A Glimpse At the Windy Valley That Almost Was

A Glimpse At the Windy Valley That Almost Was

by May 31, 2014

Sonic Retro offers a peek at one of Sonic Adventure’s lost levels

Almost a year ago today, a very important discovery was made at Sonic Retro: a Sonic Adventure prototype that contained at least some data for a long-lost version of Windy Valley. The level wasn’t playable in Sonic Adventure, though the data was converted to work in a few other engines (namely CorvidDude’s Sonic Adventure Generations mod). That didn’t stop some members of Sonic Retro though, such as Evilhamwizard, who today released a pair of videos showcasing a somewhat-functional version of this prototype Windy Valley running in the 2004 PC release of Sonic Adventure DX.

Using the method I mentioned in the SADX/SA1 hacking topic I was able to port over the geometry for Act 3 from the Autodemo. There are some setbacks with this method. On top of that, I made a slight error when generating the nodetable so I wasn’t able to modify the individual materials for each object in the landtable. I didn’t bother to replace the textures yet, as I don’t have anything to really use and was more concerned with just getting anything loading up at all. I modified the original SET file to include only the objects that I was able to identify in both the final retail version and the prototype’s object list. There weren’t that many similarities between the object lists, and I probably got one or two things wrong. I also have a hunch that the SET file included in the Autodemo might be for an even earlier version of the level, so the object type IDs probably don’t match either (at least the later type entries don’t match). What leads me to believe this is that the level is completely void of enemies save for one, and I know there should be more based on earlier videos. But the common objects like the rings and springs seem to match the level pretty well. Although I’m not sure why the level doesn’t have item boxes and dash pads as it looks like the level was meant to use at least a few.

The cam file included in the Autodemo for this act has nothing in it, so the camera has to be controlled manually. The camera frequently went under the floor especially going down slopes. I suppose the game remedied this a tad with path data, which I didn’t port over (it should be in 1ST_READ somewhere, though). The starting position for Sonic was ported over though and that does exist in 1ST_READ along with the starting position for the missing Act 2. The death zones should also be in 1ST_READ, but all I did was lower the death zone that already existed for the stage.

For the level itself – it’s fun to play. There are definitely a lot more alternate paths and routes to take and even some little spots to explore that could’ve been used for hidden items and such. The camera is a bit of a pain as you can see in the video, but I bet it would’ve been much better if they had included something in the CAM file. The one lone spring in the level shoots you up very very high so I’m not sure if that behavior was intended. There are lots of spots where you can be lifted around by wind gusts across gaps and such. Near the end of the video you can see what appears to be a dock on one edge of the cliff and then another one just like it on a cliff below, possibly for the RAFT object that was meant to be in the level.

And that’s about it. I was thinking about releasing what I have, but I know that there were a few people working on getting the levels ported over more accurately. I hope this at least boosts interest again. Act 1 is possible to port over in the same manner but the level has tons of objects and it’d take some time. But at least that act has a CAM file that does stuff.

I apologize in advance for the video quality. Youtube sux.

PS: As a side note, I mentioned before that I found data for the tornado. Looking at it again, the data I located doesn’t appear to be an actual level object. It seems that it might be part of the tornado enclosure for the missing Act 2. There are even subroutines that are used to load up the data and the related textures still in STG02.BIN. Unfortunetly, because of this I don’t know what object in the prototype’s object list is meant to be the tornado that loads in Act 1. It should be an object that only appears once in the act’s set file, but it’s hard to track down with DXEdit because there are so many objects in the set file.

The level appears to be quite large, a far cry from the rather short sections of Windy Valley we ended up getting in the retail version of Sonic Adventure. Evilhamwizard later updated the thread with a second video, showing a very different version of Windy Valley Act 1:

Again I apologize for the video quality. I was fiddling around to make sure you could see everything there was to the level, so it’s not exactly a playthrough.

A few things about this part. This act actually has it’s CAM file, so you can kinda play it without fiddling with the camera too much. However, it might’ve been meant for an older version of the camera system so the camera might act weird in some places. As it was discussed in the SADX/SA1 hacking topic, the SET file for Act 1 has a lot more objects than the game can load at one point (I think the SET file originally contained 1800 objects). There are an ass ton of flowers. I trimmed it down by taking out the objects I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find an equivalent for. I had to manually insert the tornado into the set file, because I don’t think it existed as a place-able object in the prototype. There might have been some event flag at one point that would load it onto the map via a subroutine for the level, or maybe it was part of some other object that would be triggered under a certain event. But I needed to add the tornado in order to move on to the next act. I also didn’t mess with the textures again this time either for the same reasons I stated before.

For the level itself, it’s pretty interesting. Much like Act 3 there are parts where you can be carried off by wind to reach little hidden areas that you can use to backtrack. Ring placement seems to hint at paths you can run around on in the air, but since I didn’t port over the path data you can’t do that here. After realizing my mistake from making the set file for the last act, I realized that there are more enemies than I previously thought. However, the odd part is that out of the three possible enemies that can be loaded only two are used. The chameleon badniks aren’t loaded anywhere but they are part of the object list for the level, and there are videos where you can see that they at least existed for Tails in Act 3. Another thing I realize now is that the area shown in this picture:

SA_Windy_Valley_Beta_Amy

Is actually the beginning part of Windy Valley Act 1. I don’t think Amy’s supposed to be there though. I didn’t check to see if maybe init start position coordinates for her exist that might put her somewhere on Windy Valley. Also, going back to Act 3, in this picture:

SA_Windy_Valley_Beta_Big_2

Is actually near the end of the first act, right around where the tornado loads in the mod. I haven’t checked if there are starting position coordinates for Big for this level either.

And that’s about it.

For those of you out there hoping to one day play these levels, it sounds like you’ll eventually get your wish. Both the Sonic Adventure Prototype and Sonic Adventure Modding threads over at Sonic Retro have more information, but should any major news break regarding mod releases or whatever, we’ll keep you posted.