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If madness were a video game, this would be its title screen.

"Could God create a game so bizarre, that even He could not play it? Y/N" Answer: 
Mystic Cave Zone Boss

Some people remember Knuckles Chaotix, the only Sonic the Hedgehog game to appear on Sega's 32X console. Far fewer remember this Sonic game that almost appeared on the doomed console.

Sonic 2: Special Edition was originally conceived as an Updated Re-release of the extremely successful Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but this was complicated when Sonic Team decided to take advantage of the capabilities of the 32X by adding a ton of new content, to the degree that many of the later levels bore only a passing resemblance to those in the original game. By 1996, the game was a few months away from its release date, and the ballooning project had barely avoided collapsing under its own weight — then Sega's decision to cease supporting the 32X caused the project to be canned altogether. The legend of this game persisted for years afterwards, as copies of the beta (and a rumored handful of finished games, manufactured but never sold) were highly sought after by hardcore collectors, but none ever turned up...

Then in 2007, on the Something Awful forum, docfuture (aka Robotnik DDS) revealed that he had a copy of Sonic 2: Special Edition, given to him as a present by his uncle (a Nintendo employee who pulled a few strings to get the game... or maybe he just bought it from Chinese bootleggers—it's not clear). Further, he decided to start a Let's Play thread to share this weird piece of Sonic history with the entire world.

From watching the LP, it's clear that, had Sonic 2: Special Edition been released, it would've been the greatest game ever made. While rough at some points, it is clear that if development continued, it would have been a classic that would have influenced games to this day.

What's that? You doubt that this game actually exists? Oh, so you're the one responsible for the shoddy graphics...

As may be gathered from the tropes below, Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition is an elaborate hoax LP by docfuture, spanning everything from the surreal to the horrific. docfuture's LP can be watched here on the Let's Play Archive, or here on the Internet Archive.

This game provides examples of:

  • A Cappella: The Mystic Cave Zone, Act 1 music, as well as the end cutscene music.
  • All Just a Dream: Several people are shown waking up at the end of some cutscenes, although the game continues as "normal" from there.
  • All There in the Manual: Here.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game was being made around 1996. Apparently people knew what The Office (US) was nine years before it premiered. And then there's Zoidberg and Snoop Dogg (doing his Smoke Weed Every Day dance) making cameos in Hill Zone...
  • And I Must Scream: Failure Cresh, a man with a monitor for a head, lives on even when his head is cut off.
  • Anti Poop-Socking:
    Tails: Protip — Why don't you go out and meet some girls instead of staying shut in all day?
  • Artificial Brilliance: Tails' AI in this game is much smarter than in the original, and he alters his behavior based on how you treat him.
  • Art Shift: Halfway through Act 1 of Aquatic Ruin Zone, the level turns into Aquatic Relix with an act clear screen from Sonic Blast. In Mystic Cave Zone, the graphics switch to hand-drawn art. Cutscenes feature a random mix of in-game sprites, anime FMVs, computer-animated FMVs, live-action FMVs, and puppetry.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The Casino Night Zone boss fight. Robotnik's in Jim's mind, acting as his self-doubt, and you must force him out.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Tails.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: According to the manual, to play the game, you need to attach "a Sega Menacer Xtreme, Philips Scuba VR Visor, Mattel Power Glove, 32X Keyboard, Genesis TV Tuner, and Vibra-Luxe Dildonics Ultra-Rod.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • If you mistreat Tails, he will resent you. Not the in-game character, you the player.
      Tails: ...Because if you fuck with Sega, then Sega fucks with you.
    • Some of his "protips", in fact, seem to be aimed not even at the player, but at those watching the game.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Sky Chase, Tails sarcastically mentions the following:
      Tails: Everyone knows how a beating can beat hard feelings out of someone.
    • Guess how the Mystic Cave boss "cures" his brainwashing?
      Mystic Cave Boss: I am restoring him using my hidden third boxing glove as we speak.
  • Captain Obvious: The in-game hint messages contain very important information. Such as "To collect rings, simply touch them," or "Each directional pad button corresponds with movement for your character."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Mystic Caves boss, who shows up near the end of the game to release Tails from his brainwashing.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The epilogue mentions that Ray the Squirrel is the world's "least employed squirrel"—a Lampshade Hanging on Ray's disappearance from the Sonic franchise after SegaSonic the Hedgehog.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The game engine is somehow powered by belief, so in Mystic Cave Zone the game itself begins to degrade because too many in the audience doubts the game's existence. Docfuture even includes an excerpt from Peter Pan as he calls on his viewers to will the game back into existence.
    docfuture: Okay guys, well, truthfully that was pretty fucking weak. I should have really told you guys — this game runs on a belief-based engine. And apparently not enough of you watching this video actually believe that this game could exist.
  • Clone Degeneration: After Amy is cloned back to life, she suddenly talks like a Sassy Black Woman. "Can a sista get some child support?"
  • Colony Drop: The Casino's "self-destruct".
  • Covert Pervert: Knuckles' apparent lust for Amy Rose's booty.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Robotnik and Silver Sonic hold a conversation midway through Chemicals Zone Act 2. Although the music drowns some of its volume out, they were actually just speaking backwards and saying inane things.
  • Dance-Off: The boss battle in Casino Night Zone 2B.
    Knuckles: I won't let you have the unlimited power of the Stamford branch!
    Robotnik: There's only one way to settle this!
    Knuckles: DANCE-OFF!
    Super Sonic Dance Attack!
  • Easter Egg: As lampshaded in a promotional interview for the game:
    Anonymous Sonic Team Member: We added a sh*tload of secrets into this thing. Seriously. You thought Hidden Palace was bad? This thing is gonna be like g*ddamn JFK.
  • Embedded Precursor: The entirety of Sonic 1: Special Edition can be unlocked with a cheat code.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Subverted.
    Mystic Cave Zone Boss: You may have received messages about the universe being destroyed or some nonsense. These are lies of a bored child. They are meant to amuse you.
  • Evolutionary Levels: "What? Your AMY ROSE is evolving! Congratulations! Your AMY ROSE evolved into KIRBY!"
  • Exposition Fairy: Years before Tikal, Omochao, Chip, and Shahra, there was the Hint Mode in this game. It varies between a setup that's oddly similar to Metal Gear's radio conversations, and one where Tails gives you hints via real-time voiceovers. Both tend to be more irritating than helpful.
  • Fetish:
  • Fission Mailed:
    • When you beat Hilltop Zone, you get a Game Over screen anyway and get sent back to the pre-level cutscene. After the third fakeout Game Over, the game sends you back to the pre-title screen credits — and then proclaims "You've Unlocked Your Fate", indicating that you beat the level after all. (These may, however, be caused by Tails getting back at the player.)
    • In the particularly Mind Screwy final levels, a fake ending cutscene is followed by another level... underwater, with no air bubbles. Sonic drowns. Then the credits start rolling, and get interrupted by a Record Needle Scratch and another cutscene. Then the real final levels happen.
  • Foreshadowing: During Metropolis Zone, there is a split second shot of the text "You cannot trust Tails to take you to the Wing Fortress!"
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Some of the protips aren't spoken and don't appear on-screen for long, and furthermore aren't written in the white text. The last one says "You are all guilty and will face my wrath."
  • Funny Background Event: The background is frequently replaced with various FMVs. According to the manual, the game also requires a TV Tuner to function...
  • Fun with Subtitles: The Toe Jam And Earl: Panic on Funkotron commercial in the middle of Aquatic Ruin Zone features subtitles for a "non-funk speaking audience".
    "Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for a black man to have a fetish for black chicks.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A fair number, all justified due to the game being unfinished. The most show-stopping bug freezes the game when you try to play Casino Night Zone, a bug that docfuture only got past by merging the level file and opening cutscene.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Basically takes apart the very concept of Let's Play.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Robotnik as the final boss? Nah, the final boss is logic.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Used during the ending, when Tails comments on how Sonic shouldn't be floating in the sky.
  • Guide Dang It!: You must perform a complicated series of button combinations to beat Robotnik in "Super Sonic Dance Attack" in Carnival Night Zone 2B.
  • Giving Up on Logic: You, the player, are forced to do this by defeating logic in the final fight.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Failure Cresh was hated by his parents and mocked by his peers, because he was born with a 10-ring monitor for a head. His childhood and adolescence were so terrible that his recruitment in the Army—explicitly so his squadmates could kill him for a powerup if necessary—was still the happiest time of his life.
  • Inherently Funny Words; 'Dildonics' and 'Reginald'.
  • In-Series Nickname: 'Uncle Chuck' for Silver Sonic.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter: Sonic randomly transforms into several Platform Game protagonists, such as Aladdin and Earthworm Jim, in Metropolis Zone Act 1.
  • Literal Music Video: The lyrics of the A Cappella version of the ending music just describes what's happening in the final cutscene. At least until Sonic and Tails dance in hula skirts—at that point, they're singing a badly transliterated version of the original Japanese lyrics.
  • Living MacGuffin: Sufferers of box-head syndrome like Failure Cresh would grant some sort of power to whoever destroyed their heads; in Failure's case, it would be ten golden rings that would protect one from harm. The military was willing to take advantage of this.
  • Made of Explodium: In the submarine level, depleting Sonic's Oxygen Meter inexplicably causes Sonic to explode.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The insane number of characters unlocked for beating Metropolis Zone include Waluigi, Dynamite Headdy, NiGHTS, Mega Man, Ristar, and "The cast of the Munsters". And that's not even getting into various real-life people who are also unlocked, like Michael Jackson, Jaleel White, and the Harlem Globetrotters.
  • Metafiction: Due to the copious use of All Just a Dream and Show Within a Show.
    docfuture: For some reason, this game is really big on metacommentary.
  • Mind Screw: The whole game is so illogical that "the last piece of logic" is literally the final boss.
  • Military Mashup Machine: The boss of the Mystic Cave This Thing Zone is a robot. His head is the Boxer, his hands are Amy Rose and the Vectorman box art, and he attacks by asking you questions.
  • Mission Control Is Tripping Balls
  • Mister Seahorse: Maybe. In the end, Sonic and Tails are married with five daughters. It's not explained whether this trope is in effect, or if they just adopted.
  • Mood Whiplash: No Blood For Oil Zone goes on a tangent to show viewers the hilariously tragic backstory of a specific 10-monitor, who's actually a man named Failure Cresh. After five minutes of making the viewers empathize with Mr. Cresh and feel the horror of his situation, the action cuts back to docfuture—who blithely smashes the monitor for its 10 rings, ending Failure Cresh's life without realizing it. Then the upbeat Sonic music kicks in and the LP continues right along as if nothing ever happened.
  • More than Mind Control: Your mistreatment of Tails causes him to resent you, then unexplained brainwashing turns this resentment into outright attempts on your life.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
  • Non-Human Head: Sufferers of Cranial Boxheadeditis, like Failure Cresh, have a powerup monitor instead of a human head.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Just try to kill Silver Sonic in Hill Top Zone.
  • Open-Ended Boss Battle: Knuckles in Aquatic Ruin Zone Act 1. If you win, the game continues as normal—but losing to him makes you play as him in the next act.
  • Overly Long Gag: After beating Metropolis Zone, you're treated to a Long List of playable characters you just unlocked, who get increasingly absurd and less related to the Sonic franchise as the list goes on, and all the while the victory fanfare loops over and over. It goes on for so long, docfuture has to end the episode before it can finish.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Knuckles, who explicitly can't jump as high as Sonic in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, can jump high enough to leave the atmosphere from Aquatic Ruin Zone in this game. There is a cheat code to Nerf him to more reasonable levels, but even then he still jumps high enough to cross the upper boundary of the level.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The game uses a lot of music from OverClocked ReMix, particularly their Sonic 2 remix album Hedgehog Heaven.
  • Robosexual:
    Tails: Protip — Memorize Silver Sonic's attack patterns, because he is one sexy robot.
  • Serial Escalation: It gets weirder and weirder and weirder.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: Multiple layers, to the extent that it becomes impossible to tell what within the game is "real" and what's "fictional".
  • Somethingitis: Failure Cresh was born with "Cranial Boxheadeditis", a disease where he has a powerup monitor instead of a head.
  • The Stinger: If you beat Sonic 1: Special Edition without collecting all the Chaos Emeralds, then after the credits roll, there's a shot of Robotnik juggling the Chaos Emeralds over text reading TUPAC LIVES.
  • Take a Third Option: When the Mystic Cave Zone boss asks his question, the UI makes it look like your only answers are "yes" or "no". But the correct response is actually to keep moving the cursor and select the hidden third answer: "It depends on whether you need to specifically believe in a classical Judeo-Christian ideal of omnipotence for this corny paradox to even work. Don't waste my time with this Philosophy 101 crap."
  • [Trope Name]:
    • The background in Mystic Cave Zone, Act 1 is just some text reading "Insert background here".
    • In Metropolis Zone, act 1, after transforming into various other videogame characters, Sonic transforms into relevant buzzwords, like "BLUE", "PORCUPINE", "SPIN ATTACK", and "CHILI DOG".
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Normal Sonic-style platforming, Chaotix-style two-character platforming, Beat 'em Up action, logic puzzles, Marble Madness, Fighting Game-style special stages, a side-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up finale, and even dance competitions.
  • Updated Re-release: It's Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but with numerous updates to take advantage of the greater processing power of the 32X CD: a remixed soundtrack with CD-quality audio, dozens of new playable characters, all-new cutscenes linking the levels, more advanced AI for Tails that changes in response to player behavior and can wildly alter the plot of the game, and Vibra-Luxe Dildonics Ultra-Rod support.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: See Artificial Brilliance and Breaking the Fourth Wall, above. If you mistreat Tails (by, say, abandoning him in Casino Night Zone), his "hints" are replaced by passive-aggressive mockery, and he eventually tries to kill you in Wing Fortress Zone.
  • Vaporware: Technically finished, but never actually sold. The blurb on the Let's Play Archive for docfuture's run even says "it was a game so rare, only one man has ever been publicly known to have a copy." invoked
  • Visual Pun:
    • Sky Chase Zone's background is initially sprites of clouds. By the end of the level, it's sprites of Cloud.
    • The intro screen for Death Egg Zone is a chicken's egg with Grim from Billy and Mandy painted on.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: In the Casino Night Zone opening cutscene, Knuckles and Tails accidentally crush Amy under their ship. Fortunately, the zone also happens to have the world's first cloning machine, so they clone Amy back to life, and older to boot... which handily explains her change in appearance between Sonic CD and Sonic Adventure.
  • What Measure Is A Power-Up: Poor 10-Ring monitor Failure Cresh.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Modeled after the one from Animal House.
    • Knuckles the Echidna became a professional beekeeper.
    • Mikhail Gorbachev became the mascot of Fruity Pebbles.
    • Silver Sonic is a judge with attitude who don't take no crap.
    • Melissa Joan Hart became the first woman to walk on the moon.
    • Disney's Aladdin is currently serving time in Guantanamo Bay.
    • Dr. Robotnik is so fat that he stepped on a rainbow and made Skittles.
    • Amy Rose built the world's first solar-powered buffalo.
    • Sonic and Tails are married with five daughters.
    • Ray the Squirrel holds the world record for least employed squirrel.
    • Failure Cresh was reincarnated as John Belushi.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Sonic 2's original endgame is nerfed for some reason. The game gives you Super Sonic just before the Wing Fortress Zone boss, completely trivializing that fight. In Death Egg Zone, Silver Sonic doesn't fight at all, and just directs you to the location of the final boss... who doesn't attack and goes down after a single hit.

docfuture's Let's Play provides examples of:

  • Abusive Advertising: docfuture plays some TV ads for the game, including one where Sonic harasses a live-action Mario and Luigi while the narrator declares, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition. Only for Sega 32X CD. Buy it, or I'll find you."
  • Affectionate Parody: Both of the entire Sonic franchise, and of the Let's Play phenomenon.
  • Alternate Universe: "I'm still quite high from that Firefly season opener, man. Season 5, it's gonna be the last one."
  • Back to Front: The Metropolis Zone video is chopped into segments and in reverse order, Memento-style, for no reason whatsoever.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At one point, during Aquatic Ruins, we are treated to a commercial break. The last commercial shown at first appears to be the the infamous Pole Position commercialnote ... but once God grabs the car, the audio is replaced with Ominous Latin Chanting... and then when the car is dropped and it explodes, we are presented with the real purpose of the ad: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, weeknights at 7 and 7:30.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The first half-minute or so of the Mystic Cave video is done in Spanish, and the title and description are also written in Spanish in order to sell it.
  • Bowdlerise: Sort of. The rap song that plays during the Clap Your Hands If You Believe segment has a few completely uncensored profanities, but the subtitles during the song employ some very Unusual Euphemisms.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: When forced to replay Hill Top Zone, docfuture fast-forwards through the opening cutscene. All sorts of weird images pop up, that weren't there when watching the cutscene at normal speed.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Try pausing while docfuture fast forwards through a cutscene he's already watched to see various curiosities.
    • The correct answer to the Mystic Cave Zone Boss's question is a screen-filling wall of text, but docfuture selects it fast enough that it's only on-screen for about a second.
  • Game-Breaker: invoked Docfuture complains that Knuckles is cheap, and that his ability to glide, climb walls, jump high enough to bypass large portions of the levels, and call in artillery support against the bosses, makes the game too easy.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: docfuture's Once per Episode prayer in the Mystic Cave episode is entirely in Spanish.
  • I Was Just Joking: Features in one of the behind-the-scenes promos that docfuture includes. According to an anonymous member of Sonic Team, Yuji Naka once came to work drunk and angry, ranting about how badly the development of Sonic X-treme was going, and despairing over Sega's prospects of competing with Nintendo. He ended his tirade with a sarcastic, "Fuck it! Let's just make Sonic 2 again!" The rest of Sonic Team didn't realize he was joking until the remake was too far along to cancel.
  • Kissing Cousins: Implied. During the Aquatic Ruin Zone video, docfuture starts reminiscing about the time he and his cousin played the game together. He says it was very hot in the room and she was wearing overalls. She leaned toward him... then docfuture cuts the story short because Sonic starts drowning.
  • MST3K Mantra:invoked
    docfuture: Weren't you just up in the air a bit ago?
    Tails: You're thinking too hard, that's your problem.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Every time Docfuture mentions his uncle, he claims he works for a different game company: first Nintendo, then Atari, then Capcom.
  • Once per Episode: Every gameplay video starts with a prayer, which may or may not be spoken by docfuture. Except for the Metropolis Zone video, which is shown Back To Front, so it ends with a prayer instead.
  • Orphaned Punchline: " he says to his wife, 'What's with all the dollar bills?' and she says, 'Not everyone's as cheap as you are.'"
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: invokedDiscussed by docfuture and Tails, who suspect this of Robotnik.
    docfuture: Why would you put a living turtle inside a robotic turtle, riding another turtle?
    Tails: Maybe he always had a crush on April O'Neil.
  • Running the Asylum: invoked Commented on.
    docfuture: I know this game was half made by Sega, half made by weird bootleggers, but these days, Sega pretty much is a fanfic company anyway.
  • Serial Escalation: The game just keeps getting weirder the further you get.
  • Shown Their Work: There's a surprising amount of obscure Sonic trivia hidden in the LP, including footage from the cancelled Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) game, as well as from the (equally cancelled) Sonic Ride.
  • Shoot the Money: invoked Docfuture includes a promo featuring behind-the-scenes footage, where one of the devs says outright that they included certain 3D animated scenes just because they wanted to flaunt their budget.
    Anonymous Sonic Team Member: Problem is, we had like 500,000 yen left over. So we decided to add in these cool 3D effects for no reason at all.
  • Significant Name Overlap: The Game-Breaking Bug that docfuture encounters in Casino Night Zone apparently occurs because he has exactly the wrong episode of The Office (US) in the same folder as Sonic 2: Special Edition on his computer. The game freezes because it can't tell if it's supposed to open "casinonight.lvl" or "casinonight.avi". Docfuture fixes the issue by merging the two files, which explains why Act 2B takes place inside Jim's subconscious.
  • Stealth Parody: If you haven't figured it out yet, Sonic 2: Special Edition doesn't exist and docfuture's LP is a joke. The Emerald Hill Zone video is actually a pretty convincing hoaxnote , but every subsequent video adds increasing amounts of random crap to clue in the viewers that it's a joke... and to hurt the brain of anyone who doesn't get the joke. He was inspired by the development secrets of Sonic 2.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Likely caused by a Curse Cut Short after the first fake game-over in Hilltop Zone.
    docfuture: [referring to Silver Sonic] Uncle Chuck- (GAME OVER) What the-?!
  • Take That!:
    • In episode 1.
    docfuture: If you're used to new Sonic games, you might notice a few differences, as in, this doesn't suck.
    • In Casino Night Zone, docfuture explains that this game at least had an option to turn off the Annoying Video Game Helper, and wonders why Sonic Team didn't include this option in later Sonic games.
  • The Stinger: "Hey! I just noticed! I'm a girl!"
  • Talkative Loon: docfuture eventually gets so worn down by the game's weirdness that he just rambles nonsensically over the cutscene with the This Thing Zone boss.
    docfuture: I stayed in a hotel once—it was pretty expensive. I don't like spending money. I don't really have a lot of money. Don't have a job, so I just kinda sit around and sleep, really. My cortex is flexible.
  • Thing-O-Meter: While calling upon his viewers to clap their hands and will the game back into existence, he uses a Clap-o-Meter to measure how much they're clapping.
  • Unreliable Narrator: At times, what docfuture is saying doesn't match up with what's happening on screen.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Your first clue that this whole thing's a joke is the way docfuture treats the random changes in gameplay or graphics like they're perfectly normal, in some cases not even commenting on them at all. By the final level, docfuture acknowledges that the game has gone completely bonkers, but he'd rather just take Evil Crazy Tails' advice and just not worry about it.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Docfuture includes a video clip of the Nick Arcade episode where Melissa Joan Hart plays an early build of Sonic 2: Special Edition. She's challenged to beat both acts of Emerald Hill Zone within 35 seconds—and she utterly blazes through, matching the pace of a world record speedrunner. Even so, she runs out of time midway through Act 2, indicating the challenge was impossible all along.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: invoked According to docfuture, No Blood For Oil Zone is supposed to be an allegory for the first Gulf War.