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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Director's Cut

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by Ultrared, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. Ultrared


    Sonic 2 Director's Cut
    This WIP hack aims to implement all scrapped Sonic 2 levels and recreate the original planned storyline with time travel, among other things. I'm basing my work on available information on Sonic 2's development and early concepts.

    I've been mainly working on the art. The hack is still at a very early stage -- only two zones have been (partially) implemented so far. I'll be posting screens of these, and well as quick mockups of some of the still unimplemented zones, using the intended art. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind, however, that the mockups aren't intended to be pixel-accurate depictions of what the levels will look like once implemented. For instance, some parts weren't drawn with the tile-based system used by the game's graphics in mind, some colors may be off, etc. They're just meant to give a general idea of the levels.

    For comparison, I'll also be posting the original concept art, which I based the zones on. I tried to be faithful, whether I succeeded or not is up to you.

    Screens and mockups:
    Tropical Sun Zone:

    Madness Mountain Zone:
    Outdoor sections are also planned.

    Ocean Wind Zone:
    There will also be a few underwater areas:

    Genocide City Zone/Cyber City Zone:
    Based on the graphics of The Machine from Sonic Spinball, as we all know that stage used recycled GCZ graphics. I also based the palette and floor on this:

    Update July 21th:
    The desert zone (controversially known as Dust Hill Zone):
    It's not based on any prior fan recreations. The art isn't final, some parts still need work. The colors should look a bit different in the actual hack.

    In terms of story and structure, the game will closely follow the concept documents, keeping the level order and taking place across multiple time zones and timelines. Time travel won't be a gameplay mechanic in itself, but a plot element.
    The order of the playable time zones will be the following: Present, Past, Ruined Present, Ravaged Past, and Bad Present*.

    However, as many have previously noted, some zones are present in more than one time zone/timeline. All of the Ravaged Past stages seem to be shared with the original Past, for instance. This implies that there will be repeated levels within the same playthrough, which would make for dreadful padding. To avoid this problem, my hack will handle most Past zones this way: you'll visit their first acts in the original Past, and the second acts in the Ravaged Past.
    Due to this, in some instances, the second acts will have slightly different backgrounds, matching the current state of the island. For instance, the mountain from the first screen will only be present in the second act of Tropical Sun Zone, which will take place in the Ravaged Past. The reason for this is that the TSZ concept art seems to be depicting the mountain that is next to it in the Ravaged Past. However, it wasn't next to it in the original Past, which the first act will take place in.

    * Many believe the last map to be a Bad Future. However, I personally think otherwise. If you look at this document, said map is placed on the same horizontal position as previous Presents in the timeline. This implies that it's actually another altered Present.

    A planned feature is a high degree of customization. Since there are gaps in available information about Sonic Team's original plans for Sonic 2, some guesswork will be needed on my part. But many will disagree with my personal guesses and interpretations. For instance, there are debates among fans regarding the identity of zones like Dust Hill or Rock World. I'll deal with that by including a lot of customization options. For example, you will be able to change:
    • The level order
    • The zones' names (ie: custom level names)
    • What BGM is played in each zone
    And other similar options, to allow the player to customize the hack to better fit their vision of what Sonic 2 would have been if Sonic Team had been able to implement all of their ideas.

    To recap, here's a list of planned features:
    • Implementation of all known scrapped zones, and most scrapped badniks.
    • A new storyline based on the orginal time travel plot. There will be cutscenes ala S3K, but most of them will take place between levels, rather than mid-level.
    • Restoration of Hidden Palace Zone's original function as a secret level accessible upon collecting all Chaos Emeralds, where you'll be given access to Super Sonic.
    • High degree of customization.
    • Map of the island displayed before each zone (ala Sonic 1 SMS/GG), indicating the current location. It will be based on the maps from the concept documents, and will reflect the island's current state.
    • Optional "bonus" features such as playable Knuckles, Sonic and Tails' moves from S3K and other games, elemental shields, etc. These will be disabled by default, being accessed through a secret cheat code.

    Of course, it will be a while before most of these features are implemented. Lots of coding will be needed, and right now, the priority is recreating the scrapped zones.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
  2. steveswede


    Ask my hand
    Fighting against the Unitary State of Europe
    Not much to say than it looks promising.
  3. LoneDevil


    Eternal Underdog Member
    Very impressive work here soo far, Ocean Wind Zone being the most aesthetically pleasing.
  4. Ravenfreak


    2 Edgy 4 U Tech Member
    O'Fallon Mo
    Sonic 1 Game Gear Disassembly
    This looks very impressive, I look forward to seeing more! :) Your sprite work is simply amazing!
  5. Good lord that Tropical Sun spritework is amazing. Looking forward to seeing more, hopefully in time for the SHC!
  6. Nintorch


    Just another programmer. Member
    There are a lot actually..
    Hmm, this looks very good, can't wait to play it :)
  7. Unlimited Trees

    Unlimited Trees

    we Do a Little Mischief, Mischief... Member
    UNITRES, Project Time, etc.
    I do not like most of the backgrounds. They suffer from the same issues as Sonic Before/After the Sequel, in that they include various sprites from other games just mashed together with no consistent style. For example, the first level has Sonic CD Special Stage background assets, which are a lot more detailed and saturated, alongside more simple and desaturated tiles. The only thing I can give you is that the foreground in the first level shown is a lot more accurate to Sonic 2's style, specifically it looks very much like Aquatic Ruin, but at the same time I'm not very fond of how that zone looks.

    Ocean Wind Zone, meanwhile, suffers from the same problem that I mentioned with the background for the previous thing, except it's with the foreground reusing Hidden Palace tiles, which just doesn't work as they're a lot more desaturated compared to the more detailed grass which is so obviously taken from Aquatic Ruin.

    Overall, I'm probably the only one who doesn't like the sprites of this. I will say, for a ROM hack, this looks a lot more impressive than 90% of hacks I've seen. Certainty better than my early sprites, lol.
  8. RDNexus


    It's nice to see someone interesting in reviving Sonic 2's original storyline. Keep it up, good luck.
  9. Hez


    This looks promising! I look forward to seeing more.
  10. DarkVDee


    Duke Of Palettes Member
    Sonic DVD [CD2]
    Pretty much what HorriblePerson pointed out. Work out those and you'll be golden man. What catch me the most is Cyber City. That I look forward on seeing more of it
  11. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    What you're showing and saying is exciting but I hope you're not biting off more than you can chew; been too excited too many times for things like this that never come to fruition. BUT, I certainly hope you pull it off because I think we'd all love for someone to take a good stab at this concept. Even just seeing a few of these levels come to life would be very satisfying. Best of luck~
  12. Icedland


    eh? Member
    Thuringia, Germany
    Untimely Clockwork
    incredible, can't wait to play this one day, i am looking foward to it!
  13. Creature SH

    Creature SH

    Heck, if you can get even one of those levels completed, it would be a great damn rom hack.
  14. Ultrared


    Sonic 2 Director's Cut
    Thanks for the feedback and the kind words. I'll be addressing the criticism and concerns raised.

    Yeah, I was also unsure about using that mountain and island in the same background. But I rather liked the individual look of each, so I guess I told myself that it would be all right for the mountain to stand out and even look out of place, since you're actually looking at the edge of another zone -- at least going by my interpretation that it's the foot of the mountain where Blue Lake Zone is located in the Ravaged Past.

    Anyway, would you people prefer a more abstract mountain in the style of the Palmtree Panic background? Here's a quick edit of the first screen I whipped up, showing both the current mountain and the proposed mountain for comparison:

    As for the OWZ grass, I'll see what I can do about it.

    I understand your concern. The future is always uncertain, so I cannot promise for sure that I'll get to fully finish the hack. But I can say that I'll be refraining from attempting to do too many things at once. I'll be working simulatenously on a few stages, and finish them before moving on to the next ones. I won't be rushing things. Every now and then I'll release a new version showcasing current progress. That way, even if fate decides that I don't get to finish the project, what work was done won't go to waste. And who knows, perhaps others will even pick up the slack, if the project proves popular enough.

    Make no mistake, though. I have no intentions of abandoning it. I'm not opposed to accepting help or contributions while it's still in development either.
  15. Unlimited Trees

    Unlimited Trees

    we Do a Little Mischief, Mischief... Member
    UNITRES, Project Time, etc.
    I think you would be better off making a new sprite for the mountains entirely, and trying to make sure it's both accurate to Sonic 2's style, is close to the concept art, and doesn't distract the player during gameplay. Because as it stands, both of those mountains stand out a lot with both their different style and dark color palette
  16. LilShootDawg


    LSD Member
    This looks very good so far. Spritework is very good. The only question I have is what you are planning to do when you only have 1 picture to go off of for an entire stage.
  17. Flygon


    This is very exciting. I've wanted something like this for a while!
  18. SuperSonicRider


    Honestly I think the Palmtree Panic-/Hill Top-esque mountains look very nice.

    Looking forward to seeing more of this hack, the concept recreations look really really faithful. :)
  19. Unlimited Trees

    Unlimited Trees

    we Do a Little Mischief, Mischief... Member
    UNITRES, Project Time, etc.
    The problem with the mountains is that they're both too dark. When things are far away, they aren't supposed to be darker. That's not how perspective works. Another problem is that both of the mountains don't look anything like the actual concept art. It's hard to explain, but the first one is small (despite the creator just copy+pasting the tiles to make it taller), and the second one is too simplistic compared to the much more detailed concept art. Once again, some actual custom art would greatly benefit this.
  20. Lapper


    Lappering Tech Member
    Sonic Studio, Sonic Physics Guide, Kyle & Lucy, Freedom Planet 2
    I love the idea of this!

    Just want to touch on what's been said before.

    All I did was (effectively) roll the palette in the back 1 or 2 brighter and it already looks further away. Though you will still run into other issues like do the background and foreground look too similar in tone? Though I get it's hard to make the background exactly what you want with a limited palette, especially when you want to rely on real life 'misty-nes' of further elements.

    As has been said, even with the right colours the art often still looks mismatched and I'd also urge you to try and create something from scratch to better match the concept art directly, OR failing that - be more subtle with the existing art reference inclusion, including elements nicely merged than literally slapping bits together. I wouldn't recommend the latter more than the former though.

    This is all just an artist nitpicking though and it's already very exciting so please keep it up. :)
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