For the first time in history, a prototype version of Sonic The Hedgehog 3 has been discovered and documented.
Sonic fans, we’ve got some big news for you. The Hidden Palace, a website "dedicated to the preservation of video game development material and samples for obsolete systems,” has finally found it. With the help of The Cutting Room Floor, they have obtained a pre-release development copy of Sonic The Hedgehog 3.
You wouldn’t think this to be a huge deal, but it totally is. Sega was intensely protective of their plans during Sonic 3’s development, and for good reason: the whole thing was a gong show from day one.
When Sonic 3 first started development in 1993, it was just after the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Sega’s team wanted to make a cutting-edge Sonic game that used isometric 3D modeling (similar to Sonic 3D Blast), but the Sega Virtua Processor necessary to get it to work hit development snags and was pushed back to 1994. This wouldn’t have been a problem except Sonic 3 absolute had to come out in February 1994 due to already signed marketing contracts.
So the Sonic team scrapped everything and started over from square one making a traditional Sonic game that was a direct sequel to Sonic 2. But even using the same game engine, less than a year wasn’t enough time to make an actual Sonic game. That’s when the team decided to break the game into two parts.
The first half, titled Sonic 3 Part 1, would eventually lead to Sonic The Hedgehog 3. Sonic 3 Part 2 would lead to Sonic & Knuckles, the innovative cartridge that would serve as both an expansion pack for Sonic 3 and stand alone as its own game.
To keep everything under wraps, Sega worked with tight security. Nobody knew about their plans, and very few game publications were allowed to preview Sonic 3. Only Sega Magazine UK was able to play a preview copy of the game, and it’s that previous copy that The Hidden Palace says they’ve got their hands on.
There are a TON of differences between the finish Sonic 3 and this preview copy, not the least of which being a whole bunch of unfinished music and game assets. Flying Battery Zone, which was cut from Sonic 3 to be added to Sonic & Knuckles, is still there right after Carnival Night Zone, and Lava Reef Zone is there too although it’s inaccessible without some hacking.
If you’re at all interested in Sonic The Hedgehog’s history, this find will be absolutely fascinating. Check it out at The Hidden Palace.
(Source: The Hidden Palace)