Sonic The Hedgehog 3 prototype discovered and put online for all to enjoy

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

A piece of Sonic the Hedgehog history has made its way online after more than 25 years.

Sega Technical Institute (STI) started work on the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 1993. The title was originally intended to be an isometric 3D game like what Sonic 3D Blast ended up being but those plans were scrapped due to time constraints. Specifically, the Sega Virtual Processor (SVP) chip needed to enable the 3D gameplay wouldn’t be ready before Sega’s February 1994 deadline.

Sega shifted gears and restarted work on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as a traditional 2D platformer that more resembled its predecessor. What some may not have realized is that the games we eventually got – Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles – were originally being developed as a single game until time and financial issues forced a project split.

At the time, Sega was overly concerned with the types of leaks that had plagued Sonic the Hedgehog 2 during its development and wanted to keep them at a minimum. They also wanted to mask the game’s issues – some of which weren’t fixed until the very final days of development.

To do this, they put some serious restrictions in place to prevent media outlets from seeing or commenting on the game during development. They even went so far as to fly media in to play the game instead of sending early samples and insisted they only use supplied screenshots in their stories.

This meant that very few publications had an early preview of Sonic 3 in 1993 but there is one famous exception.

The January 1994 issue of Sega Magazine (UK) went on sale on December 10, 1993, with an extensive preview of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 covering lots of features, levels and artwork that didn’t make it into the final cut. It was based on an early prototype of the game and miraculously enough, the Internet has managed to track down that prototype and put it online for all to enjoy.

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gamerk2

TS Evangelist
What some may not have realized is that the games we eventually got – Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles – were originally being developed as a single game until time and financial issues forced a project split.
This has been known for a while; there's a reason why in the Sound Test for Sonic 3, Flying Battery Zone's music falls between Carnival Night Zone and Icecap Zone, and given the transition between the two it makes sense Flying Battery would be between. [This also implies the snowboard at the start of Icecap Zone Sonic uses in the final game was supposed to be the door Sonic spins through exiting Flying Battery Zone]. The Flying Battery Zone got moved so S&K wouldn't have too few zones to support a stand-alone game.

The games got split for a simple reason that Sega didn't want to miss Christmas 1993, so they released the first half of the game in late 93 in order to ensure they made the holiday release.
 

ckm88

TS Maniac
Anyone remember when you could hook up Sonic 2 or 3 to the Sonic & Knuckles black cartridge and be able to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2?
 

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