Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) prototype discovered

Determined to start 2021 off on the right foot; infamous scene member 'drx', along with The Cutting Room Floor have uncovered what is long thought to have been lost to the ages.

While a number of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) betas and prototypes, including the famous Nick Arcade build have been floating around the internet since 2006; and then more recently in 2019 we saw the surprise discovery of a Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994) prototype - it's long been thought that any and all early builds of Sonic's first outing on SEGA's 16-bit machine would never be found.

Although plenty of early show floor demos and VHS tapes have made their way onto the internet which show glimpses of early Sonic 1 footage and a bevy of fan made hoax ROMs exist - until last night this is all we had to show for SEGA's first entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.

600px-Sonic_1_md_proto_-_cart_front.jpg

That was until last night, when during their last Twitch stream of 2020, The Hidden Palace Zone closed off their stream with a surprise showing - an early prototype build of Sonic the Hedgehog for the SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis.

Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(2).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(7).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(18).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(31).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(36).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(57).png Sonic_the_Hedgehog_(16-bit)_(Prototype)_(61).png

Although an exact build date of the ROM is unknown, it's thought to be from mid to late development of the title. A number of zones are near complete while a couple including Labyrinth and Spring Yard Zone look quite different from the final product.

Here is a list of key differences that has been compiled by members of the scene:
  • Normal SEGA startup - no SEGA choir
  • No 'Sonic Team Presents' screen
  • Many level layout differences
  • Many level art differences
  • Object placement differences
  • Large rolling ball in GHZ
  • LZ is missing water entirely
  • UFO's present in MZ sky
  • Slower lava in MZ
  • Missing boss in MZ
  • Some instrumentation differences
  • Special stage ring does not appear at end of the level
  • Spring Yard Zone is known as Sparkling Zone
  • Star Light Zone is very unfinished
  • Scrap Brain Zone shows as Clock Ork Zone
  • COZ is very unfinished
  • Splats (enemy) is present and functional via debug

More detailed information on this release as well as a download can be found via the link at The Hidden Palace Zone below.

Maybe some day we'll also get to see the incredibly rare Tokyo Toy Show prototype/proof of concept version of Sonic 1?

:arrow: Twitch stream (starts at approx 40:00)
:arrow: The Hidden Palace Zone
 

raxadian

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Clock Ork Zone? Was the boss a Clock Ork?
Labyrinth zone's background looks way cooler in the beta than the tiles they used for the final version, what happened!?

It probably glitched or was changed because it slowed down the game. Remember they made Sonic 1 to show off that the Sega Genesis is faster than the Super Nintendo.
 
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KennieDaMeanie

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The digital world still blows my mind sometimes, it takes 4 different chips to run a sonic gensis game but now you can play it with a click of a button and it's probably under 20mbs a game.
 

Sonic Angel Knight

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Man wish there was more prototypes of streets of rage. I wanna hear some cool unreleased tracks like the thriller song from moonwalker. Or some unique graphics from vector man or sonic 3d blast. :ninja:
 

matpower

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Clock Ork Zone? Was the boss a Clock Ork?


It probably glitched or was changed because it slowed down the game. Remember they made Sonic 1 to show off that the Sega Genesis is faster than the Super Nintendo.
It is "Clock Work Zone", however missing " W" art makes it "Clock Ork Zone". The correct name shows up in the level select.

Correct initials for the level should be CWZ instead of COZ like in the OP but I'm not sure if the community has decided on this.
 
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raxadian

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It is "Clock Work Zone", however missing " W" art makes it "Clock Ork Zone". The correct name shows up in the level select.

Correct initials for the level should be CWZ instead of COZ like in the OP but I'm not sure if the community has decided on this.

Ah yeah I remember someone mentioned the font they used didn't have a W to save space hence the name change.
 
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RocketRobz

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As a Sonic fan myself, I'm so glad that a prototype for Sonic 1 is now out!
I'm hoping that the Tokyo Toy Show proto is released in the future as well.
Some people have said that a Sonic 1 proto wouldn't/won't be made public, and now look what happened. :P

Here's what I like about the recently released proto:
  • The percussion samples.
    They're lower-pitched than the final, so I'm under the impression that the high-pitched samples in the final, is an overlooked bug due to reworking the sound driver for the SEGA sample.
  • The UFOs in Marble Zone.
    I can see why they removed them in the final.
  • The look of Sparkling Zone.
    I prefer the lively look of it over the cool-looking Spring Yard Zone.
  • The background of Labyrinth Zone.
    In my opinion, it's what makes Labyrinth Zone look like... well, a labyrinth.
 

Sonic Angel Knight

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And now we see a static background image of Labyrinth zone. :ninja:

upload_2021-1-4_5-59-22.png



It is "Clock Work Zone", however missing " W" art makes it "Clock Ork Zone". The correct name shows up in the level select.
Clock "ORK" zone just funny :P

Least is not clock cork zone. Might be filled with corks and screws. Clock work kinda remind me of clock tower stages in like every castlevania game which is the most annoying swinging on pendulums or the spinning gears, unlimited medusa heads. :blink:
 

Milenko

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Idk why but I just had memories of castle of illusion on the master system come back to me, stressful memories
 
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