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Sonic 2 Simon Wai Proto 20th Anniversary

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Mookey, May 6, 2018.

  1. Mookey


    So I've been on a kick again lately reading up stuff on Sonic 2's development and protos, and I've realized 2018 will be the 20th anniversary of the "discovery" of the original prototype, the Simon Wai beta.

    Now I know I'm just a trial member; I haven't been a part of the community nowhere near back when it came out, nor was I unofficially, but stuff like the prototypes is what really got me into it back around 10+ years ago, even if I was just lurking. It's been my favorite part of the Sonic fan community, and I don't think it could've gotten as far as it has right now if the Simon Wai prototype hadn't showed up as early as it did.

    It was really good luck that a proto like that showed up as early as it did as well. It's such an interesting proto, having seemingly been built at a time in Sonic 2's development where the early grand concepts such as the 18 zone game and time travel concept had already been scrapped, but a lot of the assets from that plan are still lying around, with a few still in plain sight even, while the final concepts were still under heavy construction. It's such a middle road build, it's not a surprise it's generated a lot of speculation over the years.

    A lot of that has been filled in by the other Sonic 2 protos over the years, yet when I think of any other protos I'd like to see of Sonic 2 yet I still frame them around the Wai proto, like a build between Nick Arcade and Simon Wai, or a build between Simon Wai and Beta 4. There's so much change between those builds that it still just sparks so much interest in my mind.

    I just thought with the anniversary coming up (or is up, I don't think an exact day was ever marked down for when the proto was "found", the best I've ever found was the year) it might be fun to start up a thread with my thoughts on the proto and see what thoughts and discussion others might have on it as well. I know it's been talked to death in the past before, but I haven't seen it mentioned in awhile and I guess this is as good of a time as any to try and generate a bit more discussion on it as any now.
  2. 360


    Light Vision Overdrive Oldbie
    United Kingdom
    Sonic Neon
    Cool idea for a thread dude. I approve. It's an important milestone for our history and the genesis of the site so an anniversary thread is an awesome idea. I wasn't here back then (joined relatively recently in 2010) but the Hidden Palace revelations blew my teenage mind when I saw them. Sonic 2 could have been such a more epic game - though I guess those lofty ambitions were fully realised eventually in Sonic 3 and Knuckles where Sonic Team had the creative freedom to go all-out after the sales success of Sonic 2.

    Hope you get approved as a member and welcome to Sonic Retro.
  3. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    Has it been that long? I'm actually surprised I learned about it as early as I did, since I never frequented Sonic forums before this one.
  4. Shoemanbundy


    Chicago, Illinois
    selling shoes
    Sorry if this is long, but I'll share my thoughts.

    This is, IMO, still the best prototype of any game that's ever been found. It's got everything you'd want from an early prototype. It's also the only proto that was ever named after the person who found it. As someone pointed out in the Cult thread, back in those days the original founder had more of a claim right to things. This proto is an interesting look at how far that went, going as far to have a site named after the guy and his find that became the basis for the current community. It's all pretty neat when you think about it. I don't think any others have had such an effect in history, and who knows if the people who got together for Mania would have even found one another if this prototype never came about.

    Speaking of origins, it's funny to reflect on how this proto was actually shared on newsgroups all the way back in 1992 yet it wasn't brought to real attention until it was pirated onto a cart, someone ripped that cart with a Super Magic Drive and put it on a floppy disk, and then that disk was presumably resold to someone who eventually re-upped it to the Chinese internet years later. I still wonder if the original ROM came from that New York Toy Show cart that was stolen or if the newsgroup uploader got it from a preview cart sent to a magazine, since that was the main source for many proto uploads back then. I guess we'll never know. Just the thought of that Toy Show cart possibly still laying around somewhere in someone's room is intriguing, since for all we know it's an as-of-yet undiscovered build. People seem to be under the assumption the stolen cart was what was pirated first, but there's really no proof for that one way or the other. Could still be undumped for all we know. Too bad there's no way to reach out to the person who stole it!

    This game actually got me into computers and emulation, funny enough. I only knew basically how to type in web addresses and use a mouse, but I heard about this game and became obsessed with getting to play it. I went to a local community college since I didn't own a computer at the time (2001 I believe) and messed around with a floppy disk I copied the ROM and a copy of Genecyst onto. It took a bit to figure out how to work Winzip and figure out how to load a ROM, but when I finally got that beta title screen scrolling on screen I got excited and got the attention of the people working there who knew I was too young and wasn't supposed to be in their computer lab messing around with a game, but they just let me do my thing anyway. Good memory :v: I eventually was no longer allowed to go there anymore after 9/11 since they increased their security standards, though.

    Unless a super early Sonic 1 build ever shows up, I don't think any other protos will ever top this one.
  5. Pacca


    ASM amateur Member
    Labyrinth Zone
    Sonic 2 CD Remix
    This beta truly is something special. It has the most complete version of Hidden Palace (the Nick Arcade build doesn't have the music, and of course it was stripped away by the time Beta 4 was made), the only proper remnants of Wood Zone (other then the palette and palette cycle, which snuck their way into the final build somehow), and the unfinished level select is the icing on the cake (without it, Genocide City and Dust Hill might never have had names at all, or even been known of outside of Sega). Heck, I even like some of the songs in this beta more then the ones in the final.

    Whenever I think of a Sonic beta in general, I think of the Simon Wai prototype, and when I want to play one, its' the rom I pull up. The Nick Arcade build is neat, but its' far too unfinished and broken to be of much interest. And of course, the rest of them are often nearly identical to the finals, bar some rare glitches and level layout quirks. This prototype was the first one I ever played, and the one I saw Hidden Palace in for the first time. I'll always remember it for that.
  6. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    The zone names of Genocide City and Dust Hill were known before the rom was found. I remember distinctly being upset that Genocide City didn't have any art in it because it had been discussed prior. I believe a screen shot of the beta level select may have been found before the beta was dumped.

    In fact, most people were surprised that Dust Hill wasn't the zone from the mock ups, because we'd heard the name dust hill before and always assumed it went to that zone.

    IDK, I think eventually getting our hands on virtual every single bit of Sonic Xtreme that ever existed certainly comes close. Especially because of how long and consistently people searched for it.
  7. Fadaway


    When I first got the internet in 2000, one of the first things I searched for was Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 2 to figure out what the hell that was all about. It'd been mentioned in a couple EGMs I had, referencing it as something of a secret level. Of course I could never find it in the game. I found out it was a scrapped level and it was playable in the beta, and I found out I could play it on something called an emulator. I was thrust into the world of game emulation that same day.
  8. Ritz


    Subhedgehog Member
    Highly relatable. Emulation really is the best carrot on a stick for developing computer literacy. It's how I got my kid brother to develop some self-sufficiency so he wouldn't be calling me out of my room every time he needed something downloaded or installed.

    But yeah, in retrospect, I've been chasing that Hidden Palace high from the proto scene for 20 years, but it never really was that good again after X-treme. Betas are actually kind of boring, aren't they?
  9. Mookey


    Well, it's not that weird if you think about it actually. I can actually think of two reasons as to why the prototype never really got much attention until 1998.

    First off, back in 1992 for most people it just wasn't as accessible for most people as it would be 1998. The first Genesis emulator wouldn't exist until 1994, and even then those wouldn't be in any remotely good shape from what I've read until 1998 actually, from what I've read. The only people who would have any use for it would be those who could get the thing on an actual cartridge, and for the most part that would most likely be bootleggers, so it makes sense it was rediscovered in that form years later.

    Second, I imagine there wasn't really much of an interested Sonic community for this proto to really gain traction with back in 1992. Kids interested in Sonic sure, but not a significant online community that was rabidly ready to discuss anything Sonic related like there would be by around 1998. Again, I wasn't around back then but I can assume as much.

    With those two factors I'm not surprised the proto slipped away for about 6 years before being rediscovered again. My reasoning is still probably a bit too simplified, but I suspect that the general gist of it is probably correct.
  10. GerbilSoft


    RickRotate'd. Administrator
    It was actually quite accessible in certain regions, but not because of emulators.


    The Super Magic Drive was one of the more well-known copiers for the Mega Drive. It could dump cartridges to floppy disk, and load ROM images from floppy into RAM and run them as if they were a cartridge.
  11. Mookey


    Yeah, I know about copiers existing back then, but I imagine most people would've been interested in the prototype back then wouldn't have had one. Then again I also know this sort of thing was enough of a problem for developers to implement memory-based copy protection in more than a few games, so I could be wrong.
  12. Ashura96


    This was honestly probably just one of the first things that came up when searching for Sonic on the internet back in late '98/early '99. It also introduced me to emulation and has been just a cool experience to take in. Who knew 15 years later that Hidden Palace would finally become an official Sonic 2 level.
  13. Qjimbo


    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    Amazing! I agree with what Shoemanbundy said, it probably is the best prototype of a game that has ever been found. That beta was a huge part of my childhood, I remember finding SSRG back in 2000 or so and loading the beta in Genecyst and just being blown away by it.

    It answered so many questions and created loads more, spawning a community of crazy theories. The one I remember is the Tails 1up box in Hidden Palace - lots of people thought it meant that "Tails was the guardian of the master emerald" when in reality it turned out to just be because they changed the 1up pointer from Sonic 1's 1up to be Tails' 1up part way through development (as we can see with the Tails 1up boxes in the Nick Arcade beta).

    It was that prototype that lead to the fever of finding more prototypes as well. I hope we find a Sonic 1 prototype with "Sparkling Zone" one day, or a Sonic CD with an intact "R2" zone. That might be the closest we could get to something as interesting as the original Sonic 2 Beta.
  14. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Long-term happiness
    To this day, the reason I avoid the lower path in Aquatic Ruin Zone. =P I remember being surprised at HPZ, at how 10 on the sound test finally had some meaning, and printing out at school so much data on the prototype levels.... good times.
  15. Xilla


    I remember stumbling across the Sonic fangame scene in mid-2000, someone was making a fangame called "Sonic 2: Robotnik's Revenge" which would feature the lost levels from Sonic 2. I only knew about Hidden Palace at this time due to the Action Replay code being printed in Sega Power magazine so I typed the names of the lost levels into Ask Jeeves (hey, remember, 2000) and came across a website with the info and ROM of the game. I think the site was called Shadow of....something (Might have been an earlier version of Shadow of a Hedgehog).

    So yeah....the Simon Wai proto was the first game I ever played on an emulator!
  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    A later Crackers/earlier Chaotix build has the potential to be more interesting. Problem is, no such build was ever sent to the gaming press so the chances of finding a copy are slim to zero.

    I was going to say X-treme but I can't keep track of that one between all the "remakes", prototypes under lock and key and confusing Saturn/PC fluff.
  17. Ravenfreak


    2 Edgy 4 U Tech Member
    O'Fallon Mo
    Sonic 1 Game Gear Disassembly
    I remember that back in 2006 someone over at Glitch City mentioned Hidden Palace being in Sonic 2 at some point, I was a idiotic 15 year old at the time and didn't believe him so one day at school instead of looking up information for a project I was working on, I searched for Sonic 2 Hidden Palace Zone and stumbled across a old Youtube video that showcased Hidden Palace Zone in the Simon Wai prototype. That's also when I stumbled across S2B, though at the time I didn't have a computer hooked up to the internet at home, so I didn't join the scene until 2008.
  18. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    I was a young teen when I discovered Sonic 2 Beta and the scene circa 2000. I had read about S2B on a few gaming sites, but I wasn't familiar with software terms like "beta" yet. So when I heard it had extra levels, I assumed it was some special edition of sorts, which blew my mind, as I had been familiar with the MD Sonic games for years and had never heard about such a version. Some time later, I decided to look up the subject and found Tom's Sonic Hacking Station at the SSRG, which covered the differences between the final Sonic 2 and the beta. I was intrigued by the many changes, although I was puzzled by how what was supposedly an enhanced edition had some regressions, such as the palette cycle of the oil pipes in the OOZ background being reversed. Reading more, I realized what "beta" meant, but that didn't quell any of my intrigue for S2B. I found Simon Wai's Sonic 2 Beta page via a link at Tom's page, from where I downloaded the ROM and tried it on Genecyst. It was a one of a kind experience to play such a different Sonic 2, a glimpse of the Sonic 2 that could have been.

    Anyway, S2B and the SSRG were my gateway to the scene. I had come across the SSRG on previous occasions, but hadn't paid any attention to it, mainly because my English wasn't very good back then, and I didn't realize it had options for other languages. But after this, I ventured onto the rest of the site, and discovered Area 51, whose information on "secrets" about Sonic 2 and the other games blew my mind. It soon became my favorite website, and I anxiously awaited every update (even though the non-English versions of A51 were lagging behind the main version in terms of updates, something I was unaware of back then :v:). Because of the language barrier, I didn't join the community until some years later, but I did read a lot of pages and posts on the subject of beta Sonic content across the web; I loved hearing the crazy theories people came up with, haha.

    I remember being genuinely upset on that September 2002 evening when I went to check the SSRG as usual and was greeted by a black page with some English text that I couldn't fully comprehend and a pic of Sonic weeping next to a gravestone with "SSRG" engraved on it.
  19. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    It's not really that hard to keep track of. And the only thing under lock and key is the source code, by request of the person who gave them to the community.

    I suspect it doesn't get much attention these days because the most interesting bits of Sonic Xtreme run on ancient PCs with NV1 hardware.
  20. RDNexus


    In all honesty, despite Sonic Games having always been a part of my life, I no longer remember when or where I first read about S2B.
    Only by the 2000s did I manage to get net connection that could give me some freedom to explore stuff at my leisure.

    The earliest I remember of development/prototype stuff I read about might have been in Sonic Cult, SoST, SSRG & GHZ.
    Since long ago, I've grown interested in trivias and such of games and stories I were interested in, and Sonic was no exception.
    I think it was also by that time that I (and my brother) got to know about emulators and try Sonic Games that we had never played.
    Getting to know of stuff from S1B & S2B, SCD, StF and others, it felt like a treasure trove being opened in front of me.
    Only a few years later did I find this great place and check all the news, discoveries and theories people here posted.
    Sonic Wiki also helps a lot, but I tend to come here more often, maybe I feel more of an affinity to this place.

    Anyway, HPZ sure was a big surprise to me back in the day, but by the time I got to know about it, there were already places like this one, Cult, SSRG & SoST with a nice amount of intel, images, videos, sounds and even ROMs. Still, when me and my brother first ran S2B on Gens, it felt mystic to us, it was quite a novelty to explore.
    Even to this day, there's tons of stuff yet to unveil, and a good amount of fans thirsty for new knowledge, new discoveries, new retro wonders.
    Wai's S2B may have been the beginning (and Mania could be called Sonic Retro's child, I guess?), but I sure hope it feeds the flame of this place's life for years to come.