This article pertains to the beta elements of Sonic the Hedgehog (1991).

Title screen

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.



Green Hill Zone

Early Green Hill 1

An early version of Green Hill Zone.

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 more dark 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.

Early Green Hill 5

The second early Green Hill.

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.

Labyrinth Zone

Early Labyrinth Zone 1

The early Labyrinth Zone.

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.

Marble Zone

Star Light Zone

Sparkling Zone

Clock Work Zone


Tv eggman 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.
Tv goggles 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 though that the air bubbles gives Sonic some sort of weakness, the goggles were removed.
Statictv 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
Tv super 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.

Sprite03 "Zone" Icons Found in the object list for the Special Stages with their graphics in the ROM, these unused special stage icons have no known use. They are labeled as Zones 1-6, and are solid, like normal blocks.
Sprite01 "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.
Sprite02 "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

Standair This sprite shows Sonic standing while gasping for air. This was presumably intended to be used in Labyrinth Zone.
Needair 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.
Slide This unused sliding sprite is similar to the one used in Sonic CD's Wacky Workbench.
Victorypose As seen in a couple of prototype screenshots in magazines, Sonic appears to be striking a victory pose after passing the signpost.
Spin 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.
Falling or shrinking 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.


  • 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.

Remake Videos

MD Sonic 1 prototype 3

MD Sonic 1 prototype 3


Green Hill Zone


Labyrinth Zone


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