GameSpy has a new interview with the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, Yuji Naka. While talking about new Sega projects such as Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Rush, Naka went a little off topic and remarked that Sonic's fans may be a little too obsessed with the character. That led to some discussion about the infamous lost levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and just where that leaked beta version of the game originated.
"I guess I am pretty surprised at the level of dedication of fans on the Internet. But how do I say this ... there is a bit of a problem. I mean, I am glad that people really, really like the games, but if it gets to the point where they are engaging in activities that can hurt us or Sega in some way, that's not good at all. Like, way back when we had a beta ROM of Sonic 2 that was stolen by someone. That one even had the Hidden Palace [Zone] in it. You see, back in mid-1992 we had taken a demonstration cartridge to a toy show in New York. It wound up being stolen, and although we searched and searched all over, it was never found. So that's probably where the [leaked beta version] data comes from."
It's always been assumed that the leaked beta version came from a magazine employee who absconded with the cartridge, but now after all these years we find out that it was stolen from a toy fair. Yuji Naka would like to have that original stolen cartridge back, incidentally, so consider returning it if it's sitting on your shelf. You may even get the chance to meet the man behind the hedgehog before you're taken to jail for possession of stolen property.