Sega’s blue mascot has gone through many iterations over the years. He’s wielded a sword in Sonic and the Black Knight, snogged a human princess is the abortion that was Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and became a werewolf in Sonic Unleashed. His 24-year career has been littered with dizzy highs and creative lows, ultimately resulting in last year’s terrible Sonic Boom games on 3DS and Wii U.
As you might expect from a character who has struggled ever since his glory days of the 16-bit era, there’s been plenty of cancelled projects over the years – the most famous of which being Sonic Xtreme. Sonic Xtreme had a very troubled development, originally planned to appear on the Mega Drive/ Genesis before development was moved to the doomed Saturn, it went through a number of completely different designs. Most fans know the game best for its use of a unique fish-eye perspective and tubular levels first shown in gaming magazines from the early 90s, but this was later scrapped in 1997 due to problems with the Saturn’s limited 3D capabilities and ill health on the part of some of the development team.
Sonic Xtreme saw the hedgehog playing around with gravity long before Mario got in on the act. Some fans even believe that X-treme was the inspiration behing Super Mario Galaxy. Another popular rumor is that some of the gameplay concepts in X-treme were later repurposed for Sonic: Lost World, though it’s a claim denied by the development team behind that title.
After initially being bought by a collector for $2,500 on Ebay, early demo discs of the cancelled project eventually found their way into the hands of a group of fans in 2007, who raised enough funds to buy the files from their owner. Now, those fans have released the tech demo into the wild for the curious to see an early concept of what Sonic X-treme‘s gameplay might have been like.
It should be noted that the single-level video is little more than an early internal prototype: Sonic can’t pick up rings, enemies can’t be killed, and it lacks the famous fisheye perspective. But it does show some of the then-planned gameplay features – such as a rotating world and a triple-jump to allow Sonic to reach higher platforms. It’s hoped that more snippets will be released as files are retrieved and collated.
Here’s a video of what the released demo contains: