Regular visitors to this site may have been aware that, since January 2014, I’ve been compiling a rather special series of articles on RetroCollect.com. I’m now proud to announce that this epic Sega saga has finally reached its conclusion…
MegaBites Blog presents Finding the Hidden Palace Part 4, on RetroCollect.com – the Internet’s first fully compiled account of the 21-year hunt for Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s mysterious deleted level, Hidden Palace Zone.
Emerald Hill, Chemical Plant, Casino Night and Mystic Cave… Just a few of the legendary zones that make up one of the greatest games to ever be committed to cartridge – Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Yet, for every spike pit, for every loop, for each pinball flipper and hellish underwater section – unbeknown to Mega Drive and Genesis gamers everywhere – there was one vital zone that had been sorely omitted.
Even before Sonic 2’s 1992 release on the now legendary ‘Sonic 2s Day’, video game magazines of the period teased images of a mysterious zone surrounded in golden rock and green emerald. As the years went by, unreleased prototypes of the game unveiled the very same stage – a land filled with cascading waterfalls, prehistoric Badniks and a mysterious ‘Master Emerald’. What was this zone? Why was it never included?
It’s name was Hidden Palace Zone.
Receiving its official release a full 21 years after Sonic 2’s release, the story behind its unveiling is one steeped in retro gaming legend, involving industry luminaries from Yuji Naka, to Al Nilsen and Sega Technical Institute Artist Craig Stitt. Oh yes, and also… Melissa Joan Hart (seriously).
Here’s a snippet of part 4:
“Hello Mr Payne. Glad to have you here with us,” the interviewer began. “What can you tell us about the elusive Hidden Palace Zone?” an eager fan interjected. “Ahh…” replied Mr Payne in a response that cut through the atmosphere like a knife.
It was the 30th July 2009, at the 14th annual online Sonic Amateur Games Expo, where one fan posed that ever recurring question to Sonic 2 Zone Designer and Badnik Illustrator Tom Payne. Although Tom could shed no further light on the fate of Hidden Palace, it was during the discussion that he fetched an “ancient box with all my Sonic stuff in it,” as he described. “You should start drooling now,” he exclaimed as he unveiled an absolute treasure trove of designs, documents and disks direct from the development desks of Sega Technical Institute.
Read part four in its entirety, on RetroCollect.com
Or, to follow the tale right from the very beginning, make your way over to Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 1.
(Huge, huge thanks go out to Adam at RetroCollect.com for the artwork wizardry, the encouragement and for the hosting the series.)