Sonic 1 Beta Footage Found in Sega Promo Video

Authentic Sonic 1 beta footage remains an uncommon find, but in early January, Youtube user wadelyjp posted a Japanese Mega Drive promotional video featuring about six minutes of pre-final build Sonic 1!  Wadelyjp’s account has uploaded a number of 90’s and early 2000’s Japanese promo videos  and ads from Sega, Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, and others.

The video, which Google translates to “SEGA New Game Introduction Video Vol. 7,” immediately reveals itself to be a beta build, showing off several stage gimmicks and differences  previously found in stills and magazine scans that never made it into the final published version.  These differences include but are not limited to:

  • An tethered checkerboard ball that rolls down hills in Green Hill
  • An invincibility monitor on top of the first loop instead of a shield
  • A victory hop replacing Sonic’s rolling jump after spinning the end of level signpost
  • No special stage ring for having 50 rings at the end of an act
  • Sped up music in Green Hill Act 3, including the boss fight and end-of-level scoring (the same music speed you’d get from a power sneakers monitor)
  • UFOs in the sky of Marble Zone
  • No enemies in Star Light Zone
  • An unused spinning spike trap in Spring Yard Zone
  • A  shorter air limit in Labyrinth Zone
  • An unused special stage layout? (There does not appear to be a direct equivalent in the released game)

This isn’t the first found footage of Sonic 1 beta; its predecessors include  footage of Green Hill Act 1 in a build used for the pilot episode of Nick Arcade. However, this version contains two full levels, the game’s first boss fight, and clips from later stages. This unearthed gem shines as another clue in our ever growing view on how Sonic evolved from sketchbook to game.

Thanks to Dave “Badnik Mechanic” Luty on TSS forums for the tip!