changed into Spring Yard Zone. Possibly because the level order wasn't changed yet, which means that the difficulty in the zones had not been changed yet.
In this shot, the sparkles can be seen in the background, as well as a lack of some rings.
Spring Yard's slopes originally weren't blocked by a spring as seen here.
All of the known pre-release photos of Labyrinth Zone show it in a very early state, seemingly devoid of objects and any bodies of water. Although it appears as though there's no background to this stage, other screenshots from the same source indicate that it did have a background, it doesn't seem to loop well and is only visible from certain parts of the stage.
Other early screenshots of the level reveal the aforementioned background, with a rocky design. Earlier versions of Labyrinth Zone also included smaller versions of the crystals seen in the final game. The vines are thicker than the final's vines.
Interestingly, these smaller versions of the crystals are very similar to the ones that appear in the 8-bit versions of Sonic 1. The proto design would later be used as a module for the bigger, more complex structures found in the final game.
Star Light Zone
Star Light Zone had a less blocky appearance and used its truss tiles more often, which gave it a more 'under construction' look. The area containing four monitors at the beginning of Act 1 had two pits and a breaking platform at some point in development.
Act 2 had a very different (and less empty) starting area.
The row of springs in Act 3 originally had a second row facing downwards.
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Scrap Brain/Clock Work Zone
Scrap Brain Zone was originally called Clock Work Zone... or Clock ork Zone, since the title card font doesn't contain the letter W. The Zone would have been set entirely indoors, and the first rows of rings are not present and background and foreground shared the same colors.
Diagonal conveyor belts were once used in Scrap Brain, but were removed and most likely replaced with the spinning platform conveyors in the final.
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|Chunk $10||Prerelease||Act 1 Final||Act 2 Final||Act 3 Final|
Scrap Brain Zone used what is now foreground chunk $10 as its background. It wrapped in both directions but didn't appear to scroll. The final game uses completely different art for each act.
The tunnels with the large beams that move back and forth were originally zig-zagged.
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|Early Prerelease||Later Prerelease|
Every prerelease screenshot of the Special Stages shows a layout that does not appear in the final game. The earliest screenshots have it entirely made out of gold blocks, with no rings whatsoever. Most of this early layout would be shown off in the Soft Video footage.
The image on the right is a map based on the early prerelease shown in magazines. The orange wall shows the end of the known area (the remaining blocks were placed according to the later prerelease layout).