The greatest Sonic game we never got to play

A brilliant 3D Sonic game? On the Saturn? It very nearly happened. We talk to one of the designers of the one that got away

In early 1995, the project took a huge loss when Kosaka quit the team and left Sega. As Senn recounts, “He and the executive producer Dean Lester were not getting along, and I believe Michael felt it was his best option to simply remove himself from what he thought was a politically unhealthy environment.”

The nature of the departure not only set the tone for many of Sonic Xtreme’s problems, but also set in motion the disorganisation which would dog the team throughout the game’s development. Relatively young and inexperienced at the time, Senn found his role shifting drastically. “Right about the time when Michael Kosaka left, my responsibilities mounted as the only designer to try and ‘take his place’. An impossible seat to fill, as Michael had done a fantastic job of navigating our team through hostile waters, but I did my best to come up with a design that went someplace a little less traditional than his designs.”

And to further increase the adversity, the commercial nosedive performed by the 32X then caused Sega management to get antsy about the launch platform and move the game to the American version of the Saturn. And guess what. No firm technical details were around for that one either. Regardless, all of STI’s resources were shifted over to the X-treme project.

That decision didn’t last long though. Soon realising that only one next-gen console was viable, the US machine was scrapped, and the game was again shifted, this time to the ultimately released Japanese version.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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