Finding the Hidden Palace Part 4, on RetroCollect.com

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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.

MP MagEven 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.)

Finding the Hidden Palace – MegaBites on RetroCollect.com

1479228_771243449558897_1665272167_nMegaBites is pleased to announce an exciting new new development, one that sees its latest post taking place not on this site, but on RetroCollect.com.

Featuring the latest retro gaming news, reviews, guides and podcasts, RetroCollect is also home to a bustling retro community – one that allows its members to share their gaming collections through the site’s extensive video game database.

RetroCollect also features some awesome articles, which brings us neatly to the latest MegaBites update:

HiddenPalaceIn the first of a series of articles to be featured on RetroCollect, MegaBites will be exploring the mysteries behind one of Sonic 2’s greatest secrets – Hidden Palace Zone. Designed by the minds at Sega Technical Institute, the tale of Hidden Palace Zone is one surrounded in riddle and intrigue. As a level that was never included in the original 1992 release of Sonic 2, the truth behind its existence remained closely guarded for years.

From its earliest concepts, to beta releases, piracy ploys and a fanbase’s pursuit for the truth the Finding the Hidden Palace series charts the zone’s journey from obscurity, right up to its present day iOS/Android realisation.

And here’s a taster for you:

“Mid-1992 – Yuji Naka stands at Sega’s booth at a New York toy fair. Upon a stand sits a Sega Genesis, slotted into which is something rather special; the latest beta revision of Sonic 2 and the first to be available for public viewing – one that later became known as the Simon Wai Prototype

…Even though the event undoubtedly played host to a number of the industry’s leading toy and electronic manufacturers, a certain individual had only one company set in their sights – and not for the right reasons. Although exact details of what transpired at this particular toy show remain fragmented, one thing is for sure – the Sonic 2 prototype on display was stolen!”

Be sure to look out for regular MegaBites articles on RetroCollect in the near future. Who knows, I may even go cross-platform! As ever, the MegaBites Blog will be right here for all things Sega Mega Drive, with some great content in the pipeline.

You can read Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 1 in its entirety on RetroCollect.com.