Sonic X-Treme (found build of unreleased SEGA Saturn platformer; 1996)
Mock-up cover art for the game.
Date found: 04 Nov 2014
Found by: andrew75
Sonic X-Treme was an upcoming game set to be released on the Sega Saturn in 1996. Sonic X-Treme was one of the many long-lost video games dedicated to the legendary Sega mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. Its legacy is second only to that of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Genesis and became an enigma for many people on the internet. Over the years, many video game enthusiasts and Sonic fans have sought out various pieces of information and leaks to rebuild and learn more about what the game might've been like if it was completed.
Throughout the course of its development, Sonic X-Treme suffered from numerous delays and shifting between different systems. Which resulted in it being stuck in development hell. The game originally started out as a Genesis title called Sonic Mars (which would've been set in the popular Saturday Morning (SatAM) Sonic the Hedgehog universe involving Sonic's team and Princess Sally Acorn, one of the Knothole Freedom Fighters) before being completely scrapped and shifted to the ill-fated Sega 32X and then moved to a short-lived Sega system based on Nvidia technology predating the Saturn, before finally settling on the latter.
According to numerous interviews with the game's creators, Sonic X-Treme would have involved Sonic battling his arch-foe Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik to rescue Professor Gazebo and protect six items known as the "Rings of Order," which is said to be how the Rings Sonic and his friends collect are made. Sonic is aided by a new female character named Tiara (though her last name is heavily disputed, the common one is "Boobowski"), a female wildcat who would have aided Sonic with the use of a wand, perhaps mimicking how fellow female hedgehog Amy Rose used a hammer. Confirmed bosses in the game included Nack the Weasel and a new version of Metal Sonic.
The game was quite infamous for its executive meddling and troubled production. The original concept was meant to have two types of gameplay: one for its main stages and one for its bosses. However, when some of Sega of Japan's executives had come in to check up on progress, they were dismayed by the supposed lack of progress for the main stage engine (which was actually an earlier prototype), but absolutely loved the boss engine and asked to use that engine for the entire game. Afterward, the developers were forced to rebuild the entire game from scratch. Realizing that their game engine was almost similar to another Sega-developed Saturn game that was being worked simultaneously, called NiGHTS into Dreams, the team requested access to that game's engine as a starting point to minimize development time. The request was granted but was swiftly confiscated after Yuji Naka (the main programmer and producer of NiGHTS into Dreams and ironically, the co-creator of Sonic) threatened to quit.
Unfortunately, the game was indefinitely shelved - internal politics made things a living nightmare for the developers and one of the spearheads of Sega was nearly driven to the point of only having mere months to live, which lead to the cancellation of Sonic X-Treme. The developers instead created a Sega Saturn port of Sonic 3D Blast.
Demo Build Leaks
In 2005, a disc containing a playable demo version of the test engine for the Saturn was sold to an anonymous collector for $2500 USD. Two years later, an animated gif of the gameplay was released to the public and the full demo was leaked on July 17th, 2007. In this demo, the player can control and move Sonic around the terrain of the level. There are no enemies in sight, and gameplay stops after five minutes.
On November 4th, 2014, the final build for Sonic X-Treme was found by andrew75. They were only playable on Windows 95 computers and the Nvidia NV1 video card. The following year, Sonic Retro user Jollyroger acquired the POV file assets from another user named Tichua and made the build compatible with OpenGL. Alongside with this, Jollyroger discovered and decompiled numerous level editors related to different builds. This includes the binary code for v53's level editor.
There are currently six builds that were discovered. Most of them being development builds and two being demo builds.
v001 is the earliest known build (dating November 28th, 1995). Founded in the POV archive, this features a very basic version of the engine that can run on any operating system. The only functionality is the ability to use the mouse to move around the room. v37 and its editor date back to roughly around the E3 1996 trailer for Sonic X-Treme. The initial release of the build showcased only one level entitled Jade Gully, which was the level showcased in the trailer. v40 was both the PC and Saturn version. It was around the time when the game was being rewritten for the Saturn.
The 714 and 718 demo builds feature more coherent gameplay including a title screen, pause screen, game over screen, and the previously mentioned Jade Gully level. It also uses Sonic CD music and SFX as placeholders. The level editor for v53 was also found. Unfortunately, the source code could not be found or decompiled. So the program is stuck being only usable in Windows 98.
In 2017, Sonic X-Treme’s Lead Artist Ross Harris published numerous sprite work and original models from the game. These include a fully animated Sonic sprite and sprite work for Amy Rose, Tridril, T-Rex, Orca, and many more.
It is currently unknown if Ross Harris still has the other sprites he made.
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- An archived interview with the producer of Sonic X-Treme that mentions the short-lived Sega system. Retrieved 02 Mar '19
- The Cutting Room Floor page on Sonic X-Treme. Retrieved 17 Sep '19
- Archived forum thread where the final build was found. Retrieved 08 Sep '15
- Andrew75's Sonic X-Treme thread on the Sonic Retro forums. Retrieved 17 Sep '19
- Ross Harris's site which has some sprites from Sonic X-Treme. Retrieved 17 Sep '19