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Early Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Map Sketches Contain the Fabled "Genocide City"

Genocide City Zone obviously never wound up in Sonic 2, but fans were happy to fill in the story gap.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Earlier today, writer Brandon Sheffield shared some map sketches of unused levels for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The sketches came courtesy of veteran game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara, who worked on Sega Genesis installments of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Hooray! Game history!

Yasuhara's maps feature some areas that should be familiar to anyone who played Sonic 2 back in 1992. There's Casino Zone, Metropolis Zone, Oil Ocean Zone … and Green Hill Zone. No doubt "Green Hill Zone" was the placeholder name for what would become Emerald Hill Zone in the final release, but as one Twitter commenter pointed out, it looks like Sega was enamored with re-using Green Hill Zone as far back as Sonic's Genesis heyday.

"Disneyland is for KIDS, mom. Can't we go to Genocide City for vacation?"

Unsurprisingly, the maps reveal plans for levels and ideas that never came to be. There are intriguing "warp points" on a couple of the sketches (there are no warps in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 outside of a level select cheat), and there are a few Zones that may seem familiar for reasons you can't put your finger on: Namely, "Dust Hill Zone," "Woods Zone," and "Genocide City Zone."

Dust Hill Zone is a cut level that featured in early previews for Sonic 2. Woods / Wood Zone was similarly cut. Neither is especially remarkable; desert and forest levels appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, so we can assume the unused ideas for Dust Hill Zone and Wood Zone were summarily recycled.

"Genocide City Zone," on the other hand, has become stuff of legend. Originally conceived as a city-based level, it was never intended to be as bleak or as bloody as its name suggests. Supposedly, Sonic 2's developers just wanted a level name that "sounded dangerous," but were initially unaware that "genocide" is a loaded term in English.

In any case, Genocide City Zone (which was renamed "Cyber City" at one point before it was simply absorbed into Metropolis Zone) was never a real level of any kind. However, Sonic fans have created lots of stories, fanart, and fan games to make up for Genocide City Zone's lack of lore.

As you might expect, the fanworks are dark, haunted, and contain little in the way of sunny skies or picnics. One creepypasta relays a "haunted game" story about someone who found and played Genocide City Zone, only to discover the level is littered with the bodies of the little animal buddies Sonic usually saves at the end of each stage. There's even a fan-made "long version" of Sonic 2 that "restores" Genocide City Zone. There aren't any dead animals within, but it's still a grim place lit by forked lightning and a glaring urban moon.

Imagine if Genocide City had come to fruition, though. That would have added an interesting flavor to the SNES vs Genesis schoolyard wars of the '90s:

"Mario World has 'Chocolate Island?' Stupid babyish Nintendo! Sonic 2 is so cool. It has a Zone named after the systematic human-orchestrated massacre of ethnic groups and their cultures!"

My Ill-Conceived Dream: To Play Secret of Mana for the Nintendo PlayStation

Much as I'd love to play a SNES CD-add on prototype of Secret of Mana, I acknowledge it'd be a bad move.

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Comments 6

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  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker A year ago
    Isn't it called Terror City? As in Terror King Salmon?
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #2 touchofkiel A year ago
    Hmm, no sighting of Hidden Palace Zone, which was a scrapped level that they actually included in some mobile re-release a few years back. The early Sonic games are full of fun little history and what-ifs and mysteries... just look at the OST for Sonic 3...
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  • Avatar for JamesSwiftDay #3 JamesSwiftDay A year ago
    No mention of the time travel concept that was originally going to be in the game? That seems like the more important tidbit from Sheffield than the named-but-never-made Genocide City zone.
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  • Avatar for theinternetisodd #4 theinternetisodd A year ago
    @JamesSwiftDay Time travel concept? Guess I know what I'm going to spend my day researching...
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  • Avatar for odaiba-memorial #5 odaiba-memorial A year ago
    @mattb0527 Yeah, Sonic 2 was originally going to feature time travel. The dev team had no idea that Naoto Ohshima's team had come up with a similar concept for Sonic CD, which was being made at the same time. According to a rough outline showcased along with this concept art, the game would have had Sonic warp to the past after several levels, then return to a bleak future where Eggman rules. We can assume he would have to return to the past again to set things right.

    Attentive fans have also noticed that the unused levels fit perfectly with the "blank" stages of the level select screen of the leaked Simon Wai Sonic 2 prototype, with "Olympus" assumed to be renamed Hidden Palace (which also ended up cut from the final game).

    In terms of cut content, Sonic 2 is definitely the most interesting of the classic games. One has to wonder why Sega would choose to showcase these now. Perhaps we'll be seeing some of these concepts crop up in Sonic Mania?Edited May 2017 by odaiba-memorial
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  • Avatar for JamesSwiftDay #6 JamesSwiftDay A year ago
    @odaiba-memorial From Sheffield's tweets it looked like this new info came from some sort of presentation or panel by one or more members of the Sonic 2 dev team. Not sure if any of these guys are still around at SEGA, so I'm not sure if it's a marketing stunt for Sonic Mania.

    Again, would have been nice if the writer of this article had investigated and reported on this...Edited May 2017 by JamesSwiftDay
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  • Avatar for JamesSwiftDay #7 JamesSwiftDay A year ago
    Deleted May 2017 by JamesSwiftDay
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  • Avatar for JamesSwiftDay #8 JamesSwiftDay A year ago
    Deleted May 2017 by JamesSwiftDay
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