In January 2005, ICEknight managed to obtain pre-production enemy sketches drawn by Yasushi Yamaguchi, who was in charge of Character Design in Sonic 2. It is believed that these sketches were shown to zone artists for illustration purpose.
The set of sketches is aptly titled "Sonic 2 Enemy Pictures".
Click on a picture for bigger view.
|The Bumper would send Sonic flying when stepped on. Two scrapped zones, Desert Zone and Rock Zone, were mentioned and connected with time travel element!|
|The spinning Ball would bounce and crush Sonic if he's not careful!
In addition to the functional rolling balls in prototype Oil Ocean Zone, this ball is found buried in the ROM:
(Palette may be wrong.)
|The Fish that jumps above the water actually made its way into the game. However, the same can't be said about the Frog that would leap high, and turn around whenever he wants.
BlazeHedgehog has re-created the sprites based on the sketch, and is kind enough to allow others to use them in their hacks:
(The above sprites are fan-made, not official!)
|The Bubbler was planned for Chemical Plant Zone. It would sit on the ground until Sonic is close by then it would rupture and injure Sonic. They would be dropped from the sky by another flying enemy aptly called the Bubbler's Mother.
The lost sprites are present in the prototype ROM:
|The innocent Bee looks similar to the Buzzer, but it would target bridges, destroying them and would force Sonic to take an alternate path, or worse!
Among other lost sprites we found what appears to be a log that would be part of a burning bridge:
|The Snail would crawl on a wall until it spots Sonic, then it would roll itself up and try to run Sonic over! Very different from the functional prototype snail which only walks back and forth. Interestingly, Hill Top Zone is mentioned, which means Hill Top can't be a last-minute filler zone like many people believed.|
What did we learn from these sketches, and what new questions can we ask?
The Bumper sketch shows that time travel was planned for Sonic 2. There is no future zone depicted, so time travel might only involve the present and the past. There was no mention of present/past in Chemical Plant and Hill Top. To what extent would time travel be implemented, across all zones or only selected few?
These sketches are believed to be made in a very early time in the Sonic 2 development phase, and Hill Top was already planned. This disproves all theories that suggest Hill Top was a last-minute level.
Zone names were very simple, straightforward, and literal to begin with, and many seemingly oversimplified names such as Chemical Plant and Hill Top did make into the final (apparently "Chemical Factory" would be too long, programmatically). Would names like Desert Zone and Rock Zone have made it, intact? Would this simple-naming scheme add more fuel to the long-disputed Dust Hill Zone debate?
We knew the desert zone was scrapped, but there's a mention of a "Rock Zone". Another lost zone, or did it turn into an existing zone?
Of course, last but not least, we have the official name for the desert level -- 砂漠Zone, with 砂漠 pronounced "Sabaku" which means desert. Was the less-than-dramatic "Desert Zone" merely a convenient internal shorthand, or would it have made it to the final like Hill Top did?
For more information on the sketches, visit ICEKnight's Sonic Database.