Video/Sonic the Hedgehog 3/Pre-final tape

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Sonic the Hedgehog 3 · Pre-final tape
Status Released
Transferred by nappasan
Released by Hidden Palace
File release date November 23, 2022
Media VHS tape
Labels Sonic 3 Mega Drive Confidential
Transfer method NV-HS950 FS1 MXO2
Ownership drx (2020-Present)
Game Sonic the Hedgehog 3
System Sega Mega Drive
Genre Action
Final build JP Nov 20, 1993
EU Nov 20, 1993
US Nov 20, 1993
Release date US Feb 2, 1994
EU Feb 24, 1994
JP May 27, 1994

A walkthrough or progress report showcasing gameplay from a very late prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for the Sega Mega Drive.

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  • Video of an almost complete playthrough of a very late prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, possibly dating a few days before the final build.
  • Possibly meant as a progress report during the production of the original game. Or, as an alternative way of showcasing the game to journalists without having to send the actual game.
  • In the beginning of the tape, there are a few distorted frames of another Sonic 3 playthrough. This build seems similar to the build currently being recorded, however.
  • The audio often decreases and increases in volume, possibly caused by a passthrough connection from a sound amplifier or a faulty cable connection while recording.
  • There is a splice in the tape in the middle of the Carnival Night Act 1 playthrough where the quality of both the video and audio drop significantly. This might've been caused due to a pause in the recording and faulty resume.
  • Differences write-up by fredbronze.
    • Angel Island Zone
      • Intro Cutscenes
        • As seen on the back of the US box art, the Chaos Emeralds that Sonic drops during the game's opening sequence originally landed right-to-left in their Special Stage order. In the final game, the blue and purple emeralds were swapped, probably because the blue emerald blended in too much with the background waterfall.
        • Additionally, looking at how the background lines up with the edges of the screen, we can see the left boundary for the stage was once set at X position $1300 rather than the $1308 seen in the final
Prototype Final
  • Act 1 boss cutscene
  • In the Act transition for Angel Island Zone, as the miniboss descends into view, its flame jets are rendered using bubble graphics for a couple of frames. This is odd, considering it does not happen the November 3rd, 1993 prototype. This glitch can be replicated in the final game and even in Sonic 3 & Knuckles by Spindashing from the exit of the large tree into the "boss" area.
Prototype Final
  • Hydrocity Zone
  • Act 1 boss
  • As Sonic goes around the final loop in the stage, we can see that the lower part of the background has become corrupt, presumably replaced with graphics for the boss fight. The final game writes the boss graphics over the faux-3D water surface instead, which is safely out of view.
Prototype Final
  • The boss itself uses its brighter red and purple color scheme seen in the final game. However, after the boss takes damage, it will revert to its darker red and turquoise color scheme that was seen in the November 3rd, 1993 prototype. This indicates that the boss' damage flash palette was not updated to include the updated colors by this point.
  • Act 2
  • Proceeding directly into Act 2 reveals that the graphics for the trailing water splash have also become corrupt. Since these display properly in the November 3rd, 1993 prototype, it's likely that the developers simply overlooked reloading these graphics during the Act transition, as the graphics display properly once the player enters and exits a Bonus Stage.
Prototype Final
  • There are only four breakable walls at the end of the wall chase sequence. This number would be increased to 12 breakable walls. The number of one-way doors remained the same at four, with them being repositioned over the first four breakable walls.
  • Right before the Act 2 boss, a strange bug occurs, causing the water to become black for the remainder of the stage. This happens because after entering a Bonus Stage, the player respawns at the star post with a Thunder Barrier. Since the player is underwater, the barrier immediately shorts out, while the palette is still fading in. Then, in order to make the entire body of water flash white, the barrier first backs up the current water palette -- which has barely faded in -- to the target palette buffer used by the fade routines, effectively marking the water fade as complete. The final game fixes this by skipping the water flash when a fade is in progress
  • During the Act 2 boss, the explosion animation for the bombs it drops is broken and only displays a corrupted tile. This behaviour is not present in the November 3rd, 1993 prototype.
  • Marble Garden Zone
  • Act 2
  • Late into Act 2, two trigger-based platforms appear at their final positions before the player has activated the nearby switch. This likely has to do with the changes made to the section immediately preceding it, between the November 3rd, 1993 prototype and the final game. In the prototype, there is a single breakable column, which can be destroyed with a Spin Dash from the adjacent grassy ledge. The area to the left simply rewards the player with an invincibility power-up. In the final game, a puzzle was added to this area. A second breakable column prevents the player from jumping onto the ledge, so they must venture left. Defeating the Relief enemy at the left edge of the room causes a moving platform to emerge from the ground, creating an extra ledge to charge a Spin Dash on. It's likely that when this puzzle was first introduced, it was mistakenly set to use the same trigger ID as the twin plaforms which follow it. This would result in one puzzle automatically solving the other.
Prototype Final
  • Carnival Night Zone
  • Act 2
  • At the start of the underwater "lights out" section, all of the balloons that are there in the final game are missing. This can be seen when the timer is between 3:25 and 3:38.
  • At the end of the "lights out" section, there's a breakable wall past the light switch, as opposed to the ceiling spikes from the final. This was likely changed to prevent the player from avoiding the button completely using Super Sonic, who can burst through the wall without needing to perform a Spindash. The wall can be seen when the timer is at 5:03.
  • Near the end of the Act, there is a Starpost. This Starpost was moved to a slightly earlier point in the level. The Starpost can be seen when the timer is at 6:15 and was later moved to the area seen when the timer is at 6:08.
  • IceCap Zone
  • Act 1
  • In the final game, a stack of breakable blocks was added to the entrance of the cave directly after the snowboarding sequence.
Prototype Final
  • Also within the cave entrance, two crushing columns can be seen. In the November 3rd, 1993 prototype, only two crushing columns are present. In the final game, there is a third column present that fails to activate if the player rolls through the area in a similar fashion as in the footage due to the column being placed higher up within the ceiling than the others, which in turn keeps the column from spawning unless the player jumps or looks up. Whether or not this third crushing column is present in this build is up for debate.
  • Act 2
  • When the boss is defeated, the snow does not stop falling, causing the capsule to flicker during the Act results screen due to the large number of sprites on the screen.
  • During the transition cutscene when Sonic rolls through the snow tunnel, a rumbling sound (specifically sound CD) can be heard that isn't present in any other known build.
  • Launch Base Zone
  • Act 1
  • One of the Orbinauts is placed closer to the end of the room than in the final game. The Orbinaut in question is can be seen when the timer is at 2:44.
  • A flamethrower can be seen when the timer is at 3:18. This flamethrower would be replaced by a Ring monitor by the final build.
  • Act 2
  • Upon defeating Ball Shooter, the timer stops, just like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. However, unlike S3&K, the timer does not resume for the Beam Rocket boss fight, and remains stopped until the end of the game. Sonic 3 "fixes" this by just leaving the timer running all the way through the rather lengthy cutscene. Note that since Super transformations are blocked while the timer is stopped, this bug may very well have hidden the infamous "Big Arm can hurt Super Sonic" bug until it was too late!
  • Credits
  • HIROSHI NIKAIDOH replaces TAKAHIRO HAMANO as a Senior Programmer, but evidently there was no budget left to properly center the man's name.
Prototype Final



Video metadata

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  Stream #0:0: Video: magicyuv (M8Y2 / 0x3259384D), yuv422p, 704x576, 113120 kb/s, 50 fps, 50 tbr, 50 tbn
  Stream #0:1: Audio: pcm_s24le ([1][0][0][0] / 0x0001), 48000 Hz, stereo, s32 (24 bit), 2304 kb/s


  • Special thanks to Tanks from Kineko Video and napasan for transferring the VHS tape to digital.
  • Special thanks to fredbronze for the write up detailing the differences between this prototype and final.

See also