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Sonic CD's Mysterious Cut R2 Level Discussion - Post Origins Edition

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by HEDGESMFG, Jul 12, 2022.

  1. saxman

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    When I was a kid and first played Sonic CD, I thought that III was indicating the third act, even though I didn't count three acts of play. Eventually, I realized it was always there and that the act (or "zone" as is called here) was below that. But that III is *very* distracting, so the act number is not as noticeable.
     
  2. cartridgeculture

    cartridgeculture

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    I wonder if this isn't actually "III", but instead just some parallel lines to compliment the aesthetic.
     
  3. nineko

    nineko

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    It can't be a 3 for obvious reasons, and yet, that's always the first thing that comes to my mind whenever I see it.
     
  4. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

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    Way way back I used to think it was supposed to be taken as Sonic CD was the third game (sorry Game Gear you don't count) and Sonic 3 came after and they had no idea there would be a Sonic 3, but if that were true wouldn't it have shown in the title screen? Also it was developed alongside 2, so if it were just competition wouldn't it be a 2? Maybe updating the title cards was so low on their priority list in development it never changed and it looked good anyway.
     
  5. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

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    Interesting theory, but I don't sure. Sonic CD is a alternative sequel (and after Origins- it's officially), and I think, if in this three lines- developers wants to show a game number- they would make it in a bottom of title card, with "Sonic the Hedgehog CD" title. It's looks strange.. something like drawing game title 2 times..:words:

    Oh, this game has so many mysterious...
    :psyduck:
     
  6. synchronizer

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    I posted this earlier, but Tidal Tempest has an underwater fan.

    I think Tidal Tempest ended up sharing a lot of ideas with whatever R2 was.
    —and yes, maybe there were even more level ideas in this document.
     
  7. LordOfSquad

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    Clearly some kind of a S3C-style addition where the "III" gets replaced with an appropriate roman numeral for each Round is in order
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    Something about this quote, and the response it's getting, isn't sitting right. And yes I know I'm 22 years too late to the party.

    I mean for one, Junetsu Kakuta isn't credited in the Mega-CD version, so presumably was responsible for the Windows PC port, and is talking mostly about that. The concept of having an "engineer" per level for this port makes a reasonable amount of sense. I am guessing then that "the original (Genesis version) of the game" actually means the Mega-CD version, as opposed to Sonic 1, the "original" Sonic game.


    And yet this "separate person for each level" idea isn't what the credits say. A quick look:

    The people in charge. Straight away there's a distinction between programming and art, as each have different leaders.

    "Designer" in Sega speak often means "artist"... though I think in this case (judging by other credits), "Game Designers" are actual designers. A lot of that concept art explaining how things are meant to move and interact with the player probably came from them.

    I would guess "Landscape Designers" are the stage artists. Hiroyuki Kawaguchi is already listed as an artist. Takumi Miyake (half?) invented Espio in Chaotix, which is an art job. So one of those five people probably drew R2 level artwork (unless that person isn't credited), and the numbers suggest some worked on more than one level.

    The Special Stage is its own beast.

    The programming block is comprised of totally different different people. Although it takes a three line detour to talking about (what I assume are) the animated intro and outro sequences, since that's a specialised job. Not only are there just a small handful of programmers, two of them were outsourced.

    After that it's more of the outsourced intro/outro animations, music, and in North America, the localisation stuff.




    So the R2 theory:

    - Someone "designed" R2, in the sense that they said "this is going to be a Marble Zone-esque underground stage that comes after R1 and before R3". We don't know how far that got, although if the ending sequence is anything to go by, there was a vague idea of some pale blue underground ruins thing with Antlion enemies. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they probably had a near finalised plan, which is why we keep seeing R2 in documents.

    - Someone else was probably in charge of turning that concept into actually usable artwork, and then forming a level out of that artwork. I suspect this is the person who under-performed, as in, what they produced wasn't good enough, and so the level was scrapped.

    - Somebody drew some enemies. This might count as "character design" - the sketches we have all share similar handwriting, and I guess it would make sense to try and keep a consistent style across the whole game (not to mention some enemies are used in multiple levels).

    - Some programming also appears to have been done in preparation for R2.


    So where would we have been in December 1992? If there are five "landscape designers", each assigned at least one level, you would expect five levels to be in development, each with four time zones. Palmtree Panic, or R1 looks like it was developed first - it may have been rushed or prioritised for Yuusei Sega World, or as some kind of basis for others to follow. And R1 wasn't "done" - it would get the 3D loop and a new present background before May.

    I would hazard a guess, since Collision Chaos was seen just a few weeks later, that some progress had been made on R3's art, and some of R3's programming. I am not convinced it was at a stage where a playable level was available in a build - I can't get over this idea that they'd add it, then take it out, because that seems like needless extra work. And why release mockups later if you could play the thing? Sense makes no.

    Something existed for R4, or Tidal Tempest. If we've got mini-Sonic code, there's at least some preparation for Metallic Madness, or R8. Maybe a safe bet that the last level was worked on early just in case they were forced to scrap the middle bits.

    Five "landscape designers", five landscapes referenced: R1, R2, R3, R4, R8. Now I don't think game development really worked that way - I'm not sure why someone couldn't work on two levels at once, but whatever, it fits... if you believe the artists were driving development.


    Was R2 scrapped by December 1992? Perhaps not. If, as Sega Force suggests, the game was delayed in early 1993, R2 could have been the secret reason - that it was expected, and it didn't arrive on time, and they had to reassess the plan. That's the sort of thing that would cause workplace drama; they had to rethink bits regarding Amy and Metal Sonic, and maybe change Special Stage and time stone plans, and whatever else. Perhaps this is when concepts were moved to other levels. Perhaps they needed to hire a bunch of new people. Perhaps this is why nobody wants to talk about R2, because it caused a massive upheaval and delayed the game until late 1993 (unlike say, Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 2, which was more expendable).


    Will we ever see more R2 assets? They may not exist. There should be concept art and plans we haven't seen, but if an artist went AWOL, there might not be much to see. Meaningful programming in Sonic CD might have required art to exist first (or at least some indication of what the size of sprites will be) - if there's no R2 art... work on R3 things. Or R4. Or whatever.
     
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  9. Aesculapius Piranha

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    For R2 I agree it would probably be a spin on Marble Zone since it lines up with the Sonic 1 themes with Collision Chaos then being Spring Yard (not accounting for Quartz Quadrant and Wacky Workbench), but the little planet design picture seems to show it as more of a spikes than lava kind of level, unless the spikes are just shorthand for hazards which evidence seems to point to ground crumbling being more of an obstacle. Also using a large turbine that flows to each level in the design pic. Makes me wonder what kind of gimick we would have seen there. For the platforms for Tidal Tempest concept, it does match with some of the hazards in Wacky Workbench but also does kind of allude to the fact it does feel like there could have been more of an intro to the level before the water areas. Really the concept makes you wonder if the levels themselves were thought of as being more seamless for the Sega CD platform in preproduction.

    I'm also thinking about that as a story arc and the known parallels with Sonic 2. Definite theory crafting here, but it has been said that Amy would follow you into the ruins, correct? Well, I wonder if she was meant to be either like Tails (both teams making their version of the adoring younger fan) or if there was going to be some story arc where she is there to be all lovey in Zone 1, is around in some capacity I can only speculate at in Zone 2, and then gets kidnapped in Zone 3. Of course, maybe she was meant to be kidnapped in Zone 2 and it got moved to the beginning of Zone 3 because Zone 2 was unfinished and/or scrapped entirely. Whichever the case it would seem that assets for Zone 2 were used in Wacky Workbench it would indicate they at least had time to fit them into a different zone before launch so it probably wasn't canned last minute, though they clearly had animation commissioned for it earlier in the process.
     
  10. HEDGESMFG

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    So one question this brings up... how accurate are the animated concepts compared to those final versions? In the case of R1, R3, and R7, fairly close to the final stage art. R4 is absent entirely, R5 too vague to tell, R6's background has a lot of details that weren't necessarily in the final version of the stage (and the wrong enemies, but the correct lift), and R8 has the correct enemies, but not enough detail to accurately depict the stage IMHO.

    Makes you wonder how far along each stage's designs were when they animated those segments, and if that has any impact on how R2 actually looked in the animation itself. There are a lot of very explicit details you can see in the animation (a large mechanical wall, vines over rocky ruins), but no clue how accurately they represent anything that was put down on paper.

    Beyond that, I think you're on to something. Stage tiles/art not being completely could be a big reason we never saw any of the stage developed at all in any proto, nor any real mockups like the infamous S2 Dust Hill one.
     
  11. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

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    Personally I was thinking how Stardust Speedway's animation looks much closer to the concept than the final with the ultra thin platforms and racing past the Eggman building in a way where it is prominent (rather than too far away to see or up close and personal neither of which with the Metal Sonic race taking place.
     
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  12. _Sidle

    _Sidle

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    What's vague about Quartz Quadrant? I can't see it being anything other than the present, with the opaque crystals and dark purple pillar with the light band (the pillar being present-exclusive).

     
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  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Another thing I thought about after posting: are R2 assets in other levels?

    Probably not. I suspect that R2 was either unsalvageable or unfinished, and if assets did exist, actually finishing R2 would be a higher priority. That is to say, "don't shoehorn your R2 assets into R3, do your job and finish R2". But if objects were drawn and programmed by other people, that might explain why there are fans in Tidal Tempest, and maybe gaps for the Antlions in Metallic Madness.

    The other point of contention:
    [​IMG]
    This version of Little Planet. Quiz me this: is it in the 510 prototype? People have tried to match this up to stages for years, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a (heavily stylised) later edition, drawn well after R2's cancelation. Lest we forget, D.A. Garden also has Tails in it - I don't think there's any suggestion that he was intended to have a meaningful role in Sonic CD.

    Incidentally Tails is a creation of Yasushi Yamaguchi (Judy Totoya), and his credits in Sonic CD? Special Stage design. I could see a small team of "Special Stage" people cooking this screen up in an afternoon - it's all Mega-CD sprite scaling and rotation trickery, which is probably a different skill set to those working on the "main" game.
     
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  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    https://info.sonicretro.org/index.php?title=File:SonicCD_PC_US_SonicGems_manual.pdf&page=14

    Yep, Junetsu Kakuta is credited as "planner" in the PC version(s) (the original Dino version has slightly different credits - I'll get them at up some point, but he's planner in both). And yeah, an abundance of programmers, probably one for each stage as described (and most of them outsourced).

    So while it might be a 1:1 relationship between level and developer in the PC port, I think we're talking two or three people on the Mega-CD:

    - an artist that spends the most time on the stage drawing the art and laying out the level
    - a programmer who swings by and makes unique objects work once they're planned out and/or drawn (e.g. mini Sonic in Metallic Madness)
    - a programmer who is responsible for all the generic bits of the game, e.g. enemies, time travel etc. Although you wouldn't think they'd have to do much after sorting it out for the first stage.
     
  15. Yash

    Yash

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    Oh man, I always wondered about the 3/III on the title card as well. Odd choice. Maybe Japan isn’t as aware of Roman numerals and thus wouldn’t see it as a three? Would fit with the suggestion earlier in this thread that it might have just been lines to match the aesthetic.

    Incidentally I always found Sonic 3’s credits super classy

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Another reasoning I’m not seeing mentioned, could it be as simple as they realized that the game was taking longer due to being more ambitious/on better hardware, got delayed, and then had to cut the stage as it was the least worked on zone to that point to make the final release date we ended up getting. As black squirrel said they may not want to talk about it because it caused a lot of internal grievance over not being able to finish it.
     
  17. DarkVDee

    DarkVDee

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  18. Hez

    Hez

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    Thanks for adding this depth to the conversation about R2. It really got me thinking.

    Anyway, to actually add to the topic. I think some may be right about it just being nothing more than something like Wood zone was. I'm betting if some of the devs of Sonic 2 were asked the same questions about Wood Zone (besides the actual artist herself) they'd say similiar answers. Just because it wasn't memorable at all.
     
  19. Devon

    Devon

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    The 510 prototype does not have D.A. Garden. The 612 prototype does, but it's the same as in the final.
     
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  20. Andrew75

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    I would love if Sega brought back the main members from the original teams that worked on Sonic 2,CD, and Chaotix and let them finish the games the way they had originally intended without the deadlines that caused content or ideas to be cut.