Sonic Spinball Beta
Information provided by Elliotro's Sonic Spinball Beta Page, found here.
Believe it or not, there is a Sonic Spinball Beta! Like with Sonic 2 Beta, Spinball Beta was used to promote the game and had stuff in it that wasn't in the final. Also like the S2 Beta, there's a ROM file.
So, what's different between Spinball Beta and Spinball Final? Here's a list of all the differences between both. Some of them involve different or missing music and sounds, but since the sound on my emulators don't work anymore, I can't see it for myself. =( The list comes from Elliotro's Sonic Spinball Beta Page, which can be visited via the link above.
> If you pause the game, you can move around
(DEBUG!!!), just like in Sonic Crackers.
One difference not listed above that I noticed was that the Boss in the Showdown level can't be harmed in any way. Now wouldn't that be a ripoff, to play through a Beta version of a game and reach the final boss, but you can't hurt it. Heh, them programmers left us at quite a spot, no?
Anyway, the changes are not quite as dramatic as the S2 Beta differences, but still it shows how much the game changed from the Beta version up to when it was completed.
The big thing that I see about Sonic Spinball Beta is the possibility that it might be a hoax. I'm not saying that I'm 100% sure it is, nor do I firmly believe it is. But take a look at what Damian Grove found when he hacked into the ROM last year. Please excuse any offensive language used in the following.
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PREMIERE 1993 PROUDLY PRESENTS - SONIC THE HEDGEHOG SPINBALL - BETA. - SUPPLIED BY WINSTON. - GIVE OUR BBSES A RING - END OF THE WORLD . BIOMECHANIC DREAMS . FUCK WHAT U HEARD . -OR- SCHIZOPHRENIA - GET THE NUMBERS FROM SOMEWHERE OR SOMEONE. - GREETINGS THIS TIME ARE GOING OUT TO - CENSOR - MAGICAL - FAIRLIGHT - BASELINE - ANTHROX - ELITENDO - PARANOIMIA - PARADOX - QUARTEX - CYNIX - ACCUMULATORS - DENIAL - THE LYNCH MOB AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO THINK THAT SHOULD BE MENTIONED HERE - SPECIAL THANKS TO PSYCHO OF CENSOR FOR THIS INTRO. AND NOOGMAN OF COMPLEX FOR THE COOL LOGO. - I GUESS IT WILL RESTART NOW. LATERS
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It looks like some sort of thing that was posted on a message board. Could it be that all those people mentioned were behind this Beta?
Maybe...but you haven't seen or heard anything yet until you learn that Cyan hacked into the ROM last year, and discovered another game within the ROM! No joke! Read this little exerpt off of EmulationZone.Org, which tells you how to find the ROM within the ROM. Hex editor required:
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Anyway, as you may know, the Spinball ROM is in SMD (interleaved) format, from the Super Magic Drive (SMD). Looking at it in a hex editor or DOS edit in binary mode will result in you not seeing a whole lot. So firstly, convert it to BIN (plain linear binary) format by loading it up in Genecyst, and selecting DUMP->ROM. This creates a file on your HDD (space permitting; you'll need at least 1.5 megs of space free) in the current directory, called ROM. This is the binary conversion of Spinball, and yes, now you can read the obscene krakTr0 message, and learn about the early 90s BBS Warez scene! Anyway, do a search for the word "F***" (yes, that word...you know the one!). The reason being is because this will take you directly to the BBS message in the file. Scroll down and you'll see a big blank space. This is just unused, so keep going and you'll see more data. Scroll past this data and you'll see another bigger space. This is the padding at the end of the ROM file, since the ROM isn't exactly 1 meg in size -- it's slightly less. The reason the actual file size is bigger is because it has another game stuck on the end! Keep scrolling down until you see the letter P all on its own (it's after MANY pages!). Now, copy and paste this into a new, linear binary file. The first byte in the file should be that letter P -- just like in the Spinball Beta ROM. This is the start of the 68k vector table. After the P (the first byte) there should be a few nulls and then a couple of high values and then a low value, then more nulls. Anyway, that's not really important -- the fact is that you make sure you start at the P. Copy all of this all the way to the end of the ROM, and save it out as a SMD file. Yes, SMD, because it's interleaved, and load it into an emulator (Genecyst or Kgen, or if you're under Unix, like the FREE and WONDERFUL BEOS or LINUX!, then DGen), and you'll see what I mean! The title is visible in the ROM itself, or when you load it into Genecyst -- you'll have to convert it to BIN format first if you're going to read it in a hex editor though...
Interestingly enough, the really odd thing is that the ROM at the end is in SMD format. True, the whole of the beta ROM is in SMD format, but when you decode the ROM, then the end part is STILL in SMD format! That probably means the original SMD ROM file was merged in with Spinball beta BEFORE the entire Spinball Beta ROM was encoded into SMD format...so the end bit actually gets double-encoded
...Which means, that it's actually possible that the original cartridge that this was dumped from actually contained this ROM stuck at the end!
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Wow... If you'd like to download the ROM of the hidden game or the actual Sonic Spinball Beta, go here. You'll need a good emulator, and if you don't have one, the page has it too!
One more thing: DO NOT ASK ME FOR THE ROM!!! I WILL NOT E-MAIL IT TO YOU!
I'll get some screenshots up as soon as I can.
I hate to say it, but this was a disappointment. It's so similar to the final that it doesn't even look like a beta. Yeah, the sounds and music are different, but I can't exprience it for myself since I can't get sound to work in Genecyst anymore. The BBS message and hidden game are interesting, but that's it.