It had been about two weeks since I had played the Sonic 2 beta, I had kept dreaming about it every night. The dreams were getting worse and worse, I was waking up from them covered in sweat, I couldn't get back to sleep, I was too tired to function during the day. I knew I had to try my Sonic 2 cart, it was the only way I could move past this. I was too afraid to try it by myself, however. I invited a friend over, and not wanting him to think I was crazy, I casually suggested playing Sonic 2. I turned on my Genesis, heard the familiar "SE-GA!" voice, and then the title screen came up. Tails wasn't in it, and I screamed at the top of my lungs.
My friend was understandably startled, and asked what the hell was wrong with me. Barely holding back tears, I blurted out the whole story in a barely coherent babble. When I was finished, my friend just stared at me for a few seconds, then spoke:
"What are you talking about? Tails was on the title screen, just like he always is."
I wasn't able to respond, somehow this made things seem even worse, now I wasn't even sure if it really was some kind of curse, or if I had just gone crazy. I sat in complete silence for a few minutes, my friend made up an excuse about having to be somewhere and left, I can't blame him. After the initial shock wore off, I tried actually playing the game. Tails wasn't there, and the bonus round was impossible. I got this message after losing:
"You Can't Run From Your Failures."
I had absolutely no idea what to do at this point. I considered checking myself into a mental institution, but that last message about running from my problems made me afraid to ignore the game. Thinking about the messages, I decided I only had one option, even if nothing good was likely to come of it: I had to play through the game again.
I decided to do the next playthrough on my Genesis, holding a controller, being in front of a TV, using a system from my childhood made me feel safer than playing the beta. Aside from the lack of Tails and bonus stages, the first two zones were completely normal. I wasn't surprised at this point when Dust Hill came up after Chemical Plant, but after going a few screens into it, I saw something new in the background: Tails, hanging from a noose on one of those old west style stands you see in Hangman games. This image would repeat itself in the background every few screens worth of scrolling. When I got to where I had fought the boss before, there was another image of Tails being hanged in the background, Robotnik wasn't in his special boss vehicle, just the generic Sonic 2 floating vehicle he makes his escapes on. He did a laughing animation, and flew away. There was no victory screen, it just faded out and went to Aquatic Ruins.
The zones that are in the final game were normal, but when I got to Wood Zone, there was another change. I had noticed textures in the wood that looked like faces on my first two playthroughs, but now they were much clearer: Tails' face, in a twisted scream. These were carved everywhere in the level, when I got to the boss the biggest carving yet was in the background. Again, Robotnik just did a laughing animation and left, causing the screen to fade out. Mystic Cave and Oil Ocean were normal, then I reached Hidden Palace. Hidden Palace had changed a lot more than Dust Hill and Wood Zone, there was no music at all, and no enemies either. I walked through two empty levels, until I reached the part where Robotnik had killed Tails. Nothing was there, not the Master Emerald, Tails, or Robotnik. Sonic went into his despair pose from when Tails had been killed, and stayed like that for about 30 seconds, until the screen faded out.
Genocide City started, and it to was very different. This time it was filled with enemies, demon shaped robots covered in fire. There was no way to kill them, and the level was still lacking rings. There were also lava spouts shooting up from the bottom of the screen, and fireballs falling from the sky. This was one of the hardest platforming levels I had ever played, but after several deaths I made it to the goal sign, which still had the floor gap next to it. I touched the sign, and this time I did the trick that lets you control Sonic during the end of level score tally. It worked, and Sonic didn't run into the pit. The victory message was in that familiar black text:
"It Won't Bring Him Back."
The screen faded, and Genocide City Act 2 appeared. The graphics were different here, the fire had burned out, replaced by ashes and soot covered ruins in the background. Again, there were no enemies, the corpses of the animals that became badniks had returned, but this time they were all laying in a pile of ash. Also like my first visit to the zone, the only obstacles were some small gaps in the floor, this time they looked like holes that had been burnt through it. I reached the end of the zone, Robotnik was in his vehicle, at the right end of the screen, about level with Sonic. He didn't move, so I attacked him. He made the usual flashing damage animation, so I kept doing it. After eight hits, he still hadn't reacted or been defeated, but the black text appeared again.
"What Do You Hope To Accomplish?"
Not sure what else to do, I kept attacking Robotnik. After a few more hits:
"Killing Him Won't Bring Your Friend Back."
I continued to attack Robotnik, the message changed every few hits. I'll post them in the order they appeared.
"You Let Him Die, That Will Never Change."
"Revenge Won't Soothe You Forever."
"Like The Past, He Is Lost Forever."
"You Can't Get Your Innocence Back."
"Your Enemy's Blood Can't Wash Away Your Mistakes."
"You Have No One To Blame But Yourself."
"Take Responsibility For Your Failure."
"You Are Attacking The Wrong Person."
After getting all these messages, I got an idea of what the game wanted me to do. Instead of jumping at Robotnik to attack him, I walked into him, causing Sonic to take damage and die. One final message came up:
"You Have Paid The Only Acceptable Price."
The game reset, and the title screen came up. This time Sonic wasn't there either, there was just an empty circle. I started the game, and the screen the common beta sends you to when you select Genocide City appeared. There was no timer, no Sonic falling to his death, nothing. I turned the system on and off and tried again, the same thing happened. I tried the beta on my computer, same thing, same screen. I tried another Sonic game, it was the same, everything in the series had erased him. I haven't tried to play a Sonic game in quite a while now, but I see that one screen every time I close my eyes.
(This story is credited to a person called KI Simpson. View the first Genocide City story here.)