This article pertains to the beta elements of Sonic the Hedgehog (1991).
In the title screen there was a "Press Start Button" text on-screen. The level select shows the original order of the zones placed, with some Xs listed after some levels, Final Zone is not listed in it. The "Press Start Button" text is visible once again.
The first glimpse of Sonic the Hedgehog in video game form was at the Tokyo Toy Show in June 1990, which also happened to be the first time the game could be played by the general public. In a retrospective interview with Yuji Naka, it was revealed that the original Sonic Team put together a small, playable technical demo for the show featuring Sonic in an early version of the Green Hill Zone. Of note is that in the interview, Naka claims that this tech demo was planned at one stage to be included in Sonic Mega Collection, but was never in any build as the ROM has since been lost internally at Sega.
Green Hill was different; the sky was darker than in the actual zone, the conical mountains were normal mountains (they appear to be close in the background unlike the actual Green Hill) with few small waterfalls and no river to be found, the clouds are also bigger. There was a signboard giving the welcome to Sonic, in which it is thought to say: "You Are Welcome Sega, Sonic", with a picture of a palm tree in the top right hand corner. The rocks were original orange, they weren't a layout obstacle, they were a foreground along with the palmtrees being independent from the clouds and other objects in the background, all separate from the scrolling of Sonic as he ran through the hilled terrain, similar to those light posts from Star Light Zone.
There is a second beta iteration of Green Hill, elements such as the taller purple flowers and the strikingly close water/sky shades of blue in this build did make their way in the finished version. The layout was different, the Ball Hogs were here with the Robotnik monitor from Sonic 2. There was a rolling ball, in which you could move by pushing it, which was later used for the wrecking ball Egg Mobile. The differences are less evident, though the Debug Mode is evident. This version was in the Consumer Electronics Show March 1991.
The background was dark rocky with celing crystals (similar to this zone in the 8-bit version), the crystals were a bit smaller. Due to at that point was in development, there are some sections empty with no water, and Act 3 had a completely black background.
Labyrinth Zone was going to be the second zone, according to the unaltered Level Select menu, but due to its high difficulty compared with the earlier stages, it was put as the fourth zone in the final version.
The background of Marble Zone originally had different ruins and floating platforms in the sky. UFOs are also in the sky, although in a different build. These can be placed via debug mode in the 2013 remake At first, there were no torches present in the background when inside the ruins.
Horizontal counterparts of the the spiked crushers were also found in some prototypes. These can also be placed via debug mode in the 2013 remake. Spikes, who is in Spring Yard Zone in the final version, was intended to appear in Marble Zone.
Marble Zone was going to be the third zone, according to the unaltered Level Select Menu, but was put as the second zone in the final version.
In the data for star light zone there are unused flashing lights.
Sparkling Zone is an early version of what would later be known as Spring Yard Zone. It had a starry sky background and more of a focus on neon lights and signs with text. It was originally going to be the second to last zone in the game.
Clock Work Zone is known as "Scrap Brain" in the final version and originally had a different background and other changes. The zone is sometimes called “Clock Ork”, as the game itself does not have a “W” in it’s title code.
|Robotnik monitor||Does nothing. This monitor was likely intended to hurt the player, as it does in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It appears to be located in the second beta from Green Hill Zone.|
|Goggles monitor||This monitor was most likely accompanied by the unused goggle graphics, replacing the Air Bubbles. It was going to appear in Labyrinth Zone. Due to the programmers thought that the air bubbles gives Sonic some sort of weakness, the goggles were removed.|
|Static monitor||Does nothing. This monitor can be found in some parts of Scrap Brain Zone and can be broken by clipping through the walls. This is shown in Debug Mode when chosen a monitor in place, just before you step a monitor while Sonic 2 uses the Teleport monitors|
|S monitor||Does nothing. This monitor also appears in Sonic the Hedgehog CD prototype 510, where it grants the player extra speed and invincibility. This is most likely the intended function of the monitor here, as a Computer & Video Games issue alludes to a powerup which grants extra speed and invincibility. A similar version exists in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles which grants the user his Super State.|
Special Stage icons
Note: All of these items can be seen in-game by using the Debug Mode to fall outside the playing area of the Special Stage. It is easier to see them when advancing frame-by-frame by pausing and pressing C.
|"Zone" Icons||Found in the object list for the Special Stages with their graphics in the ROM. They are labeled as Zones 1-6, and are solid, like normal blocks, and were likely intended to show which Special Stage the player was in.|
|"1-up" Icon||An extra-life icon for the Special Stages. It is listed in the manual for the game, but it never actually appears. It is, however, fully functional, and can be placed in any special stage. The icon disappears when touched, like a ring.|
|"W" Icon||An icon with the letter W on it. Its use is unknown, and it has no function when placed in-game. It is solid, like a normal block.|
Unused Sonic sprites
|This sprite shows Sonic standing while gasping for air. This was presumably intended to be used in Labyrinth Zone.|
|This animation shows Sonic holding his breath while running. This may have been used during the countdown to signify Sonic is running out of air.|
|This unused sliding sprite is similar to the one used in Sonic CD's Wacky Workbench.|
|As seen in a couple of prototype screenshots in magazines, Sonic appears to be striking a victory pose after passing the signpost. This sprite made its way into Sonic Mania.|
|These sprites, reminiscent of the Spin Dash, are present in the final ROM, but their use is unknown. Some theories are that they were used for a move similar to the Spin Dash or that they were intended for some sort of warp movement, perhaps through winding tunnels. It's also possible that a teleporter (like the one found in the 8-bit version of Scrap Brain Zone) would have played the animation.|
|This set of sprites showing Sonic shrinking are not used in the game. While their intended use is unknown, they could have been used to simulate the death animation for falling. They may have also been used for a "speed tunnel" that would extend into the background.|
|These unused set of sprites shows the use of a type of goggle power-up. It is unknown what the power-up would have done but it is likely they would have allowed Sonic to breathe underwater. Sources of this were found in the ROM data of the game and was added as an extra debug monitor in the iOS remake.|
Original Egg Mobile-H design
Unused Egg Mobile explosion sprites
Unused sprites that show the Egg Mobile exploding. Their purpose is unknown.
- The idea of the welcome signpost was reused later in Casino Paradise Zone of Sonic Advance.
- The purple flowers make an appearance in Green Hill in the final moments of the game after the player has fought the final boss, while the similar shades of blue in the sky and water appear in the title screen.
Green Hill Zone
Spring Yard/Sparkling Zone
Scrap Brain/Clockwork Zone