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Sonic 2's scrapped zones


andrewtuell1991

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I always did like the looks of Hidden Palace. And it would've been very interesting to see the original event where Sonic is given the ability to turn Super there.

Wood Zone seemed very samey with Metropolis with the conveyor belts and warp tube-like trunks but then so little of the stage was actually complete in the betas we know of, it isn't exactly fair to judge the stage based on what very little has been revealed of it.

Since only one mock-up of Dust Hill was ever given us and not a screenshot of actual gameplay, any real opinions of the stage wouldn't really be informed would they? The mock-up looks intriguing but nothing more.

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According to interviews, this and Winter Hill would've just been palette swap of each other and placed far enough apart so people wouldn't notice. Wow, how fucking lazy can you get Sega?

Hill Top and Emerald Hill.

personally Genocide City Zone would have been my favourite zone if it existed, the general name sounds really great.

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Hidden Palace Zone is awesome. The "Unused track 10" fits perfectly with this level, and the completed level design in the first act flows really well. The perfect Sonic 2 hack for me would be if they could put Hidden Palace act 1 into the game somehow, and add nothing else.

Really wish the level made it into the final. At least we got to hear the music.

As for Cyber City zone, I think Cyber City is more of a fitting name for a Sonic game, but Genocide City just sounds like a more intimidating, better name in general.

If you've played the hack Sonic 2 Long version (A hack which attempts to restore Sonic 2 with some of it's missing zones), then you would know that Genocide City Zone was in the game, and it got it's own original level theme.

Genocide_City_Fixed_Version_by_Chitonid.jpg

genocide_city_zone-14103.jpg

That's pretty close to what I think a zone with the name "Genocide City" would look like. I love this level theme.

Edited by Mephiles550
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As for Cyber City zone, I think Cyber City is more of a fitting name for a Sonic game, but Genocide City just sounds like a more intimidating, better name in general.

If you've played the hack Sonic 2 Long version (A hack which attempts to restore Sonic 2 with some of it's missing zones), then you would know that Genocide City Zone was in the game, and it got it's own original level theme.

Genocide_City_Fixed_Version_by_Chitonid.jpg

genocide_city_zone-14103.jpg

That's pretty close to what I think a zone with the name "Genocide City" would look like. I love this level theme.

But it was never suppose to be something like that. According to the interview with Tom Payne, SoJ choose the name Genocide City because that wanted something that sounded intimidating but didn't really understand what the word Genocide meant. When they later found out, they changed it to Cyber City before scrapping the idea completely.

And I am familiar with Sonic 2 Long version's rendition of Sonic, but it's still just a fan concept and it just doesn't feel very Sonic-y. Kinda boring if you ask me.

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What do you mean Hidden Palace was scrapped? Go away, person from a different dimension. It was the hardest level. It was worse than Metropolis Zone.

sk-hpz-structureimg1.png

I'm sorry. I just had to.

Anyways, it's always nice to look at things that could have been potentially cool. We have to remember though that there is always a reason that they were scrapped and that's probably for the better.

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I remember back when Sonic 2 Beta was surrounded by rumours. I had downloaded it and was so curious wondering about all the scrapped features. I recall spending many feverish nights on AOL searching for a Sonic 2 Alpha and/or a Sonic 2 Delta... and I remember one rumour stating that Genocide City Zone was supposed to be a linear level where Sonic was being chased by approaching flames, like that area in the fan hack Sonic Boom.

And then three of the levels were revived beautifully in SBtS (although their Hidden Palace looks a lot different from the Sonic 2 Beta version).

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But it was never suppose to be something like that. According to the interview with Tom Payne, SoJ choose the name Genocide City because that wanted something that sounded intimidating but didn't really understand what the word Genocide meant. When they later found out, they changed it to Cyber City before scrapping the idea completely.

And I am familiar with Sonic 2 Long version's rendition of Sonic, but it's still just a fan concept and it just doesn't feel very Sonic-y. Kinda boring if you ask me.

I know about the story behind the name, and ya, I agree that it doesn't exactly fit Sonic, but I just like the level theme either way.

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The Sonic 2 levels that never made it, have always been a point of interest. It makes me wonder just how different Sonic 2 could have looked and played if those levels had been included.

Hidden Palace in Sonic 2 has really nice music. You could always access that track via the options/level select menu in Sonic 2 (track number 10). By the look of that level, Hidden Palace could have replaced Mystic Cave Zone.

I would love to see the levels 'that never made it' to be fully completed.

Edited by NightwingFox
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The lost levels from Sonic 2 are actually what got me into the Sonic community in the first place.

WAY back in 1998 (before Sonic 2 Beta was leaked and everything), I stumbled upon a website Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog that had some blurry pictures of Hidden Palace Zone, Dust Hill Zone, and Wood Zone. My mind was blown that night, and after that, I started visiting all of the other Sonic sites and forums to get as much information about this stuff as I could.

Anyway, as for the levels, Hidden Palace Zone definitely seems the most interesting. Track 10 is actually one of my very favorite songs from the entire game, which makes it a shame that it didn't get used in the final game outside of the sound test. Also, I have to admit, I thought the name "Genocide City Zone" sounded totally badass when I was a teenager and I wanted to see what it would have looked like really badly.

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For me, out of all the lost levels, Hidden Palace seems to be the only real loss, and come Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it didn't matter because they brought it back.

With wood zone, I agree that it looks bland, though given the single layer of parallax and the very flat artwork, I'm inclined to think it was placeholder graphics and that the final thing would look more like Mushroom Hill or Green Forest. Plus the name- "Wood Zone"- was likely a working title given the names of the other Sonic 2 levels ("Wood Zone" sounds more like a Sonic 1 level name)

As for Dust Hill, I don't think the Mystic Cave 2 player music suits the level at all. I think that if any music was intended for Dust Hill, it would be Aquatic Ruin's. Listening to Masa's demo version makes me think this because it has a sort of "Wild west" thing going about it and Dust hill's mock-up graphics seem to point to it being a western styled desert (rather than an Arabian one) due to the cacti and other things.

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I've always been interested in the Beta Zones. I don't even mind Wood Zone.

Hidden Palace is very beautiful, but I admit to really liking the Long Version... er, version, of Genocide City/Cyber City. It reminds me of the Gotham in Tim Burton's Batman, and I envision it as the unfortunate victim of... whatever the Death Egg's meant to do. "Genocide" might not be the best choice of words for a game like this, but I thought it was very grand. I also like the cloud pattern making it look like there's a giant eye in the sky, with the moon as it's pupil, staring at you.

Having said that, I never understood why Casino Night 2-Player was used for it. I always thought Mystic Cave 2-Player was more fitting.

Speaking of which, I like Dust Hill too, with or without the "also, snow" half. There aren't enough western zones in Sonic games.

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  • 1 year later...

Journalist Heidi Kemps has gone into further detail about her 2005 GameSpy interview with Yuji Naka, where she revealed to him that a beta ROM with Hidden Palace Zone is online. She says she passed the file on to Naka via a USB drive. 

A Quest for the Secret Origins of Lost Video-Game Levels
How I returned a pirated Sonic the Hedgehog game cartridge to its original architect
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/a-quest-to-find-the-secret-origins-of-lost-video-game-levels/373925/
 
The whole article about the history of Sonic 2's scrapped levels is a good read, but here's the bit about that interview:

My interview with Naka was going well. He was jovial and eager to talk. It felt less like a Q&A and more like a conversation—the best possible outcome. Usually, game companies won’t book interviews unless the developer has a new product that needs promotion, while media outlets want to publish stories relevant to new releases. The need to feed into this coming-soon hype machine makes it surprisingly difficult to discuss a developer’s older titles. To justify the interview, I made sure to ask questions about the current crop of titles Sonic Team was developing at the time.

The truth, however, was that my interests lay elsewhere.

Here I was, having a solo interview with Naka for the first time. I finally had the opportunity to ask him things that had puzzled me since my childhood. I just needed to start with the right question. “There are entire websites out there devoted to looking into the code of these old Sonic games, finding all the things you guys were working on that didn’t make it into the finished product," I said. "What do you think of this?”

The prototype game itself had been stolen from a 1992 toy show.
I got the sense that Naka, himself a fan of poring through programming code, may have been a bit flattered: “Wow, people do that? I didn't know. I guess I am pretty surprised at the level of dedication of fans on the Internet.”

“It could be problematic, though,” he continued. “If these fans get to the point where they’re engaging in activities that can hurt Sega, then that’s obviously an issue. For example, way back when we had a prototype cartridge of Sonic 2 that was stolen by someone. That one even had the old Hidden Palace level in it.”

Wait. I knew exactly what he was talking about. Did he know that what he’d just mentioned had been floating around through copied game floppies, pirated cartridges, and Internet emulation sites for years? The Hidden Palace Zone was well-known among the Sonic faithful, but did Naka know the extent of what fans had already dug up?

“Actually,” I replied, “that ROM’s data is out there. Online.”

Naka seemed pleasantly surprised. “What? You're kidding! Tell me more. I had no idea.”

Was this really happening?

“I have it here with me,” I continued. “On my laptop.”

“Do you, now?” He smiled again. “Somehow, I’m not surprised. You’re truly quite the fan.”

I turned on my laptop, booted up my Genesis emulator, and clicked on the file. It didn’t occur to me at first that I would be showing a top Sega executive my copy of an illegally duplicated development ROM on my PC. The thought didn’t even cross my mind until the title screen, the one different from what we all saw in 1992, appeared.

“Ahhhhh, yes,” said Naka, recognizing the early image.

“I guess this was found somewhere in Hong Kong, and it made its way online from there,” I explained.

“Are you sure this is a build with the Hidden Palace? I think maybe this one doesn’t have it.”

“No, it definitely does. It’s got the Wood Zone and Genocide City, too.”

Naka looked happy. A few clicks later, and the file was on a USB drive, and then, in the hand of the father of Sonic. The early version of a classic game this man had worked on—one that had been illegally copied many years ago and distributed through illicit means since—was now back in the hands of its creator. My years of searching, theorizing, and obsessing over a stage had led to this moment—I was giving something thought lost back to one of my personal idols.

Naka told me that the Hidden Palace—and those other stages—were scrapped due to the rough time constraints of game development, even though they already had graphics and designs ready to go for it. The prototype game itself had been stolen from a 1992 toy show in New York, or so Naka believed. From there, the data had been copied and distributed around Asia, sometimes passed off as the finished version of the game by unscrupulous retailers.

It had been a strange journey, one that began with a childhood obsession and ended with a reunion most unusual. I went back to my Tokyo hotel and told a few friends about what had happened. But I didn’t include the story of the file transfer into the interview I published—it didn’t seem appropriate at the time. Looking back on it now, almost a decade after our meeting, it still feels like one of the highlights of my game journalism career, and an amazing story about how things believed lost can return to us unexpectedly in the Internet age.

And the Hidden Palace Zone? It’s finally finished and playable in full for the first time ever in the iOS and Android versions of Sonic 2. Was it worth the 22-year wait? I can’t say, but it does feel like closure at last.

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Journalist Heidi Kemps has gone into further detail about her 2005 GameSpy interview with Yuji Naka, where she revealed to him that a beta ROM with Hidden Palace Zone is online. She says she passed the file on to Naka via a USB drive. 

A Quest for the Secret Origins of Lost Video-Game Levels

How I returned a pirated Sonic the Hedgehog game cartridge to its original architect

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/a-quest-to-find-the-secret-origins-of-lost-video-game-levels/373925/

 

The whole article about the history of Sonic 2's scrapped levels is a good read, but here's the bit about that interview:

 

Just a heads up Shadzter. I already posted this a few days ago in topic.

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I'm actually one of those guys who's, surprisingly, more interested in Wood Zone than hidden palace. not sure why. Guess it's because it reminds me a bit of Knothole or something. I dunno.

 

Even before knowing what in the world SatAm even was, as a kid, I always thought Sonic would be living in a wooden village. Years later, I'd be proven wrong, and learned what some of the other cartoons did.

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Unless this topic is to be closed for bumping, I suppose this could be a good point to look back at opinions now one of these levels has been officially revived.

 

The 'Metropolis 3 is Cyber City' interests me. Has anyone tried hacking The Machine's artwork over Metropolis and seeing how it looks?

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Unless this topic is to be closed for bumping, I suppose this could be a good point to look back at opinions now one of these levels has been officially revived.

 

The 'Metropolis 3 is Cyber City' interests me. Has anyone tried hacking The Machine's artwork over Metropolis and seeing how it looks?

No one's tried putting "Metropolis Zone" and "The Machine" artwork together yet as I know of.

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With playing the new HD versions of Sonic 1 & 2, then going back to play CD, 3 & Knuckles on the 360, I've been thinking about how things might've changed if the scrapped levels didn't get scrapped and the repercussions of it.

 

Like if Hidden Palace was in the final Sonic 2, how would it have changed Knuckles and his role in Sonic 3? Or would things have played out differently if Sonic 3 was fully completed?

I do know that Sonic 3 was split due to running out of time, but I'm not sure on the details. I doubt these questions have an answer, I'm just thinking out loud...

 

Although by searching, I just happened to come across a hack called Sonic 3 Complete. http://info.sonicretro.org/Sonic_3_Complete_%28hack%29

No doubt you guys already know about it. ^^

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With playing the new HD versions of Sonic 1 & 2, then going back to play CD, 3 & Knuckles on the 360, I've been thinking about how things might've changed if the scrapped levels didn't get scrapped and the repercussions of it.

 

Like if Hidden Palace was in the final Sonic 2, how would it have changed Knuckles and his role in Sonic 3? Or would things have played out differently if Sonic 3 was fully completed?

I do know that Sonic 3 was split due to running out of time, but I'm not sure on the details. I doubt these questions have an answer, I'm just thinking out loud...

 

 

If the scrapped zones; Hidden Palace, Wood Zone and Dust Hill had been included in the original version then Sonic 2 would have been a significantly longer game. Similar to the length of S3&K perhaps. I like to think they would have also added Tails ability to fly as well. It's great that you can fly as Tails in the StealthTax version as it makes the game more enjoyable. Sonic 2 would still have been awesome, just more so. One could argue that it could have made Sonic 2 more popular than Sonic 3&K (if it isn't already).

 

As for Sonic 3 if it had been released as one full game then it would still be brilliant, although we wouldn't have been able to experience the awesomeness of lock-on technology. Knuckles role would still be the same regardless of Sonic 3 being one game or split in two. The only differences being that the lock-on 3&K has more cutscenes which tells a better and more complete story than playing both separately.

 

Also, lets not forget that SEGA did consider making Sonic 3 a Mega CD exclusive and also considered making it in the isometric format like they did with Sonic 3d Blast. It's thought that the game was too big which is why they decided to split it in half, although I'm not entirely convinced. 

 

As for the Sonic 3 Complete hack, it's the best version of 3&K. Everyone should play it. I keep dreaming that one day StealthTax will get a chance to do a remastered version of 3&K.  

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Also, lets not forget that SEGA did consider making Sonic 3 a Mega CD exclusive and also considered making it in the isometric format like they did with Sonic 3d Blast. It's thought that the game was too big which is why they decided to split it in half, although I'm not entirely convinced. 

 

As for the Sonic 3 Complete hack, it's the best version of 3&K. Everyone should play it. I keep dreaming that one day StealthTax will get a chance to do a remastered version of 3&K.  

The first portion is true because at Sonic's 10 anniversary party, Yuji said that as part of the Sonic facts. I wish that would happened. And for the latter, I hated that hack. But only because I played the PC version first and I hate the Genesis soundtrack (screw Jackson). Funnily enough, that's the only Genny soundtrack I hate. 

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