Hidden Palace Zone

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Sonic Retro emblem.svg Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
Scrapped Levels
Hidden Palace Zone
  • Prototype
  • 2013
Hidden Palace Zone
Beta Zone, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (16-bit)
Number of Acts: 1
Level themes: underground/cave, ancient ruins
Boss: Brass Eggman
Underwater areas: Yes
For the Sonic & Knuckles level, see Hidden Palace Zone (Sonic & Knuckles). For drx's website detailing video game prototypes, see Hidden Palace.

Hidden Palace Zone is a scrapped level from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It is an underground Zone with purple water, featuring sparkling gems and dinosaur-esque Badniks. Hidden Palace Zone is perhaps the most infamous of the scrapped Sonic 2 levels due to its widespread appearance in gaming media before the game was released. The majority of the art in the level was created by Craig Stitt.


Hidden Palace Zone was never completed for the original release; however, a good portion of the first Act is playable in the Nick Arcade, Simon Wai and August 21st Alpha prototypes. It was one of the first levels to be worked on, however progress stopped early during production. It was nevertheless kept in the game throughout most of Sonic 2's development cycle, with its removal being a last minute decision. This is contrary to Wood Zone and Genocide City Zone, which, culled much sooner, were largely kept a secret.

Notable features of Hidden Palace include green bridges which glow if Sonic or Tails walk on them. This is actually the same object as the bridge in Emerald Hill Zone, but is set to glow if the level number is that of Hidden Palace's. Also featured is a large ramp towards the end of the level, whose collision means it cannot be climbed without positioning Sonic on it with edit mode. Moving up this ramp will lead to the top of the screen, however using edit mode again will show that it continues at the bottom of the level, leading to a bridge covered in waterfalls and inevitably a platform to nowhere.

Early mockups of the level circulated across magazines back in the day.

Unlike other scrapped levels in Sonic 2, Hidden Palace Zone still remains in a corrupted form in the final version of the cartridge due to the deletion process being generally rushed and can only be accessed through game enhancers such as the Game Genie. The level plays the unused track 10 in the final game, but opted for the Mystic Cave Zone 2-player music track in some of the prototypes. A second Act can also be accessed, but it is a barren version of the first Act in all versions of the game. The Zone has an icon, intended for the level select screen, but is never seen in normal play. Oddly, it does appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 however, as this game recycles Sonic 2's level select with minimal alterations.

An interview with Yuji Naka revealed that Hidden Palace Zone was originally intended to be a level where the player would be warped to after collecting the 7 Chaos Emeralds. Once there, they would receive the power to morph into Super Sonic. The idea was ultimately killed and the ability was given to the player immediately.[1] Craig Stitt, in an interview with ICEknight, mentioned that Hidden Palace Zone started as two Acts but then switched to a single Act before being canceled.[2]

"This is the stage that Craig was in charge of after Oil Ocean Zone. The graphics were good and the map was halfway done, but the gimmick hadn't been finalized and the idea for the boss hadn't been decided upon yet, so the project was pretty far into the final stage, so at that stage the programmer asked us to do something about the schedule. When I created the stage, I was asked to select the flow from Sky Chase to Death Egg and there was no time to create the boss, so I had no choice but to cancel the stage. From the graphics side, I really wanted to keep this stage. Still, it was a difficult choice because the game would be bad if it didn't have a ending."

Yasushi Yamaguchi[3]

When Hidden Palace Zone was first made accessible to the public, many parts of the level were once grounds for debate, such as the so-called "Master Emerald" which blocks a pipe. In actuality, this was meant to be just a breakable object similar to the ones found in Hill Top Zone and Chemical Plant Zone.[2] The Tails 1-up monitor was once thought to be a sign that the level was a Tails-exclusive Zone, though we now know it exists due to object subtype changes that occurred early in development, as the monitors in this Zone seem to have been placed with the subtypes from the original Sonic the Hedgehog in mind due to Sonic 2 being built off it (the early Nick Arcade prototype places Tails 1-up monitors in Green Hill Zone where the Sonic monitors should be). The Shield monitor in the beginning was also presumably meant to be a Super Ring monitor, based on the changes in object subtype numbers.

In the newly discovered August 21st build, vertical scrolling for badniks was enabled, suggesting that there may have been plans to continue working on Hidden Palace Zone after the Simon Wai prototype.

Some hacks, like Sonic 2 Delta and Sonic 2 Long Version, have attempted to restore the level using the graphics from the prototype version and level map and object data from the graphic-less version in the final release.

Hidden Palace was removed but not forgotten. The name was recycled in Sonic & Knuckles for use in an unrelated level, and some of the background art was re-used in Sonic Spinball's Toxic Caves, also designed by Craig Stitt. Some elements like the glowing bridges and spheres in the background were used later in Sonic 3's IceCap Zone as well. The Zone was finally restored 21 years later, as a hidden single-Act level in the 2013 remake of Sonic 2.

Some say the complexity of having both water and vertical wrap-around may have led to the level being scrapped.


Unlike other scrapped levels, Hidden Palace contained enemies, none of which were seen in the final build of the original game. Some enemies were not given official names. It is also the only level in any of the Mega Drive Sonic games where enemies re-spawn if not on-screen.

Redz sprite.png
Redz — Dinosaur Badnik. A little dinosaur to be jumped on.
BBat sprite.png
BBat — Bat Badnik. Attacks in a U- shaped pattern.
Spr trycerobot.png
Stegway — Another dinosaur Badnik. Charges at Sonic and Tails if they come too close. Not placed in the Zone itself but is in the object placement list in some of the prototypes.

A number of other Badniks are rumoured to have been designed for Hidden Palace:

Spr fish.png
BFish — Fish Badnik, Acts like the Masher, except it attacks in an arc-like motion instead of a straight line.
Spr bubble.gif
Bubbler — Air bubble Badnik. Explodes when Sonic approaches, or the Bubbler's Mother drops it in the water.
Spr 3eyefish.png
Bubbler's Mother — Sometimes it drops the Bubbler, or it acts like the Chop Chop Badnik.
Gator — A crocodile Badnik which simply moves back and forth, similar to Redz. This Badnik was actually seen in a mockup shot of Sand Shower Zone.

An additional Badnik was designed for the 2013 remake:

Jellygnite sprite.png
Jellygnite — A jellyfish Badnik which floats in the water and tries to grab the player much like a Grabber. When grabbed, unless the player mashes Left and Right, or Tails can destroy the Jellygnite, it explodes and hurts/kills Sonic.

In finished releases of Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Final release (Mega Drive)

Hidden Palace is accessible in the final version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by using the Game Genie code ACLA-ATD4 (AB6X-ATBR in Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2). From here, enter the Level Select code (19, 65, 09, 17 with C in the sound test screen). Go back to the title, and hold A+Start to access the level select screen. Then select Death Egg Zone (Special Stage in Knuckles in Sonic 2).

Almost all of the artwork is gone in the final game, and with this went the collision data, making the Zone virtually unplayable without enabling edit mode (01, 09, 09, 02, 01, 01, 02, 04 with C at the level select screen). It is impossible to complete the level without placing a capsule with edit mode. All the items in edit mode that can be placed are from Oil Ocean Zone. "Beating" both Acts will take the player to Oil Ocean Zone.

While the Tails monitor object does not grant an extra life in the final, it is, however, fully functional in Knuckles in Sonic 2.

iOS/Android remake

The Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remake for mobile platforms adds Hidden Palace Zone as a bonus single-Act Zone, courtesy of Taxman and Stealth from Sonic Retro who worked on the project. Uniquely, this level is not encountered in the normal level progression; instead, it is a secret Zone whose entrance is hidden in an existing stage. The Zone's entrance is located in Act 2 of Mystic Cave Zone, replacing what was previously an inescapable pit of spikes. In this version, jumping into the pit will instead initiate the transition to Hidden Palace Zone.

The level has been completely reworked based on the original assets and sprites seen in the Sonic 2 prototypes. This version of the level uses a brand-new level layout created from scratch, though some areas intentionally share similarities with the layout seen in prototype versions of the original game. The music used for this Zone is the 2-Player music for Mystic Cave, as was seen in the Simon Wai prototype. New gimmicks have been added for this version of the stage, including water pipes which blast the player through tubes, and rocket-powered ziplines which thrust them upward using the slanted shafts seen in the prototype layout. The curved water slide now functions as intended, and the large Emeralds are now breakable objects concealing springs. The Redz, BBat, and Stegway (formerly Stego) Badniks are fully functional and present throughout the stage. Redz now behaves differently to the original scrapped version; in addtion to simply walking back and forth, it now stops occasionally to breathe a stream of fire from its mouth. In addition, an all-new Badnik exclusive to this version of the game, Jellygnite, a brand-new Badnik, inhabits the underwater sections of this level.

Also exclusive to this version of the game is the boss of this stage, Brass Eggman. Eggman pilots an Egg Mobile with a gigantic trombone attachment, which emits loud blasts of noise that cause rockfalls from above. He also drops large bombs into the water, which will explode creating a brief vertical jet of water. If the water jet hits the player, they will take damage; however, if the jet instead hits Eggman, it will briefly disable his Eggmobile and he'll fall to the ground, allowing the player to damage him with a Spin Attack.

As of version 3.0.9, the original version of the stage, as seen in prototype versions of the original game, can be accessed through a code on the stage select menu. After entering the edit mode cheat, playing the sounds 03, 03, 03, 0B, 10, 10, 10, 04 and selecting "Hidden Palace" will take the player to the Proto Palace Zone, which is Hidden Palace's original layout as seen in the Simon Wai prototype. Unlike its revised counterpart, this version of the stage uses Track #10 as its default background music. The single giant emerald present has a unique behaviour only seen in this version of the stage, acting as a warp which takes the player back to the stage select.

Sonic Origins

The release of the 2013 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remake used in Sonic Origins also contains Hidden Palace Zone, with no alterations in main gameplay. However, Proto Palace Zone is not present, as the code previously used to access it is now required alongside edit mode to access Hidden Palace via the stage select menu at all, otherwise remaining inaccessible with a buzzer sound as in the original mobile release when not unlocked.

In other media

Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie comics)

Hidden Palace Zone as it appears in Sonic Universe #87. Drawn by Adam Bryce Thomas.

In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs, Hidden Palace Zone was visited by Knuckles, Amy and Team Dark near the end of the Shattered World Crisis in pursuit of a unique energy signature, following it far below the Mystic Cave Zone on West Side Island. Hidden Palace Zone was originally used by the trolls to mine for emeralds that would increase their powers, and was abandoned when they went nearly extinct.

Walter Naugus would enter this Zone, take control of E-123 Omega by crystallising him, and use an echidna disguise to trick Knuckles and steal the shards of the Master Emerald so that he could assemble the pieces himself. However, the heroes would save Omega and stop Naugus before he could escape with the fully-repaired Master Emerald.


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