Background Info (and Brawl stuff!)
Wednesday, 9th July 2008, 9:59pm (UTC), 2 Comments
Update: Background Info page added to the Sonic 2 section
The Sonic 2 Background Info section has been added, henceforth the entrance to the wonderful sub-world that is the Sonic 2 section, and contains all sorts of bits and bobs, mainly stuff I've gathered from other sources and just general descriptions of the game really. The kind of stuff you find on any other Sonic resource site to be honest, so it's never really my favourite bit to write. I prefer the levels, which is where I know I'm breaking new ground as far as Sonic sites are concerned, and is why I put them up first. Next up is Gameplay details, which will take a little longer - lots more images.

So I've got through the Subspace Emissary on Smash Bros Brawl, and I must say I was really impressed. Platforming is the best game genre of them all and it's time we saw much more of this sort of thing - doesn't have to be 3D, just good old, innovative platforming puzzles and pure fun gameplay. Although I would liked to have seen Sonic pop up in the story in such a way that he'd interact with the other characters (a confrontation with Mario would have been brilliant to behold), I enjoyed it when he finally did appear. He's fun to control, especially as he comes eqipped with all the kind of moves we know and love, but it seems like he requires a bit of practise to fully make the most of. My brawling skills are rather limited to be honest, and I'm finding the likes of Meta Knight and Kirby to be slightly more effective for me. The Green Hill arena and the selection of music tracks available (particularly the excellent Angel Island Zone remix) are truly brilliant though. It's a little chunk of classic Sonic for the modern gaming world, and in that respect, the whole spirit of the game is admirable - flying in the face of modern conventions and the new, casual gamer in favour of great nostalgia.

I'll probably be beaten, but what the hell, my brawl code is: 2707-3106-1661 for anyone interested.

Thanks to the recent nod from Sonic Retro. It always makes my day to read that someone appreciates what I'm building here, and to see it recommended on other sites, particularly those of Sonic Retro's prominence and quality, is even better. Cheers Jayextee! I see I'm on the affiliates list as well, I'll have to include my own when I revamp the site, and return the favour.
Comments   2 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Cybershell on Wednesday, 9th July 2008, 11:51pm
Hey this site is shaping up to be pretty fucking magnificent so far. Thanks for all the hard work you're putting in.
#2. Comment posted by Crono S. Magnum on Thursday, 10th July 2008, 2:07am
I'm gonna second Cybershell's commment.

Keep up the good work man!
Stages and Story
Tuesday, 1st July 2008, 10:42pm (UTC), 7 Comments
Update: Stages and Story page added to the Sonic 2 section
The first general Sonic 2 page has been added. Yes, partly a collection of the summaries of levels that I've already posted, but also all important details on how to beat the final bosses, plus ending spoilers! That's quite a tough pair of bosses, so I'd imagine this info should be quite useful to anyone who never managed to beat them. To make it, I managed to work out an altered version of my existing back-end PHP system for building level pages, which was fun. For me anyway, I'm a geek for that sort of thing.

Background Info should be next. Hopefully not too far away, even though I am a bit tied up with other stuff at the moment. These general Sonic 2 pages aren't nearly as time consuming to put together as the levels, it's just finding the time.

Like many UK fans I'm currently enjoying Smash Bros Brawl, keenly working my way through the SSE to try and unlock the obvious. I've only had a couple of hours on it really, but it's a great bit of old skool 2D platforming that I wish there was more of these days on home consoles.

Have you seen the official Sonic Chronicles website? I was very impressed by the whole design and idea behind it, very creative approach. Bonus points to anyone who recognised the background music to the purple alien area as Panic Puppet, from Sonic 3D Saturn/PC. What an unusual choice, and not a favourite of mine, but it's cool that they seem to be plucking those tunes and other Sonic references out of the whole spectrum of the series, from the obvious to the obscure. Is that the kind of audio quality we can expect from the game though? I know it's DS, but I'm sure they can do better than that, it's rather minimal. The Green Hill area sounds a bit more interesting however. Taking a look at the videos of the game in action, I'm impressed by the gorgeous environments, but they appear to be taking a toll on the fluidity of the game in action, which could be really annoying. Reading some of the previews of how it might be a fairly straightforward RPG, to be honest, I think this might be one of those games that will be extremely popular with Sonic fans, but less applicable to the general gaming public. Hopefully Sonic Unleashed will be more balanced with regard to that.
Comments   7 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by iNAUDiBLE on Friday, 4th July 2008, 10:44pm
Will be sure to check that out, thank you much. You planning on having some part of it dedicated to the Sonic 2 manga things that they had for the game?

It's notable for the fact that a prototype Amy and Charmy were in it. I also have pictures of another manga story by the same author that I think...MIGHT have come with the Japanese manual, but it's not much really.

The music for Central City is a remix of Diamond Dust Zone from the same game. There are even going to be SWATbots. Yeah, it really does seem to be that way. But I'd honestly prefer a straightforward RPG than one that tries to do this that and another. D': Another concern of mine is the preciseness needed for the special attacks, but they have enough time to polish that up. Sonic Unleashed is the big one.
#2. Comment posted by mercury on Monday, 7th July 2008, 5:10am
Hey, I finally finished my programme. The first release of "Sonic Extractor (CD Mix)" is up at Rapidshare at the following link:

I really hope it comes in useful for you!
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 7th July 2008, 8:25pm
Wow, Mercury, I am truly impressed! I've used Game Maker myself several years ago and to think it can now be capable of reading and manipulating data from actual Sonic games is amazing! I wouldn't know where to begin to build such a thing, you've got considerable skill there. Very well done.

I tried it out on both the savestate you supplied and one I made myself, and they work perfectly! You've just made my Sonic CD section much more useful and comprehensive than it was going to be, and if you can provide the same tool for Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles (oh please please do!) you will have reduced the time I'll need to produce those guides by at least 50% I would say, probably a lot more. For that, I would be truly grateful! Your work will make a massive contribution to the progress of Zone: 0.

iNAUDiBLE - thanks for the link. I have seen this before and it's pretty weird, but I don't really see the relevance, other than it being associated with the release of the game. At this stage at least, I'd prefer to focus more on the actual game and even more specifically the levels - the kind of thorough details the other sites ignore, but I always hesitate to do too much borrowing of content and info from other places. Thanks for the suggestion though, perhaps in later years, Zone: 0 will grow to encompass a wider range of content such as this.
#4. Comment posted by mercury on Tuesday, 8th July 2008, 1:45am
I'm really glad that you like the programme! Sonic CD has always been my favourite of the Sonic games, and I feel honoured to be able to contribute. I'm also very glad that it sounds like it's going to be a big help as well.

I definitely want to have a whack at Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and I'm pretty sure it should be faster and easier than doing Sonic CD (what with no time frames and all), but I'm going to take a break for now and go back to my main project. But I'll probably start work on mapping them within the next couple of months.

And, just as aside, how did you like the Help file? I'm somewhat renowned for being a wordy guy. I hope it was clear as well as enjoyable.
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 8th July 2008, 7:21am
Yeah, the help file was very comprehensive! Much more indepth than most people bother to write for these kind of tools.

That's cool, let me know how your main project goes, it sounds like an interesting one. Best of luck with it!
#6. Comment posted by Chapolim on Wednesday, 9th July 2008, 7:45pm
Hi there, I just found your website and I'm really impressed with your work. Those level maps are awesome and brought me back a lot of good memories.
I'm keeping it in my bookmark will sure come back many times again. Thanks!
#7. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 9th July 2008, 10:01pm
That's great to hear, thanks a lot for posting! :)
Europe Observations
Thursday, 19th June 2008, 7:46pm (UTC), 2 Comments
With the full quality, 100MB version of the previously discussed trailer for the Europe city level of Sonic Unleashed, I thought I'd do what everyone else is doing and look out for some cool, new things hidden away in there, hopefully many of these you won't have noticed or read about before..

When Sonic is homing attacking the Spinner badniks, you can make out this strange green box. At lower res it almost looked to me like something that flew out of one of the badniks, but now you can clearly make out the green shield symbol on the front and a red circular pad underneath it just like the item boxes originally from Sonic Adventure. This is a Sonic Unleashed item box! And the standard shield has clearly made a comeback after its absence from previous 3D outings. It's an odd design though, almost a cross between the classic TV monitor style and the newer design, but the TV box is replacing the glass as the thing that essentially holds the item graphic, with the pad underneath to keep it floating. It might be hard to see where it is, spatially, from these shots, but if you watch, it's floating in the air with the badniks and presumably can be obtained by holding left while homing.

Take a look at these guys, who hover ahead of Sonic in the later clips. Here you can see that they're three-eyed, bulked up Egg Pawns, seemingly, hovering by way of two massive jets on their back. Very interesting.

What the hell is that red-rimmed circular thing? It's not a spring, it's flat and there's no star on it. Could be a jump panel like those in Sonic Adventure where Sonic leaped between them on the walls by jumping. Also looks like a button, similar to the original, flat and.. button-like designs of old, rather than the abstract floating sphere ones.

You may have noticed this already, but these platforms below prove the existence of slower and more careful platforming areas. Here you can now make out a large floating hoop in the middle, much like those in the Advance series, and assuming it provides the same mid-air dash functionality, it appears to get Sonic to the highest spring on the right, from the lower one on the left of the pic. It's interesting that the grinding rail route on the trailer starts at the top and goes down, and seems to run against the direction that these platforms and springs will take you. Perhaps the multiple routes in this game are less a case of short and sweet than we might have thought, if, at one point, they're going in entirely different directions?

If you wondered how far all those nifty 3D houses went before they switched to a flat background, there's your answer. Still, you really don't notice it while moving at that speed.

If you've seen the trailer more than once (and I'm sure most of you have), you're bound to have spotted the Carnival Night style balloons all over the place, and I'm hoping they're a level-specific object, rather than yet another one that appears throughout the game. Also note the flagpole there though, popularised in the Sonic Advance series. The team are clearly making use of standard 2D objects, rather than just 2D-ising standard 3D ones, which is good.

There's certainly a lot to look for in this trailer, and one of the most interesting and exciting ones that Sega have produced in recent years I think, at least of the ones that are just for pure gameplay, like this. Will post more observations if I spot them.
Comments   2 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by mercury on Wednesday, 25th June 2008, 1:03am
Hey, when you give the site the ol' redesign, how about giving it a Favicon? There isn't one when you bookmark it Firefox. :)

I have to say, despite myself, that Sonic Unleashed looks totally awesome. Personally, I don't think Sonic will ever be truly back on the map until they re-hire Masato Nakamura to do the soundtrack and start drawing Sonic the way they did in the Sonic CD cinematics, but regardless of that Sonic Unleashed looks like it might finally be a worthy successor to Sonic and Knuckles. I promised myself after the series of let downs that were Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Next-Gen I'd never be fooled into getting stoked about a new Sonic console title - but I'm stoked anyway. It helps alot that Hashimoto sounds like an intelligent and dedicated guy. I dug it when he said that careful platforming was as much an integral part of Sonic as the speed - something no one has understood since the Megadrive era, in my opinion.

I've completely finished up the first five Zones, leaving only Stardust Speedway and Metallic Madness, which thankfully don't have a whole bunch of complicated objects (unlike Tidal Tempest, which took four days on its own!). It's slow work, but rewarding!
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 28th June 2008, 3:30pm
Favicon's not a bad idea at all! I'll probably make it a teeny little Z:0, rather than a Sonic head or something, so as to distinguish it from other Sonic sites.

Cool news about the zones, can't wait to try out the program!
High Europe
Tuesday, 17th June 2008, 7:10pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Yeah, I kinda hope that's not the name of the level either, but, just in case you've missed it today..

1:59 of pure Sonic brilliance as he races non-stop through the "Europe" level of Sonic Unleashed. I love the amount of variety in there, and sure, it's all running very consistently fast along winding paths and rails and I think there is reason for some concern that the game will feel like it's playing itself, as I've read some people point out today. But I think the developers are realising this and combatting it with Quick Time Events, where you must press a particular button at a particular time to dodge an enemy, skid under or dash straight through something, all while moving at great speed. I'd be worried if this features too prominently so that it becomes a bit like some sort of non-musical Sonic-based Guitar Hero, or some other rhythmic button pressing game that I can't play very well, but it seems to mesh quite well with Sonic's usual gameplay mechanics.

As big a fan as I am of the balance between smooth speed and traditional platforming that the original megadrive titles had, I think as Sonic fans in this modern, harsh world where guns have replaced the act of jumping on people's heads and the hedgehog can no longer expect automatic love from reviewers, we need to be ready to accept that things sometimes need to evolve into new, fresher approaches. The Sonic Rush formula has been more successful than any other in recent years, so, a bit like natural selection, that's the mutation that the powers that be are running with now, so to speak. Those in fear of a complete loss of all platforming traditions however should be reminded that there is still the Were-Sonic side of things to be unveiled, said to, logically, operate at a much slower pace. I know, it's not the same, but it's better off present in a distorted form than completely absent. Plus, we've only seen the bits that Sega want us to see, which are more often than not, the fast bits, as that's where Sonic is special. Doesn't mean to say that there won't be slower bits too.

I love the amazing speeds of it all, and the behind-view segments requiring quick left and right dashes look immensely fun. I love that powerslide, the wall-kicking and the freefalling sequence down, what appears to be a Dilapidated Way-style sewer. All is not lost with level-specific objects, as we can see spiked and non-spiked rolling barrels, water fountains and especially look out for the returning Carnival Night balloons. I also liked the variation of the floating spinner badniks from Sonic Adventure and Advance 3, which Sonic homes in on, and enemies in general certainly seem to be taking their rightful place in the levels, being one-hit-to-kill, easily disposed of and fairly comical creatures, as opposed to appearing in lots of large gangs and contributing too much to the overall challenge. The large soldiers falling away are very satisfying to watch. Also, I can't not mention those amazing graphics. If the high-end version of the game is capable of rendering all those buildings and details without dropping a frame, then it should be able to handle just about anything. The music, I wasn't that keen on at first, but as with most new Sonic music that I'm initially not sure about, I came round to it very quickly.

You can say all you want about concerns regarding where this game is taking the series in terms of gameplay style, but I think most would agree that this is all looking to be a big step in the right direction, and I for one am extremely impressed, and excited. Gameplay looks constantly exhilarating in a way that only Sonic can do, but I don't think this necessarily means a drop in challenge and genuine difficulty, or a game that will play by itself. QTE's should give it a simple, easy to pick up and play, but tough to master quality, and I'm really happy with the balance between 2D side-scrolling and rear-camera "on-rails" stuff that allows them to give us the best of both worlds I think. If Sonic must take the option of a game filled with fast-paced, think-quick button presses and reactions rather than slower semi-puzzles, I for one am happy to run with him and see where we go, but to be honest, the inclusion of Were-Sonic makes me doubt that things will be that black and white anyway.

Previous interviews have revealed that Sonic Team are dedicated to this title, and are picking out the flaws that we've all discussed to death and making sure that the likes of too many bottomless bits and waves of tough enemies are being hopefully replaced by excellent variety and challenge, all while keeping a consistent pace and ultimately resulting in what I think could be the most enjoyable and heart-pumping Sonic game yet. I think if this game fails, it won't be through lack of trying. Could still be through lack of time unfortunately, but lets hope that if the developers really need extra time to work things out, Sega will give it to them. If not, they'll be making a massive mistake.

On a final, site note, I'm in the planning phases of a massive overhaul to the back-end system that drives this place, resulting in something that is easier for me to edit and progress into the future with when I come to newer games that follow different structures (i.e. ones that don't always have the same two acts and a boss for every character, or even have acts at all). This will also lead to a completely new look for the site, with many new features added, and I've already started designing that, to much satisfaction so far. However, I don't want to make you wait too long for the general pages of Sonic 2, to round that game off, so I've decided to do those old skool for the moment and build them in straightforward HTML, then convert them to dynamic later on. Otherwise it might be a while before anything is actually added to the site, and I'd rather that not be the case.

Only a month or so til E3 I believe, so hopefully more Sonic Unleashed goodies then! Enjoy!
No comments have been posted in response to this Blog post.
Wingin' it
Sunday, 18th May 2008, 7:00pm (UTC), 20 Comments
Update: Wing Fortress Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
Finally, the zones of Sonic 2 are complete! Yes, there's still Death Egg, but that's a final boss arena and won't have a full level page, but will be covered in the stages and story section. I'd imagine tips for Wing Fortress would be quite useful, as I'd say it's one of the hardest 2D stages around. It'll be my last full-on map for a while too, as Sonic CD is next, and won't have fully detailed maps - there's just too many of them and it'd probably kill me. Speaking of which, if anyone reading this has ever been able to successfully extract the full sized maps from Sonic CD PC version into PCX images using SonEd, or anything else, and wouldn't mind doing me a HUGE favour.. please leave a comment indicating so. I might need you to get them for me, having had problems doing so myself. I'm well aware that smaller ones exist on the web, but ideally I'd like to have the original sizes. Thanks!

The general Sonic 2 pages are next, but they may be a little while away yet. The Sonic 1 ones were static HTML, but now I want to build a dynamic system for handling them, like the most recent level pages use. And I actually want to rebuild my admin section for making those anyway, so the next few changes will be very behind-the-scenes I'm afraid. Still, I'll try and limit the time taken with all that, but I start my new job tomorrow, so no guarantees.

That's all for now, as my eyes are dying on me. Enjoy the Fortress!
Comments   20 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by mercury on Tuesday, 27th May 2008, 9:36am
Hey, I'm really digging the site! It does a great job of presenting all the detailed info on the games while still being very nice looking and user-friendly. It's not nearly as busy and hard to navigate as other Sonic sites. It looks very professional, so good job! I am wondering, though, how detailed do you plan on/want to make the oddities, beta, lost sprites type section? Because Sonic CD is up next, and I've found some hidden sprites, never used in the game. I've checked around the Sonic unused sprite community for quite a while and can't find them, I think I may be the first to discover them. I think it would be cool for Zone : 0 to be the first to show them off, if you're interested.
#2. Comment posted by mercury on Tuesday, 27th May 2008, 9:41am
Darn, I discovered your site too late for you! :( Nonetheless, you have my encouragement. Ganbatte!

sorry to double-post :)
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 27th May 2008, 9:43am
I meant too late TO VOTE for you!

Aargh... it's late as I type this. Sorry again. :)
#4. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 27th May 2008, 9:39pm
Hey, thanks a lot! Always really like hearing from people who enjoy what the site's doing, so thank you! Nevermind about the vote, maybe this year :)

I try to stick more to what actually made it in the games, rather than delve too deeply into what didn't, as there are so many other sites that do that, but it certainly has a place here and there, so you're more than welcome to send anything in to me. I can't guarantee it being posted, and as it's Sonic CD, I wouldn't expect the section it would be in to be ready for quite some time (even though Sonic CD is next, I just don't have a lot of time these days, unfortunately), but sure, go for it, by all means. Email me at

#5. Comment posted by mercury on Wednesday, 28th May 2008, 7:44am
My e-mail is crazy at the moment, doesn't always work :(

I've put them up on rapidshare, if that'll be alright.

Also, what did you mean exactly by "full-sized maps"? Do you mean pixel to pixel level layouts of each of the zones, in all time periods? And does it have to be the PC version, or did you just think that it'd be easier to rip? Cos I might be able to help with that, too.
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 28th May 2008, 1:08pm
Thanks, I appreciate the thought, it's great that you wish to contribute, but I don't really think Zone: 0 is the right place for these kind of unused sprites. As I say, this place is more focused on what actually made it into the games, rather than dissecting all the little things that didn't make it and I'd prefer to stick to that principle for the time being.

Basically, I'm in need of Sonic CD maps that are ideally larger and more detailed than these, but failing that, mainly maps that aren't watermarked, which these are, by Stealth. I could use those but I would rather have my own to use freely. They won't be full of objects like my Sonic 1 and 2 maps are, because that would kill me, but I want to have something that I can at least mark out where the machine is in the Past, where Metal Sonic is, where the best places are to time travel, etc. They don't have to be the PC version, as both use identical maps as far as I'm aware, but the bigger and less watermarked, the better, so the best bet is to rip them from somewhere.

Supposedly SonEd is capable of that, which I have used to get my Sonic 1 and 2 maps, and is where those ones linked above came from, but I've tried on several machines and just can't get the PC version's .exe to load up. So if you think you can find some way of extracting those maps I'd be extremely grateful!
#7. Comment posted by mercury on Wednesday, 28th May 2008, 10:37pm
Technically, they did make it into the game, they just aren't accessible through normal play :P

As for the Sonic CD level maps, I'm currently coding a program that can read the binary level data directly from Sonic roms, to extract them into bitmaps, pngs, or even convert them into Game Maker tiles for use in fangames. So if I kick into high gear and finish it soon (it's already working for Sonic 1), I could get those Sonic CD maps hopefully with no problems.
#8. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 28th May 2008, 11:43pm
Sounds like a very useful tool! I wouldn't want you to go to any extra trouble, of course, but if you do manage to get those Sonic CD maps extractable that would be really brilliant! Other than the actual level environment, will it be possible to extract anything else from the level layouts into bitmaps or PNGs, such as the precise placement of rings, item boxes, springs and other objects? As it is now I have to cut all objects out of screenshots and paste them in individually myself, so is there any chance your program might support extraction of those? That would be a big time saver for the future.
#9. Comment posted by mercury on Friday, 30th May 2008, 4:57am
It's no trouble at all - in fact, it's a break from a much larger and more difficult project I've got going, so it's bit of a fun excursion. I'm glad to be any help.

I've made significant progress. Sonic CD level maps are loading and exporting to PNG format with perfect accuracy. I've solved the binary offset problems I was having, and have all the acts (in each time zone) of both Palmtree Panic and Collision Chaos done already. I'll easily have the rest of the zones by the end of to-morrow.

As for object placement, I haven't yet implemented it, but I'm confident the process will be much the same. I plan on exporting secondary PNG files with a transparency, so that the objects can be easily overlayed onto the level map. I hate the thought of anyone having to meticulously screen capture each object and paste it in individually! So object data is definitely high on my priority for the program.

On an unrelated note, I was wondering what you thought of Ristar (and, with its marked similarities to the Sonic series and inclusion on Sonic Mega Collection, is it an eventual candidate for Zone: 0?)
#10. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 30th May 2008, 7:50am
That sounds brilliant! Wow, when I posted that plea for Sonic CD maps, I was doubtful I'd get a response at all, let alone so soon. Do let me know when the program is all ready, thanks very much.

I like Ristar, though haven't really played it extensively, beyond the first couple of levels. I haven't really considered featuring any non-Sonic games in Zone: 0, but I would be inclined to stick to Sonic only. If I were to write about any other games, I'd probably make a separate site. Certainly when I get to Mega Collection (many years from now most likely), it'll be briefly summarised, but probably nothing more than that. I'll have to give it another play sometime soon though, it's pretty fun.
#11. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 30th May 2008, 9:21pm
Here is somthing soooooooooooooooo
oooooooooooooo cool.

I got to the Wing Fortress boss, and it
is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo hard!
#12. Comment posted by mercury on Sunday, 1st June 2008, 2:48am
I actually ended up re-writing most of my program from scratch yesterday, trying to optimise it for Sonic CD specifically. It's still not ready for prime time, though, because it's a tad slow and also relies on other software DLLs to function. I'll eventually remedy all that, but until then it's virtually indistributable.

The good news is that it can now export full size Sonic CD Zone maps from a Gens savestate with a couple of clicks, so I did all 70 this morning in only about 2 hours, and here they are:

They're already compressed into lossless PNGs, but all together they're still about 40 mb. Not bad for 2 to 3 days work, and I didn't even have to resort to the (decidely inferior) PC version of the game.

If you have any suggestions or feedback after looking at the maps, just say. I'm forging ahead with the object data now, so the object layers will be uploaded next. I'm not sure how long it will take - the trick is not just reading the placement and index values of each object, but their proper graphics as well. I may have to just screenshot every object type to get the graphics - but at least I won't have to place them manually.

You gain a whole new appreciation for the artists at Sonic Team when you see the levels in full - not only are they beautiful, but they must have been even harder to make than they are to rip!

Oh, and will you be needing Special Stage maps, because each one is unique?

#13. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 1st June 2008, 10:00am
Wow, thank you so much Mercury! You really didn't have to go to the extra trouble, I would have been happy waiting for the program to be finished to use it myself, although I suppose you wanted to test that all maps extracted perfectly anyway. I really appreciate it though, and once you've made the program available to the public I'll be sure to advertise it like crazy for you, so you'll definitely be given credit. These are brilliant, thanks a lot!

I'll probably do Special Stage maps, but I reckon I could draw them out myself. Do they exist in a top-down form in the game? If not, and if they're too hard to extract, don't worry about it, I'll just draw replicas of them.

Don't feel you have to rush with anything for my sake, as it'll be a little while yet before I'm ready to start on Sonic CD, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with the object layers, as that'll be a massive time saver for me.

Thanks again!
#14. Comment posted by mercury on Monday, 2nd June 2008, 1:19am
You're welcome. But I'm not rushing, I'm just fast like Sonic ;P

The trouble with my program, Sonic Extractor, is the bitmap size limit of 2048x2048. The Zone maps are significantly larger than that, so I have to use a freeware program called Imagemagick to automatically stitch the chunks together at export time. If you don't have that program installed, you wouldn't be able to use Sonic Extractor. Until I find a way around this, it's kind of moot. Also, to avoid the headache of decompression, I extract the zone maps from Gens savestates instead of the Sonic CD binary itself - I was concerned that if you didn't have Gens, you might also not be able to use it (although, I guess I could always supply the savestates - but they're larger than the maps, about 1 mb each!)

I was worried about finding where the objects locations were stored, specially with the lack of documentation on Sonic CD hacking, but it was much easier than I expected. Object extraction is looking very doable now, which is a relief (I had all but promised it, after all).

And yes, the Special Stage map tiles are stored as 2D textures in the Sega CD's memory, so they can be extracted. The layouts must be stored somewhere as well. I just have to find them.

Now I must thank you for your fantastic maps for Sonic 1 and 2 (which must have been painstaking to make) and your detailed descriptions of each level. My main project right now is a sort of compilation/remake of the Genesis Sonic games. It's no Rom Hack, more like Metroid Zero Mission, with completely redone visuals, music, and engine. But my goal is that no matter how fancy it gets, it must recapture the spirit of the originals perfectly. Your Zone pages encapsulate that spirit, and are therefore a great resource for me.
#15. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 2nd June 2008, 8:17am
You're more than welcome, I'm really glad Zone: 0 has been so successful at helping different people do different things, be it just simply get through the level in one piece, find new areas, I've even had someone who uses the screenshots to create their own artworks based in the levels, and now to help you remake the games yourself. I'm glad you find that the pages encapsulate the original spirit of their respective zones, as that was always my intention, and your big project sounds like a great endeavour. Are you involved in the Sonic 2 HD project at all, or is this something entirely separate?

If there's no way of getting round the need to have Imagemagick and Gens installed, I don't think that would be such a bad thing really. If anyone really needs this tool, they'll be happy to download any extras or make their own savestates (which I've already done myself for SonEd, actually). I know I would be, if it's capable of exporting objects onto the maps as well. Would it be safe to assume you're planning on giving the same treatment to Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles too? Compared to the ones I've done, those are absolutely huge, and I'm not much looking forward to placing each object individually on them. If they could be ready made using your tool, the whole Zone: 0 project will progress much quicker than I had envisioned, as the maps are the real time consuming bit at the moment.
#16. Comment posted by mercury on Monday, 2nd June 2008, 11:50pm
That's funny, I was going to ask if you needed Sonic 3 and Knuckles maps. It's definitely functionality I want to include - at least there is a lot more documentation on them than Sonic CD.

Sonic CD actually has a quirk in it's object data - the objects for every possible time frame are stored in each act, with a bitmask that tells them in which ones to appear. It was confusing at first to see a whole bunch of disembodied objects floating in the air all over my maps until I figured it out! It's still going well.

No I am not involved in Sonic 2 HD, although it looks like a cool project. I'm actually working entirely alone, and keeping my project tightly under wraps (not even announcing the title) until closer to release time. It's been in preproduction for about 5 years now, but I've finally begun coding the engine. Though I do have reworked graphics, that's not my primary focus. My focus is on story, and making the Zones, which previously were only loosely associated, into a coherent world with geography and history. It's quite fun to try and imagine a scenario in which Sonic would need to travel from an ancient ruin to a casino and then waterworks! I'm trying to draw on the best of British literature - the meticulous detail of Tolkien, the high adventure of Brian Jaques, and the "you could step right into it" world and plot twists of Rowling.

I'm also not just picking one game, but combining all the Zones from each of the Genesis era games into one grand story. I'd say you wouldn't believe how ambitious I am, but then again you probably know the feeling :)
#17. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 3rd June 2008, 8:02am
That sounds like a great idea, I've often thought the application of a deeper story between and in the zones would always make for something really interesting. Good luck with it! The amount of people who are willing to invest hours, months and years of their time in creating something big and entirely dedicated to Sonic is, I think, something SEGA should be really proud of. :)
#18. Comment posted by mercury on Monday, 9th June 2008, 4:34am
Sonic CD doesn't use a single object list, like a Genesis ROM, but a distinct one for each of the 70 levels. Not even common objects like the Metal Sonic projector have the same object index. This was a bit of a setback, but that's what happens when forging unexplored territory. I have now figured out the object lists for the first four Zones, so I'm past the halfway mark, at least.
#19. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 9th June 2008, 6:43pm
Cool, thanks for the update! Just thought, earlier on you mentioned you might have to take screenshots of particular objects and cut them out so that your program can place them across the maps. Will this be the case, or are you able to just use them straight from the ROM? For Sonic 1 and 2, I've kept images of all the sprites I used for my maps, if they'll be of any use to you at all? Let me know.
#20. Comment posted by mercury on Tuesday, 10th June 2008, 5:53am
I appreciate the offer, but I already have captures of the handful of objects common between Sonic 1 and Sonic CD.
I'm not, however, having to take screenshots - I'm extracting the object sprites from the rom. The finished program won't have this ability, though, the sprites will be pre-compiled and built in. It's the faster way, and having images of everything in the game will probably come in handy in the future for some other project anyway.
I had free time today, so I went ahead, pitched in, and did the object lists for the final three zones. So it's just adding the sprites, polishing up the interface a little, and then showtime.
Airline Peanuts
Friday, 9th May 2008, 3:30pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Update: Sky Chase Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
Just as I had hoped, I managed to throw the page and map together for Sky Chase within a day, and even more easily than I expected. It's about time that something actually took less time for me to do than anticipated. The map proved a bit more complicated though because all the badniks move across the screen at different speeds, and I found it quite hard to plot them all accurately, according to where they would actually appear, so I just stuck to their starting positions. It's a pretty self-explanatory stage though, so I doubt anyone really needs the map anyway, as you can't exactly miss anything. Oh well, there if you want it.

Since I'm starting a job soon I thought I'd give in and buy Mario and Sonic and Sega Superstars Tennis. Doesn't look like they're coming down in price any time soon, at least not the former, so I thought what the hell. Got them at The Hut, who are currently offering Superstars for £15 when you buy Mario and Sonic for 30, so if you've been thinking about getting both of these, but hesitant to go full price, that might be your best deal for a while.. Having said that though, it seems they've knocked off a whole pound from Mario and Sonic since I bought it the other day.. bastards!

So Mario and Sonic arrived this morning, but Superstars is oddly still within the firm grip of the Royal Mail, somewhere. I played a few events briefly but I think it really is far more of a multi-player game, and most of them, I wasn't really enjoying very much to be honest. I don't like how so many of the events are unlockable too. I want to play the archery one, and the dream events too, but turns out I have to go through all sorts of stuff first. I guess first thing in the morning, I wasn't feeling particularly active either, and the 100 meters sprint wore me out. Given the amount of time I've invested on building this site so far, you would be safe to assume I'm not the fittest person in the world. Still, at least my Sonic game collection is once again complete now, with all 45 existing titles. Superstars is more of a Sega game, so I don't count it as a Sonic one as such, and M&S is at least 50% Sonic. Those are my rules, and I stick to them.

I'll tell you what I also picked up in the same gaming binge though.. LocoRoco for the PSP. If you love classic Sonic and happy, bright games, you'll probably really like this. It's a platformer with simple but very stylish graphics, fantastic physics and very Sonic-like rolling around at speed. I was instantly enchanted by it, and it was only a tenner or so, so I recommend looking into it.

Expect Wing Fortress to not be too far down the road, I reckon. Should be able to at least start it and get a good way through over the next week or so.
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