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Prototype Zones/Hidden Palace

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Hidden Palace Zone

Nick Arcade Prototype

One of the most confusing things about the drx prototype is Hidden Palace. It is exactly the same in this build of Sonic 2 as it is in the Wai proto, which leads us to think it was made very early on and then just abandoned.

Simon Wai Prototype

Hidden Palace is arguably the most famous lost zone in Sonic 2. Although Hidden Palace does make a return in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the one in Sonic 2 is way bigger and has a completely different look.

Hidden Palace plays music #86 in the prototype, which is basically the same as #03 in the final (Mystic Cave 2P).

Here's what Craig Stitt said about this zone:

I said before that the reason that Hidden Palace got cut from the game, just before release (no one told me) was that they had run out of room. This is what I was told.

However, even if that was one of the reason, I also believe it got cut [...] because the gameplay was never completed. It was supposed to be a *secret* level, but I guess they kept putting it off till it was too late.

Craig Stitt, Hidden Palace Zone Artist, Sonic Database

It certainly looks like an interesting and fun level to play if finished. It's disappointing that Sega had to can it.

Act 1

Act 2

You're stuck inside solid rock when the level starts. If you move out using debug, you'd notice the level is exactly the same as act 1, but without objects.

Stop the Emerald Obsession

Masteremerald.png
"Tails is the guardian of the Master Emerald"
"The Master Emerald serves a significant purpose in Hidden Palace"
"At this point Robotnik would steal the Master Emerald"

WRONG.

Since the unearthing of the prototype, the Sonic Secrets scene has been plagued by people making up "theories" (which are really "stories") associating this emerald with over-dramatized elements, such as it being guarded by Tails, or it being a place for other Chaos Emeralds to activate.

THESE ARE ALL FALSE.

This "Master Emerald" is merely an object for Sonic to break through before entering a tube, like in Chemical Plant Zone. We know because it has been confirmed by a zone artist, Craig Stitt, who worked on the very Hidden Palace Zone. This is straight from the horse mouth.

I have no idea what the Master Emerald is. If you are referring to the large emerald in the screen shots, that was simply a 'block' that you had to break in order to gain access to the tubes beneath.

—Craig Stitt, Hidden Palace Zone Artist, Sonic Database

And again:

Im sorry to burst the Master Emerald bubble, but it was just a plug to stop up the tube. Sonic broke it the same way he broke anything open in the game.

—Craig Stitt, Hidden Palace Zone Artist, Sonic Database

This makes sense, because Sonic Team didn't really focus on the story aspect of the game until Sonic 3.

So why is there only one such emerald in the zone? Why was the initial tube not blocked by the emerald? One possible explanation is that since the breaking effect is not yet working, there's no point putting it on every single tube since it'd just get in the way.

As we can see, there is nothing special with this object. Don't give it a second look. Case closed.

Within the Sonic Secrets scene, inventing theories involving the "Master Emerald" is equivalent to sticking up a sign that reads "I am a n00b who have done no research on the subject, and love to make silly things up just because it sounds more dramatic." Be glad that you read this today. Be an insider, not a n00b!

Final Game

The unfinished Hidden Palace Zone can be accessed in the final version of Sonic 2, using any of the following methods:

Tom41 was the one who discovered how to access it by hex editing. The zone itself is there but the graphics for it have been taken out.

[...] and you won't see a HPZ bridge or 'master emerald' in S2 Final. The blocks are there, but the graphics have been overwritten with glitchy data from OOZ - making them look nothing like bridges/emeralds/crystals etc.

Tom41, ROM Hacker, Area 51 Ikonboard (defunct)

Different from our prototype? Nope.

This Hidden Palace is exactly the same as the prototype one sans auto-spins.

Because what remained of HIDDEN PALACE in Sonic 2 End it indicates that the Level was not altered among our Beta and the Final, The only thing that it was added among it beta and the final was the Auto Spin in the Tubes [...]

Esrael, ROM Hacker, Area 51 Ikonboard (defunct)

Boss data found? Nope.

Some believed there was a boss in HPZ, because of the fact that the screen "locks" at certain position near the end. However, this does not mean there was ever a boss.

All levels lock at the end when the X limit to the right has been reached. The end sign panel, the egg container, and the boss objects do not control that.

Luigi Link, Area 51 Ikonboard (defunct)

Note that it plays music #10, instead of Mystic Cave 2P in the prototype. Which music was really intended for Hidden Palace? It's something that is open to speculation.