For years the rumours of Dust Hill have been flying around. These rumours have been based off two main peices of evidence. First of all, the screenshot that was published in magazines.
Now, I know it's been said that this screenshot, and the matching one for HPZ, were doctored up for the press. I agree to an extent. I think it's very likely that they simply took what they had at that time, and shoved together a little artificial scene for a nice screenshot. It's obvious however that the art they used already existed, and at least in the case of HPZ, they used an area that was part of the actual level they had in mind, even though we can see that alterations were made later. It's a pretty fair assumption to make that they also based the screenshot of DHZ on an area that they already had planned to be in the level. This isn't exactly ground-breaking information, as we already know that the art was made, and you probably wouldn't have art assets made before you had a rough idea of what you were going to do with the level. What that means is that at one time there was probably a rough level design planned for DHZ, and there was a reasonable amount of level art made for it.
The second thing that has been considered evidence that DHZ may have existed are a collection of lost tiles found in the S2B rom that do not fit in with the style of any other known level from S2, and could possibly fit in with the level shown in that screenshot. I'd imagine that everyone is familiar with these images:
These are two peices of art that are present in the S2B rom, in regions that had not been written over by that perticular build of the game. There is also other art there that appears to be compressed that BMF located, which can be seen in this image:
As I said, this data has been thought to possibly belong to DHZ. In fact, that has been the generally accepted theory. Well, in that case, I give you Dust Hill Zone:
Today I isolated a section of this lost data, and ran a search of my entire genesis rom collection for a match. I found one. These screenshots were taken from the game "Chiki Chiki Boys", quite possibly one of the most shit easy (and just plain shit) games I have ever played. From what I can tell, all the currently unidentified areas of lost data belong to this game. It would seem that the flashcart used to hold S2B previously held a copy of this game, much the same as was the case with a Ninja Turtles game being used for the cart that Sonic Crackers came from. So yeah, that solves that mystery. Just for the disappointed, if it's any consolation, the leftover data from Chiki Chiki Boys is from a prerelease =P.
Where that leaves us is right back at the start. We know that Dust Hill was planned, and we have a screenshot that tells us roughly what the style of the art for it was. We don't have anything else. We have no actual data from DHZ in any of the S2 roms, and in fact there is no evidence that the zone was ever included in a build of the game at all. I perrsonally believe it was, but the simple fact is that if such a build exists, we don't have it.
OMFG that really, really sucks.
(I had to edit some of this for the images, sorry Nemesis)