In recent years, prototypes of Sonic games have been seen as a 'holy grail' of the community.
Two that have been long desired; Sonic 1 Beta and Sonic 3 Beta. They have long been seen in early magazine scans of the early nineties, showing significant differences.
In December of 2019, one of these was finally uncovered, with a Sonic 3 prototyped dated 'November 1993' being discovered and released, showing an incredible amount of differences to the final version, and also some answers, especially regarding the music.
With that, lets look into the Prototype of Sonic 3.
How did this appear?
Back in December of 1993, a SEGA Magazine in the UK published the first screenshots of Sonic 3, a hugely anticipated sequel.
However, when the game released in February of 1994, a few differences stood out between the images and the final game. The images below, seen on the right are taken from the magazine.
Fast forward to November 2019, and Hidden Palace, a site known for archiving prototypes and cancelled games, discover this very same Sonic 3 prototype, which are the images to the left.
While playable, the game is in a very early state, with unfinished zones, no act-transitions and an incomplete title screen, but that's only the beginning of it.
As soon as you select Angel Island Zone, you're brought to the first scene of Sonic waterboarding instead of being Super Sonic, and in his Sonic 2 sprite state.
The HUD is also different, sporting a darker colour, with flashes to green when a cutscene begins. Final Battery Zone is also playable, albeit in an unfinished state, so 'debug mode' is needed here.
It's available to download on their site, but it's a fantastic history lesson in the early stages of a classic Sonic game, which is this writer's all-time favourite. It even features music once thought to only be for its PC release, but it looks like it was the original before Michael Jackson appeared, but that's a whole other story.
One holy grail has now been found, and while it took 27 years for this prototype to be unearthed, one can't help but think that a 'Sonic 1 Beta' is no longer a matter of 'if' it will arrive, but 'when'.