Sonic the Hedgehog (Prototype)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by drx, Jan 1, 2021.

  1. Lapper

    Lapper

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    They seem a bit weird level-design-wise but not having to wait for anything in the last seconds of the countdown would be a blessing.
     
  2. Metalwario64

    Metalwario64

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    It makes me wonder if the introduction of air bubbles made the level harder, and that's when they decided to move the level to after Spring Yard Zone instead of being the second stage.
     
  3. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    Wasn’t the decision to swap Labyrinth and Marble made by the time this prototype was built? Marble already loads after you complete Green Hill in the prototype.
     
  4. Metalwario64

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    I assumed it was just skipped, just like how other incomplete acts and zones are skipped. If that is the case, then it could just as well be due to how little work was done on the zone at this point.
     
  5. Laura

    Laura

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    I don't think so.

    The year is 1991. You rent games rather than buying them, and the second level of most games is intentionally made more difficult than others so you have to struggle with it and keep re-renting. There's a reason why Sonic 2 has Chemical Plant as level two.

    I think it's way more likely that Labyrinth was moved simply because they knew it was more more tedious than the rest of the game, so they put Marble Zone as the second level because it was still difficult enough to give people trouble but not so infuriating. Marble Zone encourages re-renting but doesn't turn you off, Labyrinth would make you just give up.
     
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  6. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

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    Adding to that, imagine that Labyrinth & Marble Zones were back-to-back. Would the game/franchise taken off how it did? Would this site even be here?

    As it is in the final, you more-or-less alternate between the faster paced Green Hill/Spring Yard/Star Light and the slower Marble/Labyrinth/Scrap Brain. I feel like that has to have been a conscious decision.
     
  7. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    I'm pretty sure there was an interview where they said exactly that, wasn't there?

    Re: air chambers vs. bubbles, I think it might have been nicer if both went in. Bubbles have an advantage since they can be placed anywhere the designer thinks the player will/might need air without having to place a specific piece of level design there. On the other hand, those chambers would make getting a grasp of air much faster in such situations. Personally I have no problems with Labyrinth Zone as released, but if it had both bubbles and those air chambers, it might have made it a little easier for some players to get through.
     
  8. Yeah true to that.. I was just going over TCRF’s articles on the Sonic 1 prereleases and based on what I read, our build so far matches everything described in the Mid RING build.. I have to go through the livestream again to see if the screenshots in the article match what was shown, but I’m certain we are zeroing in on this being Mid RING

    EDIT: If that unaired Nick Arcade pilot was shot in August 1991, isn’t it strange that the beta was still used as opposed to the official release which was already out for two months?
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  9. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that myself as a kid would have persevered regardless the placement of Marble or Labyrinth Zone. I was already happily frustrating myself progressing through Marble anyway, and adamantly refused to give up at Labyrinth after all the struggle it took to get there at times. I can say that if they were back-to-back and early-on then I surely would have hit the peak of my frustration faster and would be more to likely to give up considering the lack of progress made in between the two. Could be a neat discussion for another thread.
     
  10. Flygon

    Flygon

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    Been chatting with my friends on the issue again.

    How were the palettes organized on Labyrinth Zone again? If the foreground and background run on separate palette lines, it'd be fairly easy to apply the colour tinting raster effects to only the background, right? Not the foreground?
    I'm wondering if the idea was to only tint the background to indicate where the underwater sections are, rather than the foreground too.

    Again, baseless speculation, but it ties in with the caverns being entirely inside the foreground.
     
  11. Heran Bago

    Heran Bago

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    Wow. Never thought I would see the day...

    Love those GHZ balls.
     
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  12. tokumaru

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    Game developers would hardly cater to the game rental business though, in fact they were strongly against it, since they didn't make any money out of rentals. Sega would much rather sell one cartridge per kid than have several kids share a single copy sold to a rental shop.
     
  13. T.Q.

    T.Q.

    The Sims 2, Tim Drake [Robin] Member
    Well, given that it was at the pilot stage, the less costs associated with making the show, the better. Like maybe the games were borrowed, then returned. Like since the show's viability was unknown, perhaps whoever scouted for games call up connections they had (maybe magazine publishers) who wanted to discard or showcase the games on a show. Cheaper to make the show than buying games to play them. The pilot even taped on an existing show's set, and used music from another show as well.
     
  14. JoseTB

    JoseTB

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    So on the question of builds, as far as I can tell it appears there existed (at least) the following ones. I took the liberty to give them tentative labels so as to be able to call them something, but these labels may not be very accurate:
    • 1990 Tokyo Toy Show tech demo (not sure if you can really count this one as a "build").
      • [​IMG]
    • Pre-Alpha / Winter CES 1991 build? (some sources have this one as being featured in Winter CES 1991, whereas others suggest it predates it):
      • [​IMG] [​IMG]
    • Alpha 1 / Magazine preview build / Nick Arcade Pilot <--- this one appears to be the one we have. Most likely the most common, a relatively large number of magazines seem to have covered it:
      • [​IMG] [​IMG]
    • Alpha 2 / Lesser magazine preview build: Very similar to the previous one (RING HUD still) but features some minor additions/changes, such as GHZ's Sunflower's core being green rather than purple. Not anywhere near as extensively covered by magazines as the preceding one:
      • [​IMG] [​IMG]
    • Pre-Beta / Magazine review build? / Wayne's World: Final RINGS HUD, final LBZ and SYZ background graphics, but the UFOs are still present in Marble Zone for some reason. "Press start button" is also still present in the title screen, Special Stages are still not fleshed out, and it features several minor object layout differences:
      • [​IMG]
    • Beta / Release Candidate: Very close to final with only some minor refinements left to do:
      • [​IMG]
    Sources: The Cutting Room Floor, Sonic Retro, Hidden Palace, own reconstruction

    This is now 100% speculation on my part, but we can probably think of the Pre-Alpha as being akin to the S2 Nick Arcade Proto (couple stages playable, but otherwise early and broken), the Alphas as being similar to S2 Simon Wai's proto (well on its way to completion, but still a lot of level design and polishing work to do), the Pre-Beta as being equivalent to the S2 Sep 14 proto or the CENSOR one (most/all the final pieces in place, but still a ton of work left), and finally the Beta as being the one of those betas in the SoA archive labeled Beta 4-7 (mostly just bug fixing and polishing left).

    If we were to ever get a prototype at all, it was destined to be the first magazine preview (tentatively "Alpha 1"), since that's the one for which the most copies must have existed. It's not completely out of the question that cartridges with other builds exist, rotting away in a vault somewhere. But if this one took 15 years to surface at all, despite drx et al. best efforts, being by far the most common... don't get your hopes up. Still a fun exercise to try and put together a coherent development timeline.

    In all likelihood "Alpha 2", a build a little later than, but still very close to, the one we have here.

    I'd put my money on it being a remnant of the "Pre-Alpha" build, since we can clearly see that GHZ's layout had some major differences there compared to later builds.
     
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  15. kazblox

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    Diassemblies and decompilations.
    My suspected build list, along with estimated build dates:
    - Tokyo Toy Show (tech demo) - estimated Jun/Jul. 1990
    - Winter CES 1991 B-Roll (blue sea, completely different layouts) - estimated Nov. 1990
    - build screenshotted for TeraDrive demonstration footage (teal sea, but different end of GHZ1) - estimated Dec. 1990
    - Winter CES 1991 (teal sea, GHZ1 end layout near complete, other layouts in GHZ near finalized, probably was playable up until the first boss) - estimated late Dec. 1990
    - First public press demonstration cartridge (Marble Zone has unlit torches, gray level select, chroma blue Labyrinth BG, special stage with no colored blocks, etc.) - estimated Feb. 1991
    WE ARE HERE:
    - Second public press demonstration cartridge (Marble Zone has lit torches, brown level select, Labyrinth Zone has preliminary BG and scenery, special stage gets colored blocks, goal, etc.) - estimated Mar. 1991, even though speculation leads to May
    - Nick Arcade prototype - estimated Mar. 1991
    - Shinkaku (near final layouts, more triggers implemented, water implemented, special stages have barely progressed, Labyrinth Zone near finished, etc.) - estimated Apr. 1991
    - U.S. commercials/manual (looks to be near close to Shinkaku) - estimated Apr. 1991
    - REV00 (psuedo-prototype: DPCM sample rate loop changed to accommodate new SEGA screen, many changes made to make game now entirely playable from start to finish, clouds still don't scroll, Labyrinth Zone still has no wavy water, some bugs still remain, etc.) - May 1991, built specifically for western demand
    - REV01 (what was intended to be the version released) - estimated late May 1991?
     
  16. T.Q.

    T.Q.

    The Sims 2, Tim Drake [Robin] Member
    I guess, per the Winter CES 1991 build, part of the previous prototype featured a further back starting position in Green Hill Zone (that later got shortened, with the first ridge being removed) and a second layer where the Front-facing Ball Hog badnik is standing (that got chopped away as well). I didn't examine if the movements were the same as the demo movements in this prototype we have.

    GHZ1_202101032315.jpg

    Perhaps the Crabmeat and Chopper badniks didn't exist yet as well at that time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
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  17. kazblox

    kazblox

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    Diassemblies and decompilations.
    Not the same movements. Sonic appears to make only a jump only once in that footage, whereas the demo in this prototype assume another jump shortly after the first.
    But regardless, the demo movements might be for this layout. I haven't checked.

    And you'd be correct! They seem to have been programmed much later into the game, evident by internal order. Springs also appear to have not been programmed yet, as what are in the trees are just placeholder strips of rings.
     
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  18. T.Q.

    T.Q.

    The Sims 2, Tim Drake [Robin] Member
    Oh, interesting. Didn't know that.

    So, another hypothesis, this spring:

    Perhaps this is the 1st version of a spring they tried to program. Then realized it was hard for the player to find (e.g. wasn't as noticeable enough) and decided to make the platform larger.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  19. Oh wow, that early green hill map is awesome, ngl
     
  20. Rika Chou

    Rika Chou

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    Nat The Porcupine on SSRG also pointed out that it's a coiled spring (I was thinking it was an early version of the lava shooter). So this means there's only art for maybe 4 bosses (GHZ, spring, spike, legs?) Anyway, this is what the boss looks like with the spring:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
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