Sonic Heroes prototype for PlayStation 2 uncovered by video game preservationists

A prototype of Sonic Heroes for the PlayStation 2 was uncovered by the video game preservation group Hidden Palace late Monday, as it offered a glimpse into the game’s inner workings.

The build, dated 28 September 2003, illustrated a number of performance and structural differences; like a comparatively higher frame rate of 50 frames per second, and aesthetic divergences from the GameCube builds.

“For example, the GameCube build has an earlier title screen from the E3 version, and more placeholder text, despite being what appears to be a later build of the game,” the announcement article claimed.

It continued, “the file structure and inclusion of more debugging symbols also seems to suggest that this is more of a ‘development snapshot’ of sorts, perhaps even a ‘first burn’ of sorts of the full game for the PS2 instead of a limited demo.”

Noted changes

  • Basic debug mode (L+R in-game).
  • Runs at 50fps without any frameskip
  • 50/60Hz switcher does not work, the game runs at 50Hz regardless of the setting.
  • Uses the final title screen despite being older than the 10.8 build
  • Subtitles lack background, and many of the subtitles are unescaped, functioning additive color blending like the Mario Kart: Double Dash! demo build.
  • Two Player mode has XBOX HUD Elements, and black bar
  • Massive slowdown on 2P splitscreen levels
  • Team Chaotix uses Sonic level layouts most of the time, sometimes with functional goal rings
  • Audio is a mix of English and Japanese voices
  • Only the audio tracks from the E3 and TGS Builds are present (Seaside Hill, Rail Canyon, Bullet Station).
  • Unique sound effect for score counter at end.
  • Omega uses unfiltered voice clips.
  • FMVs show corruption on the bottom of the screen.
  • Various missing textures
  • Some objects don’t use special pixel processing render states.

With a particularly difficult development cycle for the PlayStation 2, the new Heroes prototype provided valuable insight into the difficulties encountered by Sonic Team in creating a multiplatform release.

Hidden Palace said that the new find marks a promising start for video game preservation in 2024.

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