SEGA has revealed that the team working on Sonic Mania has been given access to a wealth of scrapped levels from past 2D Sonic games, opening the possibility of seeing levels like Dust Hill Zone and Genocide City in a completed form for the first time.
During an interview at EGX Rezzed in London, SEGA Product Manager Jim Dyer said that Sonic Team has shared a wealth of prototype documents with Christian Whitehead and Headcannon, the chaps behind the upcoming 2D retro platformer.
So far, SEGA has only revealed four stages – Studiopolis, Mirage Saloon and re-imaginings of Green Hill Zone and Flying Battery Zone. But Dyer hinted at levels that could be heavily inspired by previously-canned levels in Sonic 1, 2 and 3:
“There will certainly be other re-imagined versions of levels that we’ve seen in previous Sonic games. There will also be levels you haven’t seen before or have been altered so much that they are almost completely unrecognizable,” he said.
“We gave the team access to levels that didn’t make it into other Sonic games and they have been redesigned and re-engineered to work for Sonic Mania. You’re going to see lots of easter eggs and nods to previous games worked in that veteran Sonic players will certainly be able to spot.”
It’s unclear whether this sharing of information with Whitehead and Headcannon will result in realisations of levels once thought lost to limbo, or instead brand new stages that are inspired in some way by the scrapped material.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened. In the iPhone re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Whitehead developed a working Hidden Palace Zone stage, complete with boss – a feat possible after studying leftover components of the original Sonic 2 Mega Drive cartridge.
There’s a lot more talk about Sonic Mania in the full interview over at Twinfinite.