The SEGA Saturn days were not the happiest of times for Sonic the Hedgehog. Don’t get me wrong, it was a marvelous console and right up there with the SEGA CD as one of the most underrated of all time, but when it comes to SEGA’s main man, it was just a pathetic drab. All we saw released for it was Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R, both of which rate pretty high on the “Ugh, gag me!” scale.
Let’s not forget, though, that SEGA had been developing another 3D Sonic game for the console called Sonic X-treme. The company originally had planned for this to be the grand 3D debut of its mascot, and it even had a 1996 holiday release date set, advertisements in magazines, and a tremendous competitive atmosphere erupting to set up a new console war.
However, Sonic X-treme was ultimately canned after a flurry of developmental issues derailed the project. My guess is that SEGA took one look at Super Mario 64 and realized just how many light years behind Nintendo it truly was in the realm of 3D. Sonic waited another generation to debut in 3D on the Dreamcast, and SEGA crammed most of its early 3D talent into new franchises like Panzer Dragoon, NiGHTS Into Dreams and Burning Rangers.
Thanks to some hardcore fans over at SonicRetro, Sonic X-treme has been restored and is now available for the world to try 19 years later! The build is based off of an old 1996 E3 demo, and it was created before SEGA had the chance to implement rings. The game is only a single stage long, but SonicRetro does have other files that it plans to implement in future builds. This is not a final release of Sonic X-treme.
Regardless of the quality, controlling such an old, discarded game is fascinating. It’s not exactly what I would call fun, even if it is just a tech demo, but when compared to Super Mario 64 or even Crash Bandicoot, I think we can agree that SEGA made the right choice in waiting for the Dreamcast to take Sonic into a new dimension.
You can download it and give it a shot on your own if you like.
In addition to the game, SonicRetro has also produced its own documentary detailing the history of the game and the steps it took to recover and restore the data.