Dust Hill Zone is a desert, decorated with cacti and assorted plants. The tiles were designed to at some point be used in a winter-themed stage, transforming the sand into snow and the cacti into Christmas trees. The player would navigate terrain both aboveground and belowground, where there were snow/sand tunnels.
Dust Hill Zone was created by Brenda Ross, one of the final level artists added to the Sonic 2 development team. It was referred to in an early concept sketch as Sabaku Zone (literally "Desert Zone"). Time constraints kept the zone from being added to the final product.
However, through hacking, it is possible to access the actual Dust Hill Zone, but much like Genocide City Zone, the 2nd act of Wood Zone, and Death Egg Zone, all the level is, is Sonic falling to his death, and plays Oil Ocean's music as the music for this stage.
Brenda Ross called this level's palette swap "Winter Zone".
From a November/December 1992 issue of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Magazine