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Sonic 2 Development Lore

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Chimes, Apr 5, 2023.

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  1. Laura

    Laura

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    Thought I'd write a post about the concept maps. Did some thinking and I think you could support Sonic 2's development as in line with the time zones concept or that Sonic Team dropped it very soon in development. In sum...we don't know. Lol!

    Going off the time concept maps, it seems like you would go through the zones in order of the time zones. So Now 1-Past-Now 2-Future. The maps even have arrows in the order of which the player would go through the zones on the map. It's a clear indication that the player would play through all zones of a time period to reach warp zones to reach the next time zone. It seems entirely linear to me and not at all like Sonic CD. So for all intents and purposes we can read the below list as the rough level order of the original concept:

    Now 1: Emerald Hill, Wood Zone, Sand Shower, Metropolis, Ocean Wind, Warp Zone

    Past: Tropical Plant Zone, Hill Top Zone, Blue Lake Zone, Olympus, Rock World Zone, Warp Zone

    It's unclear how Tropical Summer fits in.

    Now 2: Because the arrows aren't on the map the order is unclear. But they have Dust Hill, Oil Ocean, Rock World Zone

    Future: Chemical Plant Zone, Casino Night Zone, Genocide City Zone.

    Now first of all, that's 17/18 zones. Lol! Pretty sure Sonic Team knew not long into development that number was far too ambitious. Sonic 1 only had six zones. Sonic 2 managed 11 zones and that's an impressive number.

    Nick Arcade has Emerald Hill, Hill Top, Chemical Plant, Hidden Palace. On the order of the zones on the concept map that's Levels 1, 7, 15. It doesn't make sense to me to make the levels out of order. It's also not how Sonic 1 was designed. In that game the levels were clearly developed in order. Green Hill and Spring Yard are more developed than Labyrinth and Scrap Brain in the prototype. Perhaps Sonic Team started Emerald Hill and Hill Top in tandem since they were time zone counterparts. But then during the development of those two zones quickly dropped the entire time zone concept for being too ambitious. Maybe they wanted to design a Now, Past, and Future Zone in development to get a feel for things? Who knows!

    It's also worth noting that even at this early stage the game doesn't seem to make much sense for difficulty scaling if they were going along the lines of the original time map concept. Chemical Plant is at the end of the game but is an easier stage than Hill Top which is in the early-mid game. Maybe Chemical Plant was easier like Star Light before moving to the originally more difficult Casino Night and Genocide City ala Scrap Brain? Maybe they had already changed their mind about time travel. Who knows! Sonic Team never had a particularly level headed approach to difficulty scaling.

    In the Simon Wai prototype it becomes a bit more logical. We have Aquatic Ruin, Chemical Plant, Hill Top, Emerald Hill, Wood Zone, Metropolis, Hidden Palace, Oil Ocean, Mystic Cave, Casino Night, Genocide City, Death Egg. Based upon the concept map, that's Level 1, 2, 4, 7, 9 (perhaps if Olympus is Aquatic Ruin), 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Now it's possible that Sonic Team wanted to keep the original time travel concept but decided to cut down on the amount of levels for each time period. The prototype does have a generally even level representation for each time period: Now 1 has 3/5, Past has 2/3, Now 2 has 2/5, Future has 3/3 in development. However, it's also possible that Sonic Team simply dropped the time travel concept entirely and just stuck to the level themes which they had created in early development.

    It is notable that in Simon Wai the Zone Order has changed significantly and completely conflicts with the order of the Time Zone maps. But then the level order might not actually mean anything and might just have been done for the purposes of the prototype. Who knows!

    So yeah, that was a long post about how we don't really know anything. So this whole thing has pretty much been a waste of time.

    :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2023
  2. RDNexus

    RDNexus

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    There are two Past maps, according to the "plot outline" they devised alongside the maps.

    It'd be more like NOW1 > PAST1 (full island) > NOW2 > PAST2 (broken island) > FUTURE.

    2nd PAST map, for referrence:
    [​IMG]

    It has Hill Top, Blue Lake & Tropical Summer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2023
  3. Pengi

    Pengi

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  4. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    I would argue Chemical Plant is harder than most stages, actually. The rising water tunnel still gets people even today, and the boss is very difficult as well if you don't know what you're doing. For the second level, that's a huge difficulty spike. Besides, we know the difficulty was being modified all the time, like those little platforms across the water being smaller in the Simon Wai build and the top corners of the loops being impossible to jump on.

    Also, as was noted in previous pages, the internal level slot order matches Yasuhara's concepts pretty closely. The only outlier is "Neo Green Hill" being at the very end.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2023
  5. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

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    You know, now that I can run GHZ at the speed of a world record, pass LZ without ever suffocating, defeat death egg robo on the first attempt without getting up from behind, and pass S3K as Knuckles without much effort - I always want to say "you exaggerate, it's not that difficult!", but remembering my first walkthrough sonic 2 on a mobile phone - I remember that in the beginning I could never pass CPZ 2 without Tails' flying, and that I could not pass Scrap
    Brain because it was very difficult...

    And about music; as I remember, nothing interesting/unused you can't find in S2 final SMPS data, but has anybody tried to look at Simon Wai/Aug21/Nik Arcade (why not) music data? Who knows, maybe we will find something interesting in that dubious depths of asm code? :)
     
  6. RankoChan

    RankoChan

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    Nobody is saying that that the time travel level order/story was still in place in the Simon Wai build. It's clear that it was dropped at this point with Genocide City dummied out and its level layout has already repurposed for Metropolis Act 3, along with all the other dummied out zone slots and rearranged play order.

    The argument is that Simon Wai has leftovers from the original level timeline/map at all. Sometime after the Nick Arcade build the internal level slots were adjusted to closely match Yasuhara's concepts, using zone names such as Green Hill (because the game was to take place on South Island), Wood, Dust Hill, and Genocide City that clearly originate from them. It also gives us an idea on what once belonged or was planned to be in those empty slots, with Sand Shower, Rock World, and Blue Lake's presumed slots having music assigned to them (OOZ, SCZ, and EHZ2P respectively). So it would seem that the Sonic 2 development team attempted to follow the time travel story level order until sometime between the Nick Arcade and Simon Wai builds.
     
  7. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    You were either very good at CPZ, very bad at HTZ, or have forgotten what these levels were like. I always felt HTZ was incredibly easy being the fifth level and considering the ones before it. Meanwhile, I struggled for a long time with CPZ. I don't think they did enough to dampen the difficulty of the second level in the game. I think they only picked it to be the second level because it was the most impressive in terms of speed and having overlapping paths. But from a difficulty standpoint, it doesn't fit there well at all.

    As for level order in Simon Wai, I believe they chose to highlight their "latest and greatest" zones first, and push the ones everyone had already seen to the back of the pack. It is a demo after all. I think it's the level select order that really shows how they envisioned how you'd progress through the game at that point.

    I'd be curious to know what made them radically alter the order. Was difficulty the only reason? Couldn't they have altered the difficulty of the levels to make the pre-conceived order work better?


    Edit:
    Another thought unrelated to Laura's post is about WFZ, SCZ, and DEZ. These were done at the last minute. However, if I was putting them into the game, I think I'd put them in zone ID slots 01, 03, and 06. Instead, they left 01 and 03 alone, and did 06, 0E, and 10. Does that strike anyone else as odd.

    They didn't replace 02 and 08, because presumably they didn't want to have to do clean-up during a rush job. Does that then mean there were things in their source code (apart from what the ROM has inside of it) that occupied those other slots I mentioned? We know some level of work was done to 03 (Sand Shower). Does that mean 01 also had some work done to it, and that 06 had nothing? Likewise, could 09 have had work done to it? And I haven't verified this / don't remember anymore, but was slot 10 *added* past Simon Wai, or was that always reserved?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2023
  8. Hez

    Hez

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    I'd remind people that these games were made back in the day where rentals were kept in mind. It wasn't too uncommon for the second levels to be increasingly more difficult as to keep you renting the game.
     
  9. Antheraea

    Antheraea

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    would also like to bring up that Vegas is a very popular destination for Japanese tourists too (source: I grew up there :V). And yeah, Vegas is both built in a desert and (at the time) had desert-themed casinos like the Sahara, the Aladdin, and the Mirage.

    ...and also our own wiki article says it was inspired by the strip (with a quote from Naka about it!), soooo

    Extra detail: a ton of that car ride would've been through a desert landscape too. Source: I went to disneyland once by car LMAO
     
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  10. RankoChan

    RankoChan

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    Renting games is actually illegal in Japan. The rental difficulty spike was mostly regulated to western developed titles or alterations to Japanese releases for the international market.
     
  11. Fadaway

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    I have yet to beat the one-hit version of Contra: Hard Corps for this very reason.
     
  12. muteKi

    muteKi

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    I mean both Casino Night and Mystic Cave come after Chemical Plant in the zone order, and while you skip the boss encounters in 2P mode I could regularly beat all the levels there without significant issue even as a kid. Chemical plant I was lucky if I could even reach the boss. That level really does weird stuff to the game's pacing and sense of location.
     
  13. Brainulator

    Brainulator

    Regular garden-variety member Member
    ...except the game was developed in the United States with US and Japanese audiences in mind. Then again, Sonic 2 was being shipped alongside the console and Sonic 1, wasn't it?

    Also, in regards to the zone order (the embedded replies contain relevant context, so please read them too!):
     
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  14. Blue Spikeball

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    Was it ever stated that the last map is the future, rather than another present?
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2023
  15. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    Except there's precedent of Sonic Team shifting zones around for difficulty reasons: Sonic 1 originally had LZ as the second zone and everything was moved around because LZ was so much harder. Granted, that was made in Japan, but even though Sonic 2 was made in the US, it would've been the Japanese developers who make that kind of decision.
    I'm confused. I don't speak debug jargon; what does this mean? Because the final internal order is still consistent with the Simon Wai order, which is still consistent with Yasuhara's timeline.
     
  16. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

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    A random thought:
    If MCZ was conceived as a haunted house, does this mean that the ghost mechanics were moved to Sandopolis in S3K?
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Blue Spikeball

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    I think people are getting too hung up on the "haunted house" thing.

    Naka said that DHZ/MCZ had the feel of a haunted house. Not that it was one.

    For all we know, it would have been a darker Green/Emerald Hill with a spooky feeling.
     
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  18. The Game Collector

    The Game Collector

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    Did you know that in Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 you can actually bypass the rising water tunnel entirely by jumping at just the right time after hitting the zipper? You can jump so high that you make it to the top of that tunnel in a single jump. It is now my go-to method for completing that level faster. It is doable as regular Sonic or Tails, not even Super Sonic is necessary for it.
     
  19. McAleeCh

    McAleeCh

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    Basically it means that even before the Nick Arcade proto there were plans to allocate the stage IDs in the order seen in the Simon Wai prototype onwards, as shown by snippets of leftover code from an even earlier prototype found within the Nick Arcade build. This more than anything lends credence to the idea the stage IDs may have been originally assigned when the intended stage list still bore some resemblance to the early plans seen on Yasuhara's time travel maps, as it suggests their allocation happened much earlier in development than it might otherwise appear.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2023
  20. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    This fucking table again.

    This table is wrong.

    • We don't know whether Tropical Plant/Tropical Sun would've had ID $05 or $06; while the timeline concept art suggests $05, the map shows it leading directly into Hill Top (and not Blue Lake as TCRF says) which implies $06.
    • We don't know the placement of Blue Lake Zone, Rock World Zone (Past), or Olympus, or even whether the last is a level.
    • "Hidden Shrine" is specifically not a level in the timeline concept art, and is placed after Dust anyway, so that part of the TCRF table is just pure fanfiction.
    • There are two Rock World Zones in the maps; we don't know whether these were intended to be two different zones or not.
    • The "Travel back to Ancient time" part of the timeline concept art is just omitted entirely from the TCRF table.
    People need to stop reposting the TCRF table as though it's fact when it actively contradicts the concept art it claims to represent. There are a lot of assumptions made, some are unfounded and others are outright false.

    Yes, the internal level order was certainly based on whatever the intended timeline was at the time, but it's clear it doesn't match the timeline concept we have; it's a lot closer to the maps, but in that case it's either missing a Rock World Zone or Olympus was never intended to be a level.
     
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