Sonic 2’s Lost Stages Revealed

An archaeological dig through lost civilizations.

The following is part of our 25-day Holiday Countdown Calendar! Every day from December 1st through the 25th, we’re posting a cool game history treat, daily updates from the VGHF, giveaways, and more! To make sure you don’t miss a day, sign up for our email list:

This is all part of our annual Winter Fundraiser donation drive, where we ask those who are able to generously give what they can so that we can continue thriving. If you’re able to make an additional one-time charitable contribution, this really is the best time to do so, as your donations will be DOUBLED thanks to a generous group of sponsors! Head on over to to learn more and give today.

Today we’re proud to debut a documentary months in the making! And if you’re around at 10am Pacific Time, tune in on YouTube to be a part of the live chat!

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a game that is practically famous for its cut content – nearly half of the game’s original concept didn’t make it into the final product. This has led to decades of fan communities who have dissected the game’s code, its magazine preview coverage, and even prototype ROMs in order to see what might have been.

Today’s Sponsor

Today’s sponsor is 8-4! 8-4 is a localization, publishing, and development company based in Tokyo who have been supporting our work for a few years now!

They’ve offered to DOUBLE every dollar put toward our goal this year, up to an incredible $2,000! As I write this we’re still pretty far from our goal, so if you’ve been waiting to give this year, this would be a really great time. Producing content like this takes a lot of effort, and if you’re able this year, we could really use your support.

We’re happy to help contribute to this today not only with this documentary, but with a treasure trove of scanned documents!

Tom Payne’s Paperwork

We scanned every scrap of paper that artist Tom Payne kept from his video game career, including his work on Sonic 2. His paperwork also included reference material from the original game, as well as photographs of what appears to be a team outing.

The full collection is available, as close to original order as we could keep it, on The Internet Archive.

Brenda Ross’ VHS Portfolio

We’re also pleased to have digitized the VHS portfolio of artist Brenda Ross! Brenda worked on three stages that didn’t make it into the final version of Sonic 2, including this desert-themed stage.

It’s commonly believed that the song ultimately used for “Oil Ocean Zone” was originally composed for this desert level. We’ve embedded the original demo version, give it a listen while you watch the flowers bloom!

WORLD PREMIERE Preview of our Digital Library and Reddit AMA tomorrow!

It is no exaggeration to say that this is the VGHF’s ultimate vision – an online library of our collection that anyone can access, anywhere in the world, for free! It’s not ready to launch, but it is ready to show, so come join us and let us know what you think!

This video is available to patrons one day early! If you’re curious and would like to see the demo today, click below to join and see it right now!

This desert art was previously seen in magazine previews and, oddly, a Sears ad, but here’s something brand new to the internet: Brenda’s winter-themed level!

Similarly, it’s believed that “Sky Chase Zone” may have been composed for this level, give it a listen!

Brenda’s tape was ripped via Domesday and encoded via VHS-Decode. It is our belief that this is the best current method of future-proofing VHS encoding, as the decoding process is likely to evolve as time progresses. Those raw files are available here.