The video game preservationists Hidden Palace have shared an early PS2 build of Sonic Heroes online, giving a closer look at the development of Sonic's first-ever game on a PlayStation console (thanks Sonic Stadium for the spot!).
Sonic Heroes, in case you're unaware, was originally released in December 2003 for the GameCube, Xbox, and PS2 in Japan, with North American and European releases following later (in addition to a version for Windows computers). The game notably featured a team-based system whereby players could switch between three classic Sonic characters (all with unique abilities) to overcome various obstacles and was the first ever game in the series to use the middleware engine Renderware (Sega had previously used their own internal Katana SDK for the creation of its Dreamcast games).
Since its release, details of Sonic Heroes' difficult development have emerged in interviews with some of its Sonic Team's key staff members like Takashi Iizuka, while video game preservationists have managed to secure and release several builds from the GameCube and Xbox development online offering greater insight into its creation. However, this appears to be the first-ever prototype that has been made available for the PlayStation 2 version, which is notable, Hidden Palace claims, as this is the version that Sonic Team appears to have struggled with the most.
Here's a description of the build taken from Hidden Palace's write-up:
"This build of Sonic Heroes has a burn date of October 2, and its file structure suggests that it was build about 5 days prior. This puts it close to the October 8 build on the GameCube, yet shows some clear differences in terms of performance and general stability. Unlike the final PS2 build, this build actually runs at a 50fps (due to being a PAL build), and is able to maintain that fps for the most part. It also shows some clear signs of divergence to its GameCube contemporary.
"For example, the GameCube build has an earlier title screen from the E3 version, and more placeholder text, despite being what appears to be a later build of the game. The file structure and inclusion of more debugging symbols also seems to suggest tht this is more of a "development snapshot" of sorts, perhaps even a "first burn" of sorts of the full game for the PS2 instead of a limited demo. This build gives us another precious puzzle piece to put into the complex and hectic development picture of Sonic Team's first multiplatform experience."
You can watch a video of the build in action below: