[First of all, some background info on this interview:
When I found Brenda's email address back in 2001, I made it public on a message board without realizing that all the kiddies who were reading it would be crazy enough to flood her with tons of questions about the same things over and over. This forced her to choose just one of those e-mails to answer (this one), so she never got to answer the interview I had already sent.
It should also be noted that all these people had been erroneously told by other fans that Sonic 2's scrapped desert level (known as "Sand Shower" in internal SEGA documents) was called Dust Hill and, since they repeatedly asked her about this, she just ended up assuming that it was the correct name.
To quote her own words: "I always called it the desert zone or desert level" (September 2004)
Sonic 2 Questions & Answers
From Brenda Ross
- There is what appears to a crocodiles head on
the desert zone screenshot, could you tell us what the rest of crocodile
I dont remember anything like that. Youll
have to send me the image so I can see it.
- What other badniks were on the desert zone, and what did they do?
I had nothing to do with creating enemies or characters,
so I dont remember, Im sorry. I would only Grab images to
use as placeholders when showing my art in various stages.
- If you could would you recreate the desert and woods zone?
I think they would look great in 3D. But no, Im
happy with what I do now for a living, which is running a few websites
- Could you explain the type of equipment used to program the games?
Nope. Youll have to ask a programmer.
- What kind of computers were you using?
We used a Japanese proprietary system called a
digitizer. All the employees at Sega Japan used them. Basically you
did the work on a grid like system, and you saw the results on a second
screen, then youd have a TV screen set up for color correction.
- Which operating system was it running under (UNIX, DOS, etc.)
- What kind of compiler was the game compiled under (C, ASM, etc.)
- Explain the "synthesizers" some more. [NOTE: He
meant the "digitizers". -ICEknight]
- How were graphics for the game generated and what programs did you
use to generate them?
See question #5.
- Explain the process of how a level was designed: from concept to
Thats a question for Yasuhara, The game
designer for Sonic.
- How far into the design did desert zone see? Was a boss for that
level ever created?
I think that Dust Hill was completed entirely,
and woods zone was mostly done. Once you have the initial key pieces,
you can go fairly far with building a level.
- Could you make a rough sketch of how the level layout was?
God, no. Sorry.
- [NOTE: Question missing, no idea what happened here. -ICEknight]
- Why were these two zones ditched?
The last artists added to the team were myself,
and a guy named Craig Stitt. Craig did the Hidden palace zone, which
made it in. I came along later to create the desert/winter dust hill
zone and the woods zone. There was a massive amount of pressure to finish
this game, and my zones, and perhaps one others of Craigs, if
I remember correctly, had to be scrapped. We were all upset, naturally,
but thats the nature of the game industry. 50% of your stuff is
likely not to be used.
- Why would there be a crocodile in a desert?
I dont think there was one. Its been
9 years, so I might not remember.
- Well, some people suspect that the screen shot was not an actual
screenshot. Rather, it was an image created using a computer and some
paint program. What do you have to say about this?
It was a real level.
- Was Dust Hill Zone ever completed? If not, at least how far was it?
I think it was completed. I couldnt have
gone on to create the woods zone if it hadnt been. They just didnt
have time to add it to the game.
- Was Dust Hill Zone planned to be put back into the game? Reason asking
is because I notice how the Oil Ocean Zone music changed for level selection
03 - supposedly to get the correct music to match the beta music.
- Was Wood Zone ever completed? If not, at least how far was it?
About half way done, Id guess. Or a bit
- What other objects were in the desert and woods zone? There are plenty
of empty object slots in the binary, so we figure that plenty of it
once had data there.
The desert zone was as you see in that image,
with cactus and assorted plants. It was designed to have a palette change,
which turned the sand into snow, and youd have a winter scene.
We had to be fairly ingenious with such a limited palette. In the winter
zone, (thats what I call it), instead of cactus, I had created
Christmas trees, which I thought looked kinda cool. I remember the woods
zone having pink flowers somewhere. Hey, I am a girl
- What was Dust Hill like was it huge, what was the landscape like
in general, etc.?
I think half above ground, and half below. It
would depend on the level. Sonic would travel through the sand or snow
tunnel, depending on which palette was being used.
- Was Dust Hill related to Oil Ocean in any way with the hot sun and
- There is another zone, referred to as the fifth lost zone, the 01
zone, some think its emerald hill zone act 3, do you know anything about
N/A (means I have no idea)
- Do you still have any materials in used in development, like layouts,
graphics, etc. in the synthesizer formats or any other formats.
[NOTE: Again, he meant the "digitizers". -ICEknight]
No, It was all left at Sega years ago.
- Do you have any paper materials like a design spec for the levels
or any level sketches you can show us.
See answer #24.
- If you can, can you explain why sonic is off center in that desert
He was just dropped in for placement for the marketing
folks. It was totally random and has nothing to do with any real gameplay.
- Did the desert, winter, and woods zones have specific names?
Desert was dust hill. I dont remember the
- Is Mystic Cave Zone in any way related to the desert zone, because
in the beta be have has Mystic Cave Zone play when Dust Hill Zone is
- Was there ever any fire sprite in the desert zone because theres
been a fire sprite found hidden in a Sonic 2 ROM image.
- Was there ever a Genocide City Zone even in development?
That sounds familiar, but I cant be sure.
- Did Dust Hill Zone have any music, if so did it stay in Sonic 2 finals
- Was time travel a concept intended for Sonic 2 ever?
- Did Wood Zone have original music, or was it a time travel zone (assuming
that theory is true)
- Do you have any screenshots of any of the lost levels?
- Is there the possibility of you finishing the levels in a ROM and
anonymously releasing it to the sonic community?
No. I could get sued.
- There is speculation that the boss to the desert zone was a flying
pyramid, any truth in this.
There was no boss designed for that level, if
I remember correctly. If so, I never saw it.
- Do you know anything about Genocide City?
- Was act 1 outdoors, with act 2 indoors of the desert zone? (like
Sandopolis from Sonic 3)
- What is the deal with the unusual ring positions in that desert zone
Theyre unusual because I put them there.
Lol. Im not a game designer. They were there for temporary placement
- If you were asked to complete these missing zones for the Sonic Compilation
on DC, would you do it?
No. Im way too busy now. Also, as I said,
there are legal issues. Sonic is very well protected. I think for a
while there, that particular character kept Sega of America from going
under. He did generate a massive amount of money, didnt he?