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Prerelease:Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega CD)

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega CD).


Sonic CD had an interesting development cycle, beginning as a Sega CD version of Sonic the Hedgehog. A lot of concepts considered for the game were never implemented or are not in any known prototypes.

Development

Sonic CD had an interesting development cycle, it originally began as a Sega CD version of Sonic the Hedgehog; Seen in a video displayed at the Summer CES 1992 (3:31) is the only known footage of the Sega CD version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Given that there are zero differences to be seen, it's possible this is simply footage of the Genesis original. According to Ohshima, Sonic CD was made to be a "CD version" of the original.

Sonic CD wasn't Sonic 2; it was really meant to be more of a CD version of the original Sonic. I can't help but wonder, therefore, if we had more fun making CD than they did making Sonic 2 [because we didn't have the pressure of making a "numbered sequel"]. - Naoto Ohshima

A physical disc copy of what appears to be Sonic 1 on the Sega CD was posted on Sonic Team's old (now defunct) website in 1997/1996. The text accompanied by the image implies it may have only been a disc design, possibly before a Sega CD Sonic game entered development, and not a real build of a game.

Sonic-megacd.png

(Source: Sonic Team's Website Archive)

Unlike Sonic's direct sequels, Sonic CD was handled by Sega of Japan with Sonic's original character designer, Naoto Ohshima, being the game's director. At one point, Ohshima wanted the time to change seamlessly, but limitations with the hardware resulted in a "loading" screen being created when time travelling.

When it came to new characters, Amy Rose was taken from the obscure 1992 Shogakukan manga, though unlike the manga Sonic straight-up ignores Amy, while in the manga he and Amy are couples. Metal Sonic, on the other hand, was designed to be a near-perfect rival of Sonic, which is likely what made him a recurring character through-out the series.


(Source: Gamasutra interview with Naoto Ohshima)

United States Soundtrack

During the localization process in the US, the soundtrack was completely overhauled due to Sega of America finding them too similar to the electronic dance scores made at the time, and hired Spencer Nielsen to redo the soundtrack in just one month. The only tracks that weren't changed were the past tracks, due to being sequenced audio and thusly harder to edit.

Original Level Names

When Sonic CD was in early development, the stages had bizarre, possibly placeholder, names. So far, only two are known:

  • Palmtree Panic was originally called "Salad Plain". This is the only original name that is known to be in the game's prototypes, specifically the 0.02 prototype.
  • Wacky Workbench was originally called "Crazy Toy Box". This was revealed by Masato Nishimura, Sonic CD's landscape designer, in 2020. During the music that plays in the Bad Future of Wacky Workbench, the words "Crazy Toy Box" can be heard being spoken by a vocoder voice. This as well was revealed by Nishimura in 2011.

R2

R2 as it appears in the closing animation.

"R2" is the popular name for a Sonic CD stage that was cut from the final release. Its existence can be proven through examining the game files on a PC or through the level select. In both cases, the levels skip from R1 (Palmtree Panic) to R3 (Collision Chaos); R2 is nowhere to be found. Little is known about the stage, and it is not in any known prototype or prerelease screenshots/mockups. However, concept art was shown in the 2011 developer's diary video, and it actually appears in a segment of the uncut ending animation. Although some have speculated the segment actually depicts Tidal Tempest (the only level not seen in the animation at all), Christian Whitehead (who developed the 2011 remake) said that the scene is indeed set in R2; this makes sense, given that the opening animation was made early in development.

What is known of R2 is that it was set in ancient ruins. The concept art suggests that the level was similar to Aquatic Ruin Zone from Sonic 2, while the ending animation suggests it contained metallic structures, vegetation, and stone bricks that collapsed when Sonic ran across them. The only thing the two really share is the ruins motif. It's commonly speculated that R2 would have been the Sonic CD equivalent to Marble Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, as most of Sonic CD's level themes are directly based on Zones from Sonic 1 and follow the same order: Palmtree Panic as Green Hill; Collision Chaos as Spring Yard; Tidal Tempest as Labyrinth; Stardust Speedway as Starlight; and Metallic Madness as Scrap Brain/Final.

According to Masato Nishimura, music that was intended for use in R2 ended up getting repurposed as the D.A. Garden theme. R2 is only explicitly referenced in the v0.02 prototype, where it is listed as an entry on the Time-Attack menu, without having to hack the game to enter the level select. Jim Trethewey (who helped develop the 1996 Windows port) said in an interview that Junetsu Kakuta (who worked on the game) implied that the level was removed due to quality and design concerns. In 2011, Nishimura elaborated that Sonic CD was supposed to shift between speed-oriented odd-numbered stages and "technical", platforming-based even-numbered stages. Both R2 and Collision Chaos, Nishimura recalled, had been designed as platforming-based, so the decision was made to cut R2 but keep Collision Chaos. R2's absence also possibly explains the presence of the hidden eighth special stage, as there would have been eight Rounds had R2 not been cut.

SonicCD1993-R2Sprites.png

These enemy sprites, found in Sega digitizer files, were released by Christian Whitehead in 2013. According to Whitehead, these are essentially the only remnants of R2 he had access to, as nothing else remained, not even its name. The enemies include an antlion (an enemy seen in the ending animation), an enemy similar to Burrobot from Sonic 1, and a weird snake/worm-like robot that looks like it shot things. The boss appears to be Eggman riding an Egg Mobile with a giant wheel on the bottom, though the artwork is unfinished. It is worth noting that the antlion was also considered for an appearance in Metallic Madness (presumably after R2 was cut), and was redrawn to be smaller.

Early Special Stage

SonicCD Sega Summer Catalogue 1992 Cropped.jpeg

The Sonic CD Special Stages were originally going to build upon the framework of Sonic 1's, in which Sonic navigated a rotating maze. Unlike the Sonic 1 Special Stage, there were to be two rotating layers that the player switched between. According to planner Hiroaki Chino, the developers thought the Special Stage was too slow, so they reworked it to take better advantage of the Sega CD hardware. According to Masato Nishimura, the special stage was displayed on a video exhibit that was shown at a 1992 toy show.

The only known screenshot of this Special Stage running in the game comes from the 1992 Sega Summer Catalog.

(Source: Shmuplations)

Later Special Stage

Hmmm...
To do:
A few things.
  • Find the actual source rather than just linking to Sonic Retro!
SonicCD balloonufo.png

This screenshot shows that at one point in development some yellow objects similar to balloons were going to be used instead of UFOs. it is unknown if this image is a mockup or not. It also features an unused background never seen in the retail release.


(Source: Sonic 2 Solid Gold Guide)

Palmtree Panic

Prerelease/post-v0.02 Prototype Prototype 621-Onwards
SonicCD510PincherPTPBossComparison.PNG SCD-Boss.jpg SonicCD621Proto-Onwards-PTPBoss.jpeg

Palmtree Panic Zone's boss orginally was mostly grey and had pinchers instead of bumpers like in the final. This look can also be seen in the 510/512 prototypes. Also as what it seems that the layout of the level's trees looked exactly like (if not familiar to) the v0.02 build.

Collision Chaos

Hmmm...
To do:
Find the magazine this screenshot originates from.
Prerelease Prototype 510
Sonic CD Collision Chaos Proto Bad Future.jpg SonicCD510 CCBFcomparison.png

An early version of Collision Chaos Zone 2 Bad Future that predates 510, with a different color palette. The mountains, clouds, neon signs, and main terrain are a shade of blue, and the pipes in the background are red.

Pre-621-Build

During Summer 1993, Sega released some Promotional Video Footage of Sonic CD during SEGA VIDEO NEWS VOL.2. The build in this video is after the 512/510 Prototype however it's before the 621/v0.51 Prototype due to the title screen in the build still being CD Sonic where it was changed to Sonic CD in the 621/v0.51 prototype.


(Source: セガ ビデオニュース Vol.2 (SEGA VIDEO NEWS VOL.2) 1993.Summer)

EGM Preview

Hmmm...
To do:
Sortout all these screenshots and put most of them before the Pre-621 Build page, compare these to the ones from Sonic Retro too

Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue 049 August 1993 page 142.jpg Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue 049 August 1993 page 143.jpg

Preview from Electronic Gaming Monthly #049

Electronic gaming monthly 050 - 1993 sep -160.jpg Electronic gaming monthly 050 - 1993 sep -161.jpg Electronic gaming monthly 050 - 1993 sep -162.jpg

Preview from Electronic Gaming Monthly #050

Player One Preview

Player One n°36 (Novembre 1993) - Page 032.jpg Player One n°36 (Novembre 1993) - Page 033.jpg Player One n°36 (Novembre 1993) - Page 034.jpg Player One n°36 (Novembre 1993) - Page 035.jpg

Preview from Player One #036, November 1993


Player One Review

Hmmm...
To do:
compare

PlayerOne 37 SonicCDreview1.png PlayerOne 37 SonicCDreview2.png PlayerOne 37 SonicCDreview3.png

Review from Player One #037, December 1993

PlayerOne 37 SonicCDad.png

French ad for Sonic CD, found in Player One #037