The Video Game History Foundation is currently in the middle of its Winter Fundraising Campaign and has been sharing all kinds of brilliant retro discoveries on its social media.

The most recent of these is an amazing new video published on its YouTube channel looking at the history of Sonic the Hedgehog 2's lost stages, which shows off some newly preserved artwork and videos from former Sega Technical Institute staff members.

In case you're wondering what the Sega Technical Institute was or the nature of their involvement with Sonic 2, it was essentially an American company that Sega set up that was built to create games that would cater to the Western market while also bringing in experienced developers from Sega Japan to encourage the exchange of ideas and best practices. After two of the creative leads on the original Sonic the Hedgehog — Yuji Naka and Hirokazu Yasuhara — moved to the US in the early 90s, it ended up becoming the lead developer on Sonic 2, while Sega of Japan would instead begin work on Sonic CD for the Mega CD.

In the new video, The Video Game History Foundation gives a little more background on exactly why this happened and provides an insight into the original outline for the game. As the video states, originally, Sonic 2 was going to take place on South Island — the setting from the first Sonic the Hedgehog game — and would have followed Sonic as he chased Dr. Eggman through time across various versions of the island as it grew more and more polluted and dystopic. As part of this vision, it was set to include a range of levels that never ended up making the final cut, including stages such as Cyber City Zone, Wood Zone, and Sand Shower Zone (also known as the Desert Zone).

To find out more about these, the Video Game History Foundation contacted two former level artists who worked at STI — Tom Payne and Brenda Cook — and was able to preserve a bunch of materials relating to these lost levels.

For instance, it was able to scan a bunch of documentation regarding Payne's cancelled Cyber City Zone, which originally acted as a three-level climax before a final battle in space, and even went to the effort of partially reconstructing it to give a glimpse into what could have been. Through reaching out to Cook, the organization was also able to dig up some other amazing treasures too, including some rare video footage of the Wood, Winter, and Desert Zones (which was pulled from a VHS of her portfolio from the '90s).

You can watch the full video above. Please be sure to donate to the Video Game History Foundation if you enjoy the preservation work they are doing.