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Knuckles' Ringstar (Chaotix) pre-1207 Prototype magazine scans

#16 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM

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I'm glad that you're all finding this as fascinating as I am. It makes me wonder what else is hidden away in old gaming mags. Does anybody know why a lot of this prototype stuff ends up in Spanish gaming magazines? Like, why Spain in particular? I've found prototype stuff from a few games (which I won't post in this thread, obviously, but I've started to document my non-Sonic findings elsewhere) in those mags, and I'm convinced that if I go through them all I could probably find something else.

I interviewed John Pedigo once, showing him prototype screenshots from the first Power Rangers game that surfaced in a Spanish print ad, and he claimed that it could have been a case of Spain getting marketing materials and using them too early. Could this be a common occurrence? Was there just little oversight back then about what got published and what didn't? Was Spanish gamer enthusiasm simply outperforming the marketing machine? Either way, the same builds seemed to end up with various magazines of the time, showing that it was at least an industry-wide thing, not just one magazine jumping the gun.

Anyway, while the title screen is cool, especially since it's the first beta I've seen that actually specifies it's a beta, the part that continues to catch my eye is the whole "Nat The Armadillo" thing. Where the heck did that come from? Did they just hastily pull Mighty's design from internal SEGA stuff to replace Sonic without realising that he actually had a name until later revisions?

Now, I said in the initial post that I'd upload another scan I found from "Todosega" Issue #23, but my PC is still having issues whenever I try to split the .pdf file into individual pages. I don't know why. But I did the next best thing and take screenshots. There's not much to say about these scans, I can't see any noticeable differences between this and the 1207 proto, but I found the article text fascinating. If Google Translate is accurate, it seems to suggest a playable Tails, despite Tails not being in any of the screenshots. Given that we know "Wechnia" was Tails, could the article have been written when they played a previous build?
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Coprotagonized by a new and extensive list of characters, this cartridge will come with the only premise to amuse and break the gameplay of the weak Sonic saga. Remember that this series was based on such simple pillars as time and rings. The only purpose of the game was to collect as many rings as possible in the least amount of time, without forgetting to avoid enemies. This gave rise to a series that offered four titles to the most players and fans of the Sonic clan: Sonic I, II and III, and << Sonic & Knuckles >>. The latter character is now in charge of becoming a star for the 32-bit Sega machine, MD 32X, in a cartridge with a similar game layout.

As we said before, the cartridge will offer almost 8 new characters, from a bee and a crocodile to an armadillo or a chameleon, going through two very rare types, not to mention Knuckles and Tails. Another novelty is the inclusion of a second character that will help the protagonist more directly. The rest focuses on the cheerful and colorful design of the scenes, as well as sound effects and music at the height of 32 bits. End of February is the date chosen by Sega for the launch.


#17 User is offline JaxTH 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:52 AM

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Why don't you just upload the entire magazines to Retro CDN then?

We already have Hobby Consolas #45 though.

#18 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:57 AM

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I suppose I could do that, yeah. I wasn't aware of Retro CDN until just now. These magazine scans were easily found online, but I guess backing them up to another place would be worth it if the site I got them from ever went down. I'll see what I can do.

#19 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 10:21 AM

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View PostPrototype, on 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM, said:

Does anybody know why a lot of this prototype stuff ends up in Spanish gaming magazines? Like, why Spain in particular?

In the grand scheme of things, it's probably no more or less lucky than other Western countries when it came to pre-release material, though I would suspect Sega Espana would have been a bit more... lenient than, say, Sega of America. There's not much point in trying to lock down information for a specific market when there's traffic flowing into and out of the rest of Europe.


One thing worth noting though is we don't have many scans from UK magazines from around this period, so the info is skewed in the mainland's favour.

#20 User is offline HedgeHayes 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 12:41 PM

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I'm just wondering why the writer of this article thought Sonic was a weak game series. I mean, Sonic was strong here, it had quite an amount of fans, and the main games themselves don't leave very much space to say that, given the physics and aesthetics of the games. If they were not fans, ok, but saying the series was weak is a step beyond.

#21 User is offline Shoemanbundy 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 06:37 PM

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In case no one has caught on, all of this is available on Emuparadise.


Quote

That and it clearly has the symbol for beta, and in 1995 the gaming press had no concept of how prototype software was labeled. It's not something they really thought about and it certainly wasn't something reported on, so why would they bother adding that in?


Funny enough, it appears they do know what a beta is. Take a look at this Garfield scan (together with a photo of the lost viking level).

Posted Image

You'll notice they explain what a beta is at the bottom left of the page. I think they probably did just superimpose their own pic onto a blank screen that Sega hadn't filled with graphics yet. If you look throughout the issue and others you'll see that all of their previews have a titlescreen shot that notes the system, system bits, and region. If the proto came with nothing discernible on the title, it makes sense they'd come up with something in order to avoid breaking tradition. After all, Sega wasn't so technically inept with new gen hardware at this point that they wouldn't be able to provide a properly colored Knuckles pic.

It's probably just their own mock-up. It may have been an earlier time, but lets not assume they weren't capable of knowing a thing or two.

#22 User is offline LukyHRE 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 10:48 AM

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View PostPrototype, on 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM, said:

Posted Image

Quote

Coprotagonized by a new and extensive list of characters, this cartridge will come with the only premise to amuse and break the gameplay of the weak Sonic saga. Remember that this series was based on such simple pillars as time and rings. The only purpose of the game was to collect as many rings as possible in the least amount of time, without forgetting to avoid enemies. This gave rise to a series that offered four titles to the most players and fans of the Sonic clan: Sonic I, II and III, and << Sonic & Knuckles >>. The latter character is now in charge of becoming a star for the 32-bit Sega machine, MD 32X, in a cartridge with a similar game layout.

As we said before, the cartridge will offer almost 8 new characters, from a bee and a crocodile to an armadillo or a chameleon, going through two very rare types, not to mention Knuckles and Tails. Another novelty is the inclusion of a second character that will help the protagonist more directly. The rest focuses on the cheerful and colorful design of the scenes, as well as sound effects and music at the height of 32 bits. End of February is the date chosen by Sega for the launch.


Native spanish speaker here. The translation is correct. They are indeed confirming a playable Tails. Maybe there was a proto before 1207 where his art was still intact? Or maybe that's the info Sega provided to the magazine.

Kinda off-topic, but all the bugs that plagued the protos we have, were those emulation related? I can't think of magazine reviewers playing those buggy builds...

#23 User is offline sonicblur 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 10:54 AM

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View PostLukyHRE, on 27 August 2017 - 10:48 AM, said:

View PostPrototype, on 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM, said:

Quote

Coprotagonized by a new and extensive list of characters, this cartridge will come with the only premise to amuse and break the gameplay of the weak Sonic saga.


Native spanish speaker here. The translation is correct.

It's wrong. 'Coprotagonized' is not a word. :ssh:
(In case it was not obvious, I'm joking here.)
Complemented maybe?
This post has been edited by sonicblur: 27 August 2017 - 10:56 AM

#24 User is offline LukyHRE 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 11:55 AM

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View Postsonicblur, on 27 August 2017 - 10:54 AM, said:

View PostLukyHRE, on 27 August 2017 - 10:48 AM, said:

View PostPrototype, on 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM, said:

Quote

Coprotagonized by a new and extensive list of characters, this cartridge will come with the only premise to amuse and break the gameplay of the weak Sonic saga.


Native spanish speaker here. The translation is correct.

It's wrong. 'Coprotagonized' is not a word. :ssh:/>
(In case it was not obvious, I'm joking here.)
Complemented maybe?

Hahaha I said I was a native spanish speaker, not an english one :P

Anyway, the correct word is "Co-starred", for the record.

#25 User is offline Master Emerald 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 12:05 PM

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View PostLukyHRE, on 27 August 2017 - 10:48 AM, said:

View PostPrototype, on 26 August 2017 - 07:16 AM, said:

Posted Image

Quote

Coprotagonized by a new and extensive list of characters, this cartridge will come with the only premise to amuse and break the gameplay of the weak Sonic saga. Remember that this series was based on such simple pillars as time and rings. The only purpose of the game was to collect as many rings as possible in the least amount of time, without forgetting to avoid enemies. This gave rise to a series that offered four titles to the most players and fans of the Sonic clan: Sonic I, II and III, and << Sonic & Knuckles >>. The latter character is now in charge of becoming a star for the 32-bit Sega machine, MD 32X, in a cartridge with a similar game layout.

As we said before, the cartridge will offer almost 8 new characters, from a bee and a crocodile to an armadillo or a chameleon, going through two very rare types, not to mention Knuckles and Tails. Another novelty is the inclusion of a second character that will help the protagonist more directly. The rest focuses on the cheerful and colorful design of the scenes, as well as sound effects and music at the height of 32 bits. End of February is the date chosen by Sega for the launch.


Native spanish speaker here. The translation is correct. They are indeed confirming a playable Tails. Maybe there was a proto before 1207 where his art was still intact? Or maybe that's the info Sega provided to the magazine.

Kinda off-topic, but all the bugs that plagued the protos we have, were those emulation related? I can't think of magazine reviewers playing those buggy builds...


I read somewhere it was a faulty sound driver!

#26 User is offline ICEknight 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:21 PM

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Man, that "Nat the Armadillo" name brings some memories.

I think there was even some fanart that used it being published in magazines, before the game's release.


Regarding SEGA España, there's some interesting articles (in Spanish) detailing how things worked there, by Raúl Montón (AKA The Punisher), an ex employee who also happened to work in the Super Juegos magazine:

Also of interest:

This post has been edited by ICEknight: 27 August 2017 - 01:37 PM

#27 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:13 PM

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View PostLukyHRE, on 27 August 2017 - 10:48 AM, said:

Kinda off-topic, but all the bugs that plagued the protos we have, were those emulation related? I can't think of magazine reviewers playing those buggy builds...

The worst I've read about in this regard is Acclaim Entertainment bringing horrendously early Mortal Kombat prototypes to various CES shows.

Builds so early that you basically just have two characters on a screen. And they can walk.

They can't fight, there's no backgrounds or music or any meaningful gameplay to speak of, but you could go, as a member of the public, to Acclaim's booth in 1993 and play this thing. On multiple platforms. That's how they would sell a game 25 years ago.


So the bar is really, really low. Though I'd be very surprised if they sent out a copy with a faulty sound driver like our earliest (non-Crackers) Chaotix prototypes. I don't think they'd show off something that actually hurts to play.
This post has been edited by Black Squirrel: 27 August 2017 - 03:14 PM

#28 User is offline Overlord 

Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:19 PM

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Is a wonky sound driver the worst thing in the world for a games show? I've been to more than a couple of shows like that, and half the time the game's sound is drowned out by the surroundings.

#29 User is offline Prototype 

Posted 28 August 2017 - 06:34 AM

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First of all, thank you for the articles, ICEKnight. Even in poorly translated English, they're fascinating to read. Also fascinating to note that the Nat name did gain some traction back then! It's always a blast to see the old fanart in those magazines, they're a nice capsule of where the audience were at at the time.

I did see some speculation that those Chaotix prototypes were prototypes that suffered bitrot, but I did read later that that was false, and it was indeed a sound driver issue. Now, I can understand sending copies like that to tradeshows, for the reason that Overlord suggested, but from what I can tell these were sent to various magazines to be played in-office, right? So is it possible that the sound drivers somehow got corrupted in a later build due to changes made to the ROM?

I'll take Google Translate's ability to translate accurately with a grain of salt, but from what I'm reading, the version(s) that would have been sent to magazines like Super Juegos and Hobby Consolas were on EPROMs, meaning they likely would have been erased afterwards, and providing that they didn't make a bunch of copies (and why would you? I don't think they could have foreseen this interest in prototype/game development, though I could be wrong) that would mean that it's extremely unlikely any of these versions would still exist. Am I correct in my assumption?

#30 User is offline Shoemanbundy 

Posted 28 August 2017 - 08:58 AM

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Assuming you're not so familiar with how prototypes work, here's the basic answer.

Whether these specific prototype cartridges that the magazines got still exist or not depends on if they developer (Sega) had the prototypes returned to them. There are actually a lot of prototypes that have been dumped over the years that were originally sourced from a cartridge/cd that came from a magazine. My impression is most magazines probably weren't being too pressured into sending prototypes back, so they ended up just keeping them. Sometimes individual journalists would hold onto a prototype they received, or the magazine would just have it laying around in their offices somewhere until its thrown out one day.

The EPROMs most likely got erased if they got sent back to the developer, but if the magazine kept it, then it likely stayed as-is. I can't tell if you're clear on this or not, but keep in mind it was the developers erasing EPROMs and then uploading new data onto them, not the magazines. A magazine didn't have the equipment, since it was the developers that had the data to upload onto them. At most, some magazines had spare PCB boards and developers would just send them EPROMs to put on the boards themselves, rather than sending an entire populated board (populated meaning that the board already has EPROMs on it). This stuff was pretty costly back then, after all.

I'm sure these versions still exist in Sega's archives somewhere, though.
This post has been edited by Shoemanbundy: 28 August 2017 - 09:01 AM

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