Cut to later in the year. Despite the hiccups of platform changes and alterations to the staff line-up, the Sonic X-treme team was finally getting into its stride and starting to produce some very exciting results. The game was already shaping up to be an incredibly fresh, invigorating and downright drool-worthy reinvention of Sonic. It was a tight, focussed extension of what the 16-bit games had been, marrying exhilerating bursts of speed with inventive platforming and exploration.
Resident programming guru Ofer Alon had created a striking ‘fish-eye lens’ camera engine which gave the game a spell-bindingly hypnotic, spherical look, long before Mario ever thought of going off-world. The game’s mechanics were already incorporating multi-directional gravity, levels which flipped and spun around Sonic, and all kinds of joyous, upside-down, inside-out, ring collecting malarky. If you’ve watched any of the videos in this feature yet, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. The game was shaping up to be the 3D Sonic that we still dream about today.
The team was split into two factions. One, led by Senn and Alon, beavered happily away on the main game levels, while the other, headed up by irrepressable human-dynamo Chris Coffin, worked on a more free-roaming, ‘arena-style’ 3D engine for the game’s many boss fights. The future of Sonic, the Saturn, and Sega itself was looking great.