(Sigh) Okay. Here we go. The Sega Genesis Sonic games probably rateamong some of the most ported games of all time. Starting with Sonic Jam on the Sega Saturnin 1997, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles have appeared in someform on nearly every major gaming platform to follow. But for almost eight years, something strangehas happened. One of the most important games in Sonic’slegacy has quietly gone missing, disappearing almost as if never existed at all. DOC BROWN: “Erased… from existence.” Where did it go? Why did it leave us? And how do we get it back? It’s hard to understand Sega, sometimes. Back in 2013, Sega paid Christian Whiteheadand Simon Thomley, perhaps better known under the internet handles of Taxman and Stealth,to co-develop updated versions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2 for Androidand iOS. They did this through Taxman’s “RetroEngine,” a game creation tool and scripting language made especially for developing modern,sprite-based games. Most famously, Retro Engine was the underlyingtechnology that powered Sonic Mania. The first major application for this RetroEngine was their version of Sonic CD, released two years earlier, in 2011. This Retro Engine version of Sonic CD immediatelybecame the definitive version of the game thanks to widescreen visuals, improved controlsand a handful of bonus features not present in the original Sega CD release. That same attention to detail translated overto the Retro Engine versions of Sonic 1 and 2, once again with widescreen graphics, extraplayable characters, extended abilities, and even restored lost levels, like the infamousSonic 2 version of Hidden Palace Zone. They even went so far as to source the originalstudio synthesizer that the Sega Genesis sound chip was based on, remastering the music forboth games to sound crisp and clean in a way a home console in the 90’s never could. Take a listen: [Music] The end result was, again, the definitiveversions of those games. But with a catch: Unlike Sonic CD, which wasreleased on nearly everything back then, the Retro Engine versions of Sonic 1 and 2 weretrapped on mobile platforms. At the time, Sega had just made a deal withNintendo to release the next three Sonic games exclusively on the 3DS and Wii U, limitingwhat they could do with Sonic 1 and 2. That meant no console or PC ports. Where things get tangled up is what Sega didafter that exclusivity deal ended. Instead of having Taxman and Stealth porttheir existing Retro Engine versions of Sonic 1 and 2 to other platforms, they hired a separatecompany to develop COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, BRAND NEW ports of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 for the 3DSunder the “Sega Ages” label, ignoring the fantastic work that was collecting dustright under their noses. The “Sega Ages” ports were done by a companycalled M2, a work for hire team that specializes in assisting developers with ports and othertasks. This means they don’t usually produce originalgames, they just help out when other developers need their games ported from one platformto another, and it’s a legacy that traces all the way back to the 1990s. M2 has become known for their excellent workwith emulation. Sega hired M2 to handle all of the Sega Genesisgames on the Wii Virtual Console, as well as the “Sega Vintage Collection” gameson Xbox 360. M2 has also collaborated with Namco and Konamiwhen it comes to emulating their back-catalog of older games on the Nintendo DS, and evenNintendo hired them to handle Gameboy Advance emulation for the Wii U Virtual Console. Typically, M2 has become known for going aboveand beyond with bonus features, and they’re one of the few developers to successfullyemulate the notoriously complex Sega Genesis sound chip. But even then, M2’s Sonic 1 and Sonic 2pale in comparison to the Retro Engine versions
But even then, M2’s Sonic 1 and Sonic 2pale in comparison to the Retro Engine versions of those same games. M2’s versions aren’t bad, not by any stretchof the imagination, but in terms of bang-for-your-buck, the Retro Engine versions are STILL the definitiveway to play Sonic 1 and 2. Well, assuming you can put up with touch screencontrols or want to spend $7 on an adapter to plug a USB controller. And yet, Sega continues to ignore them, preferringto instead let M2 handle everything. Or worse still, hire a THIRD developer tosell you some basic Genesis ROMs and a lackluster emulator, like Sega’s Genesis Classics Collectionfor PC, PS4, Xbox One, and even the Nintendo Switch. This collection is handled by a studio namedd3t, and their versions of Sonic’s Sega Genesis legacy are on par with most official emulationefforts Sega has gone with in the past; which is to say, it’s passable, but not great. But what this ultimately means is that youhave the Retro Engine versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 on mobile platforms, the SegaAges 3DS versions of Sonic 1 and 2, d3t’s versions of Sonic 1 and 2 in the Genesis ClassicsCollection, brand new Sega Ages versions of Sonic 1 and 2 for the Nintendo Switch, andwhile producing this video, brand new versions of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 were released on theSega Genesis Mini. All of these are on the market at the sametime, and all of them have different features. Heck, there are even multiple different versionsof Sonic 1 and 2 available on the Switch at the same time. Are you confused yet? And there was one more big question: whatabout Sonic 3? Would Taxman and Stealth give it the RetroEngine treatment? Would M2 make a Sega Ages port of it? Would it show up on the Genesis Mini? The answer to all of those questions turnedout to be “No.” Earlier I mentioned that Sega released a GenesisClassics Collection on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Unlike the loving, meticulous work done byM2 or Taxman and Stealth, the Sega Genesis Classics Collection is just a bunch of ROMfiles running in an emulator, with all of the positives and negatives that entails. It’s fine, certainly playable, with featureslike rewinds, save states, and the lot, but just like most Sega Genesis emulators, ithas some nasty sound problems. Give it a listen: [Sound comparison.] It also features extras like a new MirrorMode, but those features are tacked on gimmicks at best. It’s a functional, but not outstanding collectionof Sega’s 16-bit history, where quantity of games beats out quality of emulation. But there’s something missing from the recenteditions of the Genesis Classics Collection, and that’s the absence of the final chapterof the 16-bit Sonic legacy. You get Sonic 1, Sonic 2, even spin-offs likeSonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast, but what you DON’T get Sonic 3. It’s the biggest, most ambitious Sonic gameon the Genesis, so not having it leaves a gigantic hole in that collection. So where is it? In 2014, members from the community websiteSonic Retro helped launch a campaign to prove to Sega that having Taxman and Stealth handlea Retro Engine remaster of Sonic 3 would be financially viable. The answer the community received was a disappointingone: Even if the fans put all of their financialweight behind it, it simply was not possible at that point in time to do anything withSonic 3. Obviously, not much later, Taxman and Stealthannounced Sonic Mania with Sega, so they became too busy to handle a theoretical Sonic 3 remaster. But that doesn’t explain why Sonic 3 neverturned up in any of the other ways Sega was re-releasing the Classic Sonic legacy. Something is going on, and they aren’t tellingus. To understand the secrecy, we have to divein to the controversy surrounding Sonic 3.
To understand the secrecy, we have to divein to the controversy surrounding Sonic 3. Buckle up, because things are about to getreally complicated. Hoo-hoo. I think it’s a pretty widely accepted factat this point that Michael Jackson was on board to produce music for Sonic the Hedgehog3. He had a good relationship with Sega, appearingin no fewer than three games under their banner, and numerous people known to work with Jacksonare credited for sound production in Sonic 3. The final nail in this coffin is Jackson’s1996 single, Stranger in Moscow, which resembles notation used in Sonic 3’s credits themeheard two years earlier. [ Music ] There are conflicting reports on why MichaelJackson departed the project. According to Brad Buxer, Jackson was unhappywith the limitations of the Sega Genesis sound hardware. “At the time, game consoles did not allowan optimal sound reproduction, and Michael found it frustrating. He did not want to be associated with a productthat devalued his music…” The Sega Genesis sound hardware was basedon the Yamaha YM2612, a power FM synthesizer that could produce amazing tones when placedin the right hands. Its biggest weakness was samples, which arepre-recorded audio clips not generated by the synth. Voice samples on the Genesis were often scratchy,jittery, and generally difficult to listen to. “Ahaha… yatta!” [Elephants] It’s possible Michael Jackson had hopesof including more vocal elements in his music for Sonic 3, which the Genesis was clearlynot up to handling. Whatever the case may be, Jackson was reportedlyfrustrated by the end result, and it may have lead him to quit the project. Sega themselves probably wanted to avoid beingassociated with Michael, as well. In August of 1993, roughly six months beforeSonic the Hedgehog 3 was set to release, Jackson became embroiled in the first of multiplechild molestation accusations. It was in Sega’s best interests to distancethemselves from any kind of collaboration with Michael, as it could damage the salesof Sonic 3 if his involvement became widely known. It gave Sega more than enough justificationto kick him off the game. But in all honesty, it’s probably a littlebit of both. Sega and Michael Jackson both had good reasonsto break up, and likely came to a mutual agreement back out of the collaboration. No harm, no foul. Except it would appear that Sega made a mistake. It’s thought that Michael Jackson and hissound team completed some amount of work on roughly ten songs for Sonic the Hedgehog 3,or a little under one fifth of that game’s soundtrack. We know this because of the 1997 release ofSonic & Knuckles Collection for the PC. Those ten songs were all replaced with originalcompositions exclusive to this PC version of the game. A lot of the songs that were replaced havedirect, identifiable connections to Michael Jackson or the people he worked with. Sonic 3’s credits theme was replaced becausesome of its structure got reused for Stranger in Moscow, and songs like Launch Base Zone,Knuckles’ theme, and the Mini-Boss theme contain voice samples likely tied to Jackson. Icecap Zone’s music also had to be replaced,given its bassline and chorus were taken from Brad Buxer’s unreleased 1980’s pop single,“Hard Times.” It’s not a stretch to assume that the otherthree songs that got replaced also had some relation to the collaboration, as well. The question you should be asking yourselfnow is WHY did Sega feel the need to replace these songs for the PC version of Sonic 3? And the simple answer to that is because Segaprobably didn’t actually have permission
sonic adventure mods And the simple answer to that is because Segaprobably didn’t actually have permission
And the simple answer to that is because Segaprobably didn’t actually have permission to keep using the music after the collaborationwith Michael Jackson ended. Sonic & Knuckles Collection also post-datesthe release of Jackson’s Stranger in Moscow single, perhaps offering Sega the first cluethat they shouldn’t have used the music. And we know this became an issue for thembecause people from the Sonic Retro community actually tried contacting members of Sonic3’s sound team, including those involved with Michael Jackson. When spoken to, Cirocco Jones and Bobby Brooksmade reference to a possible lawsuit impending for money Sega allegedly owes to Michael Jackson’sproduction team specifically for the Sonic 3 soundtrack. Such a lawsuit would compromise Sega’s abilityto keep re-releasing new versions of Sonic 3 with the infringing music still present. What this ultimately means is that when itcomes to newer collections of their old 16-bit games, Sega has started leaving Sonic 3 out,possibly fearing potential legal complications. But, hold on… if you dig deep enough, there’sa place Sega is still selling Sonic 3. If you have a Steam account, and really, whodoesn’t these days, then you can still buy a brand new, official version of Sonic 3 & Knuckleson your PC, right now, for around five bucks. Why does that version get to exist, when Sonic3 gets blocked from being included on any of the more recent classic collections? The answer is quite simple: Sonic 3 was releasedon Steam in 2011 and the legal threats involving Cirocco Jones and Bobby Brooks weren’t knownabout until 2012, AFTER the Steam version was already on sale. If such a lawsuit were to ever come to pass,the Steam version of Sonic 3 would likely always be included as evidence of Sega’sinfringement. As such, there might be less of a reason toremove it from sale, as the damage has kind of already been done. For Sega, this is more likely about preventingfuture damage. Now, the lawsuit from Bobby Brooks has, asof yet, never come to light. Beyond vague threats of Sega owing him money,nobody actually knows on what SPECIFIC grounds he planned to sue, or whether or not he evenhad a solid case against Sega at all. Just the same, Sega obviously has reason tobelieve his threats are valid, because it’s clearly influencing how they conduct business. If they were to ignore his threats, it couldlead to a lawsuit that may result in Sega paying out millions of dollars in owed royalties. A lot of the people working at Sega todaydidn’t sign those contracts in 1993 and undoubtedly want to avoid inheriting a problemthat wasn’t originally theirs. In the most extreme bad case scenario, losinga legal battle like this could even destroy the company entirely. Unfortunately, this leaves one of Sonic’sgreatest games caught in the crossfire. Sega is so dedicated to this that when theyannounced the Sega Genesis Mini, they also announced a shell that attaches to the unit,turning it into the so-called “Tower of Power.” It’s a fake Sega CD, attached to the the realGenesis Mini console, with a fake 32X plugged in to the slot, and sitting top everythingis a tiny Sonic & Knuckles cartridge. But instead of it being locked on to Sonic3, it’s locked on to the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega won’t even reference Sonic 3 as a joke. It just doesn’t exist anymore. So what are we to do? Well, there’s a couple alternatives to playthe definitive version of Sonic 3, but I think one is better than the other. Normally, this is where I’d recommend somethingcalled Sonic 3 Complete, which is a modified version of Sonic 3 with a heap of bonus features. It is originally based on a version of Sonic3 that Sega actually planned to release in 1994. It would have combined Sonic 3 plus Sonic& Knuckles in to a single cartridge. It has since grown into a much larger project,full of tons and tons of small quality-of-life improvements to visuals, music, and gameplay. But there’s one problem: it primarily existsas a gray-market ROM file to be used in an emulator.
emulator. Now things get REALLY complicated. When I do these videos, I don’t like tobring up emulation. If you’re new to this term, an emulatoris a piece of software, most commonly for your PC, and it allows you to run games fromother platforms. So, for example, there are emulators thatlet you run Playstation games on your PC, there are emulators that let you run old DOSgames on modern versions of Windows, there are even advanced emulators that let you runrecent consoles like the Wii U, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, all natively on your computer. I personally use emulators all the time, butthey can be difficult to work with and largely target tech savvy individuals with advancedskill sets. Some emulators require external files to runthat are difficult to obtain legally, and I am against promoting piracy on this channel. Plus, emulators often require obscenely powerfulPC hardware in order to run smoothly. Depending on how accurate the emulator is,even something like the nearly-30-year-old Super Nintendo requires a somewhat moderncomputer with a multi-core CPU to emulate at full speed. Using less intensive emulators often introducescompatibility issues as well, so it’s kind of a mess I’d rather not include in thesevideos. The point of these videos, at least currently,is to outline the safest, easiest, and most legal way to play these games. The Sonic 3 Complete ROM is fantastic. But it is technically illegal to downloadand play. I’m not here to pass moral judgements. You do whatever you want. Sonic 3 Complete is pretty easy to find througha Google search. Obviously, if I’m telling you about thegame, then I myself have played it. Many times, in fact. This is more about wanting to present thebest option for my audience. Now, it would normally be possible for youto LEGALLY download Sonic 3 Complete through the Steam version of Sonic 3. Sega enabled what they refer to as “modsupport” for all of their Genesis games exclusively on the PC, which basically meansusers can upload modified ROM files to the Steam workshop for you to play in their officialconsole emulator. The problem is, that in itself has turnedinto a mess. The part where I said Sega lets users shareROM files on the Steam Workshop? Yeah, what that eventually turned into wasa place for people to upload pirated games. Sega used to be very proactive in keepingillegally uploaded games off the service, but it’s clear they’ve been asleep atthe wheel for a long time, because the workshop today is flooded with this stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as rah-rah gamepreservation as the next person, but there’s more at stake here than you getting a slapon the wrist for downloading a pirated version of NBA Jam. “Whoooaaa, boomshakala!” This could be seen as Sega THEMSELVES facilitatingpiracy. What’s going to happen when a big, scarycorporation like Disney sees that Sega is enabling piracy of games like Aladdin? Disney sells the Genesis version of Aladdinbundled with The Lion King on Steam for $30, when instead, you could buy a game like Ristarfrom Sega for $0.99, and then use Ristar to pirate the same version of Aladdin from theSteam Workshop for free. That is a significantly cheaper option. But it’s also piracy, and Disney is a notoriouslyheavy handed company when it comes to solving legal matters. Disney could very, very, VERY easily sue Segafor financial damages and it would essentially be an open and shut case. This makes the Sega Genesis Steam Workshopa massive liability, because there are hundreds of pirated games available. It’s safe to say I don’t think it’llbe around forever. Sega’s already kind of given up on it, soall it’s going to take is for a lawyer breathe in the direction of that Workshop and thewhole thing is going to get deleted. You might be able to play the Sonic 3 CompleteROM file through the Sega Genesis Workshop today, but there’s no guarantee that’llstill be possible tomorrow, or a week from now, or a year from now. And you wouldn’t even want to play it thereanyway, given that as of an update last July, the emulator used on the Steam version ofthe Sega Genesis Collection won’t even save your progress if you’re playing a moddedWorkshop game. This means that even if you DID try to playSonic 3 Complete from the Steam Workshop, none of your progress will be saved. You will start that game over from scratchevery time you load it. It’s just, all around, this Sega GenesisCollection on Steam is a big, messy nightmare and don’t even think about using it foranything right now. However! There is another, and considerably more legalway to do all of this, and it’s almost as good, if not better in some ways. A new project was completed recently calledAngel Island Revisited, or A.I.R. for short. For the sake of simplicity, I’m just goingto call it AIR. Essentially, AIR is a piece of software thatpulls data out of the official Steam version of Sonic 3 and puts it in to a new enginethat provides full-on 16:9 widescreen support, enhanced visuals, and enhanced music, verysimilar to what Taxman and Stealth did for Sonic 1 and 2 in the Retro Engine. Unfortunately, as of yet, AIR does not supportall of the features from Sonic 3 Complete, and may never. But it makes up for that discrepancy withexclusive features of its own, including expanded controller button support, a new achievementssystem, and other fun bonuses, like the ability to play as Knuckles and Tails in a team, orunlocking the Drop Dash from Sonic Mania. It even has its own real, actual mod support,allowing you to create new levels using the SonEd2 level editor, replace the soundtrack,and eventually, even more. AIR is still a pretty new project, so hopefullyit’ll adopt more of the quality-of-life fixes from Sonic 3 Complete in the future. The developer, Eukaryot, has been pretty steadilyproviding work-in-progress development builds on the Sonic Retro forums, so the projecthas a bright future ahead. Installing Angel Island Revisited is incrediblysimple. Just download the game, extract the folder,and run the Sonic3AIR executable. If you have the Sega Genesis Classics installedon Steam and Sonic 3 & Knuckles in your library, AIR will automatically find all of the requiredfiles and boot up without any setup required. It just works. At worst, if it can’t find the requiredfile, it will ask you to manually find it. From there, it’s as simple as finding the“Sonic_Knuckles_wSonic3.bin” file in your Steam folder. Just open Steam, right click the Sega GenesisClassics, bring up its properties, and click Browse Local Files. You should be brought to wherever your Genesisgames are installed, and the required .bin file should be in the Uncompressed ROMS folder,assuming you own the game. If you happen to still have an old Sonic & KnucklesCollection disc, you can also still technically play that on modern versions of Windows aswell. Just like with Sonic R, copy the contentsof the disc to a folder on your hard drive, then use something called “Sega PC Reloaded”to install the game. It’ll fix everything up and make it workagain, but you won’t get any of the bonus features from Sonic 3 AIR or Sonic 3 Complete,it’ll just be the regular version of Sonic & Knuckles Collection from 1997. I’ll link the full Sega PC Reloaded installtutorial in the video description. And if you want the definitive way to playSonic 1 and 2, I really cannot stress enough that I think the mobile ports still have thebest bonus features and extras. The good news is, the Retro Engine versionsof Sonic 1 and 2 are actually free on mobile platforms right now, as they are now partof a service called Sega Forever. Games released on Sega Forever are ad-supported,but the ads can be removed by purchasing said games for a very reasonable price of $2. If you don’t want to use touch controlsto play Sonic 1 and 2, there’s a good chance your Playstation, Xbox, or even Nintendo Switchcontroller can be paired with your phone through bluetooth. On Android, that can sometimes cause inputlag, so what I ended up doing was buying a $7 USB adapter from Amazon. Now I can connect my Playstation 4 controllerto my Android tablet, hassle free. Different phones and tablets will requiredifferent kinds of adapters, so it’s up to you to figure out which one you’d needto buy. Personally, I say it’s worth it. And that’s it. That’s how you play the definitive versionof Sonic 3. And Sonic 2. And Sonic 1. Thanks for watching the video! Before you click off, I just want to takea moment to say something. I know I tend to give the generic Patreonspiel at the end of these videos, and people probably take that as their cue to leave. But I want to take a moment and just emphasizehow important your support on Patreon really is, because things on Youtube are gettingkind of sketchy these days. If there’s ever, like, an emergency in mylife, Patreon is my safety net. You may remember that a couple years ago,my computer was damaged while I was moving and ended up getting fried because of a powersurge. The money I’d saved up from Patreon donationshelped me buy replacement parts so I could fix it. Around that same time, I spent almost a weekin the hospital with pneumonia. Patreon helped pay for some of my medicalexpenses. If it wasn’t for the support I get on Patreon,this video you’re watching right now might not even exist at all. The people that support me on Patreon areheroes, and I wish I had more to give back to them. Special shoutouts to Thomas G, Gabriel M,Dave M, Keith S, Rose S, Juan Pablo, and everyone else on my Patreon. If you’d like to be one of my heroes, justvisit patreon.com/blazeHedgehog to learn more. If even half the people that subscribe tome on Youtube donated just one dollar to my Patreon, I’d never have to worry about anything. And even though it’s a Patreon, I have linksover there for other ways to help out, too. Though, look, I get it, if you can’t affordto donate, don’t stress about it too much. Even if you don’t donate, consider subscribingto this channel, liking this video, and sharing it with anyone that may enjoy it. If nothing else, that’ll help Youtube’s algorithmfind my video, and in turn, it’ll help others find the video, as well, and that, obviously,helps me out. Anyway, I’ll stop being sappy now. But again, thanks for watching, and hopefullyI’ll see you on the next video.