Sonic 3 Level Concept Art Research Thread (with HQ Pictures)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by pkderbar, Jun 27, 2022.

  1. pkderbar

    pkderbar

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    UPDATE: I'm updating the main OP with the higher-resolution versions of the images from the Retro Wiki and cleaning up some of the commentary. The images are really large so I'm going to wrap them in quote tags to make the post more readable without sacrificing the image quality.

    The relationship diagram informs the dynamics of the plot (credit @Chaos Rush for translations):
      • Sonic
        • Is friends with Tails
        • Is enemies with Eggman
        • Believes Rival/Knuckles is his enemy
        • Is the Legendary god depicted in ancient structures & art of Floating Island
        • Is trying collect the Master Emerald ("Chaos Emerald") so Eggman can't take it
      • Tails
        • Likes Rival because Rival looks like Sonic
      • Rival/Knuckles
        • Thinks Sonic is his Enemy
        • Doesn't know Tails
        • Thinks Eggman is a friend who is interested in protecting the Master Emerald
        • Lives on the Floating Island
        • Protector to the Master Emerald
      • Eggman
        • Enemies with Sonic
        • Is Fooling Rival
        • Wants the Master Emerald
    Zone 1 - Woods (Angel Island Zone)
    • Knuckles level path in Zone 1 travels underneath Sonic and Tails, just like in the final, including a boss battle underground while Sonic & Tails battle the same boss above
    • Sonic and Tails cross the bridge to face the Zone 1 Boss, while Knuckles heads underground for the same fight
    • In the final, Knuckles hits a switch that sends Sonic to Hydrocity, but that isn't present in the sketch
    • Knuckles in the final just jumps down into Zone 2, but it appears he enters through an underground shortcut in the sketches, starting below the area where Sonic falls through the waterfall
    Zone 2 - Sewer (Hydrocity Zone)
    • Act 2 of the Zone appears to split with Sonic going above the water and Knuckles maintaining a path underground
    • Sonic continues a vertical ascent, eventually Knuckles flushes Sonic upward to the boss encounter instead of downward as in the final
    • Sonic's Boss encounter is depicted as a vertical climbing room layout
    • A strong current of water forces Sonic to Zone 3
    • Knuckles boss fight is pretty close to the final version, with the horizontal layout and apparent rising water level
    • There appears to be a door from which the water fills the room - could that have been the intended exit for Knuckles?
    Zone 3 - Ruin (Marble Garden Zone)
    • Thematically Zone 3 feels a lot like Marble Zone from the sketches
    • Zone 3 splits before Act 2, Sonic traveling up with Knuckles traveling underground
    • Both appear to hit the same miniboss in different locations
    • Zone 3 for Knuckles appears to have some underground magma or water
    • The Boss for Sonic was conceived in these sketches with Tails carrying Sonic
    • Knuckles and Sonic both have different exits just like in the Final
    Zone 4 - Neon (Carnival Night Zone)
    • Zone 4 seems extremely Casino Night at this stage
    • There is only one miniboss depicted, suggesting Sonic and Knuckles have the same path to start, unlike the Final which features a completely different Act 1 for Knuckles
    • No depiction of Knuckles shutting down the lights or a water level
    • The path splits for the two in Act 2, with the Elevator being prominently featured
    • Sonic is sent up the elevator to the boss fight, before jumping onto the Flying Battery as is passes by to get to Zone 5!
    • Knuckles has a unique route after the elevator, unlike the Final where the level simply abruptly ends
    • Knuckles was also supposed to have a unique boss encounter, where he has none in the final
    • The transporter takes Knuckles to as @Pengi noted, "Zone 5 for Rival" - I will refer to this as 5B
    Zone 5 - Airship (Flying Battery Zone)
    • Zone 5 shows the progression logically begins at the engine room
    • No Knuckles routes found, curiously similar to the final where Knuckles doesn't even battle Eggrobo (we know of course that Knuckles should go to 5B)
    • The level path advances upward into the inner workings of Flying Battery, eventually taking you outside to the very top! In the final you appear to basically destroy it when you "fight" Barrier Eggman
    • The Boss encounter takes place on some sort of platform that apparently falls off afterward, creating a transition to Zone 6 where you slide down the mountain on the wreckage before it breaks apart and throws Sonic further

    Zone 5B - Unknown
    • Unfortunately there isn't any existing concept for 5B, since the paper was used to make these adorable concepts of Knuckles including a Black Cat!
    • Putting on my Sonic Adventure cap again - these look a lot like character upgrades you get for Knuckles - the digging claw and sunglasses

    Zone 6 - Snow Mountain (Ice Cap Zone)
    • The aesthetics in the Zone 6 zone sketch contained Christmas-like trees and a Snowman, not unlike the scrapped winter hill! Very fitting for the cheerful theme composed originally, wouldn't you say?
    • Apparently Knuckles enters from 5B, beginning underground. This is mostly replicated in the final with Knuckles entering from a transporter direct from Zone 4 after they hastily put together level transitions to move Flying Battery to the SK side of the game
    • The miniboss for both appears to be some sort of Snow making machine
    • The Act 2 Transition for Knuckles in the final is fairly reminiscent of this sketch, depicting a transition from a long tube that sends the user into the caves below (Ice Cap in the final keeps Sonic above ground for Act 2 with an option to descend into Knuckles path)
    • Act 2 features water which matches the final.
    • Both paths converge with the same boss fight, just as the final

    Zone 7 - Modern Factory (Launch Base Zone)
    • Zone 7 shows Sonic traverse the base above ground, eventually leading to a battle with Demolition Robo, which looks a lot like Big Arms
    • No depiction of Knuckles throwing a bomb and trying to kill Sonic
    • No depiction of Knuckles apparently falling to his death as in Sonic 3K
    • After Big Arms, it looks like a scripted cutscene plays out showing the launch, much like the final
    • Sonic makes it onto the last platform and either has a battle with Eggman or witnesses the whole thing blow up - Eggman appears to fall to his death but then escapes toward the descending Death Egg which until Origins S3 was unused content
    • Zone 8 transition if the falling platform just like the final
    • Unlike Sonic, Knuckles seems to go to a Labyrinth Zone underneath Launch Base. (Probably because Launch Base doesn't exist anymore if Knuckles is in a post-game story?)
    • Knuckles takes a temple door to Zone 8 instead

    Zone 8 - Mushroom (Mushroom Hill Zone)
    • Sonic starts Zone 8 much like the final
    • Eventually after encountering the miniboss, Sonic is forced into an upper path by the Weather-changing machine that's sort of just there in the final
    • After traversing the upper path, Sonic drops through a tree and makes it behind the weather machine, which is the arena for the Boss
    • The transition to Zone 9 appears to be the hole in the tree that you run through after defeating Eggman. In the final this transition sees the Flying Battery come in
    • Knuckles begins the level above Sonic's path, but is forced underground before encountering the miniboss
    • After going through further temples, Knuckles passes by (presumably) a mural depicting Sonic vs Eggman as seen in Hidden Palace in the final
    • Knuckles appears to surface just in front of a giant Pyramid surrounded by mushrooms, apparently confirming Zone 8 and Zone 9 are next to one another geographically
    • After the respective Boss Battles, both head to Zone 9

    Zone 9 - Sand (Sandopolis Zone)
    • Sandopolis splits at a chamber which fills with sand, forcing Sonic up and Knuckles down (so Knuckles faces some other boss than Egg Golem)
    • Sonic's progression takes him to Zone 10 after a battle with the Egg Golem
    • Knuckles has both a unique boss and exit to a 10B! In the final Knuckles sort of just goes to Lava Reef zone without a fully realized level transition

    Zone 10 - Volcano (Lava Reef Zone)
    • Lava Reef depicts Sonic making his way up to Hidden Palace after crossing the lava flows in Act 1. The boss design is slightly reminiscent of Hot Mobile from Act 2, and is called Lava Generator. The notes say the Lava Cools after the battle (which notably happens twice in S3K).
    • Sonic progresses through the cooled magma upwards, finally getting inside of an Echidna temple where the "Showdown" awaits.
    • Knuckles serves as the boss fight and then follows the scripted sequence with Eggman stealing the Master Emerald at the end of Act 2
    • He appears to destroy the altar of the Emerald, swat Knuckles away, then Sonic is dropped through the Floor created by the collapsing of the palace.
    • No Knuckles route, he was supposed to go to 10B instead

    Zone 10B - Unknown
    • A Knuckles level to be entered from Sandopolis - no concept art exists of this lost zone

    Zone 11 - Temple of the Sky (Sky Sanctuary Zone)[/B]
    • The beginning of the zone appears to be underground where you run to the transporter to the temple above - either a cutscene or not, both Sonic & Knuckles jump into the transporter
    • No Knuckles route here either - looks like Knuckles was supposed to either end the game at 10B or perhaps would have had his own 11B
    • No Mecha Sonic depicted here
    • It looked like a platforming section could have wrapped up Sky Sanctuary - Sonic jumps debris from the collapsing temple, eventually getting into the gravitational orbit of the Death Egg and landing on the "ceiling" relative to where you start, a bit of a taste of the antigravity gimmicks in Death Egg
    • Sonic chases Eggman into the Death Egg - the notes appear to suggest an updside down antigravity boss fight?
    • Sonic then follows Eggman into the Death Egg
    • In the final, Sonic and Tails jump from the last piece of crumbling infrastructure into the Death Egg, which I always found a little disjointed

    Zone 12 - Death Egg (Death Egg Zone)
    • Sonic chases Eggman through the Death Egg
    • Eventually after beating a miniboss, the elevator takes you further up into Act 2
    • After beating another miniboss, you take another elevator up to the heart of the Death Egg (Dynamic Control Device)
    • Maybe it's a boss arena or not - it appears to be a large antigravity chamber (reminiscent to me of the antigravity boss from Strider). That room perhaps was repurposed into the Engine Room/Gravity Puzzle from Death Egg 1 in the final which I always thought didn't really make any sense
    • Afterwards, Sonic is depicted to transform into Super Sonic and follow Eggman outside the Death Egg (The notes say normally can't fly without Tails)
    • The transition to Zone 13 is depicted, but sadly no notes remain
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
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  2. RDNexus

    RDNexus

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    Any pics or vids of those concept arts?
    I'd really like to take a look at those...
     
  3. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

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    I want to see this too, It should be interesting!
     
  4. Pengi

    Pengi

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    What are you referring to? The Rival boss area in Zone 4 is by a ferris wheel. The text says the Rival will dig the soil, then there's an arrow pointing to "Zone 5 for Rival". Most of the Zone sketches don't make that distinction. This is because the Rival was going to have a separate Zone 5 from Sonic and Tails. That's why the Zone 5 (Flying Battery) outline doesn't mention a path for the Rival. In the final game, Flying Battery Zone doesn't have any Knuckles exclusive routes.

    The page with the black cat version of "Stealth" has the heading "Zone for exclusive use of the Rival" at the top, and the number "5" to the left. It looks like they started to draw a level concept (there's an arrow and a starting point for the Rival), then used that piece of paper to sketch character designs instead.

    The Zone 9 (Sandopolis) sketch has an arrow pointing to "Zone 10 for Rival". The Sonic Zone 10 (Lava Reef) sketch has no alternate paths for the Rival. The final game, however, does have Knuckles exclusive paths in Lava Reef Zone.

    What gives you that impression? I can't see any mention of a division between Act 1 and Act 2. There doesn't even seem to be a mid-boss.

    It's only a Christmas tree if it's decorated. But it is a closer match to the ice level concept art seen in MTV's Rock the Rock, which seems to have its roots in Sonic 2's scrapped snow level that Brenda Ross was working on the graphics for. There's also a very different mid-boss. Quite a few of these sketches have very different mid-bosses from the final game.

    The underground section is for the Rival. There's a square with diagonal lines leading to that route. Those squares represent blocks only the Rival can break. After the Eggman boss there, there's a door with an arrow leading to the next Zone.

    The bit with the failed launch of the Death Egg is the continuation of Sonic's route. This also ends with an arrow pointing to Zone 8.

    What you're interpreting as Big Arm is on the upper path, Sonic's path. The note says that it's a demolition robot. It's probably the mid-boss.

    For Sonic, the platform from the end of Launch Base Zone lands on a bed of mushrooms. The Rival enters through a door.

    The characters enter the pyramid in Act 1.

    The Rival's route diverges in Act 2 because "at that time there is no sand". It looks like the Rival would have had a different Act 2 boss.



    There are a lot of interesting things in these sketches. The Rival's route in Mushroom Hill Zone Act 2 is particularly curious. Is that mural of a dinosaur? What's underneath it?
     
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  5. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    Mega Man Zero: The Definitive Dub
    Is someone going to post these or what? I'm not digging through an hour-long GameXplain museum tour to find what you guys are talking about.
     
  6. Turbohog

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    Damn, don't be so demanding. Do it yourself if you need it so urgently.
     
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  7. BlackHole

    BlackHole

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    Sprites for Cybernetic Outbreak
    I'll do it, I've pretty much completed the game. Give me a few minutes.
     
  8. RDNexus

    RDNexus

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    I saw that vid of GameXplain, it's at around 25/30min, but the images aren't zoomed in so they're quite small. Not good for detail-checking.
     
  9. DefinitiveDubs

    DefinitiveDubs

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    Mega Man Zero: The Definitive Dub
    Well, I mean...why make a thread like this without visual aids? Especially if you're asking the community for translations. If you want people to discuss art, then the art should be here.

    I would post the art myself, but the collection is 3.5GB and the download has 3 hours remaining.
     
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  10. BlackHole

    BlackHole

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    Sprites for Cybernetic Outbreak
    While I wait for that video to upload:
    [​IMG]
    Hey look, it's the dragon mural Knuckles mentions in the manual. Neat.
     
  11. Prototype

    Prototype

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    While I haven't seen the pictures, that could tie into Knuckles' origin as a more dinosaur like character, which diverged into Espio after they rummaged though the unused character concept bin.

    Perhaps the dragon mentioned in the manual was also a remnant of the dinosaur connection?
     
  12. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    hey wiki you're so fine
    I did put the call out twice, but there were no takers.

    I've started doing the job myself but it'll take several days.
     
  13. Pengi

    Pengi

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    In these Zone sketches, the Rival is depicted with a long lock of "hair" on his forehead, and still just called Rival. This lines up with the other piece of concept art in Sonic Origins, depicting the floating island and the character relationships. In that picture, the Rival looks like a buff Sonic, with upwards pointing spikes and a long lock of hair on his forehead.

    So at this point in time the rival seems to be more Sonic-like than dinosaur-like.

    ???
     
  14. BlackHole

    BlackHole

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    Sprites for Cybernetic Outbreak


    Here, the video until the resources can be mined out of the game itself.
     
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  15. Linkabel

    Linkabel

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    I do wonder about that Knuckles dinosaur design and if it's this one:
    [​IMG]

    The only thing I'm confused is that they labeled this concept as "Sonic family" along with the manga characters:
    [​IMG]

    So did they create a Knuckles like character for the manga project (or earlier before Sonic 3) that went unused, but later on was used as inspiration for Knuckles. If that image was manga related, did the Knuckles character become the Veruca family? Might explain the "dinosaur" description better than that theory that they had Espio as a design around Sonic 3.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also, the museum art is on archive.org.
     
  16. pkderbar

    pkderbar

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    You're mistaken - I only asked if someone had documented them already. Unfortunately I'm on Switch so I had a difficult time getting these myself in any good format.
     
  17. pkderbar

    pkderbar

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    Thank you! I will update the OP.
     
  18. Josh Cristan

    Josh Cristan

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    Christ, I love Sonic 3! Thanks.
     
  19. Pengi

    Pengi

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    It looks to be manga related, or at least that pre Sonic 2 era. The Sonic Band characters are still there, there's no Tails, and Charmy and Vector's designs haven't been finalised yet.

    [​IMG]

    I think the chef guy evolved into Hogi Veruca. I'm not so sure the early version was a lizard though.

    Origins has some sketches of an early Knuckles ("Stealth"), where he's labelled as an echidna, but has a very different design. There's a version where he has a shovel, but the original hands have had spiked gloves drawn over them. Then there are designs with just the spiked gloves and no shovel.

    The chef in the group sketch doesn't have spiked gloves/knuckles. So I'm thinking maybe the Sonic 3 team took their "echidna with spiked gloves" idea and combined it with "proto Hogi" when looking through the archives inspiration. Or it could be an odd coincidence!
     
  20. pkderbar

    pkderbar

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    Thanks for the feedback, I updated the OP.