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S2B/Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the frequently asked questions (including some never asked questions but I like to answer anyway :P) about Sonic 2 Beta.


Prototype FAQ

What is Sonic 2 Beta?

Sonic 2 Beta is an unfinished, prototype version of Sonic 2. Sega sent these out to magazine companies for preview before the final version was out.

What's the big deal about an unfinished prototype version?

Some "lost" levels can be found in the beta version. Lost levels are zones that were originally planned to be included in the final release of Sonic 2, but were missing in the final version. The lost levels include a desert level, Wood Zone, Hidden Palace Zone and Genocide City Zone. Some existing zones have special features that are not available in the final version, such as the wooden balls in Oil Ocean Zone.

Why were some levels canned?

Although there's a general consensus that time seemed to be the largest limiting factor into why levels were canned, the precise reasons behind many of the levels are still unknown, and are therefore open questions in the Sonic Retro community for further refinement.
However, as alluded to earlier, general factors exist which prevented many of the levels from being playable. Time, although one of them, was not necessarily the only reason. Technical limitations at the time and even company politics could have played a large role in the cancellation of many levels. Regardless, precise reasons are still for the most part unknown.

Why didn't someone ask Sega or SonicTeam about it?

There has been attempts to contact Sega and SonicTeam regarding this matter. The people responsible for replying e-mails are the front-line staff who know little about the inside development of a 10-year-old game, and were usually not of much help.
On rare occasions where interviews were made with sprite artists or layout designers, most could not remember the details specific enough to answer our questions. This is quite understandable given that the game is nearly fifteen years old.
Don't miss the interviews at ICEKnight's Sonic Database.

Does Sega know this prototype has been leaked?

They probably do, and they don't seem to care about it (which is good, considering they could've gotten pissy and try to shut down sites providing the game).

How do you get the thing to work? It isn't an .EXE file!

The file is a ROM image (keyword!) which requires a Genesis/MegaDrive emulator (keyword!) to work. There is an abundance of information on how to use an emulator on the Internet. Do some research and you'll figure it out.

What's the deal with gamma, delta, epsilon, <insert random Greek letter> versions?

Since alpha and beta were used to describe the stages of an unfinished software, some people assume all other Greek letters have similar meaning when describing prototypes, and that epsilon comes after delta, etc. However, the practice of using letters other than alpha, beta, and gamma is not widely adopted in the programming field, and should be avoided when referring to prototypes here.
There is a really famous (and really good, too) hack called Sonic 2 Delta, made by Esrael. When people say Sonic 2 Delta they're most likely talking about this hack, not another prototype. See the links section for Esrael's site.

You mean, there are other prototype versions of Sonic 2?

There are currently six other prototypes available (early beta, better known as the Nick Arcade prototype, and Betas 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8; all released by drx), however, research has shown that there may be several more prototypes in existence that we do not have (for instance, the build shown in screenshots in issues of GamePro magazine has been proven to be different from any of our current builds). There may be a chance of getting them someday.

Does the filename MD8123.bin mean anything?

The format XXmmnnn was widely used in some Asia countries when ordering pirate video games in ROM files.
XX -- Type of system. MD for MegaDrive, SF for Super Famicom, etc.
mm -- Megabit of the game. Leading zero is always dropped.
nnn -- Counter of games dumped within the same file-size category.
Therefore, MD8123 stands for the 123rd eight-megabit game dumped for the MegaDrive.
The .bin extension denotes it's a binary image, and is not automatically appended by ROM dumpers. Extensions, such as .1 or .2, are more commonly used when dealing with large games that span several floppy disks.

Who dumped the ROM?

No one knows exactly who did, since it happened so long ago. Yuji Naka mentioned in an interview that a beta cartridge with a ROM image very similar to MD8123.bin was stolen from a toy show in New York, and it is strongly suspected that this is the "master" cartridge for the Wai beta.
It may also have been dumped by a magazine employee who got a hold of the prototype cartridge, or it could have been an inside job, i.e. dumped by a Sega employee.

How was the ROM first leaked to the public?

The ROM file was widely available for playing on ROM copiers in Hong Kong, and possibly more locations, in 1992 before Sonic 2 was released. The ROM was listed as plain vanilla Sonic 2 in an attempt to lure Sonic fans into buying it. Additionally, pirate cartridges of Sonic 2 Beta have also been made and sold in Brazil and Asia. However the ROM didn't leak out to the western public, until in late 1998.
A pirate (of pirate (of pirate (...))) version of Sonic 2 Beta cartridges

Has the ROM been tampered?

Yes. Evidence? The "Sega" and "Sonic Team Presents" are missing from the beginning of the game (yes, we know "Sega" does show up when the game is over), which is very consistent with the way pirates do things. Considering Sonic 2 is constructed based on Sonic 1, it's unlikely that Sega would suddenly remove the credits for no good reasons. The old credits would still serve the purpose of placeholding.
Furthermore, Sega's MegaDrive Checklist required every bootable game to have the Sega logo displayed for no less than 2.5 seconds. The rule applies to all games, including prototypes or those up for previews and reviews.

I've seen Sonic 2 cartridges with different ID numbers, such as 670-2470, 670-2470-01, 670-2480-40 printed on the back of them. Did I find a prototype?

The numbers simply represent the model of physical cartridge used, not the revision of the content inside the ROM chip. There is no absolute relationship between the ID number and the game's revision.

Someone's selling a Sonic 2 cartridge that has "Not For Resale" printed on it. Is it rare stuff?

No. At one time Sonic 2 was bundled with the Genesis in US. These Sonic 2 cartridges have "Not For Resale" printed on them.

I have found a Sonic 2 ROM that features Dust Hill Zone and/or other lost levels. Have I discovered a new prototype?

It is most likely a "hack" made by Sonic fans. If you strongly believe it is officially made by Sega, let us know at once! You would be making a very significant contribution to the scene if the ROM is proved to be authentic.

How do we know this prototype we have is real, and not a hack from Sonic 2?

When the ROM was released in 1998, there was no Sonic hacking scene. Only a handful of people know a smattering of how the game works. It was impossible at that time to create such a sophisticated hack. Plus, many people have played this very prototype before 1998, and can confirm it is authentic.

Are there any other prototypes of Sonic games leaked?

Yes! There are leaked prototypes of Sonic 2, Sonic Spinball, Sonic CD, Sonic 3D Blast, and Sonic Rush. Prototypes for Sonic X-Treme are known to exist, but none have been released as binary images. Also look for a game called Sonic Crackers which has an interesting relationship with the 32X Chaotix. Do a search on Google for more info, or browse Hidden-Palace.

Site FAQ

I linked to some of your hoaxes/images from my site/forums, and they don't show up properly. How come?

Don't link to any picture on S2B from another site or forum. This is to preserve the already limited bandwidth on S2B. Link to the webpage document that contains the image instead.

Can I use some of your graphics on my site?

Feel free to, unless it's specifically designed for this site, such as the logo and background. Just don't directly link to them. Save them on your webspace. Retain proper credit.

I like your site design. Can I snatch the HTML code?

No. All HTML design is © Simon Wai.

Can I use your information here on my site?

Yes! Information is free. Keep it that way. Unauthorized mirroring of the site is prohibited. Properly citing a snippet is fine, however.

I have a theory, can I send it in?

No. Post it on the message board. Do not ask me what I think of your theories by e-mail.

My brother's friend's cousin has a prototype cart! E-mail me back for more info.

E-mail me when you have proof, such as getting the cartridge dumped.

How come I need to pass a test to enter the forums?

The research scene (formerly the "Sonic Secret scene") has been plagued by idiots and incurable n00bs (who honor fantasized misinformation instead of the truth, because it's more dramatic and fun) for too long. It's time to put an end to this.
The forums are for mature teens and adults only.

I failed the test a few times and it says I've been disqualified. How do I register now?

You don't. That's the point of the test. DO NOT ASK ME TO LET YOU REGISTER.

So how are 10-year-olds supposed to casually talk about Sonic on your forums?

They don't. This is a research forum (except the art section), not a playground for kids.

Hey, there is a mistake on the site.

Please let me know at once!

How come you don't respond to my e-mails?

Possible reasons:
1. When my real life is in the fast lane.
2. Your e-mail may not require a response (e.g. it's a comment). When in doubt, always ask for a reply.
3. Your question can be easily answered by doing some research.
4. You're asking for a long-winded discussion or explanation, which should have been posted to the forums.
5. It's one of those lame kiddie e-mails that makes no sense at all.

Do you have any more unanswered questions? Suggest LocalH to add a question to the FAQ.