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Sonic CD: The older prototype

#1 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 02:19 PM

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SonicGenesis89 shed some light on some developmental do-dads for Sonic CD in the Supreme Topic of Other Knowledge. Also these:

Posted Image
http://info.sonicret..._Present_02.jpg
http://info.sonicret..._Present_04.jpg
http://info.sonicret..._Present_05.jpg
http://info.sonicret..._Present_06.jpg

plus
http://info.sonicret..._Bad_Future.jpg


So you know how this community has been dissecting blurry screenshots for 20 years? Turns out nobody noticed this extremely early build of Sonic CD. The one where Palmtree Panic present has an entirely different background (more similar to the future version).

Things of note:
- Simpler background (which actually lines up better with the Past/Future versions)
- Present trees use the same graphics as the bad future ones from the 510 prototype
- Minor layout differences


I did some digging and have found magazine coverage - it all stems from the first couple of months of 1993, usually post-Winter CES. Screenshots also often match which suggests they came straight from Sega too.

http://retrocdn.net/...44.pdf&page=120 - EGM (US)
http://retrocdn.net/..._14.pdf&page=28 - Mega Force (France)
http://retrocdn.net/...018.pdf&page=12 - Consoles+ (France)
http://retrocdn.net/..._28.pdf&page=16 - Megazone (Australia)
http://retrocdn.net/...-03.pdf&page=26 - Video Games (Germany)

I spy a different time warp transition.


My best guess is that this was a really early demo (think Nick Arcade Sonic 2), probably with only one playable level without cheats or hacking, not much time travel, but an animated intro to gawk at. I would assume at this stage that Palmtree Panic's background was changed so they could simulate that giant loop at the start, but that's speculation of course.

It's actually quite surprising that this build was even shown off - we're talking January/February 1993, just a couple of months after Sonic 2's launch, while the other Sonic games set for release around Christmas 1993 weren't announced until Summer CES-ish - June. There's also a long period of silence before the 510 beta turns up in the press.

#2 User is offline Cooljerk 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:37 PM

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Looks like they showed off the original Toei animation, but not within the game. There's no sega CD boarder in the animation pics, either the final or the prototype boarder, and they appear of a different aspect ratio (although that could just be cropping).

Sonic CD was actually technically announced at the 92 Summer CES, where it was "shown" as part of a sizzle reel on their wall of monitors in the back alongside an MC Hammer Game and Batman Returns, under the title "Sonic the Hedgehog." Unfortunately, all the footage shown was of Marble Zone from Sonic 1. The following 93 Winter CES didn't have any Sonic CD footage.

Everyone knows Toei finished the animations before the game was finished (hence the potential R2 footage in the ending), but this makes it seem like the animation was the very first thing done for the project.
This post has been edited by Cooljerk: 06 March 2017 - 03:38 PM

#3 User is offline High Fidelity 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 03:48 PM

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Man I love to see new CD stuff. Fascinating. Nice one. Hope one day we get some early playable stuff...

#4 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 04:15 PM

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http://retrocdn.net/...-05.pdf&page=16 Mega Fun (Germany)
http://retrocdn.net/...R_07.pdf&page=4 Supersonic (France)

A lot of the multi-format magazines appear to have kept their distance - this is not an easy thing to find on display.

#5 User is offline Blast Brothers 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 06:07 PM

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[insert mind blown gif here]

View PostCooljerk, on 06 March 2017 - 03:37 PM, said:

Everyone knows Toei finished the animations before the game was finished (hence the potential R2 footage in the ending), but this makes it seem like the animation was the very first thing done for the project.

With this in mind, could the animation originally have been created as part of a sales pitch to let Sonic CD be its own game? The sequence seems very much like the sort of thing that gets created solely off of preproduction materials, before any grunt-work gets done.
This post has been edited by Blast Brothers: 07 March 2017 - 03:52 PM

#6 User is offline Andrew75 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 08:50 PM

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Warning some images may be wide, so you guys may need to scroll over to the right to see comparisons fully!

Okay, So I wanted to help SonicGenesis89 out a bit to further elaborate on her Posts, ( Since shes my good Sonic CD Beta talk friend) and to go along with her recent contributions to The Sonic CD Wiki page She asked me to look into a few things while she was working on uploads, and here are some of the results.

I found the location of one of the magazine scans but in the final game.
Here we see that the micro slope and water has been removed, and replaced with Star plants and Palm trees. there are also 2 Enemies that seem to be missing from the final build of the game.
Posted Image

However! looking back at the older 510 build, the Enemies are still in the same location as the Magazine screens.
Posted Image


Something else that really Popped, was that elements of the background shown in the Beta Magazine scans for PPZ Present were re-used but altered for use in good future! As in the Pallet was changed a little bit, tile layout was a bit different (although some areas were the same as shown in screen) waterfall amount on the future backdrop was boosted to cover more screen space as well. ( the waterfall tiles themselves are probably different though.)
Anyways I'm betting that if someone with some time came in, they could rebuild the background layout to match that of the screens.
I could show a Crap-ton of images, ( usually drop the F-bomb there but must be a ton of kids that visit the site, ehehehe) oops sorry kiddos!)
But yeah I don't think its necessary to flood you guys with all the background comparisons. ( Damit another Edit: I'm a Ninja ! ) ok so yeah SG89 noticed that the clouds are also Good future clouds.
Posted Image


Ok one more comparison on my end!

Magazine scan
Posted Image


510 Beta ( I stitched 2 images together so that it could show about the same amount of screen space,
I'm guessing the game magazine or sonic team did the same thing before sending the screenshot off to the publisher.
Oh yes.... EDIT THE CRAP OUT OF MY POST !: : : :
Um yeah, forgot that, the spring animation is the one from Sonic 1 in the Magazine screen, but has been updated to the one we know and love from CD even in the 510 beta,
and I tried to match Sonic's height from the Mag screenshot, this shows another detail.... the camera position was higher off the ground when sonic was using that spring.
You guys have eyes , so I don't need to mention that there are 2 rings instead of 3 in the 510 beta, and the rock is missing lol
Posted Image

Final game's map. Wow what a difference !
Posted Image
This post has been edited by Andrew75: 06 March 2017 - 11:59 PM

#7 User is offline Cooljerk 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:53 PM

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Posted Image

Is that a bridge Sonic is about to run across?

#8 User is offline Master Emerald 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:01 PM

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Seems to be a ledge, no?

EDIT:

Looks like a slighty glitched BG now.
This post has been edited by Master Emerald: 06 March 2017 - 10:01 PM

#9 User is offline Andrew75 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:36 PM

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View PostCooljerk, on 06 March 2017 - 09:53 PM, said:

Posted Image

Is that a bridge Sonic is about to run across?

Looks like the the first block that appears and disappears that Sonic is stepping on to me.
U know the ones with the triangle animation thing?
NINJA EDIT:
Posted Image
This post has been edited by Andrew75: 06 March 2017 - 10:45 PM

#10 User is offline SonicGenesis89 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 10:46 PM

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View PostCooljerk, on 06 March 2017 - 09:53 PM, said:

Posted Image

Is that a bridge Sonic is about to run across?


View PostMaster Emerald, on 06 March 2017 - 10:01 PM, said:

Seems to be a ledge, no?

EDIT:

Looks like a slighty glitched BG now.



In Palmtree Panic Zone there are some blocks that you can stand and walk on. In the Past they never move or fall down and in the Present some are invisible and only become visible when Sonic stands on them. There's a section in Act 1 where Sonic can jump on a series of invisible blocks to reach a higher route which has a secret path that carries Sonic around inside the foreground where he eventually breaks out of the wall leaving a hole in the shape of his body. In the Bad Future and Good Future the blocks will fall when you stand and walk across them. In this particular screenshot Sonic is about to walk across what looks like a row or bridge of invisible blocks and one of them is in the middle of appearing when the screenshot was taken. I don't recall the area in the screenshot anywhere in the final game but I'd have to go back and check to be completely sure.
This post has been edited by SonicGenesis89: 06 March 2017 - 10:57 PM

#11 User is offline Andrew75 

Posted 06 March 2017 - 11:51 PM

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I looked through all of the level chunks from PPZ acts 1 and 2 just now, I don't see any matching lighting shadowing shapes for that last screen up above there, so it seems that its a completely new tile layout.
I'm wondering, for you Tech heads out there, has Sonic CD's data fully been explored ? ( like has it been gone threw with a fine toothed comb? For example commenting out all of the hex data or whatever to show what has been accounted for and what hasn't?
I mean would it be possible that there could still be some level layout data hiding on the disk or maybe in the beta rom? I mean how much of CD's data has been explored?
When I refer to level layout data, I mean data that organizes the smaller 8 x 8 and 16x16 tiles into level chunks.
This post has been edited by Andrew75: 07 March 2017 - 12:01 AM

#12 User is offline flamewing 

Posted 07 March 2017 - 06:42 AM

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View PostAndrew75, on 06 March 2017 - 11:51 PM, said:

I'm wondering, for you Tech heads out there, has Sonic CD's data fully been explored ? ( like has it been gone threw with a fine toothed comb? For example commenting out all of the hex data or whatever to show what has been accounted for and what hasn't?

For Palmtree Panic 1, I can say most definitely yes; every byte of data has been analyzed, and most of it that has been figured out. Not all of it is really encouraging, but it does show a few things about the SCD development process:
  • At $5FC0 is code for an unused badnik (ID 56). It stands still and animates using the powerup animation data. It is likely a remnant from another level (more below).
  • At $7144 is an unused object (ID 34) which goes down 4 pixels per frame and draws chunks in the foreground, until it has fallen $180 pixels. It also animates and displays. What was its purpose is a mistery.
  • At $889E is code for an unused (and unlinked) object which stands still and just draws itself. Right after it are its per-act pattern name bases, and then its mappings. It doesn't seem to be used anywhere.
  • At $FDDE, there is an unused animated tile reloading function. At $FE60 there is some data related to it, but it points inside invincibility art.
  • At $FE7A there is another unused animated tile reloading function. At $FEBE there is some data related to it, but it points inside shield and invincibility art.
  • At $FED6 is an unused level art pointer table which points to broken art. It is likely a remnant from another level (more below).
  • At $FEE6 is a pattern load cue table. It points to the middle of art files. It is likely a remnant from another level (more below).
  • At $FFE8 is a fragment of a pattern load cue table. It is likely from another level (more below).
  • At $35E9A and $35EC0 are unused Nemesis art files. I don't remember what they look like, but you can extract them easily enough and see.
  • At $3FE72 is a fragment of mappings for the Metallic Madness diagonal saw. This data is present on all of R1**, R3**, R41A, R41B, R41C and R83D. In R83D, it is present in full at $3F936, where it exactly matches this fragment. Therefore, R83D was likely the source for this fragment. (more below).
  • At $3FEB2 is data present in ALL zone MMDs. It is a fragment of flower capsule mappings. All levels except R11A and R41D have these mappings in full at other locations; R11A only has this fragment. R41D has the mappings in full at $3FE28, perfectly overlapping this. So this fragment most likely came from R41D (more below).
  • At $23FEFA is another fragment of flower capsule mappings present in ALL zone MMDs. It does not match any level; it is likely that it came from an older version of R41D (more below).
  • At $3FEFE to the end is some sort of periodic data, present in ALL zone MMDs. It does not seem to be used in any of them. The even and odd bytes seem to be part of different data sets.


(the last 4 items were figured out by MarkeyJester)

Notes:
R11A = Palmtree Panic 1 Present
R41D = Tidal Tempest 1 Bad Future
R83D = Metallic Madness 3 Bad Future

Now, why do I think that things are remnants from other levels? Well, at the time, creating CDs was an expensive process. When I was working on disassembling R11A and found all of that data present on all levels, I theorized that they likely tested the game by burning level prototypes on PROMs and using Sega CD mode 1 for testing — and I deduced that testing was probably why there is even a mode 1 in the first place. These PROMs were then likely used as a "master" to generate the MMD for that level when it came to building a while-game prototype. It is probable that they reused PROMs of older versions of the level, and only wrote the amount of data they needed (not the full 256kB of the MMDs). The MMDs also were likely split in two 128kB banks, considering that the chunk table is at exactly the 128kB mark in all zones, and no data ever crosses it; but there might have been more (smaller) banks.

When I presented this theory in IRC, Varion said that the Sega CD development kit did have a mode 1 board; so my theory is likely to be true.

So yes, there probably is leftover data in SCD and prototypes from earlier builds; but it will be in small fragments which probably can't be made sense of.

View PostAndrew75, on 06 March 2017 - 11:51 PM, said:

I mean would it be possible that there could still be some level layout data hiding on the disk or maybe in the beta rom? I mean how much of CD's data has been explored?
When I refer to level layout data, I mean data that organizes the smaller 8 x 8 and 16x16 tiles into level chunks.

As I exposed above, the answer is yes, but probably not much.
This post has been edited by flamewing: 07 March 2017 - 01:34 PM

#13 User is offline Andrew75 

Posted 07 March 2017 - 08:34 AM

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View Postflamewing, on 07 March 2017 - 06:42 AM, said:


  • At $5FC0 is code for an unused badnik (ID 5). It stands still and animates using the powerup animation data. It is likely a remnant from another level (more below).
  • At $7144 is an unused object (ID 3) which goes down 4 pixels per frame and draws chunks in the foreground, until it has fallen $180 pixels. It also animates and displays. What was its purpose is a mystery.





I'm going to take a guess here, but
$5FC0 may be the R2 Worm snake ?
and
$7144 might just be the R2 AntLion or R2 BurroBot, as both seem to relate to being underground, although the AntLion seems to be a more likely a candidate. (I don't think the BurroBot was meant to go down deeper, but who knows lol ) but yeah the chunk drawing in the foreground could be rocks being displaced by the badnik as it moves deeper.
any way to get the AntLion sprite from below into the game and than test it out ?
Posted Image

Also want to ask, is there a place where all of the known Sonic CD data is being documented and analyzed publicly, sort of disassembly wiki?
and for some of the listed code, are there any screens and video showing any of that stuff off ?
What about the 510 Beta, has PPZ been fully explored there as well?
This post has been edited by Andrew75: 07 March 2017 - 08:51 AM

#14 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 07 March 2017 - 12:39 PM

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View PostAndrew75, on 06 March 2017 - 08:50 PM, said:

I'm guessing the game magazine or sonic team did the same thing before sending the screenshot off to the publisher.

It appears that size in multiple magazines, so yes, Sega invention. It's a pseudo-mock-up so I wouldn't concern yourself too much with camera positions.

Sega did exactly the same thing for Sonic 2.

#15 User is offline flamewing 

Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:52 PM

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View PostAndrew75, on 07 March 2017 - 08:34 AM, said:

I'm going to take a guess here, but
$5FC0 may be the R2 Worm snake ?
and
$7144 might just be the R2 AntLion or R2 BurroBot, as both seem to relate to being underground, although the AntLion seems to be a more likely a candidate. (I don't think the BurroBot was meant to go down deeper, but who knows lol ) but yeah the chunk drawing in the foreground could be rocks being displaced by the badnik as it moves deeper.
any way to get the AntLion sprite from below into the game and than test it out ?

I kind of doubt it is any of them; I think that these may be used on other SCD levels, but I haven't disassembled them all to test it out.

$5FC0 is completely stationary, apart from being animated; but since its animation data is missing, I can't be sure about anything. I only know it is a badnik of some sort because its collision flags are set to 6, meaning (1) it can hurt Sonic, (2) it can be destroyed by jumping on it, releasing a flower and (3) it is 6 by 6 in hitbox.

$7144 is not a badnik of any kind; here is a better description: it displays one of two sprite frames: both are 4 tiles high and 24 tiles wide (192 pixels), using 6 4x4 sprite pieces. All sprite pieces are identical, and they refer to either the 16 tiles at $3BA for frame 0, or the 16 tiles at $3CA for frame 1. Each frame is displayed for 5 frames before changing. The object's width setting is incorrectly set to 16 pixels, though, so it will vanish quickly if it gets off-screen. It will descend 4 pixels each frame until it has "fallen" $180 pixels. Until then, it will also draw a row of 12 16x16 blocks to plane A from the level layout centered at its current X position whenever its Y position is at a multiple of 16 pixels. It will only draw to non-empty blocks (not ID 0), and it will overwrite the corresponding chunk entry with $2002 (block $10, palette line 1; the corresponding chunk will start using $2002 instead of what was there before) and will try to write the corresponding tile through to VRAM (but fails). When the screen is refreshed (e.g., when you move away then come back) it will have the updated tiles.

In R11A the sprites are mosquis and the blocks are partially transparent grass tile.

$7144 is only on the Palmtree levels.

View PostAndrew75, on 07 March 2017 - 08:34 AM, said:

Also want to ask, is there a place where all of the known Sonic CD data is being documented and analyzed publicly, sort of disassembly wiki?
and for some of the listed code, are there any screens and video showing any of that stuff off ?
What about the 510 Beta, has PPZ been fully explored there as well?

Except for qyuu's data dump, not public, not as far as I know. My R11A work is probably closest as I posted links to it on IRC, and have been meaning to finish splitting it and make scripts to help automate disassembling the other zones, but haven't had time for it.

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