Mystic Realm is a level pack by Mystic. It is the first level pack made for SRB2, being first released as Mystic Level Pack in 2003. In the following years, it grew into a large-scale level pack with seven main zones, various hidden levels and an original soundtrack that has since been incorporated into the game proper. Mystic Realm was especially popular in the Final Demo era, when it was by far the largest collection of Single Player levels for SRB2, exceeding even the game's own Single Player campaign.
Mystic Realm was completed in 2006. Since then, it has mainly been updated to keep it compatible with the current version of SRB2. The most recent update, v5.0, was more extensive and revamped some levels, but still mostly preserves the pack in its original form.
Current release information
- Current version: v5.0 (May 20, 2020)
- Available at: Mystic Realm – Homepage
Mystic Realm's main campaign consists of seven zones with three acts each, except for the final zone, Aerial Garden Zone, which has four acts. A small structure called the Mystic Shrine is hidden in the second act of each zone. If the player steps on the button in its center and then completes the level normally, they will be warped to the emerald stage for the zone. The emerald stages are regular Single Player levels with a similar but slightly different theme than the zones they belong to. Near the exit, they contain a Chaos Emerald. Note that the player has to explicitly pick up the emerald; merely finishing the stage will not award it to the player. After finishing an emerald stage, the player advances to the third act of the original zone.
If the player collects all seven Chaos Emeralds, a teleporter will open up during Aerial Garden Zone Act 4 that leads to a three-act bonus zone, Prismatic Angel Zone, followed by a final boss fight, Mystic Realm Zone. After completing Mystic Realm Zone, these levels are accessible from the Extras menu. Finally, there are two extra Mystic Shrines that unlock extra stages: Inner Sanctum Zone is unlocked via a Mystic Shrine in the final emerald stage, Starlight Temple Zone, while a Mystic Shrine in Prismatic Angel Zone Act 2 unlocks Dimension Warp Zone. These two levels consist of a single room each and mainly exist to provide free items and additional emblems.
Emblems and unlockables
Mystic Realm contains 150 emblems in total: The first two acts of each full-length zone (including Prismatic Angel Zone), as well as the seven regular emerald stages, include three collectible in-map emblems, as well as two Record Attack emblems for time and rings. The boss stages feature Record Attack emblems for score and time. Aerial Garden Zone Act 3 includes one collectible emblems and one for time. The three short extra stages (Inner Sanctum Zone, Dimension Warp Zone, and Prismatic Angel Zone Act 3) feature one collectible emblem and one score emblem. Each of the 9 Mystic Shrines has one emblem hovering above its button. Finally, there are two extra emblems, one for completing the Single Player campaign and one for completing it with all emeralds.
Emblems in Mystic Realm have their own unique graphics corresponding to various Japanese Kanji. The following types of Kanji, and their respective meanings, are used to represent the different emblem types:
- 一 , 二 , 三 --- "1, 2, 3" respectively: Used for various collectable emblems in levels.
- 宝 --- "Treasure": Used for the singular collectable emblems in Inner Sanctum Zone, Dimension Warp Zone, Aerial Garden Zone Act 3, and Prismatic Angel Zone Act 3.
- 社 --- "Shrine": Used for the collectable emblems atop each of the nine Mystic Shrines.
- 点 --- "Point": Used for Score emblems.
- 丸 --- "Round" (as in circular): Used for Ring emblems.
- 時 --- "Time": Used for Time emblems.
- 四 , 五 --- "4, 5" respectively: These emblem types are unused, but their graphics are nonetheless present in Mystic Realm's files.
The following unlockables are available in Mystic Realm v5.0:
- Record Attack: Unlocked by completing Jade Coast Zone Act 1.
- Fang, Metal Sonic, Amy: These are unlocked as playable characters after beating the Single Player campaign.
- Sound Test: Unlocked by beating the Single Player campaign with all emeralds.
- Extra Levels: Unlocked by beating Mystic Realm Zone. Gives access to Prismatic Angel Zone and Mystic Realm Zone from the Extras menu.
- Emblem Hints: Unlocked by collecting 30 emblems.
- Emblem Radar: Unlocked by collecting 60 emblems.
- Making of Mystic Realm: Unlocked by collecting 90 emblems. Developer commentary in text form.
- Pandora's Box: Unlocked by collecting all 150 emblems.
Previous versions of Mystic Realm included additional unlockables that have since been removed:
- Mystic Realm Archive: A collection of scrapped levels and old versions of the Mystic Realm stages, with text commentary in-between. Included from v4.0 to v4.6, then replaced with Making of Mystic Realm.
- Golden Sands Zone: A Single Player level that was entered into the January/February 2006 OLDC. Included from v4.3 to v4.6.
- Second Quest: A duplicate of the Single Player campaign with different texturing, different Mystic Shrine locations, and additional enemies. Included in v4.4 and v4.5. Removed in v4.6 for being too time-consuming to maintain.
- Lock-On: Added Mystic Realm's levels to the end of SRB2's Single Player campaign, allowing the player to play both in succession. Included in v4.4 and v4.5.
v1.0 to v3.0
The first release (v1.0) of Mystic Realm was made on June 8th, 2003, under the name Mystic Level Pack. At the time, the purpose of the pack was simply to expand SRB2's Single Player campaign by adding custom levels onto the end. In its first incarnation, the pack included three full-length zones: Crawla Isle Zone (now known as Jade Coast Zone), Verdant Forest Zone and Aerial Garden Zone. The pack ended with a boss fight called Final Zone. A few weeks later, it was re-released as Mystic Way (v2.0), adding Flame Rift Zone. A third release (v3.0) was made on January 1st, 2004, the same day that SRB2 v1.08 was released. It renamed the pack to Mystic Realm, Final Zone to Mystic Realm Zone, and added Midnight Freeze Zone.
v4.0 to v4.6
Mystic Realm v4.0 was released on September 11th, 2005, the same day as SRB2 v1.09. It expanded Mystic Realm from an extension of SRB2's Single Player campaign to a stand-alone level pack. SRB2's official levels were removed from the level progression, while two new zones were added: Tempest Valley Zone and Sunken Plant Zone. Crawla Isle Zone was renamed to Jade Coast Zone and many of the existing levels were revamped. Emerald stages and the Mystic Shrine (then called Mystic Temple) mechanism for entering them were also added in this version. Prismatic Angel Zone and a remade Mystic Realm Zone were added as Sonic-only bonus stages. At this point, PAZ3 was a boss fight against the Egg Mobile, similar to the previous Mystic Realm Zone, while the new MRZ was a Super Sonic level akin to Doomsday Zone in Sonic & Knuckles. Two levels were not completed in time and thus only their first rooms were included as placeholders: Starlight Temple Zone (called Starlight Palace Zone at the time) and Prismatic Angel Zone Act 2. While the former was completed for v4.2, the latter remained a placeholder until v5.0. Other additions intended to transform Mystic Realm into a stand-alone experience included emblems, a custom title screen and a custom soundtrack.
Several updates were released in the following months. Aside from fixes and improvements to the existing levels, these updates added a selection of Match and CTF levels, as well as Golden Sands Zone as a Race-only bonus level. By v4.3, there were six levels for Match and two for CTF. These were a mix of levels from old versions of SRB2 itself and the OLDC. Some of them were later added to SRB2 itself in v1.09.4. The final content update, v4.4, was released on December 17th, 2006. It introduced proper unlockables, which at the time included a level select, Lock-On, the archives, Second Quest and Golden Sands Zone (now as a Single Player level). The archives had been added in v4.0, but at that point they had only been accessible from a hidden level called Warp Zone, which could be reached via a special Mystic Shrine in Jade Coast Zone Act 1. For v4.4, the archives were expanded by adding the original version of Flame Rift Zone, old Special Stages and cutscenes giving commentary about the stages. More emblems were added to the pack, increasing the total number from 50 to 75. Two custom bosses were added: the Egg Fighter was used in Aerial Garden Zone Act 4 and Prismatic Angel Zone Act 3, while the Egg Mobile X was used in Mystic Realm Zone. The Match and CTF stages added between v4.1 and v4.3 were removed.
v4.5 and v4.6 were released to update Mystic Realm for SRB2 v2.0 and v2.1, respectively. They added no new content, but included some minor adjustments. v4.6 changed the unlockable structure: The Second Quest and Lock-On unlockables were removed, replacing them with SRB2's standard Sound Test and Pandora's Box unlockables. Prismatic Angel Zone and Mystic Realm Zone were also now added to the Extras menu after being completed.
After the release of SRB2 v2.0, community member Fred began a more extensive update of Mystic Realm, called Neo Mystic Realm, which made use of assets added to SRB2 in v2.0. Neo Mystic Realm merged each original zone with its corresponding emerald stage into a single level, similar to how Aerial Garden Zone now appears in SRB2 itself. Mystic later took over the project, but never finished it. Instead, he made some significant changes to Mystic Realm for v5.0, which ported the pack to SRB2 v2.2:
- Verdant Forest Zone was overhauled to make its layout less maze-like and to use bouncy platforms more frequently as a proper zone gimmick. Arrows, some made of floor textures and some made of rings, were added to prevent players from getting lost.
- Flame Rift Zone, Midnight Freeze Zone, and Silver Cavern Zone were retextured.
- Blazing Forge Zone (previously Vulcan Forge Zone) had several sections reversed so that they are now challenging forwards rather than backwards.
- The buttons in Sunken Plant Zone are now color-coded.
- Sunken Plant Zone Act 3 is no longer underwater, but rather takes place in an arena using conveyor belts.
- Aerial Garden Zone and Starlight Temple Zone were replaced with the version of Aerial Garden Zone included in SRB2 v2.2, re-split into multiple acts, and with Lightning Shields replaced with Whirlwind Shields and most Armageddon Shields replaced with Attraction Shields. Knuckles' paths are not included.
- Prismatic Angel Zone and Mystic Realm Zone were made accessible as all characters and changed significantly:
- A proper second act for PAZ was added, using golden monitors to create three sections where the player must carry a certain shield. These sections can be played in any order, and after beating all of them, you can clear the level.
- Warp Zone, which had been removed in v4.4, was turned into Dimension Warp Zone, another small bonus stage unlocked via a Mystic Shrine in PAZ2.
- The boss fight in PAZ3 was replaced with a one-room bonus stage.
- MRZ was remade entirely. It is no longer played as a super form, and instead is a fight against a new boss coded by Zipper called Egg Animus, replacing the Egg Mobile X.
- Many of the harmful liquids used throughout the pack were changed to make their behavior more intuitive and consistent with SRB2 v2.2. For example, Tempest Valley Zone now uses goop instead of damaging water, and the lava in Flame Rift Zone now works the same way as in SRB2, solid to the player but destroying rings.
- Vulcan Forge Zone was renamed to Blazing Forge Zone and Starlight Palace Zone to Starlight Temple Zone, in order to make their abbreviations unique.
- The level pack uses the new Mystic Realm music arranged by CobaltBW, included in the game's music files as of version 2.2.5 except for the custom title theme. Aerial Garden Zone Act 4 also has unique music, rather than using the same music as Act 3.
- The Mystic Temples were renamed to Mystic Shrines, and the ones that had been on a path split were moved to a mandatory section of the stage.
- The archives were replaced with a text-only developer commentary, and Golden Sands Zone was removed.
- The number of emblems was doubled to 150, mainly by adding Record Attack emblems.
After the release of v5.0, Mystic quit development on Mystic Realm and left future updates to the pack to community laissez-faire. Due to the efforts of a number of community members, a fan-made v6.0 update, which aimed to overhaul the levels up to SRB2 v2.2 standards, started development, but was put on hold shortly after. A Halloween-themed demo containing the latest progress on this project, along with a near-complete beta of v5.1, was released on November 9th, 2020. 
The beta of v5.1 features many minor changes and bug fixes. The intent of it was to finish features that were intended for v5, such as making a museum map for Making of Mystic Realm and a scripting a new boss for AGZ4, but those never got created. It changed Flame Rift Zone Act 3 and Sunken Plant Zone Act 3 to feature variants of the Egg Slimer, the former shooting fireballs and the latter shooting green slime from the 2.0 Brak Eggman fight. It also changed emerald stages so that they can no longer be beaten without collecting the Chaos Emerald at the end; the Level End Sign in them is now hidden behind a translucent wall colored like the emerald, which is opened by coming in contact with the emerald's location.
Soon after the cancellation of the v6.0 update, several community members formed a group known as Team Prismatic in order to work on a community-driven update to Mystic Realm built off the foundations of v6.0, referred to as Mystic Realm: Community Edition. 
|v2.2||Mystic Realm • SRB2 Battle|
|v2.1||Acid Missile • Dumbventure • SRB2Kart • SUGOI • SUBARASHII • KIMOKAWAIII • Tortured Planet|
|v2.0||Botanic Serenity • SRB2CB • SRB2 Riders • XSRB2|
|v1.09.4||SA-SRB2 • Blue Heaven • ShufflarB2 • SRB2JTE|