Sonic 2, like the other installments of the series for the Genesis ,doesn’t need any presentation. Released in November 1992, after the great success of the first episode, the new Sega title become promptly the best selling game for the 16 bit console. More interesting for our site, the beta of Sonic 2 is currently the most important beta document of the series, and one of the most intriguing ever.
The prototype was initially rediscovered in December 1998, when Simon Wai released on a newsgroup a beta version of Sonic 2 previously found on a Chinese website. We say rediscovered because the existence of the proto was already known, and Simon Wai himself played it in 1992. Yuji Naka said in a interview that it is probably the same prototype stolen in New York in 1992. The beta was then illegally released in the Asian videogame market.
Anyway, the prototype was finally in the hands of the Sonic community and it immediately revealed all its wonders, notably two levels not included in the final version and many beta leftovers.
[Article by Yota]
Green Hill zone
As you can seen from the screenshots, this is the first level of the final game, Emerald Hill. It is the most finished zone of the beta, and the only one with a boss, even if with some differences (there is no sound from the paddles when Robotnik enters, and no explosion when it is defeated) . The badnick in the screenshot was removed from the final game. The music is the same as the released version.
This is the first zone removed from the final game. Already well known from magazines pics, the Wood zone was a level set in a forest. Not much work was done on this stage, and it is fully playable only with the debug mode. The music is the same as the metropolis zone.
Metropolis Zone it is the only level in Sonic 2 with three acts, and the same can be said about this beta, even through they are all still incomplete and without enemies and rings. Early in the development, the third act was supposed to be a completely different stage. The most interesting beta feature of this zone is a strange lift (pictured in the screenshot) that is was totally removed from the released game. The music is slightly different from the final version.
Hidden Palace Zone
Those who played Sonic & Knuckles will certainly remember a level called Hidden Palace Zone. The zone from Sonic 2 is however a completely different stage, set in an underground cave. The Hidden palace was never completed, although his presence in an even early version of Sonic 2 suggest that it was one of the first level developed. Anyway, it is one of the most interesting zones of the beta due to the presence of the big green emerald , similar (but not connected) to the master emeralds, of the Tails 1-up (which it was really just a ten-ring monitor) and of the badnicks removed from the final game. The Hidden Palace is still accessible in the released version of Sonic 2 with the action replay, but the graphic is completely messed-up.
Hill Top Zone
It is one of the most completed zone, and the main differences, aside from the layout, are the lack of the sound effect of the earthquakes and the absence of the rolling animations in the tunnels. The music is the same as the released version.
Oil Ocean Zone
Not much to say about this zone. The most interesting beta feature is a strange ball that is activated by a button. The music is still the same as the casino zone.
Dust hill Zone
This stage is just the mystic cave zone with a different name. The zone is still in the testing phases, and it is fully playable only with the debug.
Casino night Zone
The Casino Night zone was still early in development, and because of the lack of the slot machines and the springs the level is fully playable only with the debug. The background of the act 2 is different from the original. The music is slightly different from the released version.
Chemical Plant Zone
Aside from the first level, this is the most complete zone of the beta. Even the general layout of the stage is very similar to the final version. There are however still some interesting changes, like the different conformation of the circular structures (pictured in the screenshot) and the strange sound effects of the blue fluids from the tubes. The music is the same as the final version.
This zone it is empy, and maybe its development was never really began, because all that exist from this zone it is an early black & white concept art (that later inspired a stage from Sonic Spinball) . The music is the same as the Chemical Zone.
Neo Green hill Zone
This zone is just the Acquatic Ruin Zone with a different name. The layout is similar to the original, but the level is still incomplete and without enemies. The music is already the same as the final version.
Death Egg Zone
This is the final level of Sonic 2, but it is still empy. More interesting, in this beta the zone has two acts. It is the only level in this beta without music.
Sonic The Betahog
Aside from the layouts of the levels, some animations were also different from the released version, like the spin-dash.After eight years of the original release of Simon Wai, in December 2006 a new prototype was found with even earlier version of Emerald Hill, Hill Top, Hidden Palace and Chemical Plant. This beta featured the Green Zone and other leftovers from Sonic 1. But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, in February 2008 many betas from various Sonic games, including Sonic 2, were leaked and released to the community.
You can find more informations about the beta of Sonic 2 on Sonic Retro.
Thanks for MariosegaFreak for the corrections.
[Article by Yota]
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