A rare prototype version of Sega Genesis classic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been rediscovered, some 27 years after originally being released on a bullet board system (BBS).
Scene piracy group CENSOR originally uploaded the rare, unfinished version of the game several weeks prior to its release in November 1992. However, due to the relative infancy of the internet and modern archiving methods, the prototype went largely forgotten when the full, retail version of the title was pirated just a number of days later.
Thanks to the efforts of video game preservation website Hidden Palace Zone, the Sonic 2 CENSOR prototype was recently rediscovered in an old archive of scene releases of Mega Drive ROMs, and shared with the world this week.
As noted by researchers, the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 CENSOR protoype contains several differences to the final release of Sega’s seminal platform title. Moreover, it is also an earlier build than a late-development demo, known as Sonic 2 Demo 4, found in old Sega QA archive.
The changes between the CENSOR prototype and final version of Sonic 2 are relatively minor, yet no less fascinating for fans of the series and video game archivists. Notably, the title screen differs considerably, while several zones also contain object and layout alterations. The CENSOR prototype’s special stages also take a long time to load, due to differences in art compression methods between versions of the title.
While it may not be the holy grail retro Sonic fans may have longed for, this latest discovery goes to show that despite being three decades old, the Genesis’ flagship series still has plenty of interesting surprises in store.