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2020.06.19
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Research

Documents from Hirokazu Yasuhara and Naoto Ohshima for Sonic 1 (GDC 2018)

Documents used during the development of Sonic The Hedgehog for Mega Drive/Genesis, presented by Hirokazu Yasuhara and Naoto Ohshima during the talk “Classic Game Postmortem: Sonic The Hedgehog” of the Game Developers Conference 2018.

Let’s take a good look at them!


Sonic design for the cover:

 

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“Doodle Sonic”:


The original history of the test pilot:

 

 

And the emblem in his jacket:

This one uses a “near-final” Sonic design, in which its first spike is shorter and doesn’t cover the entire ear (something which was also seen in the SegaSonic The Hedgehog arcade prototype and was corrected in its final version).


Old designs of Sonic with more spikes than usual:

 

 

We had already seen a color version of these, in the documentary “History of Sonic”:

 

Level concepts from before Sonic’s final look and skills had been established:

In the first image, we see Sonic breaking a bridge as he rolls over it.

In the second one, a type of gravel terrain is shown in which Sonic would roll slower.


Concepts for different levels:

 

 

Here we see how one of Scrap Brain’s obstacles had to be modified, due to hardware restrictions:

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Regarding the last struck through concept of Scrap Brain, it could be a controllable platform that rises at a constant speed, similar to the Tidal Tempest cork in Sonic CD.


Maps and blocks for Green Hill:

 

 

Yasuhara uses a more complete version of this map as the cover of his Twitter account:

 

Interestingly, near the exit of the upper tube there’s an entrance to the Special Stage, in the middle of the level:


Enemy designs:

 

 

The Caterkiller has two more segments than in the final version.

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Enemy concepts (“Enemy Spec”), pages 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6:

 

Observations:

  • Ball Hog uses his “camera facing” version which was seen at CES 1991, although in the demo he walked sideways instead of jumping in place.

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  • Being such early concepts, Splats has not yet been discarded.
  • Burrobot sometimes dug up without jumping.
  • Caterkiller had no spikes, like the “worn out” versions in Sonic CD.
  • The partially cropped enemy to the right of the Orbinaut is Bomb (ボ ム).
  • Motobug doesn’t appear in the first page with the rest of the enemies.
  • The fourth page is missing, which would include the explanations of Roller and Splats.
  • Missing explanations of Newtron, Orbinaut and Bomb.

Each enemy has one or more assigned levels (with Bomb’s second level being left out of the scan):

  • 1. Green Hill: Crabmeat, Buzz Bomber, Chopper, Newtron
  • 2. Labyrinth: Jaws
  • 3. Marble: Buzz Bomber, Batbrain, Spikes
  • 4. Star Light: Ball Hog, Bomb
  • 5. Spring Yard: Roller
  • 6. Scrap Brain: Burrobot, Splats, Caterkiller, Orbinaut

Animation concepts for Sonic and Eggman / Robotnik, machine designs and dancing Sonic:

 

 

One of the designs shows Sonic dying scorched, a concept previously used in games like Wonder Boy and which could explain one of the discarded sprites:

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On the page with Robotnik’s animations, the Prison Egg has a device attached that’s reminiscent of some unused graphics which, even in the final version of the game, are loaded into the video memory next to those of the prisons:

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Press clip of the San Francisco Examiner (January 10, 1992), with strange colors for Sonic’s cover illustration.

 

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Comparing it with the two seen before, we see that it’s an intermediate version between them:

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Sonic’s band:

This is a never seen before, updated version of the well-known illustration, with revised designs for Sharps/Max the parrot and Vector the Crocodile (who is already beginning to adopt his “Ben Ali” look from Chaotix):

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Resources: GDC

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