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toaster

トースタちゃん
Kart Krew™️
Final Demo Zone is a technical experiment built during my time as a SRB2 developer, and turned into a unique playable experience.

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Neo Aerial Garden Zone was an attempt to incorporate all three substantial acts of AGZ (plus minor trimmings) into a single stage. It was hailed as a technical accomplishment for the 2.0 era; while it had collision and HOM issues at the time of launch, the map fulfilled its goals admirably, and as its problems are removed (and bees are added) it continues to serve a vital role in base SRB2's unlockable structure as challenging postgame content.

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But of course, it's kind of old hat now. It was built in a time where the closest thing it had to competition was Egg Rock 2. It's gotten a new coat of paint to keep up with the ever-increasing standards of the singleplayer campaign, but the technical marvel behind its manifestation is lost when compared to technical juggernaut stages like Castle Eggman 2. And besides - isn't the blockmap limit feeling a little loose lately?

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To prove that even the most impossible technical accomplishment becomes mundane - even banal, perhaps - with time and distance, Final Demo Zone is here. As you've probably guessed, this is literally all seven substantial singleplayer campaign acts (Acts 1 and 2 of GFZ, THZ and CEZ, and Act 1 of RVZ, plus a cameo from CEZ3) crammed together in one stage, doing everything in its power to stretch from one end of the blockmap to the other. Tags have been altered to avoid conflicts, object layouts have been tweaked to attempt guidance in the most tortured of these labyrinths, and minor outdated concepts like intangible midtextures have been updated for the changing conventions of the time, but I think you'll agree these are fundamentally recognisable as the original vintage present in the 1.09.x series.

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If you're looking for a 100% authentic, all-object-types-SOC'd-in, all-bosses-present recreation, you should probably keep an eye out for SRB2 The Past (which this map uses as a base resource; thanks, glaber!). But if you're looking for a quick robo blast from the past to remind yourself of what things used to be like, with some modern amenities like record attack, an all-characters emblem hunt, and the harshest edges filed off a little bit - I think you'll agree you can't get better than this.

Of course, I didn't just decide to compile this map out of nowhere. Fast completionists, savegame sharers and eagle-eyed checklist snoopers will note Techno Legacy Zone is the 100-emblem unlockable of 2.2, featuring the old layout of THZ2 as it was during 2.1's development before Nev3r's redesign was inserted instead. I took one look at it and decided that it was fundamentally lacking as an unlock, and so got to work.

As I proceeded through my experiments, I developed a thesis for understanding why I didn't like the map so much. It made an unacceptable visual compromise for the sake of consistency (recolouring the pain-slime to green), violating even surface-level authenticity. Techno Hill 2 was a remake that made significant references to its old iteration - if the good parts of the content already existed in the campaign, the only things it'd have to bring to the table were the bad aspects. And there wasn't any significant draw - it was a fairly muted stage with no particular appeal beyond nostalgia, and actively went to great lengths to distance itself from that.

To that end, I constructed a rough prototype of Final Demo Zone. Its draw was twofold - a technical achievement unheard of in the original maps' time, AND a comprehensive, broad sample of content no longer present in SRB2, showcased as a single linear experience instead of an a la carte selection per SRB2 The Past. It didn't include RVZ at this time - partially because 2.1's version was still being used in the internal builds, and partially because there would have been no real reward for completing it unlike here - but it was direct to the point, provided a unique experience, and didn't compromise itself. If you ever question why I've made a particular decision in this map for one reason or another, it's because I was specifically building it as a vanilla unlockable until very recently.

Obviously, as you can tell by now, it wasn't included in the game because their priorities didn't match mine. I don't begrudge them for that, but I've still got this map and don't know what to do with it - so here it is in releases! :P
And of course, because some people want a hint to find the Chaos Emeralds...
Broken chasm of the lake
Curse and owner ever red
Defeat the act and wet spring take
Let the blanket rest your head

Supporters/Co-Authors:
 

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I know that "laughed out loud" is usually kind of metaphorical, but I dead seriously lol'd when I realized what this stage was. I can't wait to try it!
 

Puppyfaic

Member
This is the kind of thing I'd love to see in the vanilla game, in the same vein of a certain unlockable.

10/10 i can go to hell

but also 0/10 no blapck emerald
 

MellowJacket

The unreliable judge
Judge
Hey, sorry to be quite so picky about filenames after release. But in the name of getting our filenaming conventions completely uniform, could you rename your file to VSL_finaldemo-v1.0.pk3? The prefix needing to be in capitals, and the suffix connected to the rest of the file with a hypen instead of an underscore.
 

glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
It's a good level with plenty of easter eggs.
I just found 1 problem in the Red Volcano section. In the shortcut the lava's current is missing. with the lava's colormap being so dense (something that plagued the level in SRB2 the Past too) hitting the springs is hard.
 

ShihoAJoke

An SPB
Man, this just brings me back when i was young playing final demo in all its glory. Seriously, i wish this was in vanilla
 

Goldenhog

Wandering Protagonist
Yeah this should have totally been in the game instead of Techno Legacy, it's beyond amazing. Loved the location of the emeralds and the new boss "fight"!
 

Chimera

Your best friend
These levels feeling so barren/unfinished/ in some ways un-designed compared to the latest release's levels just makes me appreciate 2.2 SOOOO much more.

2.0/2.1 definitely added a ton to the game that, looking back, really didn't exist in 1.09.4, but the sheer POLISH of 2.2 just outclasses this in like every way, and its amazing how far the team has come.

That said

I did feel a good bit of joy playing this and remembering what used to be from so many years ago. Especially Techno Hill Zone 2; the secret path with the conveyor belts behind where you start was something im surprised i remembered.

Was really cool to see you merge all these levels into a single run, since it helped streamline the experience. Thanks for posting this, had a good time c:
 

Frostav

Member
I know this wasn't your intention, but wow. Going through this shows how staggeringly lifeless and bland the old level designs were. They're often not that different raw level design wise from the 2.2 versions but the sheer lack of decoration or slopes or the undercooked concepts that 2.2 fully fleshed out on is mind-blowing. (for the record, the last time I played SRB2 before 2.2's launch was like literally a year and a half ago, so I didn't really remember any of the old designs).
 
Good stuff! Fun nostalgia trip, not entirely sure why it isn't a base game unlockable, but ah well, means I get to play it right now and not after hunting down emblems.

As others have noted, it's both a nostalgia trip and a very stark reminder how far the game's come since the 00's. Final Demo v1.09.4 was great back in the day... but if it came out now, it just wouldn't have gotten nearly as much attention. People expect much more from even fan games these days (see projects like AM2R), reflected in just how much better v2.2 is compared to Final Demo.

In that regard, I think structuring Final Demo Zone as a big, uninterrupted gauntlet (w/ optional detour through RVZ1) works to its advantage; everything is much more basic, but that meant I could fly through the whole thing in only a little more time than my individual first attempts at 2.2 levels like Castle Eggman and Arid Canyon, even with my initial confusion getting through CEZ1 & 2 (didn't remember those nearly as well as GFZ and THZ). The level design certainly pales in comparison to the new iterations, but when running through the whole thing takes as little time as it does, it certainly doesn't overstay its welcome.

Quick question: is there any way to use the unlockable characters in Final Demo Zone? Loading the addon prevents me from using them for whatever reason.
 
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CobaltBW

Community Noise Maker
Sonic Team Junior
Going back through Final Demo GFZ2 for the first time in forever kind of broke my brain a little bit. You can clearly tell from the starting area alone that it's the same level, but it's amazing to think that the level used to be so bare.
 

Goldenhog

Wandering Protagonist
Quick question: is there any way to use the unlockable characters in Final Demo Zone? Loading the addon prevents me from using them for whatever reason.
You mean Amy, Fang and Metal? Simply collect all 11 emblems and defeat Knuckles with all emeralds on hand, and you'll get those three back.
 

Frostav

Member
Going back through Final Demo GFZ2 for the first time in forever kind of broke my brain a little bit. You can clearly tell from the starting area alone that it's the same level, but it's amazing to think that the level used to be so bare.

Yeah it's truly wild. 2.2 really marks the first time I would suggest a random person who wasn't already a Sonic fan to try out SRB2. 2.2 really feels like a finished game in terms of window dressing and polish outside RVZ being unfinished and ERZ still using old level design (but it's still polished way more than the other older levels had been).
 
This makes so much more sense as an unlockable than Techno Hill Legacy! How was it even decided that THZ2 out of all levels will be the unlockable, the current version still retains some of its final demo parts, CEZ1 or 2 on the other hand had much more drastic changes over the years
 

Metal Blake

Target locked and on sight
I absolutely love this. The wave of nostalgia I got playing through this was great, and although anything in new in 2.0 and after (especially the stuff in 2.2, some of these new levels are so big I still don't have a good mental map of a lot of the new redone maps like DSZ or ACZ) blows the levels in this out of the water, it's still immensely fun to play through.

One question though:
Where do I find the emeralds? The old emerald token spots are now emblems and I got all those (even beat that 6 minute time emblem w/ Tails), but I now I need to find the emeralds and I have no clue where to look. I want to play my metal boy through the stages but I cannot for the life of me find even a single emerald.
 

Goldenhog

Wandering Protagonist
@Metal Blake:
Someone is having a picnic nearby, on a tall cliff in the zone of green flowers
 

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