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New research materials reveal cut Sonic 2 stages for the first time

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Sonic 2’s original plan included an ambitious story with time travel.

Image: Sega
Image: Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has long been a treasure trove for video game historians and hacking sickos around the world. This spice is still flowing today, leading us to today’s story in which “new” materials found by the Video Game History Foundation have revealed stages, enemies, plot details, and more cut content during development. 

Multiple stages that have never seen the public light of day are now out in the open. This includes Winter Zone, a stage that has been unearthed for the very first time via footage from a VHS tape.

The results of all this Sonic 2 research have been shared in a new video from Frank Cifaldi, head of the Video Game History Foundation. The material is fascinating, especially a high-level view of some ambitious concept work. 

During the planning stages, Sonic 2 started as a time travel story, with Sonic chasing Eggman as he attacked the past and brought further ruin to the present. We get a look at a world map, various stage titles, and context that explains certain aspects of the final game that otherwise don’t.

Cifaldi also introduces three artists at Sega, who collectively designed seven stages and only saw two of them used. Tom Payne’s Cyber City level, with help from art and assets from Payne’s personal collection, was actually reconstructed in (very partially) playable form. 

Meanwhile, a VHS demo reel sent in from Brenda Ross showed animation from a Desert stage (famously used for a screenshot in an old Sears ad), and footage of her Winter Zone that is now available to be seen for the first time. Well, the first time outside of Sega’s offices in the 90s.

It’s fascinating footage and a rare look at the bits and pieces of classic video games that simply don’t make it to the final release. There could be any number of reasons why this happens, as Cifaldi explains in an effort to not paint these perceived losses in a negative light. There are a lot of moving parts in projects like this, and plans change constantly. 

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