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Sonic 3 Development Lore: Unused Zone ID 0D, Prototype Sound Cue 2E, Concept Art Discussion

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by sayonararobocop, Feb 6, 2024.

  1. sayonararobocop


    EDIT: The theories on the competition zone have been debunked, however there are interesting findings here that I want to make sure are still highlighted.

    The question remains, what was 0D intended for? Was it really just a placeholder?

    Since we're on the topic, how about these similarities between the Competition Zones and the original S3 concept art?

    The TCRF page covering the same concept art has a bit of useful discussion on each concept art piece, so I will include it here as well.

    Presenting my thoughts. Is there a pattern here or am I just imagining it?

    Sonic 2 Beta -> Sonic 3 Art-> Competition -> Final S3K
    • Aquatic Ruin Zone (Beta) -> Ruin -> Azure Lake Zone -> Marble Garden?
    • Casino Night Zone (Beta) -> Neon -> Balloon Park Zone -> Carnival Night Zone
    • Cyber City Zone (Beta) -> Airship -> Chrome Gadget Zone -> Flying Battery Zone
    • Sand Shower Zone (Beta) - > Sand -> Desert Palace Zone -> Sandopolis
    • S2 Hidden Palace Zone (Beta) -> Volcano -> Endless Mine Zone -> Lava Reef / S3K Hidden Palace

    There are more interesting observations included within the replies on this thread!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2024
  2. R2... 2!
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  3. Brainulator


    Regular garden-variety member Member
    I really think $0D is just a placeholder for the ending. Also note that Azure Lake is zone $0E, with the others following.
  4. I really don't think there's sufficient evidence for it to be an unused 2P mode zone. TCRF is a great resource, but some of the editors are quick to jump to conclusions before there is enough evidence to back up their ideas. I go through and clear out what baseless speculation I can over there, but I'm just one man and there is sure to be plenty that I miss. I removed the bit about the music track because it's at $2E which sits between $2D (Competition Menu) and $2F (Data Select) and is nowhere near the other level music.

    I'm half-tempted to remove the whole bit because when the only evidence is "It is internally next to all used 2P zones" and "There are six 2P zones listed in the level select" then it feels like a stretch to assume it was meant for a sixth zone. It's not *impossible* but there really isn't strong evidence for it being the case, either.
  5. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    I agree.

    I mean, it's not even an unused zone slot. It's a slot used for the ending. Its placement also goes with this; it's right after The Doomsday and before the 2P zones.

    It seems weird to me to jump to the conclusion that it has to be a scrapped 2P zone.
  6. Devon


    I think I'm paranoid Tech Member
    your mom
    Zone 0D act 1 is technically not a real stage, but rather it's used as a dummy slot in the stage graphics table. The way the game handles loading the Angel Island act 1 graphics is that if you are playing as Sonic and you have not hit a checkpoint, then it uses the normal slot for loading the intro specific data. Otherwise, if you are playing as Tails or Knuckles, or if you have hit a checkpoint, then it uses the dummy entry defined for zone 0D act 1 to load the normal stage data instead.


    For instance, here's palette $0A used by Zone 00 act 1:

    And here's palette $2A used by Zone D0 act 1:

    Here's an example check used to pick between the intro or stage slot, commented for readability:

    tl;dr it's basically just an easy and quick way to spawn into AIZ1 with its data already properly set up while skipping the intro cutscene. As for act 2, yeah it's just the ending.

    I also saw a claim that zone 0D was also just used to give Hidden Palace its title card, but that's also not true. The title card graphics table isn't necessarily tied to zone IDs, because they do some manual zone ID checks. Here's one for Hidden Palace:
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2024
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  7. sayonararobocop


    Happy to have cold water splashed on this idea! I'm still charmed by the elements of the Concept Art that would up in Competition.
  8. Chainspike


    Stealing rings since 1994 Member
    Death Egg Zone
    S3C Delta
    In Sonic 3, the internal hexadecimal level order is such:
    Code (Text):
    1. $00 - Angel Island Zone
    2. $01 - Hydrocity Zone
    3. $02 - Marble Garden Zone
    4. $03 - Carnival Night Zone
    5. $04 - Flying Battery Zone
    6. $05 - IceCap Zone
    7. $06 - Launch Base Zone
    8. $07 - Mushroom Valley Zone
    9. $08 - Sandopolis Zone
    10. $09 - Lava Reef Zone
    11. $0A - Sky Sanctuary Zone
    12. $0B - Death Egg Zone
    13. $0C - The Doomsday Zone
    14. $0D - Empty (AIZ1/Ending)
    15. $0E - Azure Lake Zone
    16. $0F - Balloon Park Zone
    17. $10 - Desert Palace Zone
    18. $11 - Chrome Gadget Zone
    19. $12 - Endless Mine Zone
    20. $13 - Gumball Bonus Stage
    21. $14 - Magnetic Spheres Bonus Stage
    22. $15 - Slot Machine Bonus Stage
    23. $16 - Empty (Lava Reef Zone Boss/Hidden Palace)
    24. $17 - Empty (Death Egg Zone Boss/Hidden Palace)
    This also applies to the Sonic 3 November 3rd 1993 Prototype. Now, everything that Devon stated about Zone $0D is correct in the context of the final game, however, the prototype handles things differently:
    1. Zone $0D's level load block entry points to Angel Island intro data like other empty level slots.
    2. LoadLevelLoadBlock does not have any hard coding yet to utilize $0D. Angel Island Zone always loads with the intro graphics no matter the character and simply uses the act resize routine to load the normal level graphics past the intro. There are also no checkpoints in Act 1 before the firebombing sequence.
    Effectively, Zone $0D has no usage in the prototype. This is where things become strange though. In the prototype, there exists two color palette tables leftover from 24Mbit Sonic 3C builds. These tables can give us some clues about older versions of the game. The oldest one is of most relevance here:
    At this point of development, (looking near the bottom) Azure Lake Zone appears to be the only implemented competition mode stage, or at least, the only one with a proper color palette entry. Looking beyond that, there are some other palettes of interest.
    First, there is an odd palette of Angel Island Zone that has the badnik color palette combined the intro background palette. I won't speculate on that right now though. Following that are various boss palettes:
    1. [​IMG]???
    2. [​IMG]Graviton Mobile (Carnival Night Zone Act 2)
    3. [​IMG]Twin Hammer (Launch Base Zone Act 1)
    4. [​IMG]???
    5. [​IMG]Ball Shooter (Launch Base Zone Act 2)
    6. [​IMG] Hey Ho (Mushroom Valley Zone Act 1)
    The first and fourth marked ??? do not match any known boss from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. You're probably wondering how any of this is relevant to Zone $0D. Enter Sonic Jam. For those who are unaware, Sonic Jam contains various leftover source code constants from the original Sonic 3 source code. These source code labels can give us insight into the original names of various functions and data.

    An example is gole_dev. This corresponds with Nemesis art PLC $04 in the original game. What do we find there?
    A pointer to the old nemesis compressed goal post art! So, with this in mind, let's look at some of the leftover boss PLC labels. The label format is boss followed by the zone ID and m to denote a miniboss:
    Code (Text):
    1. PLC $61 - boss07m_dev (MHZ1 Boss)
    2. PLC $62 - boss08m_dev (SOZ1 Boss)
    4. PLC $6B - boss00_dev (AIZ2 Boss)
    6. PLC $74 - boss09_dev (LRZ2 Boss)
    7. PLC $78 - boss0d_dev (???)
    8. PLC $79 - boss0e_dev (???)
    Sonic & Knuckles began to phase out Nemesis compressed art in favor of Kosinski Moduled, which offered faster decompression times. As a result, some of these PLC entries are obsolete. Only PLC $6B is still used. Note the existence of boss0d_dev and boss0e_dev. These correlate with Zone $0D and Azure Lake Zone ($0E), respectively. This makes no sense, unless...
    [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]
    Origins concept art mentions two levels that do not exist in the final game. Zone 5B and Zone 10B - exclusive to Knuckles. Knuckles was originally never meant to go to Flying Battery Zone or Lava Reef Zone. Does this explain the two unused boss palettes? Is it therefore conceivable that these two palettes correspond to boss0d_dev and boss0e_dev which could explain why they are unrecognizable to us, and that Zone $0D and Azure Lake Zone ($0E) used to be scrapped 1P zones that had bosses designed for them? If this is the case, it would be very significant. This theory of course, should be taken with a grain of salt, so as to avoid a repeat of the thread's topic!
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  9. sayonararobocop


    Incredible! Of course, just speculation but thanks for bringing some more meat to the bone on this topic. The lost rival zones have to be a candidate for the Sonic 3 development Holy Grail at this point , or the MJ Sound team's original audio demos.
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  10. expansivelovestories


    reality is profoundly synergistic Member
    one way or another Azure Lake does make sense with the original zone order of Flying Battery -> Ice Cap. Environmentwise it does really resemble what would be between Carnival Night and Ice Cap on the island. What would be between Sandopolis and Hidden Palace is interesting to consider!!
  11. evilhamwizard


    I think since the unused music track is mixed with other tracks for the various game screens (Competition/Data Select) that it was originally meant for a game screen too. My guess is that it was originally meant as a cue for the competition game results screen before it got swapped for $28, or maybe it was some other screen or mode that was that was scrapped.

    To my knowledge, I don't know if anyone has looked at the 1103 prototype to see if there's any remnants for the data select or competition menu game modes.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024 at 2:52 AM
  12. McAleeCh


    Just a couple of quick notes on that last point - firstly, at the time the concepts were made, the content of the final game's Hidden Palace was split between the end of Lava Reef and the start of Sky Sanctuary. But also, everything from Lava Reef onwards only shows Sonic and Tails traversing those Zones, with seemingly no plans for Knuckles to tackle any of the final three Zones. This can also be seen in the concepts for Flying Battery, which we know was planned to be replaced entirely by the similarly mysterious Zone 5B. So rather than being between Sandopolis and Sky Sanctuary, it seems like there's two possibilities for the mysterious Zone 10B: it could either have been an alternate final Zone for Knuckles' campaign, or it could have led to a further exclusive Zone(s).

    Without seeing any concept designs for the stage it's impossible to be certain, though the fact that the concept for Zone 5B seems to have been abandoned before even being drawn out suggests the sketches for these Zones simply may not have been drawn before the idea was shelved. I wonder if a written plan exists anywhere which could clarify what exactly the plans were for these stages...?

    However, it's also possible that there are simply more sketches we've not been shown - the lack of a sketch for The Doomsday makes it likely that there's at least one, as the sketch for Death Egg makes it clear that some sort of final boss up in space was planned even at this early stage. If that's the case, I guess it's still possible that sketches for one or both of these Zones do exist somewhere, even if we know one attempt at Zone 5B's was abandoned for some reason.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2024 at 9:36 AM
  13. Mastered Realm

    Mastered Realm

    Didn't we get a sketch with Super Sonic facing a dragon in space?
  14. Chimes


    The One SSG-EG Maniac Member
    Only a pixel's worth.
  15. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    That's technically concept art, not a zone sketch. They haven't shown the level sketch for The Doomsday with the dragon boss, or the Knuckles-exclusive zones. Possibly because they depict scrapped content, which Sega and similar Japanese game companies tend to be hush hush about.
  16. expansivelovestories


    reality is profoundly synergistic Member
    Edit: Thank you SoNick, Yes, i was worried a bit about that so i have minimised it. The concept of unseen areas of the Floating Island is what inspired me to wonder about what the future might actually hold for this amazing location in Sonic history.

    In all of the zones including 2P, have we seen less than half of the actual island or about 2/3 or more??

    Probably there is a potential fangame (perhaps via Sonic 3 A.I.R.) or maybe even an official game some day in the future where something special happens with the Master Emerald transforming the Floating Island into a much larger world; maybe even with active towns and cities, and many new natural environments to complement the existing ones.

    Basically, something similar to what happened to transform the Chaos Emeralds into the Super Emeralds could happen to the Floating Island itself if the Master Emerald is correctly activated to do so.

    I hadn't really considered that before, sometimes the Floating Island feels like all of the potential stories have been told one way or another. But with the Ruby making evident that mysterious gemstones can transform reality, we would really wonder what else the Master Emerald can do.


    Ok!! I know this map isn't necessarily accurate, per se, but i wonder what stage of development it was created?? Is it in the earliest prototypes, i am guessing it is in some but i don't personally know which ones.

    It's very interesting to revisit in the context of this thread. Some of the zones are of course not represented, and some might be on the other side of the island.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2024 at 9:27 PM
  17. I don't mean to be rude, but I don't really see how that is relevant to this discussion?
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  18. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    ?? map? this is Angel Island's sprite in Sonic/Tails' ending and Knuckles' final boss and ending.
  19. Jaxer


    I think what they're trying to say is that Angel Island's sprite might not properly correspond with all the zones present in the final game. Because while you can clearly see SPZ, MGZ and a billion different environments that resemble both AIZ and MHZ, a lot of really prominent zones are nowhere to be seen.

    Where's Carnival Night with all of its tall, metallic structures covered in flashing lights? Is that tiny spot of tan pixels below the top left waterfall supposed to be Launch Base?

    Maybe this doesn't mean anything and they just went with a few major landmarks. However, much like D.A. Garden's Little Planet globe, there could be allusions to scrapped ideas.
  20. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball


    An interpretation I found a while back (not idea who made it, sorry to the author)

    It feels rather spot on to me. For instance, if you see where AIZ ends, there is a waterfall and some tall trees, mimicking the last section of AIZ2.