Dust Hill and Mystic Cave Discussion 2019

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Taylor, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. qwertysonic

    qwertysonic

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    Unpopular theory time: Sand Shower is the name of the desert zone and Dust Hill is the name of the rock world. Eroding rocks are dusty. Don't at me.

    In all seriousness though. It makes sense that the mountain in the past map labeled Rock Zone could have eroded away (or been destroyed by Robotnik) and the result have been a desert.

    Also the original demo for the Oil Ocean Zone music gives a much more Arabic feel to it. My guess is that was the original music planned for Sand Shower (which was probably meant to be an Arabic style desert like in Sonic 4 E2). But Brenda Ross made an American style desert (since she's American) and the Japanese team didn't like it so they canned the whole stage. Thus the music was modified to feel a little less Arabic and used in Oil Ocean Zone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  2. Blastfrog

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    I'm pretty sure Sand Shower is the desert level's name and final OOZ music was assigned to it. Sand Shower appears in the same spot on the map as Rock Zone, and we already knew Rock Zone was directly related to the desert level. The internal level order (late additions such as WFZ notwithstanding) closely matches the maps, and the slot "Sand Shower" would occupy if going by the map's level order has the final OOZ music assigned to it.

    And please don't try to tell me that it's "unfitting". It's desert music for a desert level and that's all that matters. East/west, doesn't matter, we already know Masa was given vague direction, he was probably only told "make a desert level theme" while Brenda independently was told "make desert level art" and two different interpretations arose from it.

    I mean sure, the possibilities are endless, but given the evidence, it's the most likely scenario.
     
  3. qwertysonic

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    You dun ninja'd me :thumbsup:
     
  4. Nova

    Nova

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    Is anybody actually making the argument that the desert level isn't Sand Shower Zone at this point? The only argument I've been making (or trying to) is that with what we have, we still cannot be absolutely sure Dust Hill was an early name for Mystic Cave.
     
  5. Fred

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    I'm curious, where did you get this kanji from? Is it written somewhere in Yasuhara's docs?
     
  6. I just used this handy Japanese dictionary app to search for "dust" and I looked through for phrases that might not translate well.
     
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  7. Laura

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    I think at this point it's safest to assume Dust Hill was an early name for Mystic Cave. I don't think the evidence is overwhelming, but that two new prototypes keep the level's name does suggest something. My guess is that after the time travel was scrapped, the context that Dust Hill was an ancient version of Emerald Hill wouldn't be clearly communicated, so they changed the name to something which is more fitting in its new role as a standalone level.

    Also I think it's pretty important that the name 'Mystic Cave' doesn't appear anywhere in early Sonic 2 development material until Dust Hill was renamed to Mystic Cave.
     
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  8. Travelsonic

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    Not enough to say it is outright, and unquestioningly proven though - same with the opposite (that it was the desert level). Assumptions, when it comes to factually trying to document something like a game's development, are dangerous (erm, not in the life-or-death way, obviously)
     
  9. Travelsonic

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    Not all deserts are the same though - sure, they both have heat and sand, but there is a difference between a desert with endless dunes of sand, and a desert with bluffs, mesas, and Saguaro cacti.
     
  10. Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Sonic Hachelle-Bee

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    Yes, you are totally right. Sorry about that, I did not remember this page.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  11. Blastfrog

    Blastfrog

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    Well, of course. It feels like you ignored the point I was trying to make. The discrepancy doesn't make it any less likely that OOZ final music was initially intended for Sand Shower, things just line up too much for it not to have been.

    I'm not saying with certainty (because I can't), but it's far and above the most likely, given the evidence. Any suggestion that its music was anything else is not supported by the available facts.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  12. Laura

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    No I agree, we can't say with 100% certainty that Mystic Cave was originally called Dust Hill. It could be using a different level slot and the theme we see for Mystic Cave was always intended to be Mystic Cave.

    That said though, we have to go on what's most probable, and the logical conclusion of where the evidence leads. We have development maps which, while very early in development (and probably not always relevant to the final product), suggests that Dust Hill was an ancient version of Emerald Hill. It's possible that Mystic Cave originally served this purpose, especially because the shards in the zone look like emerald shards. We can't be certain, perhaps Dust Hill being an ancient Emerald Hill was scrapped early in development. But the maps certainly don't align Dust Hill with a desert.

    We have multiple prototypes which have Mystic Cave titled as Dust Hill, something which can be seen in other zones. It's not hard to think that Mystic Cave was originally called 'Dust Hill' in the same way Aquatic Ruin was originally called 'Neo Green Hill Zone'. Unless we also believe Neo Green Hill Zone is a different level slot which Aquatic Ruin is occupying. It makes just as much sense as Dust Hill Zone being its own independent level.

    The reason this is even a controversy is because of the Desert Level being called 'Dust Hill' by the fandom for decades, as well as the very non-committed interview answers which are the only evidence for the theory. We have a zone called 'Sand Shower' on the level maps, which is possibly the name for the desert level. It's impossible to say with certainty, perhaps the Desert Zone was called something totally different, but there's zero evidence that it was ever called 'Dust Hill'.

    So while it's an assumption to say that Mystic Cave was initially called Dust Hill, it's a possibility which has the most evidence backing it.
     
  13. Pengi

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    Dust Hill Zone was in the "Now 2" time period - an alternate present, after the past had been changed. The ancient version was Hill Top Zone.

    ---

    Interestingly, Hill Top Zone has the earthquake/shifting ground sections. It's never clear what the cause of this is (perhaps natural), but we see a reprise of this idea in Sonic 3's Marble Garden Zone, where the quakes and shifting land are caused by Eggman's drilling machines and robots.

    As already mentioned earlier in this thread, the Emerald Hill Zone boss is "Drill Eggman" and the Mystic Cave Zone boss is "Drill Eggman II". The former is particularly interesting, since Emerald Hill Zone's boss is one of the few that isn't explicitly themed to the Zone. The Japanese manual also mentions Eggman's robots digging, presumably for Chaos Emeralds:

    So it does seem like there was supposed to be an intentional link between the manual's prologue (Eggman's forces digging for Chaos Emeralds) and the first encounter with Eggman (in a drill machine) in the game.

    The whole idea appears to be recycled from Sonic 1's Green Hill Zone and the famous wrecking ball boss, which evolved from a construction robot mid-boss. The general premise made its way into the Sonic 1 Story Comic (along with other unused names and ideas), which also has Eggman's robots digging up Green Hill Zone for Chaos Emeralds.

    With all this in mind, a mine cave theme makes a lot of sense for a "ruined" version of Green/Emerald Hill Zone.
     
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  14. RankoChan

    RankoChan

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    Considering that it was Sand Shower/desert's counterpart, it seems possible that Rock World was the winter zone. Being a palette change, this would mirror EHZ/HTZ's relationship at the time. Looking at the past map, the large rock/mountain near the Rock World tag has snow on top of it. Rock World's likely unused level slot (ID 09) plays Sky Chase's music, which listening to Masa's demo version, has a Christmas/wintery feel to it:
     
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  15. Blue Spikeball

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    I wouldn't say that's snow for certain. It looks like more grass to me, from comparing it to the island borders and the rock just to the left of Tropical Plant Zone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  16. Rock World being the Brenda Ross snow level would make sense, especially if we consider the option that the other act/zone of Rock World was her desert level. It could be possible that the proposed Sand Shower was an entirely different type of desert, possibly similar to Desert Palace from S3.

    Although the Banper sketches could be evidence against that. Two deserts or not, we're at least certain the Banper had nothing to do with Dust Hill.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  17. Despatche

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    So, I'm starting to think a good chunk of the assets in this game are mismatched. Level names, designs, music, enemies, all of it. There just seems to be more questions than answers. The current response of "Dust Hill WAS ALWAYS Mystic Cave, forever" just seems like a "checkmate atheists"-style reaction to the years of drama over this name. What we have does not point conclusively in a particular direction. There is probably a metric ton of the story we will never know and that the original team has likely forgotten by now. What we should do is simply... not assume too much. Theorize, sure, but authoritative statements are a bit much. Common sense does not point us in a sensible direction here.

    I too think there were intended to be two desert levels: Dust Hill and Sand Shower. I think Dust Hill and what we now know as Mystic Cave were acts of a single zone, somewhat like how Scrap Brain act 3 was supposed to be different from the rest of the zone but to a greater degree. This would immediately explain both the art on the maps and also the level title. For what it's worth, there's no particular reason to believe Sonic 2 wouldn't have had acts, and one possible reason things started getting cut so early on is that multiple acts for everything planned is a total pain by any definition. When time travel got scrapped, so did Dust Hill. The Dust Hill portion would have been scrapped in favor of Sand Shower, which ended up getting scrapped itself in favor of Oil Ocean. The leftover "mine" area became Mystic Cave, but still called Dust Hill for the longest time. Mines being in deserts is not even remotely strange, and you've got all that great wild west backdrop that "the desert level art" was going for. Eggman eroding a nice place like Green Hill into a desert with mining attempts is also not even remotely strange. Either that, or Dust Hill and Neo Green Hill were genuine placeholders and meant to be something completely different. However, these maps already show multiple similar level ideas. Two desert levels doesn't sound any stranger than two tropical levels or two explicitly named Genocide City levels.

    Crazy theory: Sand Shower looks like a beach on the map, but there's no Neo Green Hill in sight. Maybe a beach "Sand Shower" level was renamed Neo Green Hill post-time travel, but Aquatic Ruin occupied its slot for the longest time. It does seem as if Aquatic Ruin was one of the two tropical levels at one point, likely Tropical Summer owing to its "ruins" theme. Maybe Neo Green Hill in Advance inherits its traits from this...?

    Aside from that, we should stop doubting the naming capabilities of Sonic Team. "Sonic Team is bad at English" is suddenly some kind of meme being forced in an attempt to back up this Dust Hill = Mystic Cave thing, when it was always a dumb joke before. So-called "Engrish" is not that simple... something like "Banper" makes sense if you recognize these mere typos as an automatic thing done in the heads of Japanese native speakers (which it is). The level names in Sonic, especially old Sonic, are all pretty sound. Note that Sonic 1, Sonic CD, and Sonic 3, made by almost entirely Japanese teams, have largely sensible level names. You've only got two candidates: Final Zone and Genocide City. Questioning "Final Zone" makes no sense; what's wrong with a simple name here, especially for your first game? It's frustrating to see people take issue with "Genocide City" and use an interview done long after Sonic 2 as proof, while raising an eyebrow to Brenda Ross's statements because her interview was also long after the fact. Genocide City simply makes good sense in a game with something called a Death Egg. Imagine if Metropolis was renamed Genocide City here and it just became something for parents to worry over, never mind for a second that this was SEGA and they were HARDCORE. As for Genocide City not matching up with the level art of something that came to be called "The Machine", part of a game featuring levels filled with all sorts of traps and dangerous substances seemingly designed solely to kill Sonic and any other would-be intruders... I dunno. Never mind that Eggman's whole thing is enslaving animal populations to be used as living batteries (free energy! much more efficient than just vaporizing them) and bending them to his will. Maybe it should have been called "Homicide City", target Sonic, but Sonic Team was clearly going for the sheer power of the word "genocide" here. I mean the whole premise of Sonic 2's (and CD's!) time travel is that Eggman was going around utterly destroying the world and turning it into metallic madness™. For what it's worth, we somehow got SatAM out of all this. It makes sense that the utterly dark and evil Robotnik of SatAM was inspired by names like "Genocide City", and "Death Egg" and all the Galactic Empire undertones that conveys. That man would 100% have something called "Genocide City". Two of them, even.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  18. SpeedStarTMQ

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    SEGA weren’t as hardcore as you think. They were great at advertising this fact but in hindsight it was all for sport for western audiences. SEGA vs Nintendo was the Pepsi vs Coke of the 90’s.

    Sonic The Hedgehog (the first game) is not much more “rad” than the Mario games of the time - it was the advertising that made you think this. Nintendo were very family friendly and so of course SEGA would look adult in comparison. I’m not denying that they didn’t do more for the mature audience than Nintendo did, but people make it sound like they were putting out 18 rated content left, right and centre. Classic Sonic in Japan is quite a different character to his western counterpart.

    The team at SEGA USA and STI were very keen to ensure that Sonic 2 portrayed the right message for all regions and players. They knew Sonic was a multicultural, child-oriented product, and the name Genocide City certainly would not have fit the bill generally.

    It’s not necessarily that it was an ‘engrish’ issue but a possible translation or judgement error. Even the first game suffered from some unusual naming possibly as a result of this - Scrap Brain Zone, for example.

    Whether it was intentional or not however, I have no doubt that had the level been finished that the name would have been changed. It would have not slipped by SEGA USA’s quality control of the time, that much I can tell you. They were a pretty tight ship from all I’ve read over the years.
     
  19. Despatche

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    I think maybe Sega of America would complain about it, but it's amazing some of the things they allowed, like the entirety of Phantasy Star II. You could probably get the name past the people who thought Mortal Kombat on the Mega Drive was a good idea, if you tried hard enough. Contrary to popular belief, Mortal Kombat of all things was sorta-kinda expected to be played by kids. That's how we got the cartoon series and the movies, though those were toned down (not so much the movie, which was more all-ages oriented) because television and film were stricter about that sort of thing at the time. This is also why Mortal Kombat was such a huge deal to parents back then.

    It should also be noted that there are a lot of things Japan has never minded kids seeing that tend to shock non-Japanese when they come across it, particularly violence and death. Not only that, but children's shows were starting to get like that in America too, especially in the '90s. SatAM, an extension of "American Sonic", is a fantastic example (to the point where they had to tone it down slightly for the second season), and I restate that SatAM Robotnik would have a "Genocide City Zone" and really mean it.

    "Scrap Brain" is a really good name. It's simple but creative, and it fits Eggman's character very well. Nothing really unusual about it... it's a similar name to "Metallic Madness". It's also largely better than "Clock Work", which would fit a Wacky Workbench-type Zone better.

    "Hidden Palace" is also a perfectly fine name for the Quartz Quadrant-type level that we know it as. Despite the claimed mixup, it's pretty obvious that at the end of the day someone on the dev team wanted to call that specific design Hidden Palace, and it also led to the more explicit Hidden Palace in Sonic 3. The only thing that would make Sonic 2's Hidden Palace better would be to have some cool ruins strewn about. Even so, the stated concept for the version in the Sonic 2 remaster is also pretty smart. It's just such a shame the unused song wasn't put to use here, especially seeing as the 2P songs already got put to use elsewhere. I guess keeping it for that Proto Palace version is... okay... I guess. Would have been much better with the remaster concept and that boss though.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  20. Laura

    Laura

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    There's absolutely no way the Sonic 2 devs would ever have gone forward with Genocide City if they knew what it meant. It's possible that they would have found the zone name funny and used it as dark humour internally, very speculatively you could argue that, but to think that they would sincerely go with that name in the final product is madness.

    Sonic is a kid's game about cartoon animals. The games themselves aren't even 'hardcore', Eggman is a bumbling, comical fool and Sonic's best friend is a cute fox.

    The only aspects of the classic games which were a little weird, like Madonna in Sonic 1, aren't 'hardcore' but just because of cultural differences.

    Moreover,

    The idea that they were making a level which has similarities to conveyor belt genocides like the Holocaust is so baffling that I don't even know how to respond.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019