R2 is a reference to a deleted level from Sonic CD. Proving its existence is possible by examining the game files on a PC. When examining the level files, the levels skip from R1 (level 1) to R3 (level 3), with no R2 to be found. Its existence is also proven by using the level select menu, where when switching between levels, it skips from level 1 to level 3, again leaving out level 2. In an interview with Jim Tretheway, it was stated that the level was likely cut as it didn't meet quality standards.
The above concept art shows what was intended to be the missing R2 level. The concept art was released in the Sonic CD developer's diary video, uploaded by SegaEurope onto YouTube on November 29, 2011. The Taxman, developer of the 2011 port, claimed this concept art was for R2. The uncut extended ending video, which was released later, also shows what R2 was intended to look like. The video shows a ruins area with a enemy bursting out of the ground. The sequence takes place after the first level is shown, serving as further evidence that the level was R2.
What can be gathered from the concept art is that it had structures like the Aquatic Ruin Zone of Sonic 2, and that rainbow waterfalls were present. The background seems to be a cliff with grass on the top, or perhaps more ruins with moss or grass on top. The vegetation implies that the level didn't take place in the desert. Mountains can be seen further behind.
As the ending video was probably made before the game was finalized, there are differences between what is portrayed in the videos as opposed to what is in the final game. So what is learned from the ending video may or may not have been in the final version. What can be gathered from the uncut extended ending video is that there are metallic structures, perhaps pillars. Stone tiling with sections that collapse when Sonic gets near them are also present. There are vines and other vegetation that grow in various places, again indicating the level probably didn't take place in the desert. The only thing for sure that coincides with the concept art is that the level was a ruins type level.
A animated gif of the scene can be found here.
Three normal enemies and one boss are known to belong to the R2 level, according to The Taxman. This includes the Antlion from the uncut ending video, the Worm/Snake, and the Drill Armed enemy (Burrobot). Concept art for the boss has not been shared, but some sprites have been found. See the sub-section below.
Sprites shared by The Taxman. Note the boss with a giant wheel on the bottom and a spring on the back, although the sprite itself appears unfinished. Also, when R2 was scrapped, the Antlion was considered for R8 (Metallic Madness), but scrapped. The R8 version of the sprite was slightly redrawn, with the highlight on it being smaller.
There has been much speculation as to what this missing level might have been; a popular theory was that the ruins area seen in the uncut extended ending video depicted it, although this clip could represent Tidal Tempest, as it was the only stage not to have a sequence in the final version of the video.
Fans have noted that most of the other levels of Sonic CD follow the same tropes and order of appearance as the original Sonic the Hedgehog to which it was a sequel, and by this logic, R2 would be the second level and would be CD's equivalent of Marble Zone, which matches the various other items of evidence that it was to be a ruins-themed level.
It was speculated that R2 was set to be Tidal Tempest, as this level is based on Labyrinth Zone in Sonic 1, which was originally intended to be the second zone. The initial releases of Sonic 1 continued to show a level select that reflected this. It was thought possible that R2 was reserved for Tidal Tempest, but when the team was told Labyrinth was moved to another slot, they too moved Tidal Tempest development to another slot and left R2 empty. Equally possible is that merely the same situation occured: Tidal Tempest was originally to be the second level, but was later moved, and the second slot never filled.
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