Something fishy about the Sonic 1 Prototype Saga

Discussion in 'Discussion & Q&A' started by <user deleted>, Feb 2, 2021.

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  1. <user deleted>

    <user deleted> Newcomer Member

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    Is it me, or does the whole Sonic 1 Prototype release seem, well, fishy?

    - No backstory to how the cart was obtained is given. The most we got was that it was found in a set of game carts that buckaroo bought from someone. Ideas on where that person might have gotten it would have been helpful. At least country of origin would have been nice. (I'm guessing the UK?)

    - RetroGamer was supposed to have details on how the cart was obtained. "Keep a lookout for the next issue of Retro Gamer! It'll cover the history of the cart and how this find came to be. Don't miss it!" said HiddenPalace.org. To be frank, the article in RG did not say anything we did not know already, and nothing on how the cart "came to be". Ya, it was a nice small article for a periodical like RetroGamer, but paying $12+ to access such an underwhelming article is infuriating. The piece that Hidden Palace wrote should have been run instead. At least that was a well-written, in-depth, passionate piece worth paying for, even if it did not discuss how the cart "came to be".

    - The cart was supposed to go up for auction on eBay in Feb, implying the auction would start in February. It sold Feb 1 at 2PM. Why the rush? Why sell it before most people got the February issue of RG, in which the auction was mentioned? And was the sale secret because I honestly could not find it on eBay when I checked last week. (Even as late as Jan 31.) All I got were listings for Sonic plush toys. For an item this big, it is odd that the actual auction was not mentioned on any major gaming sites or YouTube channels. I only found out after the fact.(The actual eBay auction, not news that it would be auctioned off one day.)

    - The auction only had 3 bids and sold for around $13,500. I feel the number is low considering how (a) the community dissected the cart's contents and explained what was so special about it in heavy detail and (b) the SMB3 prototype went for $30,000 several months prior. And that was a late-stage, near-final release version of the third game in the SMB series. This was an early prototype for the FIRST game in the Sonic series. It should have fetched at least $30k.

    - The prototype itself confirmed many theories people had made over the years on how Sonic 1 might have looked early on. But there are numerous Sonic 1 beta "hacks" that faithfully recreated many of the "in-progress" development items found in the magazine screenshots, including the TTS GHZ prototype with the infamous "welcome" sign. Could it be possible that this prototype was faked? I understand that the sound driver is different, the camera does not follow Sonic correctly, in-game physics is not correct, etc. But swapping the sound driver is something that has been shown to be doable by the Sonic hacking community, simple tweaks to the code can cause odd behavior, level layouts can be changed, etc. But was anything completely re-written between this build and the final? (Or this a question the hacking community can not answer without more time for analysis?)

    I'd like to believe that this is a missing prototype of Sonic 1, but a piece of me also speculates that this ROM may be too good to be true.

    What are your thoughts?
     
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  2. Giovanni

    Giovanni It's Joevanni, not Geovanni. Member

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    I can't quite say if it's legitimate or not. All I can state is my bewilderment to how much ROM hacking has changed our way to view things. We can't even say for sure if this prototype is legitimate due to how much can be done with ROM hacking. Every aspect of this ROM could have very well been created by your common folk, but could also have been created by Sonic Team. It's fascinating, to say the least.

    Of course, I will be rightfully mad if I were to find out we've all been duped and buckaroo made 13 grand out of a ROM hack, but I don't want to jump the gun right now. I'll just assume it's real until proven a hoax.
     
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  3. Inferno

    Inferno Rom Hacker Member

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    Whilst I can get thoughts of it being false, I'd like to use one little thing to demonstrate why as of now, I'd say it's better just to assume it's real unless proven to be a hoax: Occam's razor.

    In short: "Out of all possible explanations for something, the one with the least assumptions and the one that is the simplest is the one most likely to be true, unless proven otherwise."

    If we go with the proto being real, there's only one assumption to make: It's real.

    Meanwhile, if we go with the route of it being fake, here's the following assumptions you'd have to make:
    - Buckaroo faked it and managed to fool all of Hidden Palace, including even DRX, who's created a Sonic 1 disasm before or Hidden Palace faked it.
    - If Buckaroo faked it, you'd have to assume that whoever Buckaroo is, they are somewhat proficient in ROM hacking, and have been researching Sonic 1's dev timeline for a while, as some of these "random changes"... are actually shown in magazines and B-Roll footage (see: B-Roll footage from WCES showing the different vertical camera behavior).
    - If Hidden Palace faked it... then that sorta causes a bunch of other issues.

    Long story short:
    I'd rather go with "Innocent until proven guilty" as a rule of thumb here. If the prototype is shown to be fake and that it fooled all of Hidden Palace somehow, then I'll gladly change my tune, but as of now, I'd rather assume it's real.
     
  4. Ravenfreak

    Ravenfreak Is actually a guy. Member

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    If it's a hoax, how did the "hacker" know how the GHZ wrecking balls work? Also the victory pose was always programmed differently in hacks, Sonic would immediately jump in his victory pose when he came near the sign post but in the prototype he doesn't perform the victory pose until after the has passed title cards pop up. There's just too many things that appear in this ROM for it to be a hoax. I get that the backstory of how the prototype was obtained was a bit underwhelming, but most prototypes end up in huge lots. Plus I don't see drx and crew faking a prototype release especially one as big as the Sonic 1 prototype.
     
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  5. Overlord

    Overlord Newcomer Member

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    It's astounding, Andy, how stupid you can be despite being in this community for over 20 years.

    No, this ROM isn't fake. You're sounding nuts right now.
     
  6. Nat The Porcupine

    Nat The Porcupine Point & Click Funny Man Retired Staff

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    If you have any doubts about the prototype's legitimacy, I would highly advise looking over the code of the competent, albeit messy disassembles that now exist of the prototype & comparing it to the final game. Simply put, there are far too many little nuances for it to really be fake. I can understand initial skepticism, but we're over a month out from the dump of this thing, so if there were any concrete reasons to question the validity of this beyond tinfoil hat speculation, I imagine the many researchers in our community who have poured over the code would have brought to the table waaaaay closer to the dump's release.

    It pays to do your homework.
     
  7. Tweaker

    Tweaker OI! MIRON! Member

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    Don't think I've ever seen Yuji Naka retweet a ROM hack before, but stay woke, Andy.
     
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  8. Kilo

    Kilo Foxy Fren Member

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    Admittedly I was pretty skeptical of the prototype myself while it was being streamed because of things like the night GHZ palette (One of the most common misconceptions about the prototypes is that GHZ was at night, this is most common with TTS theories) and Splats being purple and in MZ despite provided materials stating otherwise. I got totally blasted by it by evryone, it was to a point that drx himself had to intervene. But yes there's too many little things in the code that would rule it out as a ROM hack. For example, the Sega chant is really hardcoded into the driver, most people can't easily remove that. As well, most people would probably be too lazy or incompetent to strip the game down by some 32+ objects of all code or remaints.
     
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  9. <user deleted>

    <user deleted> Newcomer Member

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    What gets me is how Hidden Palace told folks to get an issue of Retro Gamer for the article on the prototype's backstory, (which did not reveal anything new,) when they could have written a paragraph about what they knew in their massive post on the prototype. I know they didn't write the RG article and were merely interviewed, but why restrict that info to a publication?

    And why is Buckaroo so secretive about where the cart came from? I just feel there is more to the story than "I found it in a lot." For example, in what country did you buy that lot in? If you are going to auction off the cart with a starting bid of several thousand pounds, you really should mention this sort of stuff, which in turn can give the cart more auction value.

    In addition, the fact that Hidden Palace and Retro Gamer both said the game would be auctioned in Feb, when in reality it went to auction in Jan and ended on Feb 1 is fishy. Buckaroo can do what he wants, but then why tell folks it will go to auction in Feb only to auction it off early?Given that there were only 3 bids, I suspect that some people were caught off guard, meaning the cart could have received more bids and sold for a higher price. (Again, I feel $13,100 is low, perhaps a third of its actual value) There could be some other reason why other bids were not made, (like what I said above,) but I don't think an earlier auction date helped.

    I agree that the evidence thus far points to the cart being real. But the fact people were "encouraged" to buy a magazine for more info on the cart, the earlier than advertised auction date, and the secretive origin story of the cart are reasons are why I call the whole ordeal with this Sonic 1 prototype fishy, and why I am putting the authenticity of the ROM in question. Or at the very least, the intentions of some people involved.
     
  10. NiktheGreek

    NiktheGreek Newcomer Member

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    I'm only going to address points directly relating to the work I did here, and this will be my only post on the matter. Everyone else can enjoy dealing with the rest.

    Yes, it was the UK. Buckaroo didn't divulge any details relating to the previous owner, and he's well within his rights not to - they never agreed to be dragged into a publicity circus.

    Sorry if you thought the piece was somehow missold. I had a word count to stick to and a general audience to reach - if I'd been writing for the community first and foremost, it would have been a different piece. That's not my job, though. Hopefully you at least enjoyed the rest of the issue.

    The article was submitted well before Christmas due to print deadlines, and the magazine went to press on January 6th. Buckaroo initially said January, and changed his mind just before we went to press. He then changed it again after we'd gone to press, and told us that he'd listed it the day after he did so, without giving any particular reason for pulling the trigger early. I shared the auction on Twitter the day he emailed us, as did the official magazine account. The listing was easily found by simply searching "Sonic prototype".
     
  11. Nat The Porcupine

    Nat The Porcupine Point & Click Funny Man Retired Staff

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    Alright, I'll bite. What sort of intentions do you believe some of the people involved had?
     
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  12. AURORA☆FIELDS

    AURORA☆FIELDS so uh yes Retired Staff

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    As someone who's looked into the code, not super deeply (because I've been trying to get the disassembly to a point where an average hacker can actually have a look in the code), but enough to notice a lot of unused stuff, little details, and overall signs that this is either the best hoax anyone could have created, or this is actually real. I mean, there is a lot of motivation to create a hoax and try to sell that for absurdly high amounts of money, but honestly, like it was pointed earlier, for my money I would like to invoke Occam's razor. There is no good explanation I can come up with for someone to spend this ridiculous amount of effort into making the engine terrible, introducing a lot of dead code, unused data that is very common for proto dumps (as in, data at the end of various sized banks that seem completely unrelated and have no explanation for existing), and following the footage we have found this well. There are some sticking points that seem very unlikely or odd to me, but those hardly make me think this is all fake either. I understand your concern, and there are definitely things that seem a little off, but not trying to maybe get ahold of Buckaroo (I think he's been on the HiddenPalace Discord for example) and posting here like this may not really be the right way to go forward about this.
     
  13. <user deleted>

    <user deleted> Newcomer Member

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    Agreed. The evidence does indeed suggest as much. But the actions of some of those involved raised questions and thus some skepticism.

    Agreed. That is the point I tried to make in my original post. The "sonic 1 beta repro" hacks seen today are incredible. This, unfortunately, means the Sonic 1 Prototype ROM needs to be treated with some healthy skepticism to ensure its authenticity to the best of the community's ability. I am not sure why some individuals posting to this thread are agitated by me questioning the ROM's authenticity due to the actions of some involved with this prototype when you consider how well done the "sonic 1 beta repro" hacks are.

    Fair enough. But omitting it I feel reduced what the max bid of the item could have been, which is why I felt it was fishy.

    Fair enough, it's in his right to change his mind. But again I feel this may have reduced the number of bids the auction received, which again I felt was fishy. (Then again, people make mistakes, and this may have been something that merely slipped by his radar.)

    As I said, for a periodical the story is fine because it's short and to the point. And I understand the word count limitations. But I just felt that it was sold, (intentionally or unintentionally,) as an in-depth story with new information when it wasn't. That is what irked me.

    Maybe because I am in the US and the auction was in the UK, but I just got listings on eBay for "sonic plush prototypes". (Something I did not even know was a thing.) Perhaps the ROM was hidden in the listing and I simply scrolled past it?

    Sounds like a reasonable course of action.

    Question for all: Does anyone know if Buckaroo is fielding questions? I don't want to waste my time hunting him down if Buckaroo, as NiktheGreek mentioned above, wants to avoid the "publicity circus".

     
  14. jubbalub

    jubbalub Mania fanboy Member

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    My main point of contention is this: why would Hidden Palace, a long-time champion of video game prototypes and research, be willing to risk their credibility by releasing a fake Sonic 1 prototype and pass it off as real? I don't think they'd be stupid enough to do that.

    I think it was reasonable to be skeptical of its legitimacy when it first was revealed, but at this point I see no reason to think it's anything but the real deal.
     
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  15. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Administrator

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    Okay, enough of this conspiratorial shit. If drx had any doubts of this, he wouldn't have went to the lengths he did to get this prototype dumped and released.

    If Buckaroo doesn't want to be bothered about all this, please respect his decision and move on. He found the cart, he dumped the cart, he sold the cart, end of discussion.

    People should be very fortunate that in the end, a Sonic 1 prototype was finally found and released. For over 15 years, drx tried to find prototypes and he came across so many dead ends, unfortunate endings or in some cases, hoarders who refuse to dump the cart fearing the value would go down, yet Buckaroo's sale easily proves it can make good money regardless.

    And to @NO_CARRIER the next time you send bogus reports of all posts here that you disagree with, I will make sure you won't be able to use the report function again.
     
  16. Misinko

    Misinko Oh SHIT it's the Biolizard! Retired Staff

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    I wouldn't normally respond to a thread like this that's been locked, but after seeing the posts that have been reported in this thread, and the follow-up discussions elsewhere, I wanna post a quick blurb.

    I just wanna take the time to say that this thread shows a pretty great level of disrespect to not only the folks who uncovered, acquired, and reported on the cart, but also the people who have been attempting to create a working disassembly of the ROM and who have gone to great lengths to ensure its validity. We have had multiple people at a time in the Discord on a voice call going over their findings live with each other, sharing their screens with each other, and checking over each other's work, and you've had two of them come into this thread to confirm that they believe this to be the real deal. So you having this attitude of "well we can't be sure" while you have a cocktail of people who are documenting the thing telling you its real, someone who worked on reporting the thing telling you its real, and the lead programmer for the game throwing his weight behind the find is jaw-dropping to say the least. And you have this attitude because you are personally dissatisfied with how mundane the finding was and because you cannot personally believe that the bids on the proto would be "so low" whilst we don't have any figures for how much CD, 2, and 3 were acquired for. You can bitch about RG's article all you want. Magazines sensationalize shit. It's how copies are sold. But don't discredit the work of everyone involved because you find it all a little too convenient.
     
  17. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Administrator

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    This is the last post for this thread. Let's not bring this up any further.

    As it has been posted on Sonic Retro, let's just put this here:
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/33380625689
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So for all those who complain about how much it could have sold for, just think of how little Buckaroo actually paid for this.

    Good for Buckaroo to come across it and do the right thing. Things could have gone very differently, it could have ended up being tossed away some day, or hoarded like the rest in existence.

    And now everyone will regret why it wasn't them who bought a broken Mega Drive with games and could have made their money from it.
     
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