Monday, May 22, 2017

Time travel in Sonic 2

We interrupt our regularly scheduled analysis of Sonic 3's interactions with the VDP for some very exciting news.

Earlier today, Hirokazu Yasuhara, lead game designer for Sonic 1, 2 and 3, was present at the video game developer conference Digital Dragons, where he held a presentation on how to make games "fun". Who in their right mind would have expected that after 25 years, all the way from Krakow, Poland, he would share with us these amazing production sketches for Sonic 2?

Here's a brief recap, adapted from articles on the Sonic Retro wiki. Back in 2005, vested Sonic researcher ICEknight managed to secure some enemy sketches from the Sonic 2 production staff. Between the six images, though, what got everybody's attention were the comments next to the sketch for the "Bumper" enemy:


Location of appearance: Desert Zone (present)
Step on it and it sends [Sonic] flying far away

Location of appearance: Rock Zone (past)
Property: Same as above (color change)

For the past twelve years, that little blurb was all the information we had on Sonic 2's early time travel elements. The sketches revealed today not only give us rough names for all the Zones that were planned, but also shed new light on a minor mystery with the final game.

Internally, Sonic 2's levels are stored in a seemingly nonsensical order, with several empty slots scattered about, not unlike monster species in the first generation of Pokémon games. Turns out, they line up more or less perfectly with the prototype order seen in the sketches, and the above timeline shown by Yasuhara during his presentation:
Internal order
00 - Emerald Hill Zone
01 - (unknown)
02 - (Wood Zone)
03 - (unknown)
04 - Metropolis Zone

05 - Metropolis Zone 3
06 - Wing Fortress Zone
07 - Hill Top Zone

08 - (Hidden Palace Zone)

09 - (unknown)
0A - Oil Ocean Zone
0B - Mystic Cave Zone

0C - Casino Night Zone
0D - Chemical Plant Zone
0E - Death Egg Zone
0F - Aquatic Ruin Zone
10 - Sky Chase Zone
グリーン (Green)
オーシャン (Ocean)
ウッド (Wood)
サンド (Sand)
メトロポリス (Metropolis)

トロピカルサン (Tropical Sun)
ブルーオーシャン (Blue Ocean)
ヒルトップ (Hill Top)

ロック (Rock)
オイル (Oil)
ダスト (Dust)
デスエッグ (Death Egg)

ヒルトップ (Hill Top)
ブルー (Blue)

カジノ (Casino)
ケミカル (Chemical)
ジェノサイド (Genocide)
ネオデスエッグ (Neo Death Egg)

Green Hill Zone
Ocean Wind Zone
Woods Zone
Sand Shower Zone
Metropolis Zone

Tropical Plant Zone
Blue Lake Zone
Hill Top Zone
Rock World Zone

Rock World Zone
Oil Ocean Zone
Dust Hill Zone

Casino Night Zone
Chemical Plant Zone
Genocide City 1 Zone
Genocide City 2 Zone

In the next few articles, we'll look at Sonic 3's own internal level order and the stories it tells us.


  1. So interesting..........
    Now i want a fangame or hack adding this zones ;-;

    1. I think there is one called something like "sonic 2 the lost levels"

    2. Someone is adding all of the levels (even ones with concept art only). I think it's called Sonic 2 director's cut.

    3. you can use pro action replay code FFFE10:0100
      (or for game genie ACLA-ACD8)
      to access what would have probably been ocean wind zone the background of that zone was also used for all sonic 2 betas before beta 5

    4. sonic 2 time quest