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Is Sonic Spinball (alternate music) actually a prototype?

#1 User is offline evilhamwizard 

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:11 PM

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So I was debating making this a thread but I'm genuinely curious if anyone actually has a retail (not a bootleg) cartridge of Sonic Spinball that has different music at the title screen/game over screens.

For those who don't know, when development on Sonic Spinball wrapped up the first "gold" ROM used the familiar Sonic 1/2 themes for it's Title screen and Game Over screens. It was discovered not long after at a wrap party that Sega didn't actually have the rights to use the music in any future game without Dream Come True's permission, and so another ROM had to be created in a short amount of time with new music by Howard Drossin.

For the longest time, this ROM has existed in many ROM collections as either an (a1) dump or a "rev 00 with alternate music". No-intro decided to label this as (Beta 2) in their Mega Drive set. But as far as I know, no one was able to actually confirm if a physical retail copy ever had this version of the game. I can tell you right now that the dump that's currently in no-intro was altered, as part of the ROM's serial number (GN NK) isn't valid and doesn't exist in any other retail Mega Drive dump. I was able to confirm that this part of the serial number does appear on a few SNEAKERs (the scene group) releases, which were also hacked in the same manner.

As part of the whole Sonic 2 prototype that was uncovered earlier, the same source provided the dump for this version of Spinball. If the timestamp hasn't been faked and is actually correct, the ROM with the alternate music was actually released/modified 10/13/1993, a whole month before the first retail release!

So was this actually a prototype the entire time?

#2 User is offline drx 

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:13 PM

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That'd be pretty funny.

#3 User is offline JaxTH 

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:32 PM

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I wouldn't count it as a prototype. They basically made a Day 1 Patch to a game when they found out they didn't have the rights to a piece of music.

#4 User is offline Master Emerald 

Posted 15 February 2019 - 12:27 AM

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If it wasn't available at retail, yes it IS a prototype.

#5 User is offline Sodaholic 

Posted 15 February 2019 - 04:10 AM

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View Postevilhamwizard, on 14 February 2019 - 11:11 PM, said:

If the timestamp hasn't been faked and is actually correct, the ROM with the alternate music was actually released/modified 10/13/1993, a whole month before the first retail release!

So was this actually a prototype the entire time?
We have a version of Sonic 3 from Dec. 1993 that has only two bytes of difference from the Feb. 1994 retail release. If this version of Spinball did indeed make it to retail, an older timestamp wouldn't necessarily disprove that. Probably a lengthy QA process.

#6 User is offline Kail 

Posted 15 February 2019 - 09:51 AM

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This could be me mis-remembering (ala sinbad as a genie named Shazam), but when I was a kid we rented Sonic Spinball from the grocery store and I could've swore it had the Dreams Come True theme. I never owned it but we rented the same copy from the same grocery store several times, it wasn't until I got into emulation that I saw the one with the Howard Drossin music. Is it possible that a distributor for rental stores would've gotten some copies first and let them out into the wild? Again, I could be mis-remembering, but I very clearly remember playing the version with the Drossin theme later in life and thinking it sounded wrong.

#7 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:17 AM

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Some Mega Drive games were released as a rental first. Not sure Sonic Spinball was one of them (given that they made a big fuss about Sonic Mania Day, the date it was launched), but it could have been. First party games from North America are prime candidates for that sort of thing.

I've always assumed it was a very late prototype (as in, finished save for that music change). I think if they had to recall any cartridges it would have been in the news, and I've not seen anything in my travels (though fair enough, I've not been actively looking for such a story). My impression is it's a bit like Sonic CD getting its US soundtrack as a last minute thing.


If it was available to rent before its full retail release, I would imagine Blockbuster would have been making a big deal of it. It shouldn't be hard to find evidence if it exists.

#8 User is offline rata 

Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:55 AM

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My father has a cartdige with the alternate music, but I don't know if it is original or pirate. Genesis pirate cartdiges were a huge thing here in Argentina, in fact, from the ~30 cartdiges that I have, I can only 100% confirm one cartdige as original (Championship Pro-Am). Maybe if I remember, I can borrow it on Sunday to take a look at it (no, I can't make any dumping, sorry).

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