Are they Signs of What Were…or What Could Still Be?
With downloadable content for the next generation editions of Sonic Unleashed now becoming available at a regular pace, factions of the Sonic research community are able to dive into both it and the original content to explore further possibilities within the game.
In contrast with the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog, when researchers uncovered the DLC merely served as keys to unlock what was already on the disc, Unleashed‘s files thus far appear big enough for many to believe the content is truly all new. But some evidence has surfaced on the Unleashed disc that deviates from this theory, and may also serve as a sign of what’s to come for both levels and other items.
The forefront of what’s available for the moment is what’s available on the Sonic Retro Unleashed thread, where efforts are underway to crack unknown files.
“I’m starting to thinkas much of this was cut as Sonic ’06,” said forumer Afti. “Chun-Nan-N Act 1’s second half, Adabat-N’s water room, Shamar-N’s second half, several missions, BossHydra, and probably more in the daytime stages that we have no way to reach.”
Much of what’s been referenced has already been explored before, but what hasn’t are the files BossHydra.ar and BossHydra.arl, which were discovered as part of the disc’s contents.
“In no version does BossHydra.ar or BossHydra.arl change in size, whereas the other BossX.ar/l files do change size,” noted Afti later in the thread. “Somebody with a better PC needs to try to crack the .ar/l files.”
The discovery of the Hydra files has led some to speculate whether one or more bosses never made it to the Unleashed’s final product. With the advent of DLC, there has been speculation that these and perhaps “hard” modes of bosses could be included down the line as standalone DLC packs, or as a part of something larger. It wouldn’t be out of the question–in 2007 our editor, Ryan Bloom, had found details on research community Sonic Cult concerning DLC for the 2006 Sonic right on the disc. S0me of those details indeed did come to fruition.
YouTube has also been a relatively reliable resource concerning unused areas in the game that could come back to please patient Sonic fans.
The video below is from an unused area of a nighttime Empire City mission, and it contains a javelin, its use in this context not yet known:
Notice that the area eventually crashes after enough exploration. Retro member GeneHF managed to explore the area further without problems, and he believes we will see it down the road as DLC:
There’s a lot more electrical bars which you must use a hanging ledge to get around, but nothing going on there. Otherwise, you can quickly see in the video some swing poles. These go to a climbable post and more swing poles in the direction of the Chao Beans building/Pachamac/Soleanna Hotel. If you stop after destroying the electricity gate as seen in the video, you can see there’s more ledges and electrical hazards over there. Pretty much, this was one of those missions cut drastically short. I always felt five minutes was way too much time for how small this one was. As far in as I got, there were about two minutes left on the clock before I couldn’t continue the level any more.
Also, the javelin item is pretty neat. I noticed that on the side of the building next to the swing pole there’s a little target. Most likely, the idea will be to throw the javelin into the target, making it into a swing pole. I could see the basic idea would to launch the Javelin, swing over to where the switch is to activate a grappling ledge to the roof of the building (you fight a Titan up here) which will let you grab the gem, jump back to the building where the Javelin was and open the path to continue the level. It’s a nice little gimmick to say the least.
It’s definitely going to be DLC fodder, much like how Shamar’s unused area and Adabat Night’s will be too.
That aforementioned area in the Adabat nighttime stage has also been unearthed some by the research community. Barriers have been broken within Jungle Joyride Act 1 on the PS3, finding the dubbed Water Room. You’ll note in this one how the “water” in the puzzle is meant to rise, allowing for some tricky platforming. Completing the puzzle even leads to a separate gold ring–too bad it’s not programmed far along enough to indicate that a separate mission was completed. (UPDATE: Some astute readers wrote in telling us that the original source of the video below is not from X Cult, but from Youtube user Darkspinessonic. A few more have claimed the second video is also lifted from another source, but that cannot be verified at this time. We’ve updated our one offending Youtube link to reflect this information, and we regret any confusion this caused.)
But it’s not just new areas that have been uncovered but, like the javelin, some new items that could play a role down the road. Here’s another video from the Shamar nighttime in the PS3 edition, showing off in painstaking detail some uncharted territory. While the actual area may be familiar to most researchers, a closer look reveals some of the items within may not be. You can take a look at the video here.
Should these discoveries prove to pan out in the form of future DLC, it poses a question many Sonic fans have pondered before: Why pay more money for something that is already on the disc? Given the mediocre nature of the 2006 Sonic, paying for the existing content was insult on top of injury for many. But given a majority of fans’ embrace toward Unleashed, there may be more of a level of understanding in these instances.
However, given the sheer size of the DLC and subsequent criticism that there isn’t quite enough “new” content within them more so than reworked or harder editions of existing levels, there are still some who believe these areas will never officially see the light of day.
Despite that, there may be much more to come, even in areas that have seen DLC updates. Just today, Afti noted the file name of the recently released Holoska Adventure Pack as “UP0177-BLUS30244_00-SONICUSDLCHOLO00-UA01″–note the double zeroes, as opposed to something resembling the full name of Holoska. Afti speculated that the naming structure could indicate a second Holoska pack is in the works. If it holds true and holds across all levels of Unleashed, gamers could eventually see some of these unearthed materials in action.
For now, though, the discoveries serve to show the dedication the Sonic research community has toward painting a complete picture of Unleashed’s development process. Though there are indications these items and areas could come to a console near you in a more playable state, they could also be left untouched, leaving researchers and casual players alike to wonder what the Sonic Team’s full vision for Unleashed could have emcompassed.