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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Nick Arcade prototype)/Comparisons/Star Light Zone

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Emerald Hill Zone (or "Star Light Zone" as it's still called) is the only fully functioning level in the Nick Arcade prototype. The stage is still incomplete, but it was good enough at this stage to show behind closed doors at Summer CES 1992.

Act 1

Z deh01.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 Comparison EHZ Act1Start.png
Final game

Aside from the rolling demo, the player apparently wasn't meant to see Tails in this build of Sonic 2, as he's completely missing from this Zone. If this is indeed a prototype intended for Nick Arcade, Tails might have been disabled to prevent him from interfering with the 25-Ring challenge. The background also scrolls differently - it has a "choppier" look than later prototypes.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act1Snail.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 Comparison EHZ Act1Snail.png
Final game

In true Sonic 1 tradition, holding Right will immediately get the player killed by an enemy. This time, however, it's a Snail that was removed in the final game in favour of Coconuts. These robots are hard to avoid due to their speed, and their positions are reset if far off-screen - it's not hard to see why they were removed from the first stage of the game.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act1Layout.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 Comparison EHZ Act1Layout.png
Final game

Seconds in and the layout differences become obvious. This section has more in common with Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, and the moving platform only appears in Hill Top Zone in the final game.

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Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

Though not visible in this static image, the circles in the background pulse quicker than in the later versions.

Z deh02.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 Comparison EHZ Act1End.png
Final game

Act 1 has a Signpost, but no score tally.

Map

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Nick Arcade prototype
100%
Final game


Act 2

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act2Layout2.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

Act 2 is much the same - a fully playable level, but with a different layout to the final game. It's more partial to the yellow spring than later builds.

Z deh04.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

This one takes the player into one of the paths inside the wall.

Z deh06.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 MD Comparison EHZ Act2Boss1.png
Final game

At the end of the stage, Eggman appears, but unlike the final, game, he descends from the top of the screen, landing on a buggy that's already there.

Z deh07.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 MD Comparison EHZ Act2Boss2.png
Final game

Beat Eggman and he explodes, but the graphics are from Sonic 1, not Sonic 2.

S1MD sega screen.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 MD Comparison CPZ TitleCard.png
Final game

And that's the end of the playable part of the game! Rather than taking the player to another Zone, the game resets.

Map

100%
Nick Arcade prototype
100%
Final game


Act 3

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act3Start.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

Being built on Sonic 1 code, a third Act can be accessed through the level select. Here, Sonic starts in the middle of a wall before plunging to his death.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act3Objects.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

Save him through debug mode, and the player will find it's a copy of Act 1, sans any objects.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act3Rings.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

There are Rings though, albeit in odd locations.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ Act3End.png
Nick Arcade prototype
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Final game

And then the level ends here.

2-Player mode

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ 2P 1.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 Comparison EHZ 2P 1.png
Final game

There is one way to get Tails to show up in Star Light Zone - use the two-player mode. Leave the rolling demo long enough and the game will demonstrate this, though as with all stages, it can be accessed fro the level select screen by holding B. Tails behaves as he does in other levels, getting lost and losing Rings on the player's behalf.

Sonic2NA Comparison EHZ 2P 2.png
Nick Arcade prototype
Sonic2 MD Comparison EHZ 2P 2.png
Final game

It would take some time for this to become a fully-fledged mode in its own right, so here it just offers a different perspective on the 1-player outing. That includes the fight with Eggman, who has become a blue and orange grass monster.

References


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Nick Arcade prototype), prototype version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
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