Sonic X-Treme

  • Original Platform: Saturn/PC (Unreleased)
  • Versions Played: Two prototype builds, fan-made demo level
  • Where to get: N/A

A cancelled Sonic game originally made to be Sonic’s big leap into 3D for the Sega Saturn. Two different versions of these were being designed by different teams, with both of them working themselves to the point of illness to try and get it done. Ultimately, the game was cancelled.

Since then, some prototypes have been found, and a fan has made a level in Unreal Engine, which gives us a taste of what Sonic X-Treme could have been. The simplest build is the “boss engine” one, it’s a simple 3D landscape with 50 rings to collect, and Sonic can jump and spindash. Movement is quite smooth although, due to the camera, you’re always running at a diagonal. The geometry is just some simple hills. It’s a fairly simple “Sonic in 3D”.

The other build is much more interesting as it looked like an extremely unique game, as Sonic can shift gravity by rolling up walls. The prototype features some demo levels, and it’s actually quite good fun to mess around with. It does seem extremely difficult to create levels around it, especially ones that can be followed by a player, as being able to go up walls and change the orientation of the level creates a lot of options.

The demo also features some short “tube” levels, something that did happen in later Sonic games, here shifting the gravity works a lot better as you can see where you need to go clearly. There are also different ground types which make Sonic slow down or go extremely fast and bouncy.

The fan-made demo gives us a look at a potential “level” for this build of Sonic X-Treme could have been like, with the fish eye lens seen in early footage. Navigating this is actually quite easy. It limits rotating the level to just slopes (not hard corners), which means specific paths can be seen. It shows that this gameplay could have worked.

Sonic X-Treme is an interesting part of Sonic’s history, and the development shows that they were trying some unique things with it. It’s hard to say if it could have worked, but perhaps a mixture of tube-like levels and stages where you have to find objects could have worked, even if it’s a bit of departure from the regular “A to B” style of Sonic.

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