Sonic the Hedgehog (Prototype)

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

  1. JoseTB


    Tech Member
    Of note, that recent prototype footage that was unearthed less than a year ago is of a much later build, as evidenced by the RINGS HUD and the final-looking SYZ and LBZ. That would suggest that the GHZ ball, the MZ UFOs and the end of level victory pose were cut very late in development. Likewise, no checkpoints in that footage, indicating that these were added late, as Black Squirrel also pointed out.
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  2. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

    Working on my art!
    It really is amazing how last minute checkpoints seem to be. They really expected you to get through each level in one go? That's kinda rough.
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  3. Bryn2k


    Still a thing. Oldbie
    Even as late as 1991, platform games were still rock hard as standard.

    I suspect that playthroughs showed that:

    - 50/100 ring 1-ups meant you ended up with a mass amount of lives, which meant dying wasn't as painful.
    - Being sent back to the first screen of the stage when you were pixels away from the signpost is a complete and utter dickmove.

    Let's not forget though that Japan loves insane difficulty levels, they're the nation of Super Mario Bros 2, Takeshi's Castle (seemingly inspired by SMB2j), it figures they'd want to one-shot Sonic stages too. I'd imagine focus groups or reviewer copies of prototypes wielded feedback saying "being killed by Eggman and sent back to the start of Act 3 is bullshit even if I already have 30 lives by this point".

    Enter the lamppost. Exit the 50 ring 1-up.
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  4. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    I don't have the tweet handy but someone pointed out on twitter a few days ago that the only checkpoint in Star Light Zone is right before the boss, so I think you're on the money for specifically why they decided to change it.

    And of course also being last-minute, they didn't redesign the levels so that most pre-boss checkpoints actually had rings, as anyone who's screwed up Labyrinth 3 can attest.
  5. Kimberly


    Another thing I would like to point out in the footage linked is that at the begin you see the generic SEGA logo like our prototype has, before booting to the title screen. It likely means that even that later prototype still didn't have the finalized SEGA we know and love, and was also done extremely late.

    It seems to me that very important things regarding Sonic 1 were done at the very end, which is very interesting. I wonder if they asked for final feedback at the end of development at higher-ups, non-japanese gamers, or just had a lot of people testing the game how difficult it is.

    A reminder that this commercial which is likely based on the very same build didn't have checkpoints as well, and still had 50 rings = 1 up.

    Since this is my first post since the findings of the prototype; A huge thank you and good job to everyone involved. Absolutely fantastic to see a Sonic 1 proto found after so long!
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  6. Bryn2k


    Still a thing. Oldbie
    Definitely, this explains the really shonky placement of lampposts right before bosses throughout Sonic 1 - in fact, they're nearly all right before with no rings nearby making dying to any of the bosses a disaster as you're stuck with one hit deaths until you either win or Game Over. The solitary Star Light lamppost is virtually unavoidable, if you've come down the top path your momentum will throw you straight through it before you have chance to react and if you jump up from below there's not enough space to leap over it. The screen has already locked into battle co-ordinates just as you reach it as well.

    Some of Scrap Brain's lampposts are downright bullshit as well, at least one in the first act plonks you in between two electric zappers meaning you can't even move without being easily killed. Act 2 hasn't got any, which is really annoying if you're crushed on the conveyor belt gauntlet near the end.

    In Sonic 2 they did this in a few stages but it wasn't the norm - the real obvious offender was Mystic Cave because you physically couldn't get back up, all the other zones you could backtrack as the screen lock flag was a bit tighter to the boss arena. Sonic 3K also seemed to fix this problem - Hydrocity Act 2 is notable because the star post is inside the boss arena. Luckily it has 3 rings above it.
  7. Kyuu


    Memory Access Violation Member
    Bit of a late response, but whoops, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure you're right. Maybe I'm thinking of one of the S&K protos we've got. Oh well!

    Hi there! Welcome to Retro! :)

    To answer your question - Looking at this screenshot, I'm fairly sure it's a mock-up, as opposed to anything playable. Sonic's way off-center compared to the camera, there's no HUD, the layout of the ground is like nothing we've ever seen in any footage (or any other screenshots for that matter, to the best of my memory?), the blue background pillars have those prisms at the top that I don't think are ever seen in any other screenshots... I wouldn't be surprised if Marble Zone never actually looked quite like this in any playable build of the game. Maybe it did, at some point, but not in this proto, sorry to say.
  8. T.Q.


    The Sims 2, Tim Drake [Robin] Member
    Here's a better image of Marble Zone's mock-up (with the correct lighting set from the north-west of the screen):


    I think they just threw in whatever visual assets they could concoct to make it look like their internal design of the zone below. Except they moved Sonic to a tile above, and the rocky cliffs became mountains:


    EDIT: I see this was what that those Scrap Brain tunnels in Act 1 was meant to do, scrapped later on, and then redesigned to what we have now with the rectangular blades.:


    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  9. BlitzHedgie


    Brisbane, Australia.
    SRB2 Kart server maintenance
    This view on the difficulty level would likely also explain the insanely short time between the air countdown timers shown here.
  10. T.Q.


    The Sims 2, Tim Drake [Robin] Member
    MCTravisYT found an object placement layout from an earlier Sparking Zone version:

    It might be from the Winter CES.

    The starting position seems to have started higher up, per the background being the buildings on top:


    At 17 to 24 seconds in the video, it seems to match this area (albeit, the placement of the badnik went to a lower area):


    At 50 seconds in the video, there's this row of spikes, some lights, and a pink Rollers badnik that seem to match this image:


    Makes that "Good Luck" signs in the background seem quite relevant. Too many Rollers and Crabmeats near the middle of the zone!

    EDIT: Oh, and there's a sneak appearance of the red plunger (swtich) here on the left of "Time" / "Ring"'s HUD:


    EDIT 2: Maybe that switch was meant be the equivalent of a "down" switch for the elevating platform here, but became unused and not programmed:

    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  11. Brainulator


    Regular garden-variety member Member
    So Motobugs were once planned for Spring Yard Zone, but the video shows its graphics being supplanted by some of the Roller's. I wonder: was the Roller less developed in the earlier build? I could see them removing Motobugs to make room for the Roller's art.

    It makes sense to me that they'd add checkpoints very late in production. If the idea was to ensure Sonic could appeal to Western players, I imagine Western playtesters would have complained about having to restart the entire level just to get another chance to hit Eggman whereas Japanese players may not have minded so much. That said, I had the epiphany just now of why the Labyrinth boss used to give me such trouble: it was only towards the end of development where the game gave you no choice but to fight the boss from a point where your only protection is a one-use shield. Oh, and the lower route of that same level? No rings, no checkpoints, just an attempt at a harder-but-faster route that ultimately skips nearly the entire level. Given the state LZ Act 3 is in compared to its internally adjacent levels (i.e. GHZ and MZ), I can't help but feel that the level wound up... incomplete, but just complete enough to be acceptable for retail.
  12. Hez


    Asshole Oldbie
    Your mother
    Also, doesn't Star Light not have any checkpoints (besides before the boss)?
  13. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    If checkpoints were added at the last second, maybe that's why the 8-bit version used monitors as checkpoints. When its devs implemented them, they might have had to come up with their own version because the 16-bit version didn't have them (yet).
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  14. Lostgame


    turntablist, dinosaur goddess Oldbie
    Toronto, ON
    The O.I.C.
    I don’t really have too much insight, but having been here for two decades (holy crap), I feel obligated to say this is awesome. Wow.
  15. Ravenfreak


    Is actually a guy. Tech Member
    O'Fallon Mo
    Hacking Sonic Drift, Writer at Sonic Cage Dome
    It's funny I was just thinking that days prior to the prototype being revealed I wondered why there were UFOs originally in Marble Zone. Then I thought back to how people think that the pyramids and ancient ruins were thought to be made by aliens. Marble Zone is a ancient ruin level. Or it was just the early 90's and weird shapes were all the craze. :V I think they were removed for the same reason Sparkling became Spring Yard, they're a bit too distracting for some people. (Not for me though, I personally wish they kept the UFOs and Sparkling Zone in the final game...)
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  16. McAleeCh


    Saw a tweet on this the other day - apparently the foreground girders break/don't spawn correctly when Sonic respawns at a checkpoint. So rather than fix it, they decided to just have a checkpoint before the boss and no others! From what's been deduced in this thread, it seems checkpoints were added much later in development than originally suspected, so perhaps they simply didn't have time to track down and fix the cause of the bug...!

    EDIT: Went back and dug up the original tweet, so here's a link:
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    shaving is boring Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    hey wiki you're so fine
    I've never been too sure on this - there's a few games that were made more difficult in the West for supposedly the same reasons. Contra: Hard Corps and Streets of Rage 3 are two - I forget the excuses. "Value for money" might have been one.

    I think it's probably more "arcade mentality". We're on the second stage, they've had some fun, now time to throw the user off the machine. Although maybe not since there's a bazillion extra lives.

    tbh it's a tough one to gage - you have to un-learn how to play. e.g.


    If I hadn't been screwing around yesterday, I wouldn't have noticed the debug damage area graphics showing up when you die near lava. Because I don't tend to die near lava.
  18. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox

    The real reason some games were made harder in the West is so that you couldn't beat them in a single rental.
  19. Kimberly


    More games coming in my mind made EASIER in Japan are games made by Rare. Donkey Kong Country series being one of them, as well as Battletoads.
  20. Pakodim


    Thank you for your answers concerning these famous platforms ! The mystery is therefore solved !