Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 3

imageIn what is fast becoming an epic ‘Sega saga’, MegaBites is proud to reveal the third instalment of its RetroCollect.com series Finding the Hidden Palace.

Unraveling the twists, the Tails (get it?) and the mysteries behind Sonic 2’s infamous deleted level, Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 3 picks up the story in Christmas 1998. As a period otherwise marked as the death of the 32/64-bit era, the Sonic community had never felt to alive. At last, their holy grail had been unearthed – the ‘Simon Wai Prototype’, one of Sonic 2’s earliest beta revisions. Not only did this prototype reveal Sonic 2 in one of its most rough and raw forms – unveiling long lost Badniks, and unreleased zones – for the very first time, it also provided gamers their first opportunity to play the mythical Hidden Palace Zone.

It was Christmas 1998 when Simon made his discovery of filename ‘MD8123.smd’, the self-same ROM file that he had loaded upon his Super Magic Drive six years previous. As he swiftly shared the news of his beta discovery upon the alt.binaries.emulators.sega newsgroup, word spread faster than a spin dash. Whereas Hidden Palace was previously confined to hazy magazine screenshots and black-market cartridges, in the blink of an eye, the once reclusive level was there for all to explore.

Inhabited only by the Badniks BBat and Redz, the zone also played host to the Mystic Cave Zone two-player music theme, an oddly placed Tails 1-up monitor, spectacular glowing bridges, a huge insurmountable emerald-green slope and the reveal of a mysterious oversized jewel that would later come to be regarded as the ‘Master Emerald’. Overnight, the name ‘Simon Wai’ gained instantaneous synonymy amongst Sonic fans, who swiftly dubbed the ROM ‘The Simon Wai Prototype’ – high praise indeed.

For the full article, head over to RetroCollect.com.

…And stay tuned for the concluding article in the series: Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 4.

Finding the Hidden Palace – Part 2

Finding-The-Hidden-Palace-Part-2As this humble blog continues to expand its horizons, fans of Sonic the Hedgehog can read the latest episode of MegaBites’ Finding the Hidden Palace on RetroCollect.com.

In a continuation of part one’s epic tale, the second chapter in the series picks up from the events following the fabled ‘Sonic2s Day’ – the North American and European release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. After months of publicity, previews and speculation, the 1992 release of Sonic 2 hailed the release of what is arguably the series’ finest release.

Homing in on the period 1992–1999, part two continues to document the myths, unravel the cryptic clues, and decode the conundrums, behind one of Sega’s greatest hidden enigmas; Sonic 2’s unreleased level – Hidden Palace Zone.

And here’s a little taster for you:

It was early 1999 and Canadian Sonic fan Simon Wai embarked on an online Sonic beta hunt. As far back as 1992, in Hong Kong, Simon had been one of the early few to play a black market copy of the Sonic 2 toy show beta. Now, seven years later, he had a renewed determination to rediscover it.

Beginning his journey on Chinese ROM sites, Simon soon came upon a lone Geocities page. It was here where he located the rather a inconspicuous file named ‘MD8123.smd’ – uncovering the syntax of which provided valuable insight into the file’s origin and identity.

‘MD’ stood for Mega Drive, ‘8’ represented an eight-megabit file, ‘123’ identified the file as the 123rd in its sequence and the ‘.smd’ extension identified it as a file created by a Super Mega Drive – a piece of hardware with the ability to extract a Mega Drive cartridge to floppy disk. It was only when he came to load the file that its true identity was revealed. Simon Wai’s memories came flooding back in an instant.

(Read more on RetroCollect.com.)

Be sure to visit MegaBites soon, as we have a further set of ‘mega’ exciting posts lined up, which you simply will not want to miss!

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.

Early One Christmas Morning…

megadriveFirst launched in Japan on 29th October 1988, the Sega Mega Drive sold almost 40 million units over the course of its history. From Europe, to Japan, Australia, Asia, India, Brazil and North America (where it was called the Genesis, by the way), Sega’s sleek black 16-bit powerhouse was truly in the minds and on the TV sets of gamers everywhere. My relationship with the console began in the early nineties, when I became the proud owner of not one, but two consoles in the space of twenty-four hours. Yes, two consoles. More on that later…

It was five a.m. on the 25th December 1993. I was just nine years-old and had been lying awake in bed for the past hour. I couldn’t get back to sleep. Why? For one, I’d already been gorging myself on the sweets left in my stocking, for the other, I knew this Christmas was going to be different.

Continue reading